We are living in strange times in the church. On the one hand, never have we lived in such times of Biblical wealth, with so many study Bibles, and commentaries, with so many various study tools. Yet in the church we also are still suffering with a deep biblical illiteracy. How can these two things coexist at the same time? It is one of the many contradictions that the church is going to have to face and find a solution for in our times!
We could just look at the problem and ask why this is as it is? or we could come up with a solution. We didn’t get in this spiritual slump we are currently in overnight, and it is likely that we wont get out of it over night either.
I am fully persuaded that the only way we can get out of this mess we are in is to return to the Bible, to begin to study our Bibles, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. Because this discipline has been neglected, not only by church members, but also many spiritual leaders, we have remained in spiritual ignorance, and we have many blind spots when it comes to worshipping God for who He really is as portrayed in the Bible.
One of the signs that we could be under false teaching, is when we go to a church where there are never any expositional book studies in the Bible. The greatest value of book studies is, we are forced to read scripture verses in context. You may rest assured that all false teachings begin with wresting a verse out of context somehow. This happens a lot more than we realize I think.
Another strength of studying, or ministering through the Bible verse by verse is, it forces you to look at every topic in the Bible. If we are honest with ourselves, there are certain topics that we really like to talk about, and other topics that make us feel very uncomfortable. If we only do topical studies, the chances are we will only cover the topics we like, not the ones that make us feel us uncomfortable. This I think describes the current problem and the reason for the state we are in.
The first thing we need to do is find a good study Bible, there are lots of them out there! The study notes are not on a equal par with the word of God, but are very helpful for you as you read along, getting another perspective, and accompanying scriptures that deal with the same issue. The esv study Bible to mention one is very good. Next a good commentary can be very useful. Matthew Henry is still very good, also Jaimeson, Fausset, Brown. I have also enjoyed Believers Bible commentary by William Macdonald, just to mention a few.
As you study the Bible in this way it will begin to change your spiritual appetite where the ministries that only harp on one subject wont feed you anymore, in fact you will begin to find that nothing outside of the word of God will really satisfy you. May the Lord give us this kind of hunger for His word!