I recently read an article where John Piper discusses how he studies the Bible. Since I just shared with you all my goal for the year as far as reading God’s word, I thought it would be fitting to share a few excerpts from the article. Enjoy!
There’s an old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” How do keep your familiarity with the Bible from causing you to grow indifferent to it?
Piper: I pray Psalm 119:18 each time I go to the Bible: “Open my eyes that I may behold wonders in your law.” I think the point of communion—taking faith’s renewal and walking that prayer is that there are wonders everywhere in “the law,” in
the Bible, the instruction of God. And the psalmist is aware that he doesn’t often feel or see wonderful things as wonderful. So he asks to see. I do as well. I’m asking specifically that I would have spiritual eyes to see what is wonderful as wonderful. And don’t think that it doesn’t matter that you read glorious things without seeing them as glorious. It matters, and therefore we should plead with God to open our eyes.
How should we approach the Bible when reading it?
Piper: I’m torn as to which approach to take in answering that. I want to say right off the bat that we should approach the Bible with reverence. And yet I’m aware that there might be people reading this who don’t even know enough about the Bible to know whether it should be revered or not. Maybe they’ve barely even read it. Because of the history of the Bible, exerting power in the lives of peoplefor good for over two thousand years, I think I would say to those people, “Come to the Bible with a sense of expectation and openness that here you might find something vastly more wise and more penetrating and more world-shaping than any of the contemporary ideas you are presently dealing with.”
And after they come, I think they will discover that this is the very Word of God and, therefore, it should be approached with a sense of reverence. And it should be approached with a sense of need and with a sense of expectation that God has given us this Word in order to meet our needs, to convict us of sin, to bring us to the point offorgiveness, and then to give us hope. Second Timothy 3:16 says that the Scriptures are inspired by God and are sufficient for sound doctrine and every good work. There’s nothing God expects of us that He does not provide in this Word. He helps us understand what to do and gives us the motivation to do it. There’s a high-level expectation that I think people ought to have when they approach the Bible.
How can we make time for the Bible?
Piper: I don’t think it’s merely a function of time. It’s a function of earnestness and faith. A person must build into their life a regular encounter with God, personally and quietly meditating on His Word. I think the early morning is the best time, because it sets the tone for the whole day. If for some reason that time can’t work, then midday or evening. Get the Bible, the time, and the place—make sure it’s planned—and then meditate on a portion of Scripture: a chapter, verses, or several chapters, depending on what you can do. Memorize some verse, or even phrases, that appear especially precious to you. You don’t need hours and hours with God every day, but you do need to have time with God orienting your mind, taking something into your communion—taking faith’s renewal and walking with God through the day, reminding yourself of what you saw in the morning.