The other day, I came across a Facebook post I liked so much that I re-posted it to my church’s Facebook page.
It was a picture of an open Bible that was considerably worn. Its pages were marked with colorful highlighters, several passages were underlined and notes were scribbled in all the margins.
The caption was a quote from theologian Charles Spurgeon: “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”
It got me to thinking about my own study habits — not necessarily the frequency, but the method and the motivation.
First of all, I encourage learning from good local teachers. For me, that includes Bob McClain, Bob St. John, Carlton Weathers, Ryan Limbaugh and others, and radio ministries like those of John MacArthur, David Jeremiah and Adrian Rogers.
Learning from those kinds of teachers gives me direction in my own personal studies.
As a pastor, every Sunday morning is a built-in motivator to study routinely. Sunday messages don’t appear out of thin air. (Yes, it’s possible to “borrow” Internet sermons, but I don’t take that route. Those sermons weren’t written with my congregation in mind. That’s my job.) So I always have a need and a reason to study the Bible. But what should guide those studies?
Always, always start with prayer. And whenever you open the Book, it helps if you’re looking for something. For instance, my church is studying end-time prophesy, so that topic gives me direction in my studies.
One of the things that excites me most is looking for Jesus in the Old Testament, looking for types of Christ in the principles God established through the Hebrew nation.
For instance, the system of sacrifice perfectly demonstrates the final “once for all” unblemished sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of mankind. (Hebrews 10:10)
Other examples include the slaying of an animal to cover Adam and Eve in the garden, the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of the Hebrew people in Egypt, David slaying Goliath, and “the suffering servant” of Isaiah 53.
It amazes me to see the precision of the details that are so clear that it’s hard to miss the Savior.
I discovered another one recently while at a Sunday school class at 17th Street Baptist Church.
It’s the “Year of Jubilee” principle found in Leviticus 25.
God said that in the 50th year, all indentured servants who were enslaved because they had debts they couldn’t pay should be released to return home, and that all the land should be returned to those whose property had been forfeited because of debt.
The point was not to ignore that the debt was real. The message was to do for these people what they can’t do for themselves, give them what they can’t earn, forgive them even though they don’t deserve it.
And there it is — Jesus.
Because of Jesus, the Father can give us salvation and eternal life that we can’t earn. Because of Jesus, he can forgive our sin, even though we don’t deserve it. (Ephesians 4:32)
All the way back in the days of Moses, God gave us a picture of the freedom and redemption that would be available to us today in Christ. And he called it the Year of Jubilee.
If you want to be encouraged in your studies — regardless of where you are in the Bible (Luke 24:27) — look for Jesus.
Managing Editor Anthony Cook is pastor at Christian Fellowship Bible Church. He is the author of “By the Book,” available at local Christian bookstores or online. Phone, 256-235-3558. Email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter, acook_star.