If you have read the Bible intently, you would have realized that you cannot simply skim-read it or read it like a novel. After reading a chapter or two in this way, you might at best remember some part of the narrative or phrases, but, most likely, you’ll stare blankly ahead with not the faintest idea of what you just read. Instead of just rereading over and over again in the hopes of imprinting something in your memory and some form of comprehension to dawn on you, there are much more exciting and rewarding ways to dig-up the treasures of the Bible.
In some church communities it might be frowned upon when you ask too many questions, but I believe that an insatiable curiosity for God’s Word is the mark of a healthy and maturing Christian. It is when we start to form questions about the text in our minds that we can truly see the Bible become alive in front of our very eyes.
Ask some detective questions about the text: Who? What? Where? When? But don’t forget to also ask the Why? and How? questions. Some authors, like Paul, wrote very long sentences (Ephesians 1:1-14 is actually one sentence in the original Greek!) and it’s easy to get lost in their train of thought when we don’t stop to ask these questions. Most of the time the Bible will answer these questions in the same chapter or book, but with others you’ll need to dig a bit deeper into other parts of the Bible.
Let’s use the book of James as an example again:
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
James 1:1-8 ESV
From only the first verse I can already think of two questions: Why is James called a servant of God? Who are the twelve tribes in Dispersion?
Questions of a more contemplative kind can be: What does it mean to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing? What does it mean to ask in faith?
Have a go at it yourself! Try to ask and answer some questions about the above verses from the first chapter of James. If you struggle with anything, feel free to contact your Bible Study Leader or Pastor.