The Power of Scripture

Let me throw a shocking fact at you that you probably didn’t know:

“Many biblical scholars in the world are atheists.” 

Is that shocking to you? Maybe it shouldn’t be. After all, the Bible is an interesting ancient document that many secular people have found to be an intriguing study in history and cultural significance. Even Satan has an intricate knowledge of scripture! 

This shows that it isn’t enough for us to simply intellectually study Scripture. The most powerfully transformative, yet unintentionally misunderstood parts of our spiritual formation, is the personally-transforming nature of soaking in the truths of God’s Word (the Bible).  

Allow me to clarify a bit. Many of us that have grown up in the Church have been accustomed to reading the Bible. Whether it was doing what were known as “sword drills” (seeing how quickly you could find a passage of Scripture), memorizing passages (something I am still fairly terrible at – thanks ADHD!), or digging deep into the most difficult passages with a commentary in one hand and a shot of espresso in the other, I was assimilated into the idea fairly early that the Bible should be an important tool in my life.  

As I’ve learned more about myself over the years, I realized that my personality always had a leaning towards STUDYING the Scriptures, academically speaking. I have always enjoyed learning, and I often approached Scripture in my life as another series of books to learn as much about as possible, trying to understand the historical, geographical, theological and eschatological meaning behind every section of Scripture I could get my hands on.  

I pursued the Bible first with this academic mindset, and would often pray that God would help me to apply the truths I was reading to my own life. Now, to clarify, there is absolutely nothing wrong with learning as much about the truths of God as possible by reading the Bible. Scripture itself communicates the importance of reading and studying God’s word in 2 Timothy 3:14-17

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Clearly, we are to be in God’s Word as part of our daily practice. But where the disconnect happens for many of us tends to be not in the academic side of our faith (as the multitude of “bible studies” provided by every Christian organization have shown), but also in the transformative side of our faith! 

Put more succinctly, when we read the Bible, we are not just reading to learn about Truth. We are also reading to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us as we seek to understand not just what’s written on the pages themselves, but the truths that the Holy Spirit speaks into our hearts and souls as it imprints these truths into our very being. There is a particularly divine nature of Scripture that is imbued within us as the Holy Spirit convicts, translates, corrects, and inspires how we ought to live our lives as we soak ourselves in the written Word.  

An oft-forgotten ancient Christian metaphor is “Illumination” – this is how the Spirit works within our souls, even as we read Scripture. As we develop the practice of reading Scripture, we don’t just learn the truths of God, but we learn to understand more about the truths of God.  

Jonathan Pennington (PhD, University of St. Andrews) provides the truth of this thought:

“We don’t simply understand and then follow. We come to understand as we follow. This is the work of the Spirit.

So for our church community, I would like to present a challenging idea to you – don’t just read Scripture to increase your knowledge about God, but instead, pray that AS you read Scripture, the Holy Spirit would illuminate the deep-seated truths about who He is with the clarity that only the Holy Spirit can bring.

Remember, it’s not simply an intellectual exercise – it’s a spiritual practice that aims to transform us from the inside-out.  

-Pastor Dusty