Know the Scriptures: The First Task of a Timothy

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I have yet to meet a true, born-again believer who does not love their Bible. How do I know when person loves their Bible? It’s all they talk about. Scripture is in their language. Scripture is in their prayers. The Bible’s in their back pocket. Everything they discuss reminds them of the pages of Scripture. You know how it is: you start talking to them and they say, “You know, I was reading this morning in brother Jude’s letter. . .” Personally, I just become really uncomfortable when someone is telling me about a “spiritual experience” they had or what “God told them last night” and I can’t even link together a Scripture reference to their language and terminology. That concerns me.

Be sure there will be no experience, no dream or vision that cannot be directly verified by the context of Scripture. Check this out: Peter, when speaking about that holy moment when he, James and John stood before the Son of God as He was transfigured (Matt 17), says to us, “We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” And then, just before we all start feeling jealous that he was there and we weren’t, he says something that blows my mind: “And we have something that is more certain: the word of the prophets.” What! You mean that we, the church, have something that is more certain than standing on the mount of transfiguration? Yep. The Old Testament. And more than that, we have the New Testament that confirms that the One of whom of the Old Testament speaks of, Jesus our king, has now come in the flesh. That . . . is cool.

So what can a young Timothy do in order to prepare for the work of the ministry? Know the Word. Memorize the Word. Pray the Word. Preach the Word.

Here are some tips that have helped me love the Scriptures:

1. Read The Bible

“Wow” you say. That was helpful. I know, it’s basic. But few Christians do it. The first step to Bible Study Methods is familiarity. Familiarity is key. Read. Read. READ.

2. Start At the Beginning

Picture with me trying to understand the LORD of THE RINGS trilogy by picking up one of the books at random, turning to the middle of that book, and reading a chapter. How long would it take you to understand what Tolkien was talking about? You might never understand it that way. But that’s exactly what we do with the Bible. We treat it as a collection of 66 complete random books that have no unity at all. I know that’s not what we think, but that’s the assumption that we are living under when we read the Bible at random. Read all the way through.  There needs to be an overall knowledge of the Bible, as a whole.  When we are studying a passage, or listening to a sermon, we need to be able to place every part of Scripture into the overall context of the entire canon and understand its unique purpose.  It is our hope to understand, the best we can, the aimed intention of the Divine Author for every part of Scripture.

3. Read a Whole Book at a Time

This is obviously easier in the N.T. than in the Old. But try it in the Old! Deuteronomy was a sermon brothers and sisters, and we have a hard time sitting through a 1/2 hour sermon! If you can’t read a whole O.T. book at a time, then at least review where you are in the narrative to remind you of the story. This is especially helpful in the N.T., where conclusions are pivotal to understanding the argument of the epistle.

Here are some ideas that can get you started… If you are aspiring to the work of an elder, hopefully you are already well beyond “started”.  So, in that case, hopefully this will help you continue to succeed in the essentials!

We must know the Word in order to preach it!

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4 Responses to “Know the Scriptures: The First Task of a Timothy”

  1. Trevor Maitland Says:

    These are some great tips Carey! It often seems that the greatest plague in our American church today is that people JUST FAIL TO READ THEIR BIBLES! John G. Mitchell, founder of Multnomah University, often used to challenge his students with this famous rhetorical question during classes: “Don’t you folks ever read your Bibles?!?”

    If this was a problem at a Bible college in previous decades, how much more so among the laity in our own times! These tips are more than helpful, and i would agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve written here.

    Press on, brothers and sisters, and fight for the time you need in the Word everyday!

  2. Bryce Says:

    Great advice about reading the Bible as a whole. In our evangelical world, “devotional” reading is too often the norm. Great insights, and ones that are well needed.

  3. Adam Says:

    This is excellent Carey, and very challenging.

    Personally, it is helpful for me to remember the single most decisive “appetite” that I was given when the Lord granted repentence and saved me in 1997 – a hunger for the WORD. I wanted to know about Jesus and to know not only “stories” but The Story of the Bible. I barely slept for months – reading late at night, late into the night, consuming whole books at a time.

    Becoming familiar with the Bible is something I’ve always likened to putting ammunition in a gun – the thing is powerless without bullets – as are we without the Word firmly planted and growing in our hearts and renewing our minds.

    When the Word is in us constantly and deeply, we are more likely to be ready with a good reply in whatever situation we find ourselves.

    Thanks for the blog fellas – may God establish the work of your hands…

  4. Ashley R. Says:

    Carey, thank you for challenging the Body of Christ to really know, to search, to pursue the AWEsome Word of God. I’ve been saved for a long time, but I never feel I can get enough of the Word – like crisp, clear water in a sun scourched desert. More, more, more, Lord! Thank you my Savior for Your life-giving, sustaining, satisfying, everlasting, never-failing Word!

    Now I just need to find a Bible that fits in my back pocket. =)

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