On October 31, 1517, one of the most monumental things in human history occurred. Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenburg, Germany. This was the start the Protestant Reformation. At the heart of the Reformation are five core truths. We affectionately refer to these as the five solas. These are Latin phrases, sola scriptura, sola fida, sola gratia, solus Christus, and soli Deo Gloria. Now for you non-Latin scholars (I include myself in this by the way) these are scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, glory to God alone.
We will look at the first sola, sola scriptura. This sola really encompasses all of the others. I say this because the reformation put great emphasis on scripture. It is in scripture where we get the words of faith and grace (Ephesians 2:8-10). It is in scripture where we find Jesus death, resurrection and ascension (Romans 8:34). It is in scripture where we come to understand how to glorify God (Psalm 86:12). Here are the big words for the day: inerrancy and infallibility. These two words are similar, yet different. To believe the Bible is inerrant is to believe that it has no errors or contradictions. Infallibility means the Bible is not capable of making errors. These words sound synonymous, but they are not because some might believe in the infallibility of Scripture but not its inerrancy.
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” If we truly believe all Scripture is breathed out by God, then why do we only take our Bibles off the bookcase on Sunday mornings before church? Why do we not read it daily? Peter tells us that we should be like newborn infants and long for the Scripture like babies long for its mother’s milk (1 Peter 2:2). There are many reasons that we don’t read the Bible, but mainly the excuse I hear is that there is not enough time. If you don’t have the time, then you must make the time. Look at what Jesus did and get up early and separate himself from others so that he could be alone so he could meditate (Mark 1:35).
At the end of the day, you cannot consider yourself a Christian if you are not regularly reading God’s Word and studying it. There is a good reason why Luther wanted to translate the Bible into the common language. Luther wanted the common person to read it for themselves and not rely on their local priest only.
Now you might be thinking, Michael, how should I study the Bible? I’m glad you asked. Here are some practical ways of doing it. Find a book of the Bible that you have always wanted to study. After doing that then find a good commentary and work your way through the book using the commentary.
The next one is a Bible study that I found out about when I was in college. It has multiple steps. As you go through a book of the Bible, find one verse per chapter that you really want to know more about.
For instance, John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Remember, read the verse in context. Read the verses before and after and this might mean you have to read the previous chapter(s) and the proceeding chapter(s). Next, make some observations about the verse, try to do 3-4. These can be obvious things or not obvious. He who abides in Jesus will bear much fruit. Jesus will abide in his branches as well.
Next, it’s time to investigate. These are questions you might have about the verse. Again these can be tough or easy questions but the harder you dig the more you will get out of God’s Word.
Now, we will do principles. These are things you have learned from your study and they could potentially be the answers to your investigation
Next is the application. How can you apply this verse to your daily life? When you go to a rose garden, you can’t take the whole garden with you, but you can take one single rose with you, so pick one word or phrase to help you remember your study the rest of the day until you come back to God’s Word.
Lastly, open up God’s Word. God has so many things to tell you, but He needs you to listen to Him. Turn off your cell phone, turn off your computer. Get your Bible off the shelf open it up and read. You will not regret it, I promise.