Over the last year I’ve been training in Muay Thai Kickboxing to get in shape and learn useful skills in self-defence, but it has also shaped my Bible study habits and how I approach Scripture.
Footwork: In any martial art, footwork is the foundation of all movement; without it you just fall all over the place and end up injured. Studying the Bible is much the same, without proper doctrine guiding you, you will end up in some very weird places. Without doctrine rooting you in a firm foundation you will end up interpreting Scripture like Gnostics and start getting some very strange ideas. Finding a good Bible commentary that is rich in church doctrine is a good place to start as well as asking questions of a reputable pastor about church doctrine.
Watch the Older Students: When one begins training, one tends to watch and learn from older students; one studies how they move and how they act so one learns the etiquette of the gym. In much the same way, we must learn from those who have gone before us. From this I learned to check my interpretations against those who are more mature and educated in the Bible to ensure I am doing it right.
Form: Every martial art has its own set of specific movements unique to it and the study of Scripture is no different; it too has its own unique set of “movements”. To interpret Scripture one needs to take into account the historical times and cultural norms of the people the books of the Bible were written to. One also needs to look for Jesus Christ in all parts of Scripture, though one needs to be careful not to spiritualize what one reads and start seeing myth and allegory in everything; that leads to error.
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition: In martial arts, one needs to train to build up muscle memory and develop reflexes that react a certain way. Study of the Bible is the same way. The best way I have found to study is to take a single book or passage of Scripture and read it over and over everyday for 30 days. For instance, Ephesians can be read in one sitting. Read it everyday for 30 days and you will have memorized where everything is and with each read through you will gain deeper and deeper understanding. For longer books like the Gospel of John, simply divide it into 3 sections of 7 and read each section everyday for 30 days. Study the Bible this way and you could go through the entire New Testament 30 times in two-and-a-half to three years.
HIYAA!!!: Everyone knows about the yell a martial artist gives out when they strike, and it is true. When one yells while striking, it gives more strength to it. Likewise we should read the Bible aloud when studying it. Revelation 1:3 says “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” Not only will slowing down from a silent reading pace help it sink in, but it brings blessings to us.
Obey the Coach: It is the coach who runs everything, who teaches the class and corrects students. When one obeys what he says, one learns and develops faster than if one just imitates what one sees or tries to figure everything out on your own. Likewise, we must obey the Holy Spirit.
John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
2 Peter 1:20-21 “ … knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
What do you think is the best way to study Scripture?