I guess one might say I know a little bit about teaching. It was my pleasure to be able to earn a living in the classroom for thirty-six years. I saw evidence of learning in the classroom [student responses to questions, testing and behavioral performance]. It was always fulfilling to see my efforts bear some fruit. Just the other day at a public function, a community leader came up to me and confessed that my classes were tough to get through [public speaking] but now he sees their worth. He said he uses the skills I taught every day. I guess sometimes it takes a while for fruit to come forth from the vine.
It may be that way with the Bible. As Christians, we know we are supposed to read God’s Word, but Pastor Graham goes one further. He says that not only are we supposed to read His Word, we are supposed to study it. Not only are we supposed to study it, we are supposed to study it over and over as we live our lives.
The Holy Spirit is in charge of our teachable moments. In my Bible reading, I reread passages that I have encountered before and even though I recall earlier exposure to the information, sometimes I see things I have never seen before. Graham calls that “speaking to our hearts.” The more study that a person does, the more a better understanding comes about. We give the Holy Spirit a chance to enlighten us and do His work in us. Study bathes our hearts in His Word, even if we are not conscious of every word we are reading.
Someone trying to read the Bible may be on a Bible reading plan to read it in a year and then they stop. It is a fact that many Christians hear Scripture from the pulpit on Sunday morning and that is all of the Bible they will hear.
That is not the study that Graham is writing about.
Graham quotes Reverent Gottfried Osei-Mensah: “It is the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal truths previously hidden from human search and understanding, and to enlighten men’s minds to know and understand them. . . .If the role of the Holy Spirit is to teach, ours is to be diligent students of the Word.”
Some wait on God to communicate to them, to lead, guide and direct them in their daily lives. They believe God is still in the teaching business [I would venture to say they are right]. In the earthly days of Jesus, He was referred to as teacher many times in the Bible and there is ample evidence that He produced many teachable moments for His followers, but with the Bible it takes a bit of work and commitment on our part to tap into the teaching that can come from Bible reading. What Pastor Graham is telling us is that there is a ready source of learning material from God right in our Bibles every day of our lives.
One can only imagine the number of times Pastor Graham read his Bible, but attend to the words he says about repeated study: “As I have studied the Scriptures, things I might have known intellectually for years have come alive to me in their fuller spiritual significance almost miraculously. As I have studied the Scriptures, I have also learned that the Spirit always lets more light shine from the Word. Almost every time I read an old familiar passage, I see something new.”
It is that “more light” that we should desire. We don’t know everything about the Bible and we never will. We need to constantly study the Word of God, for there is more there than we can ever imagine.
Toward the end of my teaching career, I added a nice phrase to my door at my college. Over the years I have seen many professors’ office doors and it seems that most would put pictures, newspaper clippings or expressions on their doors, things that communicated some insight about them. The idea was that maybe students would come to the door and learn a little about a professor before knocking and coming in.
I put a phrase in Latin on my door. I knew that most students probably did not know Latin but I hoped some would ask me what the phrase meant and I would have a chance to tell them. I removed the phrase from my door when I retired and I have it at home now in a frame. It was “ancora imparo”, a phrase attributed to the Italian renaissance genius Michelangelo.
In my thinking, it applies to students of God’s Word, doing lifelong work to learn from God, via the Holy Spirit. The Spirit illuminating Scripture for our benefit as Christians.
The phrase means, “yet, I am still learning”…