Stop Seeing the Bible as a Reference Book

A guest post by Chandler Vannoy

Dictionary.

Thesaurus.

Encyclopedia.

We all know what these are. These are all reference books, and a reference book is only used when you need to use it as a source to make a point. The definition reads, “a book intended to be consulted for information on specific matters rather than read from beginning to end.“It’s a source that we pull up when we need to back up a point or further clarify what we are trying to say.

And this is exactly how many of us treat the Bible, simply as a reference book.

We see it as a resource in our pocket to be searched when we are trying to win an argument. As a book of inspiration to post on social media. Or as a book we consult on specific matters but have never thought about reading beginning to end. And this is a dangerous habit for us to fall into.

Why? Because we need to see the Bible not as a book to be referenced, but as a book to be lived, and then let our life be saturated by it. It should be the source of life for us. Not a source that we footnote or cite to make a point.

Honestly answer this question: how do you mainly interact with the Bible?

Do you pull a verse here and there to tweet or Instagram?

Do you Google for a verse every now and then to back you up in an argument?

Or do you daily read it to soak it up and let it transform the way you live?

I promise, this is not a gotcha type of question. I only ask this question to you, because I recently asked the same question to myself. And when I answered it, it made me realize that I had not made the Word of God a big enough of a priority in my life.

It is so easy in our “information at our fingertips” lifestyle to go about our day and simply see the Bible as a reference book that supplements our lives when it is convenient to us or we have a question to be answered. And when we do this, we are missing out on the true riches of Scripture. As Matt Chandler would, “We are adults playing around in the kiddie pool of faith.”

After being convicted of this myself, I found a few ways to get past this type of thinking:

1. Simply, read the Bible daily.

The greatest way to get out of the habit of seeing the Bible as a reference book is to make a daily habit of reading, studying, and applying it to your life. This will cause Scripture to be in your mind and vocabulary constantly rather than just as a reference. It will begin to flood your mind throughout the day, so you are thinking about it not just when you need to defend something, but in every decision that you make.

2. Before you share a verse, read the whole chapter for context.

Sadly, often when we share Bible on Instagram or Twitter, we morph Scripture to fit into our life rather than fitting our life into Scripture. Because of this, we’ll take verses out of context and post them as inspiration even if that is not what the original author intended.

One example is Jeremiah 29:11, you know, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We love to post this one in hard times, like right after a break up or unexpected job change, but we end up using a verse as inspiration that the author was writing to show God’s judgment to His people.

3. Create a habit of memorizing Scripture

Memorizing Scripture is normally thought of as a super-spiritual habit. But it should be seen as essential for all believers. Think about this, we can memorize lyrics to a song, but we don’t have the capacity to memorize God’s Word? Yeah right. It’s just that we don’t focus on it, so we allow our minds to be filled more with culture’s influence than the Spirit’s influence. But when we memorize Scripture, we are keeping a reference book of the Bible in our mind. When we draw from it, we aren’t looking it up, but rather we are drawing it out from a past reading or devotion.

What are some ways you have made Scripture more of a priority in your life?

Chandler Vannoy is the Brand Manager for LifeWay Leadership. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and is now pursuing his Masters of Divinity at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He loves the NBA, C.S Lewis, and good coffee. Connect with him on Twitter: @chandlervannoy.

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One thought on “Stop Seeing the Bible as a Reference Book

  1. Do you believe that the Book of Job can be understood deeper than the shallow idea that “Nobody knows why bad things happen to good people”… in the sense that lots of deeply flawed leaders believe they are always “good” and bemoan the universe smacking them over the head for being stupidly obtuse and always saying the Book of Job justifies every leader’s lack of correction? Hm?

    And why does a pastor reading the Bible always, or almost always come to the conclusion that “You have everything to learn from us in clerisy; we have nothing to learn from you”? Pride, that’s it.

    Fighting Leviathan, With a Puny Wooden Sword!
    By Robert Winkler Burke
    Book #8 of In That Day Teachings
    Copyright 5/25/11 http://www.inthatdayteachings.com

    Notes from Nelson’s Quick Reference Bible Dictionary:

    “The book of Job is not only one of the most remarkable in the Bible, but in literature. As was said of Goliath’s sword, ‘There is none like it,’ none in ancient or in modern literature.” – Kitto. “A book which will one day, perhaps, be seen towering up alone far above all the poetry of the world.” – J. A. Froude. Nelson’s comments say that the true identity of who wrote Job has remained throughout time: a mystery.

    “Do not break the person, break his desire to attack you. Provide the illusion that your opponent still has control, but make sure he does not.” – Mikhail Ryabko, Russian Martial Art Systema Master

    I must not hurt huge Leviathan,
    As it swoops down on me!
    Dragon’s flame kills and maims,
    I’ll soon be history!

    Oh, woe is me! Oh, woe is me!
    I have but a wooden sword!
    From the cross, that victory tree,
    Of Christ, my humble Lord!

    Yet, I must not hurt Leviathan,
    Its skin is tough and brittle!
    His pride is ridiculous big,
    And I am less than little!

    We fight for hours,
    Oh, we fight for days on end!
    Then, when it’s over,
    The beast gets up again!

    My puny wooden sword damages it not,
    I’m like a grasshopper against a giant!
    Then it lays down, coughs up its heart,
    Upon its tongue, now on me: reliant!

    Leviathan now relies on me,
    To treat its heart with care!
    No longer enemies, but fast friends,
    I approach on God’s dare!

    Oh, woe is me! Oh, woe is me!
    I have but a wooden sword!
    From the cross, that victory tree,
    Of Christ, my humble Lord!

    With my too-small wooden sword,
    I walk into the danger zone, such biting teeth of dread!
    To the heart, now on the tongue,
    I gently touch my sword, out gush bright drops of red!

    From the sword come good drops,
    Of God’s ancient-wisdom self-sacrifice,
    Then Beast wakes up changed,
    Swallows heart and renews its old vice!

    Cruelly taking advantage of my nearness,
    Leviathan scorches me in full-blown rage!
    I fight him off again with wooden sword,
    Behold! Beast doth weaken! says my Page.

    For my Page greatly knows what’s going on,
    Not long ago, HE was THE bad Leviathan!
    You see, we fought for years! Way too long!
    His dual was an excruciating marathon!

    But after a thousand drops from God’s cross,
    My Page was, of Beast, set free!
    Now he’s learning to be God’s Man-of-War,
    Who fights evil, just like me!

    Oh, woe is me! Oh, woe is me!
    I have but a wooden sword!
    From the cross, that victory tree,
    Of Christ, my humble Lord!

    After days and months and years,
    My Page and I have succeeded!
    Leviathan whom we fought,
    Is full humble now: defeated!

    My Page has become a Swordsman,
    That Leviathan: HIS own Page,
    I have left off sword for pen,
    That you understand this age!

    So then, pride of religion and its blinding selfish-rigidness,
    Is killing man!
    Just as loving kindness, humility, patience and flexibility,
    Kills Leviathan!

    Job learned this In That Day,
    Of his: long ago!
    Now we must all learn the same!
    You do not know?

    Holy flexibility,
    Is where Christ-in-You is at!
    You’ll remember the fight,
    When the Rigid lose all that!

    You’ll remember the fight,
    When, as rigid Leviathan, you with great enmity: hated your betters!
    Who took your blows nobly,
    And with kind, wooden, bloody swords, removed your blind fetters.

    How you’ll hate that forgiving blood of Jesus,
    Applied drops at a time on your stony heart!
    Until you see it is not the end,
    But the Christ-in-You: Page-Warrior start!

    You’ll then, Rigid Ones, be on the,
    Other side of the sword!
    You’ll say, as Job did, I repent!
    In dust and ashes, Lord!

    And if you were particularly mean,
    And hurtful to your dear-brave Warrior-Savior,
    God will give you a willow-wimpy sword,
    To fight Leviathan, inside of your neighbor!

    Oh, woe is me! Oh, woe is me!
    I have but a wooden sword!
    From the cross, that victory tree,
    Of Christ, my humble Lord!

    You might say,
    Well, it serves me just about right!
    Rip me up,
    Leviathan! It’s time to fight!

    I shall not return evil for evil,
    From proud, religiously-rigid man,
    He may hurt me, but me never: him,
    He’ll get what I have in me: I AM!

    The great I AM,
    Wants to live in us all!
    In That Day it’s,
    A strange work: yet not small!

    It’s a BIG thing,
    When Leviathan pride dies!
    And Christ-in-You,
    Trumpets: loud victory cries!

    Yet and even much so,
    Your pride in all this will be choked: by your own reins,
    By the smallish sword,
    You’ll be given, to do the large work that remains!

    Oh, woe is me! Oh, woe is me!
    I have but a wooden sword!
    From the cross, that victory tree,
    Of Christ, my humble Lord!

    You might ask me, where did I learn all this?
    That it’s a pride-fight and that Leviathan isn’t a dinosaur true!
    I learned it by reading the Book of Job,
    From the Warrior-Prophet, not a Page, whose name is Elihu!

    This great, but young, Warrior-Prophet,
    Had heard so much talk of churchy-religious pride,
    Elihu wrote all of Job’s book,
    Yet pride in work: egoless, he did prodigious hide!

    Elihu hid his authorship,
    And prophetic voice with Job!
    That following Workmen,
    Would put this in their brain’s globe…

    Religious-Pride is Leviathan! (It’s a smallish issue with beginners!)
    Leviathan is Religious-godly-Pride! (Clericalism makes biggest sinners!)
    I write this, as your proud author,
    Oops! That beast is hard to hide!

    Where is my bent, old wooden sword?
    God, I lay my heart upon my swag tongue!
    Knowledge puffeth me up… in pride,
    Touch me now, oh blood of God’s Son!

    Oh, woe is me! Oh, woe is me!
    I have but a wooden sword!
    From the cross, that victory tree,
    Of Christ, my humble Lord!

    But you protest,
    Only Jesus! Jesus alone! He alone (ALONE!) is your Savior!
    Never you’d let,
    Yourself acknowledge: He can be greater in your neighbor?

    Can you, then, see now,
    What has been your, and all of milk Churchianity’s, problem?
    Sub-taught leaders vow,
    To never slay their damnable, supercilious, god-pride goblin?

    Even tho you say: just reading the bible sans leaven,
    And listening to, or becoming, another Milk-way, Mandarin Madman,
    And with Jesus, stuck somehow (by you?) in heaven,
    Works to expunge pride? Nope! It makes naught but bad-bad bad-men.

    So swallow your pride, oh religious daughter or son,
    Prepare to meet your shorter, younger, older, taller… Much Betters,
    Where dead body is, vultures on you will pick on,
    Your religious pride. So honor who removes necrotic, hubris fetters.

    You know, only Christ-in-You (in one) can do it,
    Almost kill a soul, non-violently, to get rid of religious pride… to move it,
    Eyes to see, ears to hear… are a better shoe fit,
    Pride kills. Humility heals. Hear ye, All pride-bots so ill-begot… get to it!

    Oh, woe is me! Oh, woe is me!
    I have but a wooden sword!
    From the cross, that victory tree,
    Of Christ, my humble Lord!

    Isaiah 27:1-4 (MSG) – “At that time (a time in the future when conditions are ripe) God will unsheathe his sword (ITDTs?)… his merciless, mighty sword… (and) he’ll kill [Leviathan – religious pride!] that old dragon [debauched clericalism that lives in harmony and support of Progressive Slavery or Tribal Slavery] that lives in the sea.”

    Vs.

    The sad but extremely typical early Twenty-First Century Milk Church Leadership meme: “You have everything to learn from us; we have nothing to learn from you!”