How to Find the Wonders in the Bible

August Reading Tips
August 1, 2020
Douglas Allison
 

How to Find the Wonders in the Bible 

Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.—Psalm 119:129  

Maybe you’ve thought, “How do preachers study the Bible and not get bored? It’s hard enough to read it, never mind studying 5 verses and preaching for 50 minutes!”

In a helpful book entitled Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, John Piper writes, “We don’t think until we are confronted with a problem.” The point is not that our minds literally do not work unless we are actively working on a problem, but that the best thinking happens when we are on a quest to answer a question. How appropriate that the very word “quest” is embedded in the word itself!

Because the Bible is the revelation of the eternal and triune God, there can be no knowledge more true, interesting, captivating, amazing, wonderful, authoritative, delicious, instructive, useful, convicting, joyful, important, hopeful, accurate, essential, helpful, fascinating, or revealing than what we find in Scripture. Whether we find wonders in the Bible is directly dependent on the questions we ask of it. The Bible does not fail to amaze us because it is unimpressive, but because we are uninquisitive.

After all, what questions are more pressing or interesting than questions such as:

Where do I come from?
What is wrong with the world?
Is there hope?
How should I live?
Where do I find happiness?
What happens when I die?

The Bible answers all these questions, and in spectacular fashion. The Bible may be summed up as the authoritative and comprehensive account of the gospel. From Genesis to Revelation we find recorded for us from God himself all we need to know for life and godliness. The Bible is not less than a sort of survival guide, but it is inexpressibly more. God’s testimonies contain the definitive and authoritative answers to the world’s most pressing questions. Are you asking them of the Bible, or are you finding them somewhere else?

Ask Questions   

Proverbs 25:2: It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things
out.
(ESV)

If the Bible is a mine filled with gold and jewels, then questions are the pickaxes, shovels that bring them to the surface. And every once in while you will ask a question that explodes a text open like TNT, and you sit calmly in your chair while gem-filled debris showers down. To fail to ask questions of what we read is like arriving at the spot where the treasure is buried and failing to pick up the shovel.  
 
In every part of the Bible you will find that tracing the story, themes and instructions will lead you to the keystone that holds it all together: the finished work and imminent appearing of Christ Jesus our Lord. The cross is to the Bible what the center pole is to a big top circus tent: it holds everything together and stands in the most prominent place.

Incredibly, many of us find ourselves within arm’s reach of incalculable value, yet all we can muster is a figurative shrug of the shoulders.

Ask the Most Important Questions 

Not all questions are created equal. Some are flimsy and turn up little. If we’re going to read the most important book then we will surely want to ask the most important questions.

The first question is to ask, “What does the passage say?” It is necessary to ask this question to move onto the next one: “What concerns did this passage address for its original readers?” Once I have a sufficient grasp of the answer to this question I can ask, “What do I share in common with the people for whom or about whom this was written?” These questions may not seem like much. But then again, neither does a shovel. As some are fond of saying, don’t knock it ‘til you try it. You can also ask of any passage, “What does this have to do with Christ?”

Careful listening to faithful preaching is probably the most underrated and underused method for learning to read the Bible. Faithful preaching opens God’s Word and shows its meaning. If you listen carefully to faithful preaching, you will learn to ask the same questions that the preachers ask. In this way you will acquire questions like a handyman acquires tools. Just like doing each job right requires the best tools, so understanding each text well requires asking the best questions.

Receive the Most Important Answers

We have a constant need for God’s help to live for God through Christ. The path to knowing and communing with God leads straight through Scripture. That means asking questions of the text – and not just any questions, but the most important ones. The more you learn the skill of asking questions, the more you will see the sense in turning around the original question. It is not, “How do preachers study the Bible and not get bored?” but “How do preachers stop in time to write a sermon?”
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