I remember when I first became a Christian in 1996 I was hungry for the Word of God. I attended weekly Bible studies, a nurture group for new believers and we had regular, solid teaching in services. There were lots of more mature Christians to guide me in my study of the Word and I spent time in the Word by myself too. Over the years, I read the Bible cover to cover several times over and read the Gospels and Epistles in their entirety more times than I can remember.
There were also periods in my life when I read and studied less but my zeal would return and I’d immerse myself once again in God’s Word. I always went to various Bible study groups and enjoyed listening to the Word being expounded by preachers and hearing their interpretations. They often helped me see things in a new and exciting way but for some reason, my own personal study and time in the Word has waned over time. I think I came to a place where I thought I knew all the stories and the characters; the teachings of Jesus and Paul, how the Old Testament linked to the New, the foreshadowing of Jesus etc., etc., and there wasn’t really anything new to learn.
How wrong is that? It’s so wrong, I knew I was deluding myself at some deep level but it really came to light a couple of weeks ago when I felt challenged to have some personal Bible study time and opened my NIV to Acts. I was reading about Peter and his vision of the sheet filled with animals; a well-known story that didn’t reveal anything new but I know that reading around verses to give context is a good study technique so I read the paragraphs before and after.
I have read Acts more times than I can remember, both in its entirety as well as lone chapters and paragraphs during various studies. One of my Bible Study groups even went through the book of Acts chapter by chapter over an extended period of time, so it should all have been very familiar to me, right? But, No! One particular verse jumped out at me and I can’t remember ever reading it before. It was a really pertinent verse with an amazing message but it seemed like I had never read it before. The verse excited me and I read the Old Testament references that were linked to it and then started looking into those verses too.
One small verse that had been overlooked by me many, many times before lead to further study and the unlocking of some personal Biblical revelations. The reverse side of this is that, for years, the pride I held regarding the scope of my biblical knowledge was, no doubt, a barrier to countless other revelations. I am saddened by that...and repentant.
The reason that I am sharing my moment of shame is to steer you away from ever thinking you will, at some point, know all there is to know about scripture. Even after 36 years I am learning new things, seeing sentences I have not seen before and having the Holy Spirit speak to me through them.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us,’ ‘the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart.’ Every time you read scripture it comes alive speaking into any new situation you find yourself in; it is always relevant, always fresh and always useful for teaching, correction and training (2 Timothy 3:16). I don’t know about you, but I’m off to do some Bible study!