Two Simple Questions You Should Ask Every Time You Read Your Bible
There are countless questions you can ask when you read your Bible, but I believe these are the two most helpful questions you can ever ask. While asking other questions could be helpful, you might just be wasting your time.
In high school, I got the opportunity to work at the small local newspaper. I started out by freelance writing the recaps of the football games. When summer rolled around, I got the opportunity to come on to staff. I thought it would be a glamorous job. I would have my own byline. I would get to write feature articles and interview interesting people.
While I did get to do those things, there was also a lot that I had to do that wasn’t so glamorous. The paper was a three person operation. Therefore, I also had to sell ad space and help with layout. I had the glamorous job of collecting money on past due invoices. But there was one aspect of the job that I probably disliked…hated the most. Every week it was my sole job to put inserts in every single paper….every single paper….by hand.
Yeah. That grocery ad that everyone would throw in the trash every week was put in the newspaper by hand…by me.
There was one thing I did learn by doing this task though. Every task has a system that you can put into practice that uses the least amount of energy to get the exact results that you desire. By the time my summer was done, I had perfected the art of inserts. What took me several hours at the beginning of the summer only took me a little under an hour at the end of the summer.
I knew which way to face the newspapers, which way to face the inserts, which hand to use for each, how many times I needed to lick my finger, how often I needed to rest, how tall the stacks needed to be, whether to stand or sit, and countless other minimal factors that added up to big results.
This is a lesson I have done my best to incorporate into all of my life…including in how I read the Bible. Now don’t get me wrong. Our Bible reading isn’t something that should be rushed or systematized to the lowest common denominator. But sometimes we can overdo it and miss the big point. We can end up asking all the wrong questions and not see any growth in our lives.
So if we were to boil our Bible reading down to it’s Minimum Effective Dose, what would be the most important questions that we need to ask so we aren’t wasting our time and energy? I would say that there are two minimum questions that we should ask every time we open our Bibles to read.
Who Is Jesus?
The Bible has been described as countless things: a road map, a blue print, an instruction manual, a history book, a love letter, as literature, a collection of stories, a good book, the good book, rubbish, full of lies, fiction, the word of God, the bestseller of all time….you get the idea. But what is the Bible really all about? What is the central figure and function of scripture?
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27 ESV)
Jesus tells us that the Bible is about him and what he has done. The Bible isn’t about us. The Bible is about Jesus. After Jesus rose from the grave, he spent 40 days with his disciples. During that time he taught them about how scripture pointed to him. It was all there as a foreshadowing of the things to come. It was a foreshadowing of Jesus.
Jesus pointed towards this all through his ministry as he would quote scripture and titles from scripture in reference to himself.
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:20-21 ESV)
He wasn’t twisting scripture to mean something new…he was showing us what it always really meant in the first place.
If the primary purpose of scripture is to point us to Jesus, then our primary purpose should to be to look for him every time we open our Bibles. Jesus should be on the front of our minds. Who is he? What did he do? What was he like? Where did he go? Who was he with? Why?
You get the idea.
As we begin to understand who Jesus is, we begin to see who we are in light of him. It’s only after we have a correct understanding of Jesus that we can then move on to ourselves.
What Should I Do?
Once we have seen Jesus for who he is, this will hopefully stir up in us a desire to change, to follow, to rest, to grow. If we look for the things we should do without seeing that Jesus has already done it on our behalf, we are no better than the pharisees of Jesus’ day. We need to understand that “it is finished.” We aren’t asking the question, “What do I need to do?” Because we don’t need to do anything. Jesus has already done everything for us.
“What should we do?” is a question of reaction to what we learn from asking the question, “Who is Jesus?” The first leads to faith. The second leads to action out of that faith.
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17 ESV)
A true understanding of who Jesus is should lead us to action. That action should be based off what Jesus has already done. It is a symbiotic relationship. As we see Jesus, we should want to pray, confess, repent, give, receive, rest, go, make, read, teach, prophesy, help, serve, leave, cry, scream, shut up, love, learn, cut out our eye, organize, give up, keep going, create, destroy, die, live, pick up, fast, celebrate, carry, plan, eat, feed, preach, cast out, read, share, play, laugh, morn, and once again you get the idea.
Once again, there are countless questions you can ask when you read your Bible, but I believe these are the two most helpful questions you can ever ask. I would personally say that without asking these two questions you’re missing the primary purpose that God gave us the Bible…to introduce us to His Son and show us what we need to do in light of Him.
Here is a practical suggestion I have for you. I actually got these two questions from my pastor several years ago. His suggestion was to write the two questions in my journal every time I sat down to read my Bible. To this day, that is what I do the majority of the time. Before I open up my Bible, I pray that Jesus would show me himself and show me what I need to do. Then I write these two questions down in my Bible. Then I open my Bible and put in the answers that Jesus shows me.
Every time Jesus is faithful to show me something new or remind me of something I’ve forgotten. Every time I am shown where I am weak and where he is strong. Every time I am drawn closer to him.