Many well-meaning church-goers are very content to be spoon-fed spiritually by hearing the Sunday school lesson or the Pastor’s message once a week for an hour.
Increasingly, many people do not go to church. People in churches, particularly pastors, think this is a violation of Hebrews 10:25, where the Bible commands us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. What most pastors and other Christian leaders have apparently no clue about is the fact that many people who would gladly go to church do not do so because they have been pushed out, in violation of Romans 15:7.
But whether you go to church or not, you still need spiritual food for yourself which you can only get from personal, independent Bible study.
What if you fed your physical body just one hour a week? Surely your physical health would deteriorate rapidly! And you would feel very ill very soon.
The same holds true for your spiritual health, only somehow we don’t seem to feel this as sharply as we would physical hunger.
Are you hungry spiritually? If not, then there is good reason to believe you might be spiritually dead.
Now if you were physically dead, you probably would not be reading all this. It would likely then do you little good.
But no matter what your actual spiritual state may be just now during this life, you can benefit from an improved spiritual diet.
Start with the basic spiritual food first. You will find that in the Gospel of John in your Bible, the fourth book in the New Testament.
Read the Gospel of John through repeatedly. Try reading at least three chapters a day for one week, and do this for a whole month. After reading it through four times in a row you should begin to understand and appreciate more of what it says.
Move on to the book of First John near the end of the New Testament, and read it repeatedly in the same way until you begin to master its contents.
You can easily do your own deeper study of the book of First John. There are certain words that are used repeatedly in the book, such as “light,” “life,” and especially the word “know.” Study the book of 1 John until you know what the book says you can know!
What you don’t know can hurt you, indeed. You need to get your knowledge of the Bible and spiritual things from the right source. That right source is the Bible itself.
I have described Real Bible Study here before as a wonderful trip to visit Robinson Crusoe’s Deserted Island for a time of uninterrupted study of the Bible alone.
God Himself in His wonderful Book clearly states in Proverbs 8:9 that the Bible is understandable. The Bible teaches this same truth in many other places. I’ve called attention to some of those places in some of my other posts on this site. I hope you will take the time to read the older posts on this site, reading them from the oldest to the newest in that order. You will learn a lot by doing this.
There is a grave danger in running to denominational commentaries, for if they are wrong, and they almost always are, you have no “checks and balances” within their source material to absolutely verify that they are teaching the truth. The Bible itself is the truth, and it is a self-teaching, self-correcting Book, if you will read it for yourself and let the Bible teach you.
There are many mistaken ideas taught in churches and by churches and denominations, ideas that cannot be found in the Bible if you were to read and study the Bible itself without the denominational “helps.”
That is why I suggest studying the Bible by using only a plain text Bible first.
Besides studying individual books of the Bible in depth, starting with the New Testament books of John and First John, do straightforward reading of the New Testament by reading it in sequence from beginning to end. Spend at least twenty minutes a day without fail doing this reading. Most days you ought to be able to find even more time for reading.
Once you have done this kind of independent Bible reading and Bible study, reading individual books repeatedly, and the New Testament continuously, you will begin to notice many subjects and themes are mentioned in more than one place. You will be able to see “connections” between things you never noticed before.
When I first began my Bible reading, I marked these themes using a short abbreviation for each theme which I penciled in the margin of my pocket New Testament. Sometimes I would stop and review those marked passages by theme, such as reading in turn all those marked ‘Pr’ for prayer, or ‘F’ for faith, and so forth. This helped cement the message of the New Testament on these themes in my mind. I suggest you try this practice too as a method of independent Bible study you can easily do yourself.
Now, there are much deeper subjects worthy of our personal, independent study in the Bible. Some of these subjects can be quite controversial, and you will find that many fairly well-informed individuals who appear to know their Bible well are not in agreement on just what the Bible teaches about these.
Some people shun these subjects, perhaps figuring “What I don’t know won’t hurt me,” when the real truth is that what you don’t know not only can but will hurt you spiritually.
We are commanded in the Bible to be ready to give an answer to anyone who may ask us the basis we have for the hope that is within us (broadly paraphrasing 1 Peter 3:15). To do this, we need to have a firm and thorough grasp of what we believe, and why. This requires a continuing growth in our knowledge of the Bible on our part. Such knowledge must not remain the province of our church or pastor or Sunday school teacher. We must learn these things for ourselves if we are to be adequately protected from falling prey to “every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14) and if we are to become firmly grounded in our faith (Colossians 1:23).
I shared the following Proverb with all my classes in public school for all the years I taught school as the very first of the daily proverbs and quotations I posted on the classroom blackboard: “Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom; with all thy getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). I believe that wisdom and understanding comes primarily from the Bible.
Another quotation I shared far less often said something like “He who learns by finding out knows seven-fold more than he who learned by being told.”
That is why I believe you need to study the Bible daily for yourself!