How I Read Scripture

A fascinating discussion on how we read Scripture as true and authoritative for the Church today.

I don’t know if I’m totally convinced by everything said, but I think it’s a good start.

Part of the Timeline project made by my college (St John’s College, Nottingham)

Let’s talk about it!


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  1. I cannot believe I have just listened to a 24 minute presentation about what the bible is and what it means to us and how we should use it without one mention of God and HIS opinion – as seen by what HE has said in HIS Word to us!! Call me old fashioned – but when the bible tells me His Words can only be be spiritually discerned through revelation by the Holy Spirit and that any natural reading of/discussion about/or decision made about – is foolishness – I believe it – I haven’t had occasion to question God’s judgement yet and know I never will.

    What say others?


    • I worry that the approach which says ‘well I’ll just read the bible and let it speak for itself’ rather puts the cart before the horse, since the very way we hear and understand God’s words are very affected by what we think scripture is doing.

      I do see your point but my contention is that it is not a clear and consistent way to read scripture and does not help a church reach anything like a consensus over the meaning.


  2. since the very way we hear and understand God’s words are very affected by what we think scripture is doing ………

    I agree this is how we Christians think we should – and try to read the word – but this isn’t how God tells us to.

    Whilst a general understanding of Scripture is interesting and useful in a secular way – and I would encourage everyone to read the bible cover to cover regularly to get an overview of the historical timeline, consistency of thought and action, etc — this never brings the life giving revelation God wants to give us that deals with real life situations. Study of the word becomes an academic exercise limited to those who are academically inclined – satan thus achieves his purpose.

    Whenever (and I don’t do it often enough) I turn to God first – asking him to reveal to me what He wants to through His Spirit (search me oh Lord and reveal what you would have me know/understand/change/) and then turn to scripture trusting entirely on Him and not on my own understanding – the Words just jump out at me and affect and stir me deep in my spirit – and cause me to have tremendous joy and spontanious praise – I just find I “know it in my knower”. This is how God tells us to use his Word – we have made it into a secular (greek style) search for knowledge rather than a spiritual God reliant search for individual truth.

    The danger of secular study of God’s Word is that we get stuck in concepts and don’t allow the Spirit free reign – we limit God and thus God is unable to reveal the truth he wants to – leading to us not being able to use our faith in the situations we find ourself in.

    Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7 v 13

    Faith comes by hearing – and hearing by the Word of God Romans 10 v 17


    • You hit the nail squarely on the head when you describe the lack of transformation (of the reader) in the study of scripture. There are many good examples for us, and even in our own day, of those who live deeply loving, profoundly sacred lives and we might wonder and how.

      And so we might read the scriptures in order to follow their example.

      Yet the trend today is not that we do not know – we know and have access to more knowledge than ever before – but WHO we do or do not know.

      I might read some insight in Scripture, and it might even be pleasant to me, but unless I am in a body of people who revere and love God’s words and believe them to be life-giving, that insight will never transform our community, and thus its impact upon my life will be as limited as I am.

      And indeed the Spirit, the breath of God, is the one who brings such transformations. I think Paul went to great pains to explain this! So the reading of scripture is only profitable should God enlighten our minds and remove the stumbling blocks of pride from our hearts.


      • So the reading of scripture is only profitable should God enlighten our minds and remove the stumbling blocks of pride from our hearts. …………… Amen – except for the word “should” – he WILL – and except for expecting Him to remove the stumbling blocks of pride – that’s our job!! We are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds – God will do his part – but can only work in us individually insofar as we are willing and actively doing our part.

        I might read some insight in Scripture, and it might even be pleasant to me, but unless I am in a body of people who revere and love God’s words and believe them to be life-giving, that insight will never transform our community, and thus its impact upon my life will be as limited as I am. ………. surely it will have great impact on your life – and your relationship with God – even if you aren’t with a body of like minded believers – and that is fantastic in itself – our walk and affect on others is only ever a result of our walk and personal relationship with our Father God? And through our individual maturity in the faith we will indeed through faith and belief without doubt – turn an unbelieving body of people who don’t revere and love God’s words into a believing body of people who do revere and love God’s words. – how do you eat an elephant – one bite at a time – the first bite is us as individuals.


  3. My Morning Devotional Reading – this guy says what I mean to say so much better! (J0hn 6 v 40 to John 7 v 1) John 6 v 63 – Jesus is stating that our spirit, not our flesh, is where our life comes from. These people were so dominated by their physical lives that they were missing all the spiritual significance of His words. Although God’s Word does benefit our physical man, the Word is spiritual and must be understood through the spirit. God’s Word is spirit and it takes our spirit to illuminate its truths to our minds.

    The Word of God is not paper and ink. Jesus is the Word, and He existed in spiritual form long before any words were inspired to be written down by the Holy Ghost. The Bible is simply a physical representation of Jesus and spiritual truth. It is inspired of God and therefore, totally accurate and reliable, and yet, until we receive the Spirit expressed in these words the Bible will not profit us. This is why many people have read the Word, maybe even memorized it, and yet aren’t reaping its benefits.

    Just as our physical man receives life from the food he eats, so our spiritual man receives life as we partake of Jesus, the “bread of life. Jesus plainly stated that the words He spoke were spiritual – not physical.

    If we want to know what spiritual truth is, we must believe the Bible, for it is spirit and life. If we want to be led by the Spirit, then we must follow God’s Word. If we want to hear from the Spirit of God, then we must listen to what God says in His Word. The Spirit (Holy Spirit) and the Word (Jesus – Jn. 1:1) are one.


    • I think your devotions author has a good point, though I am very uncomfortable with a ‘physical/spiritual’ distinction when it comes to reading the Scriptures, words recorded from physical human mouths, physical human events and most wondrously witnessing to a physical, human Christ.

      So I want to affirm that the Spirit (of God) gives life not only for the Christian (new life) but of course for all humans (breath of God, Gen 2).

      And I love how the author distinguishes between Jesus as Word of God, the Man who lived in the 1st century and was crucified and what we have as scripture. I wouldn’t say it is a physical representation of Jesus, in that it does not do the same thing as Jesus does. Rather is witnesses, and is the only true witness, to Jesus the Word of God.

      And so, it would be a poor analogy to suggest that the ‘physical’ Jesus fed people physically while the ‘spiritual’ Jesus feeds people ‘spiritually’ through the Bible, as if one were more important than the other.

      In fact both positions might betray an attitude which thinks of Jesus as our provider and places him as some kind of dispenser of a service, be that food or warm fuzzy niceties.

      Rather, like the meal Jesus gave to the crowd, there is a vast assembly of people gathered who share in the Apostle’s great blessing, in the company of Jesus Christ.

      Maybe the reason there is no benefit from the Word is because it is being treated as a spell book to make our lives better, rather than the words of eternal life to be shared among the great crowd of those who want to meet Jesus.


      • Think you’ve missed the whole point of what he is saying and have “intellectualised” everything he has said.

        Let the Words be spiritual in your life – it’s the only way . The Holy Spirit physically lives inside you – and wants to lead you in a truly supernatural lifestyle if you will open the tap and let Him.

        The author doesn’t “distinguish between”! – he says the written Word is ONE AND THE SAME AS Jesus – it makes no difference whether you consider Jesus the flesh man Jesus the Son of God or Jesus the Word – they are one and the same. And scripture is very much a real actual visual image of Jesus.

        It really really DOES do exactly the same thing that Jesus did. It gives us the power to be Christ physically to the world. the very Words on the page give us a spiritual power if we accept them spiritually – to enable us to live the same life Jesus lived. God does everything through His Word – he has given us His Word in order that we can do everything through it too.

        Jesus is our provider – not in “fuzzy” terms but in actuality. Galations 2 v 20 – the life that we now lead ……

        Jesus – through the disciples did feed the multitude – but each individual had personal food to eat.

        What do you mean by ” Maybe the reason there is no benefit from the Word” I get amazing personal spiritual actual daily power life guidance healing provision joy feeding and many many other benefits from The Word.

        As I’ve said before – if I’ve got it wrong – don’t wake me up – this is working for me in real life.


  4. So Jesus is a book?



  5. In very real way yes – Jesus is THE WORD – he is THE WORD made flesh – he is also THE WORD written, spoken, heard – so whether we meet Jesus the Man or Jesus the Book the WORD is still the WORD. That’s why it works. That’s why it’s poweful.

    If Jesus was/is/ever will be THE WORD – then any WORD that comes from God – such as HIS WRITTEN WORD – is very much Jesus.


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