"He that studies only men, will get the body of knowledge without the soul; and he that studies only books, the soul without the body. He that to what he sees, adds observation, and to what he reads, reflection, is in the right road to knowledge, provided that in scrutinizing the hearts of others, he neglect not his own." - Caleb Colton
Accumalation of information and knowledge are two different things. That’s an important thing to understand in our information driven age, where we are constantly connected to the internet. Not only do we have unlimited information that is made available to us (often brokered by algorithms and biases), but we’ve also become accustomed to divided attention: having multiple screens going - doing one thing while having entertainment or news going on in the background. An important thing to realize, however, is that as Richard Foster has recognized: “the ingrained habits of thought that are formed will conform to the order of the thing being studied. What we study determines the kind of habits that are formed, which is why Paul urges us to focus on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and gracious” (p. 64).

Study is an important part of our formational journey, however, the invitation is not to get ‘more information’ about the Bible, but rather grow in our knowledge of God, ourselves, and others. The goal is not to make the Bible fit our worldview, but to have humble hearts of curiosity that seek to understand the narrative of the story of the Bible which (we at the Vineyard believe) points to Jesus.

Four Steps of Study


Repetition is a powerful thing. For example, notice slogans and catchphrases that you’ve committed to memory. Often speakers use alliteration as a tool to help listeners retain knowledge. Repetition is one of the ways that we retain information - for better or worse.  A transformative way that we use repetition in the study of Scripture is through reading and re-reading a passage multiple times, and even memorizing Scripture.


On top of repetition of subject matter, consecration on that subject increases the learning process. Our brains are amazingly created things that constantly receive thousands of stimuli! When we concentrate, we are enhancing the ability of the brain to center on a topic of study. In this case: Scripture. The difficult thing is that we do not live in a culture that values concentration, rather, it values distraction. However, when we repeatedly focus and center our attention on a single subject, we’re able to begin to comprehend it.


“Jesus...reminds us that it is not just the truth but the knowledge of the truth that sets us free (John 8:32). Comprehension focuses on the knowledge of the truth” (Foster, p. 66). All of us have had the experience of having to read and re-read something until we understood it. Well, the same is true with Scripture. Scripture isn’t understood by taking one passage, and ‘applying’ it to our current situation in our current cultural reality. Scripture is much deeper. It absolutely has things to say about our current situations, but it is a relational narrative, not a static manual. Because of that, the invitation is to get to know the God who inspired it (breathed life into it). And we do that by spending time in it - in a way that brings understanding.


“Although comprehension defines what we are studying, reflection defines the significance of what we are studying” (Foster). As we study Scripture, it does us well to remember that we are not just trying to gather information about God and how people have experienced Him over history, rather, we believe that His Spirit is still at work inside of us right now. As we read, focus, and begin to comprehend Scripture, the call to reflection is an invitation to experience the breath of God in our own life. It’s an opportunity to ask: What is God saying to me through this new understanding, and what am I going to do about it?

A Resource for Scripture Study

The Bible isn't just one book. It is a library of books by different authors that create a unified story that we believe points to Jesus. There is actually a design to the way the Bible has been written, and as we begin to understand how to read it, it becomes more and more alive to us. So, where does one begin? We recommend the Bible Project app. Integrating educational animated videos, podcasts, and quizzes, this completely crowd-funded app is designed to help you understand the movements, themes, and literary styles found in Scripture.

Recommended Resources

Celebration of Discipline

"Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster has been considered a Christian classic by many. In it, he explores the "classic Disciplines," or central spiritual practices, of the Christian faith.

Scripture and the Authority of God

In "Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today," N. T. Wright gives new life to the old, tattered doctrine of the authority of scripture, delivering a fresh, helpful, and concise statement on the current “battles for the Bible,” and restoring scripture as the primary place to find God’s voice.

Recovering the Way

"Recovering the Way" by Bob Rognlien is written for those who want to understand the truth Jesus taught and to live the way Jesus lived. Filled with over a hundred illustrations and photographs of ancient discoveries—illuminating his life from birth to resurrection—this book will show you how Jesus’ teaching and example can shape your life too.

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

Bailey employs his trademark expertise as a master of Middle Eastern culture to lead you into a deeper understanding of the person and significance of Jesus within his own cultural context. With a sure but gentle hand, Bailey lifts away the obscuring layers of modern Western interpretation to reveal Jesus in the light of his actual historical and cultural setting.