Lilly Park

Expanding Our Scripture Vocabulary

September 4, 2017

How would you rate your growing knowledge of Scripture? Note that I added “growing” in front of knowledge, because God is more concerned with our growth in the knowledge of Him (Ps. 86:11) than arriving at a level of “I know a lot about the Bible.”

When you give advice, do you tend to use the same passages? Maybe you start paraphrasing “Whether you eat or drink . . . do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). It might be that “God works all things for our good” (Rom. 8:28). There’s also Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” And so forth. The same verse or two are used again and again with other individuals.

Present a More Complete Knowledge of God

What’s going on here? Unknowingly, we develop a habit of relying on a few Scripture passages. We all have our favorite ones, don’t we? In this case, the problem isn’t using the Bible but how we’re using it. It’s like a conductor who only uses two instruments rather than the whole orchestra. The music is still good, but it could be more beautiful. Does our counsel portray a partial understanding of God because of our limited understanding or usage of His Word? We must expand our Scripture vocabulary by strengthening our familiarity with the whole Bible and the context of each book.

Assess Honestly Your Desire for God

There could be several reasons for habitually relying on the same few Bible verses. It might be ignorance, because you don’t even know where to find solid resources to help you. I’ve met people who mostly rely on Christian TV channels to answer their questions. It could be laziness, because you’re relying on a few verses that you learned in the past and it seems to be adequate. You might be a new Christian, so you are literally learning the Bible for the first time! For those of us who have been a Christian for several years, do we strive to know the whole Bible? Do we read mostly the New Testament, missing rich background knowledge from the Old Testament? Do we read random Bible sections without much structure?

On the other hand, the solution isn’t to increase our knowledge of the Bible. This too could be problematic. With wrong motives, we could easily become prideful of how much we know and miss the purpose of studying the Bible. The Bible becomes a book to master rather than the living Word that God’s Spirit uses to transform us. We confuse knowledge with spiritual maturity.

Increase in the Knowledge of God

In Colossians 1:9-12, Paul prays that the believers in Colossae would please God by “bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (v.10). These two acts of practicing and knowing God’s will are emphasized a few times in this short prayer. Paul wrote “increasing,” referring to an ongoing act. We should not stop growing in the knowledge of God even after being a Christian for decades or completing a Christian degree. That doesn’t mean we don’t have moments of spiritual dryness but our pattern is to seek God consistently.

 . . . To Know God More

So, how do we expand our Scripture vocabulary? We bear fruit and increase in the knowledge of God. Why should we? Because we are thankful to our heavenly Father for delivering us from the domain of darkness and redeeming us (Col. 1:12-13). As evidence of our new life in Christ, we want to know God more and guide others to know our great God. It’s our joy and privilege.

Questions for Reflection

How would you rate your growing knowledge of Scripture? Which verses do you tend to use in a repetitive way? What has been a useful way of expanding your Scripture vocabulary?

Lilly Park is an adjunct professor in counseling and women’s issues. She also serves as a counselor and counseling mentor at her church.

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