The Best Thing About Bible Study, from Author Tara K. Ross
Today we hear from YA author and podcaster, Tara K. Ross, on a very important topic: Bible study! Tara explains some common pitfalls and the distance between expectation and reality. But the best part is what she says about the God we serve and love and the Word He's given us.
Read below for her answer to the question, “What is your Bible study routine?”
Should I Have a Bible Study Routine: Yes or No?
I think the better question, for me, is what are my Bible study “best intentions”? I will be honest, every year, usually in January or September, I take out my journal and create a lofty resolution or schedule for intentional Bible study. I pray about it and plan for it with great enthusiasm.
Some years, I’ve started at Genesis with the intentions of tackling the whole Bible in a year (this past year, I tapped out at 2 Kings and jumped forward to Psalms). In other years, I’ve tried to read using plans on the Bible App, which tended to give me a bit more accountability. But here’s the thing. It doesn’t usually matter how I start, I usually ebb and flow with the busyness of life and work-life-family-writing-volunteering responsibilities, but thank goodness our God is a forgiving God. It doesn’t matter how long of a break I take from my routine, He always welcomes me back to His Word with new insight and comforts. Even if every chapter doesn’t speak directly to me and my current situation, the overall story always points back to Jesus, and that is why I keep persevering, despite my imperfections and failings. He’s always waiting and willing to take me back into His story.
- Tara Ross, YA author and clean fiction podcaster
So Are Bible Study Resolutions Good or Bad?
Thank you, Tara for those honest and insightful words! Too often, Christians want to appear like we never struggle in the bible study department. We know how important reading the Bible is, so we are cautious to admit when we get off track in our bible study routines.
But Tara hit on two key points:
1. God forgives.
2. The Bible always points to Jesus.
These two points are central when it comes to making and keeping and returning to Bible study resolutions or routines.
First, we must hold on to the fact that God forgives us when we mess up. This includes missing a day of Bible study, or two or three. Though God desires and even commands us to be diligent in studying His word (see John 17:17, Col. 3:16, 2 Tim 3:15-16, 1 John 2:3-5, 2 John 9), we can’t turn this into a form of legalism, which is when we think our actions somehow make us better in God’s.
Think about this a minute. Christians are relatively quick to admit that we can’t do anything to please the Lord and that it’s not our actions that bring about our acceptance into heaven or our right standing before God (Eph. 2:4-10).
But then there’s the idea of Bible study.
When Bible Study Becomes A Form of Legalism
We rightly elevate the study of God’s Word to a high, if not the highest, priority for a true believer. But in doing that we tiptoe dangerously close to making Bible study an action that, if not done “properly,” means we’re not true believers.
We have to tread lightly here, but we really should examine this pitfall in our thinking. Bible study is essential. It is mandatory.
Because Bible study is the only way we get to know God better. Period.
We can’t know God if we don’t know what He’s revealed about Himself. We grow in our love for God as we grow in our knowledge of God. The only way to grow our knowledge of God is to know His Word.
So, we are right to say that Bible study is a must for a true believer. But when we make Bible study a must, we are setting ourselves up for failure, because every single human fails at the things we know we must do.
It’s called sin.
We can try really hard, but we aren’t ever going to do anything perfectly right, including Bible study!
This is why Tara’s point about forgiveness is so important.
Yes, as Christians we want to please the Lord, our glorious Savior. But we should also have the sense to know we won’t always live up to that desire.
We’ll miss a day of Bible study because we choose to sleep in (valuing sleep over sanctification). We’ll miss a day of Bible study because we have too many activities planned (valuing our schedule over sanctification). We’ll miss a day of Bible study because we choose to watch a movie at night instead of read the Bible (valuing entertainment over sanctification).
But more frightening that that, we’ll miss a day of Bible study, or sometimes even a season of it, because we let ourselves feel comfortable without the Word of God at work in us.
But take heart! God is a forgiving God.
Even born-again Christians at times value things above our own sanctification. We do it all the time. So, if you stumble into one of the above pitfalls now and then, you are not alone!
Please do not think you must never miss a day of Bible study or you will be somehow thrown out of the kingdom of God! That right there is the attitude of legalism creeping in over the reality of grace.
Thus, Bible study is a must and there is grace when we fail. Praise God for that!
The Best Part About Bible Study
Tara’s second point deserves more examination as well. She mentioned that the entire Bible, whether we feel like a passage relates to us or not, points to Christ.
This is literally the best thing about Bible study.
Because once we realize that the whole story of the Bible, the entire arc of its contents, points to Christ our Redeemer, then every passage matters.
Can’t wrap your mind around the list of laws in Leviticus? They all point to our need for a Savior, to our inability to live clean or perfect lives. Can’t stomach the wickedness of the kings of Israel? It highlights what a heart distant from God and without Christ is capable of.
No matter the immediate context of a verse, the greater context places that verse in a story that tells of our desperate need for a perfect Savior and the glorious appearance of that Savior to bring His own people before God, holy and blameless and without reproach (Col. 1:22).
That makes the entire Bible worth studying. That makes the entire Bible a delight to study. That makes our Bible study time worth prioritizing.
Bible Study Is Worth Prioritizing
We study God’s Word because we want to not because we have to. That is the key difference. This means that when we miss a day or two, we genuinely miss our time in the Word.
Yes, there will be days we let sleep win. There will be days we let busy schedules win. There will be days we can’t stay on track with our bible reading plan because we just want to read a Psalm and see the hope of God’s nearness or the strength of His power.
That. Is. Okay.
It’s okay because in the heart of the believer, skipping a week of Bible study while on vacation or while sick or for whatever reason makes us miss Bible study. We yearn for the day we get to dive back in! We get excited to see what God will show us about Himself when we get back to our Bibles.
Our heart is drawn to His Word, even if we let our hands pass over it.
This is God’s doing, not ours! He plants in us a desire for His Word. We are responsible for cultivating and feeding that desire, and the more we do, the more we will desire His Word. It’s a never-ending thing, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.
Always, Always More
God wants to show us who He is. He wants us to get to know Him, and so He draws us into His Word. He gives us a desire to read and study so that we can know Him more. As we know Him more, our desire to know even more grows and grows.
We’ll never reach a point where we know all there is to know about an infinite God. Even though the Bible has a limited number of pages, they contain truths that continue to get deeper and richer the more we study them. It’s a fascinating gift God has given us!
Let’s examine where our hearts stand when it comes to Bible study.
Do we do it because we have to or because we truly want to know God more? Do we hold ourselves to unrealistic expectations or do we allow for God’s grace? Do we truly treasure each part of the Bible because of the way they all fit into the overall story of God sending His Son to save us?
Ask the Lord to give you a greater desire to study His Word. He will! Because He wants us to love Him first (that’s the first of the Ten Commandments), and knowing who He is causes us to love Him more.
For more reasons to read the Bible, check out this post which covers nine incredible things Bible study does for us that nothing else in the world can do.
Also, if you found this post encouraging, consider sharing it on whatever social media platform you prefer.
Now, swap to your Bible app and read! Might I suggest reading Ephesians first?