Protestants often use the phrase sola scriptura to emphasize that we are nothing but Scripture. And that’s true. Scripture alone is our final authority.
But sola scriptura not only means “nothing but Scripture”—the absence of something, it also means the presence of something. Sola scriptura also means Scripture.
If, as Protestant Christians, we are not studying Scripture for ourselves, we are not sola scriptura. We are sola. We are alone.
Too many believers don’t study Scripture regularly on their own. They may go to church and hear someone preach or teach Scripture, but that’s where it stops. They don’t wake up Monday morning—or go to bed Monday night—reading God’s Word for themselves. This results in the sad combination of someone who says they have the truth but don’t personally enter into the truth. It’s not unlike someone who worships on Sabbath morning but lives like the world the rest of the week.
Every moment of every day, God’s living Word waits for us to enter in. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
So what keeps more church members from entering into God’s Word for themselves? In many cases, people simply don’t know how. They grow up seeing preachers and teachers masterfully hopping around Scripture, and they don’t how (or where) to hop.
But Scripture really wasn’t meant to be hopped around in. It was meant to be walked in, step by step. Scripture was meant to be read as it was written, verse by verse. Ironically, only when we’ve walked in Scripture do we know how to hop in Scripture.
To begin (or renew) your walk in Scripture, here’s a pathway:
1. Select a book of Scripture, such as Genesis, John, or Ephesians.
2. Select a good commentary or two, perhaps the Andrews Study Bible.
3. Study one chapter at a time. First read the biblical passage, underlining and writing notes in the margin. You’ll see things you’ve never seen before. Consult your commentaries after you have given thought yourself to the meaning, in context, of your text. The voices you hear in the commentaries may help to balance your own findings.
4. Move on to another book, then another. As you go to and fro, you’ll begin to notice beautiful connections within God’s Word.
Along with walking through Scripture, there’s also a time to take a run. Years ago a friend shared his practice of reading through Scripture in a month—every January. A spiritual jumpstart. The key is to read without stopping—like an unfolding story. As you jog though the carnage of the Old Testament, you’ll begin to feel desperate for the Messiah of the New Testament. The day you reach Matthew will change your life.
Reading through the Bible in a month isn’t as hard as it sounds: about 40 pages a day. You’ll not only wake up and go to bed with Scripture; you’ll have it for breakfast, lunch, and supper as well. Scripture will become your daily bread.
Andy Nash ([email protected]) is a professor and pastor who’s leading an Israel tour in Jesus’ steps June 3-12, 2018.