I said yesterday that it’s best not to rush to commentaries before allowing yourself to sit in your questions for a while, pondering it on your own and giving the Spirit time to guide you in what God is saying. It’s not that anything is wrong with using commentaries or seeking answers to the things we don’t know! The problem is that turning that direction too soon robs you of a special Bible study joy, one that comes only when we remain in the questioning long enough to hear the Spirit speak. Jen Wilkin, the author of the Sermon on the Mount study I’m doing right now, has been pushing us through this study to “dwell in the unknown.” In other words, get more comfortable in your studying with not knowing things.

Remember that psalm we talked about that said the unfolding of God’s Word gives light? Unfolding is a process. You can’t expect instant gratification. The timing of the Spirit’s revelations are up to him; certainly, some answers come faster than others. But we need to embrace the process and enjoy the resulting intimacy it creates with our Savior. Pressing deeper into our questions, rather than running from them, makes room for us to experience his presence; and it’s in his presence that we are changed

Bible study questions

If you aren’t new to studying the Bible, then I’m sure you’ve had experience with studying a passage and learning one thing and then at a later time studying it again and learning something completely new. This can happen repeatedly with the same piece of Scripture. I don’t know why it still surprises me when this happens, but I’m always amazed to see God enlarging my understanding and piercing my heart in new ways through the same text. This happens because the Spirit’s revelation comes in waves, and we need to accept that wonderful, mysterious gift.

Trust God’s timetable for your learning.

Why am I even talking about this? Because I think it’s so much harder than it sounds. Dwelling in unknowns is not an easy thing to live out. Who naturally loves pouring themselves into the discipline of Bible study and then finding at the end of the day’s study that they really didn’t gain any new knowledge? It can be frustrating to end with more questions and confusion than you had when you started! I’ve known it’s necessary to have patience with the process, but I’ve never been so challenged to live it as I have been this fall! Right now I’m feeling stretched by a difficult study, and this one has revealed just how much I resist sitting in the questions. I’m seeing that I often find peace in figuring things out instead of drawing nearer to the One who has it all figured out for me.

Tomorrow finishes our discussion of this aspect of learning to study the Bible, exploring even more of what it looks like to sit in our questions and how God might feel about it!

Bible study grace 31 days