Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 10, 2018

A week or so ago, in a used-book store, I noticed this very impressive volume. Its black leather and gold embossing convinced me that it was a study Bible, but when I opened it I discovered that it was simply the “system.” It was filled with lots of Bible information such as a concordance, Bible book outlines, maps and so on, but no actual Scripture.

As I slid it regretfully back on the shelf, I thought, This is an impressive study tool, and has probably done much to familiarize people with the Bible. But what every Bible student needs is to simply open the Bible and read it.

There’s a place for Bible reference works, of course. I often use them to verify or disprove what I’ve discovered in my own sermon study, or to point me toward other verses where I can find additional context. But faced with the broad array of study resources, it’s far too easy to get the idea that the Bible is written in some sort of encrypted code, and can’t be understood without the “helps.”

Not true. The best way to understand the Bible is to open it and read it, a chapter or two (or more) at a time. That’s what the “system” developers and the producers of the other tools do (we hope). The other day I settled down with the English Standard Version, a modern yet very accurate translation, and started reading through Proverbs. I enjoyed it—and understood it—very much.

Why not try this yourself? Start with a modern version you’re not familiar with. And just read.