Reread that title.
Now, can you answer that?
It is a huge question, yes. But I want to you actually have the statements of Scripture- not just an interpretation of a verse/ passage.
Today, for the fifth part of my series on “How to Read your Bible for all its Worth,” I want to address a simple skill that many don’t use. This is called “observation.”
This might sound like a no brainer, but bear with me. I have been leading Bible studies for close to a decade, and I rarely see people use this skill.
Find a chapter in the Bible. Read it. Now give me 40 observations from it that are in no way shape or form interpretive.
Too many times we jump the simple process of reading and try to get to the “how does this apply?” In order to be like Sherlock Holmes we have to notice details before we can say what they mean. It is noticing these details that brings the greatest fruit.
Below will be the first chapter of James. Read it, then observe what it says about God. Write these down. Let’s compare lists.
Jas 1:1 James, of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ a servant, to the Twelve Tribes who are in the dispersion: Hail!
2 All joy count [it], my brethren, when ye may fall into temptations manifold; 3 knowing that the proof of your faith doth work endurance, 4 and let the endurance have a perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire — in nothing lacking; 5 and if any of you do lack wisdom, let him ask from God, who is giving to all liberally, and not reproaching, and it shall be given to him; 6 and let him ask in faith, nothing doubting, for he who is doubting hath been like a wave of the sea, driven by wind and tossed, 7 for let not that man suppose that he shall receive anything from the Lord — 8 a two-souled man [is] unstable in all his ways. 9 And let the brother who is low rejoice in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his becoming low, because as a flower of grass he shall pass away; 11 for the sun did rise with the burning heat, and did wither the grass, and the flower of it fell, and the grace of its appearance did perish, so also the rich in his way shall fade away! 12 Happy the man who doth endure temptation, because, becoming approved, he shall receive the crown of the life, which the Lord did promise to those loving Him.
13 Let no one say, being tempted — ‘From God I am tempted,’ for God is not tempted of evil, and Himself doth tempt no one, 14 and each one is tempted, by his own desires being led away and enticed, 15 afterward the desire having conceived, doth give birth to sin, and the sin having been perfected, doth bring forth death. 16 Be not led astray, my brethren beloved; 17 every good giving, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, with whom is no variation, or shadow of turning; 18 having counselled, He did beget us with a word of truth, for our being a certain first-fruit of His creatures.
19 So then, my brethren beloved, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, 20 for the wrath of a man the righteousness of God doth not work; 21 wherefore having put aside all filthiness and superabundance of evil, in meekness be receiving the engrafted word, that is able to save your souls; 22 and become ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves, 23 because, if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, this one hath been like to a man viewing his natural face in a mirror, 24 for he did view himself, and hath gone away, and immediately he did forget of what kind he was; 25 and he who did look into the perfect law — that of liberty, and did continue there, this one — not a forgetful hearer becoming, but a doer of work — this one shall be happy in his doing. 26 If any one doth think to be religious among you, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his heart, of this one vain [is] the religion; 27 religion pure and undefiled with the God and Father is this, to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation — unspotted to keep himself from the world.
Alright, here are some observations I made on what James 1 says about God.
- God has human servants (v1)
- God generously gives wisdom (v5)
- God hears prayers (v5)
- The Lord fulfills promises (v12)
- God does not cause temptation (v13)
- God is the cause of all perfect gifts (v17)
- God is the Father of Lights (v17)
- God does not change (v17)
- God brought forth us (if I were to say “all people,” or “Christians” then this would be jumping to interpreting the word “us.”) (v.18)
- We are the first fruits (again, see how this is simply an observation and not interpretation) (v18)
- God’s righteousness is not the same as a man’s wrath (v20)
- Taking care of widows and orphans is a pure and undefiled way to worship God (v27)
Notice how you could have made each and every single one of these observations without having to know Greek, or the culture of 1st century Greece, or have to compare 8 different translations (I used the Young’s Literal Translation, BTW, to make you have to read it in case you were very familiar with a different translation). I also want to quickly point out that I did not make any observations about Jesus. Jesus is God. End of Discussion… but I want you to know that in 2 blogs from now I will discuss how to read the Bible with Jesus in mind (the big word is “Christologically”), so for this blog post I focused on making observations about God.
As we do our daily devotions, we so often can just skim through it half heartedly, or we can just try to look for what comforts us or make us sound smart. When we read the Bible asking “What does it say about ______?” it causes us to be learners and have God’s Word in the pilot seat. And as I mentioned in an earlier post- we read with God guiding us through His Word as we prayerfully read it.
We want to have God show us more about Himself. So often we miss out on God’s revelation of Who He Is in Scripture because we come with our own agendas, lack of discipline, or apathy (lack of care). Instead, let us joyfully and eagerly read our Bibles, expecting to learn and grow by simply taking the time to observe what the Bible is actually saying.
PS the next post on this series will bee on what does the Bible say about humans? We will look at how to read the Bible with an eye for what it says about you and me.