How To Grow Closer To God By Reading The Bible

How can reading the Word of God draw you closer to God?

Reading the Bible

Reading the Bible seemed like a simple task at first, but I soon realized that I needed some help in explaining certain passages. Some verses seemed so daunting. There are so many verses to write on our hearts and truths to be revealed that it’s hard to know where to begin, but the Bible is unlike any other book. It’s a book that can be read over and over again, and each time, new understanding comes, and the former passages that were difficult eventually became easier to understand, although many will always remain difficult. I don’t normally read a book twice, but the Bible is not just a book. It is the very breath of God, so here are some ways you can draw closer to God by reading the Word of God and other applications.

Meditating on the Word

Our church elder said that meditating on the Word of God is a lost art, and he’s absolutely right. Its one thing to read the Word of God, but it’s an altogether different thing to sit and contemplate what we read. I would rather read only a few lines of Scripture and mediate on these than read a whole chapter and then not remember most of it. When we take time to reflect, ponder, and mediate on His Word, the Word penetrates deep into our mind and this allows us to internalize it and memorize it. We lose out on so much when we simply read the Bible but don’t slow down to meditate on it. The Psalmist says we are to hide or memorize God’s Word in order that we might not sin (Psalm 119:11), and you can’t do that by skimming over chapters. There is such power in His Word (Isaiah 55:11; Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18) but we often don’t tap that power when we read right past it. The Scriptures tell us to meditate on His Word, both day and night, but you can never meditate on the Word of God if you’re not reading the Word of God. The Lord told Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). The psalmist wrote, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97), and that’s because His commandments make us wiser and give us more understanding (Psalm 119:98-100).

Context is King

Tapping into the power of Scripture takes practice and patience, but daily reading of the Word also helps us not take texts out of context, and this helps us avoid pretexts, so how do we avoid taking texts out of context? It’s so easy to rip one verse out of context and create a pretext, but often it’s a false one, and of course, we don’t want that. That’s how cults are formed. We need to read the verse within the whole context of the chapter, and even within the context of the book. Taking texts out of context are how heated arguments begin, but this is typically pride-induced. Someone takes one text to prove that they’re right and the other person’s wrong, but what happens is Christians wield the Word of God like a sword and use it against other in a way it was never intended.

Personalize the Bible

How can you personalize the Bible? You can do this by putting “you” or your name in a certain verse. Of course, it doesn’t work with every verse, but when the Lord s addressing believers, it works very well. Here’s an example: John 3:16 can read, “For God so loved the (Sarah/Gary/you) that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” or Colossians 1:21-22 works well by adding personal names: “And you Sarah/Donnie, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.” Even on its own, the Word of God is quite personalized as we read in Colossians 2:6-7 where the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Prescriptive vs Descriptive

All Scripture is written for believers but not all Scripture is written to believers as far as application is concerned. One obvious example is the animal sacrifices. To try and apply these to believers today would be ridiculous. These verses were written to Israel and are prescriptive to Israel, or written specifically to them and for them to act on (application). You must read Scripture as prescriptive, descriptive, or both, because some Scriptures are to be applied to whomever they were written too (prescriptive). Circumcision was not commanded of Gentiles. Those verses were prescribed only to Israel and those who joined with them, but they are also descriptive of God’s unique covenant with the descendants of Israel (Gen 17). The Mosaic Laws are prescriptive, or prescribed for Israel, however, these laws are also descriptive because they describe how God sees sin and that sin requires a blood sacrifice. Paul wrote that he was crucified with Christ, but that is more descriptive than prescriptive because we no longer live in the flesh since we have Christ living in us (Gal 2:20). Cleary, Paul is not prescribing that we literally crucify ourselves; it is more of a descriptive verse showing that we must die to ourselves and live for Christ (Rom 6:8). We can’t read this and really believe that Paul was crucified with Christ on Calvary can we?

The Helper

One crucial part of reading the Bible is allowing the Spirit to guide us. There are many times when I have felt like I just read a verse for the very first time. It’s not that I hadn’t read it before, but there was suddenly a new revelation of the meaning behind the verse. This happens when we pray for the Spirit’s guidance? The Holy Spirit can help us make more sense of the Scriptures if we pray for His help in understanding what God’s Word is saying to us. Ask the Spirit to help bring you understanding, but within the proper context. Ask the Spirit, “Where is this applicable in my life?” Jesus said that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26), so “when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26).

Have a Plan

I love the advice of many Bible teachers and scholars who advise us to have a daily reading plan so that we can gain wisdom from the Scriptures. Personally, I read some out of the Old Testament and then some from the New Testament every morning. No Bible, no breakfast, so as hard as it is a times, I know I need it, and the times when I don’t feel like reading the Bible are the very times I need it most! We don’t eat one meal on Sunday expecting it’ll last us all week, so we must have a daily intake of our Daily Bread, the Word of God, to sustain us through the difficult trials, temptations, and tests that may come in the day. Have a plan and try to stick to it.

Take Notes

I love to mark my Bible. The paper is not holy….God’s Word is. I highlight certain passages that are very important to me. When I see certain verses, I write them out or highlight them so that I can memorize them. Second Corinthians 5:21 and 1 John 1:9 are very important to me because these are essential to every believer. When we read something, then highlight it, and then write it out, we give our mind three ways in which the Word can sink down deep into our minds, and then we can recall them when we need them during the day.

Conclusion

As for me, I like to start in the Old Testament and go from Genesis to Malachi and also from the Gospel of Matthew to Revelation, so I read it chronologically. Reading both Testaments gives me a good look at God’s plan and His will for my life. That keeps Scriptures in context (avoiding pretexts), enabling me to know whether it’s descriptive (the parting of the Red sea) or prescriptive (repent and believe). In this way, I can have God’s Word hidden in my heart, and it might even keep me from sinning (Psalm 199:11).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

"More and endless babyish wish thinking nonsense.1. It is NOT the "word of a god" ..."

Comforting The Afflicted, Afflicting The Comfortable
"I have a cat that loves fresh water too, like Fluffy, her name is "Bebe", ..."

Cats, Me, and God
"Thank you Melinda. Praying for Pud and others who have not yet trusted in Christ."

Where Is Your Treasure? There Is ..."
"No it isn't...it's hogswallop for the stupid and gullible"

But God

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Evangelical
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • pud

    LOL…you are an endless nonsense generating machine jack!

    “Reading both Testaments gives me a good look at God’s plan and His will for my life. That keeps Scriptures in context (avoiding pretexts), enabling me to know whether it’s descriptive (the parting of the Red sea) or prescriptive (repent and believe). In this way, I can have God’s Word hidden in my heart, and it might even keep me from sinning (Psalm 199:11).”

    LOL!~ the timeless, spaceless, eternal creator of universes wants you to dance on the end of puppet strings….How arrogant you really are jack. How offended he must be if you think a bad thought! OH NO! be a good drone and get a cookie!

    The “Red Sea” story is myth jack…it’s a story…a make believe story that only lunatics could believe as true….grow up jack…time to grow up

    • HpO

      “LOL”? Hey everyone, pud here is telling us to Love Our Lord (“LOL”), the Lord Of Life (“LOL”)!

    • You know I crack wise on a number of topics, but you have to be a real doofus to have only 1 thumb up for every 3-4 comments.
      No one even likes comedians whose only act is to insult others for their views.

      • pud

        Consider the audience dummy..duh

        • I consider them, but I see you consider them ‘dummys’ which is no way to win them over to your absurd point of view

          • pud

            And just what is my “absurd point of view” whitey?

          • Your entire reason for writing anything is to disagree, poke fun at others, denigrate their views. You are clearly a plant sitting in a troll factory. If not, maybe your ex was right and you should seek help.

          • Ask him directly, anti-Whitey.

  • Carlos Santiago

    Studying has been very rewarding. I can sit and compare various commentaries, each of which provides a different perspective. I find that rereading a text months or years later brings additional insights that I missed before or has been illuminated by life experiences.
    Thank you Jack.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      Commentaries are not the Bible Carlos, and none of them are worth the paper they are printed on.

      • Jack Wellman

        Commentaries can help us much as they give us references to additional Scriptures and commentators have done the hard work to find supportive verses or explain historical or cultural backgrounds which are very important in understanding the text and the context of it. Thank you Mr. Jones.

        • Theodore A. Jones

          Nada. In case you are not aware of it only a very few ever find the Gate, There is not any author of any biblical commentary who has or will Jack. “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13 Just reading the Bible does not accomplish anything positive. For it is only by the faith of actually doing exactly what it specifies that will result in God having anything positive to do with you.

          • Guestie

            Exactly right. And only God gets to decide who has faith. God has ultimate authority. God determines who gets to go to heaven and who gets consigned to hell. We humans can do nothing without God.

          • Theodore A. Jones

            “It is better to obey rather than sacrifice.” Your salvation from serving the penalty of eternal death is predicated upon your faith to obey that law Paul referenced in Rom. 2:13. Whomever is honest with God in this Way will be granted the grace to escape from serving the penalty of eternal death. However all pontificates and persons who refute the soteriological validity of Rom. 2:13 are not personages God will grant an escape.

          • HpO

            Actually, then, like Jack Wellman here, you also want us to be legalistic, by treating our bibles like “‘the Book of the Law … so that [we] may be careful to do according to all that is written in it [thereby making our] way prosperous, and … hav[ing] good success’ (Joshua 1:8)”.

          • Theodore A. Jones

            There is no soteriological mutuality relative to myself and Jack Wellman. Jesus Christ was murdered by crucifixion. No one can be a direct beneficiary of sin. Especially the sin of murdering God’s only begotten son.

          • HpO

            “No soteriological mutuality”, my foot.

            Jack Wellman’s blog via Patheos belongs to the category, Evangelical. What’s your classification?

          • Theodore A. Jones

            Evangelicalism’s soteriological conjecture, substitutionary atonement, alleges that the sin of murdering Jesus Christ is not a universally accountable sin by law. However the statement Jesus made in Jn. 16:8, establishes that all of the world’s populace is guilty in regard to sin post of the sin of murdering Jesus Christ by crucifixion. Evangelicalism’s soteriological statement alleging that just murdering Jesus Christ by crucifixion has resolved mankind’s problem with sin is a blatant soteriological lie.
            Jack Wellman and myself do not have any soteriological mutuality. Where as Wellman alleges that sin of murdering Jesus was in your place; Jesus himself has directly directly refuted Wellman’s soteriological conjecture prior to the sin of murdering Jesus by crucifixion in Jn. 16:8.
            As for your foot, stick it in your mouth or in your posterior.

          • HpO

            No out-in-the-open, self-classification, then. Just classified: For Your Eyes Only. No matter, my God & Jesus can still see right through you. But what if there’s nothing to see (by Way of the Cross, I mean, of THE Christ of the gospels, epistles and revelation)?

          • Theodore A. Jones

            What!? in the world are you squawking about?

          • HpO

            According to Wikipedia’s sources, “the English word Squaw is an ethnic and sexual slur, historically used for Indigenous North American women. Contemporary use of the term, especially by non-Natives, is considered offensive, derogatory, misogynist and racist.”

            Oh wait, you said, Squawk.

            Never mind.

          • Theodore A. Jones

            What in the world are you squawking about?

          • Guestie

            God is much more powerful than you give him credit for and we are much less powerful than you think. You are risking much with your stiff-necked pride.

          • pud

            Anyone who does anything by “faith” is an idiot.

          • Even faith in science?

          • pud

            Science is not faith based

          • No faith in the evidence?

          • pud

            No. Science is not “faith based” All of science is model based meaning we construct models of how things work and make predictions based upon the evidence. Everything in science is a “probability’ not a fact or a truth. We accept certain propositions with degrees of certainty based upon evidence but never make any absolute claims and we remain open to new evidence. There is NO faith involved whatsoever. “Faith” is belief without evidence. It’s what the delusional simple minded religious do not what science does

          • Or faith is that in which we have good reason to believe is true.

            Science can never be objectively true because it is always changing

            And it can’t make value judgements

            It’s mind… Maths… Physics… Chemistry…biology

          • pud

            Science is justified belief based upon evidence. It is not “faith”. “Faith” is “belief” without evidence and/or justification. “Faith” has no bounds…you can “believe” any ridiculous notion based upon “faith” All “faith” is equal and all “beliefs” based on “faith” are equally delusional and baseless.

            Science deals in probabilities. I already explained this to you. It changes because it constantly gets closer to the truth!

            Religion deals in blind “faith”. It doesn’t care in the least for what is actually true

            Science can help us make value judgments ….notice how we treat disease these days vs. doing exorcisms and witch burning like you lunatics used to do?

          • Science will never get closer to
            truth because reality is not physical. It is a result of an immaterial world.

          • pud

            That’s the most stupid thing I’ve heard in years.

            Demonstrate a single example of something “immaterial” or anything in “reality” that isn’t material

            I’m not going to waste time with you…clearly you’re insane

          • Ha. You assume science is the only tool available to discover truth.

            You are insane.

            Science and the material are opposite of truth.

            道可道,非常道

          • pud

            As you type out your psychotic and delusional replies on a computer brought to you by science not jesus. LOL

          • I tried to reduce my thoughts and desires to atoms, but my computer said it couldn’t be done.

            Lol.

          • pud

            Maybe if you pray to Hanuman the Monkey God?

          • Science only deals with material truths, this cannot be used to experience immaterial truths

          • pud

            Oh…”immaterial truths”….such as? LOL

          • Material? Bigger lol…

      • Brianna LaPoint

        thank you for reminding me why i left christianity. Did you just imply hes worthless and his opinions dont mean squat? Now that was rude and uncaring, but i expect nothing less from someone who has their head up their bible.

        • Theodore A. Jones

          I am not aware of reminding you of anything. And when God himself chastises you for your stated impudence you will be aghast.

        • If you could ‘leave Christianity’ you were never a Christian.
          However if you mean ‘that’s why I left my last church group’ that is totally understandable. Being in Christ does not make us nice, but it should, at least help with tact and answering peoples genuine questions instead of biting their head off for curiosity. But, you will find that so few people actually understand the Bible you will get 10 different answers from 10 different people for the same question, and frankly, they may ALL be wrong. and that is why you must read God’s word for yourself.

          • Rational Human

            Right…to add another opinion to make 11.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you Mr. Santiago. I know there are many different perspectives, so yes sir, you are correct. I too use study Bibles (my favorite MacArthur’s ESV and the Reformation Study Bible from the late Dr. R.C. Sproul). You are always encouraging sir.

      • pud

        Of course! The “perfect word of god” needs lots and lots of interpretation, nuance, context etc…LOL! Do you ever listen to yourself? Do you?

  • Brianna LaPoint

    I remember someone telling me the Jews didnt need a mediator. I guess its when i realized you dont need god’s secretary to realize that you dont have to go through a secretary just to get close to god.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    Do what you feel is right, but i spent many years as a Christian, and the truth is it isnt for everyone, absolute truth is a concept and not a fact, and you dont have to believe in the bible to be a good person, nor do you have to believe in Jesus.

    • IF no one is good but God, and you don’t believe Him, you may as well ‘do as thy wilt’ and call it ‘good’ or in the words of scripture ‘let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’

    • Jack Wellman

      You said, “Absolute truth is a concept and not a fact” so how can we know that is true? How can you be absolutely sure that there is not absolute truth? 2 + 2 still equals four, even if you’re running a fever.

      • Daniel G. Johnson

        Brianna is ontologically lucid, and you knew what she meant and chose to beat her up nonetheless. Absolute truth has its own domain as in Rudolf Otto’s “wholly other”, and human beings, when they claim to tap into that, are full of bullshit.

      • One is not equal to two, but one is two.

      • Theodore A. Jones

        Hey Jack your problem is that statement Paul has made in Rom. 2:13. Get the log out of your own eye first then it might be p[possible for you to correctly advise others.

  • HpO

    Prescriptively, you want us to be legalistic, by treating our bibles like “‘the Book of the Law … so that [we] may be careful to do according to all that is written in it [thereby making our] way prosperous, and … hav[ing] good success’ (Joshua 1:8)”. But I’d rather not, seeing as Christ Jesus died because of that “Book of Law”.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13 “Do not go beyond what is written.” 1 Cor. 4:6 All of the Bibles I have register Paul to have made both of those statements.

      • HpO

        Prove it, that you “are righteous in God’s sight”.

        • Theodore A. Jones

          I have had the faith to obey the law the only Way it can be obeyed Paul has referenced in Rom. 2:13. But that law he references is not a part of the written code, i.e. law written on stones.

          • pud

            It’s a make believe story dude…it’s all made up nonsense. A book! An ancient ignorant book full of contradictions, impossibilities, absurdities written by no name savages and delusional lunatics….hello?

          • HpO

            Well, then, you must’ve meant to say earlier on that you “are [SELF]righteous in God’s sight”. Trust me, you really are. Congratulation.

    • There is quite a grand canyon of a nuance between obeying the law and being a legalist.

      • HpO

        I have an Oxymoron Detecting Machine with me, and it says, Yup Oxymoron, to your phrase, “a grand canyon of a nuance”. For a nuance to reach canyon scale, it no longer is.

        I’ll turn the machine off now, because it’s starting to annoy me, too.

    • Jack Wellman

      Yes, only Christ kept the Law and only Christ could keep the Law because God knew we could not. He fulfilled all righteousness.

      • HpO

        Joshua 1:8 was still blind of and to that gospel, though. That’s why it pointed to, as that verse says, “the Book of the [Mosaic] Law”, and binding all its readers and listeners to the Law without any hope for the Holy Spirit of Liberty in the Messiah. As yet. And so that’s why bible reading at the time is irrelevant for bible readers today. We have no idea what Joshua 1:8 meant for them, because they were heavy-laden under the Law, and Jesus’ disciples aren’t.

      • Theodore A. Jones

        The sin of murdering a man, any man, is a deliberate infraction of the written code, and therefore cannot be the direct benefit of dying in your place Jack.

  • Adam King

    Reading the Bible…the royal road to atheism.

    • Maybe Yahweh is not your God?

      • Adam King

        Bingo.

        • HpO

          So that’s a no, “Yahweh is not your God”, but the god Bingo is. Which atheist started that non-religion?

  • davidt

    The Bible along with Darwin and math and the dictionary and any other book all make great camp fire starter. They all in many ways agree reality starts in the printed page and manifests reality. It’s just semantics that is argued over! But hey this is a book KULTure after all!!!

  • a r tompkins

    “but I soon realized that I needed some help in explaining certain passages” So, you go to priests, or whomever has the nerve to claim *they* know what the passages mean. And it goes downhill from there. Completely open to interpretation. If the gods really wanted humans to be able to read their very own words, seems to me they could have done a much better job thinking through the relationships their creations have with the putative manual for life. Consider this thought experiment: it’s just you, all by yourself, on a desert island somewhere, no radios, no TV, no nothing, and one single book to read: The Holy Bible. What conclusions would you come to regarding the personality that created the universe and everything in it?

  • a r tompkins

    “One obvious example is the animal sacrifices. To try and apply these to
    believers today would be ridiculous. These verses were written to Israel
    and are prescriptive to Israel, or written specifically to them and for
    them to act on (application).” Now just why is it ridiculous to us, but not to any sensitive old-timer Jew? Isn’t god’s word god’s word? Have you tried animal sacrifices? maybe you’ll enjoy it. maybe god will bless you with a new job and a hot spouse. I know plenty of Xtians who think like that. are they wrong?