SOMEONE posed these questions to an Internet discussion group: ''Do you find it helpful to study the Bible? Is this important for a Christian?'' Responses were quite diverse! Since many of the people who participate in the computer forum are pastors or students preparing for the ministry, it was surprising to me how many of them felt that reading the Bible wasn't necessarily important.
There were also responses from people who study the Bible regularly. Their comments reflected this statement in Second Timothy: ''All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works'' (3:16, 17). I'm in the group that feels this way about the Bible. And certainly Christian Science encourages consistent study of the Bible. Indeed, unless one is gaining more of the spiritual meaning of the Bible, it would be hard to call oneself a Christian Scientist.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy, states, ''Acquaintance with the original texts, and willingness to give up human beliefs (established by hierarchies, and instigated sometimes by the worst passions of men), open the way for Christian Science to be understood, and make the Bible the chart of life, where the buoys and healing currents of Truth are pointed out'' (p. 24). The Bible reveals the nature of God and shows us our true identity as His image and likeness. The Gospels unfold to us the Science of Life, the divine Principle of being, expressed throughout the life of our Master, Christ Jesus.
The Bible is unique. It is literally the revealed Word of God. It is a record of God's revelation of Himself to His creation. Some of the Biblical writers may have been more spiritually insightful than others. But however unartful or dull a scribe may have been, the light of Christ, Truth, shines through the clouds of human misconceptions and incomprehension. The book of Psalms declares, ''Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path'' (119:105).
Often, reading the Bible brings bursts of new insight and illumination into the nature of spiritual reality. We may be familiar with all the scholarship, archaeological information, and theological implications of a certain passage. Yet we can read it again and gain such a luminous glimpse into its spiritual significance that we realize how little we understood it before. Such Bible study heals.
How can we find this spiritual sense of the Scriptures? Science and Health gives students a key to the Scriptures that illumines the Bible's words. Her experience with the Bible led Mrs. Eddy to write in a poem (Poems, p. 75):
Saw ye my Saviour?
Heard ye the
Felt ye the power
of the Word?
When we begin to discern the spiritual import of the Bible, ''the power of the Word'' has a profound impact on our life. The verse continues,
'Twas the Truth that made us
And was found by you and me
In the life and the love of our
Jesus himself was a student of the Scriptures. In the Sermon on the Mount he brought to light the deeper spiritual demands of the Commandments. He frequently referred to the teachings of the law and the prophets. Following his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus met two of his disciples. As they walked together he showed them how the Bible had prophesied all that had taken place in Jerusalem. After he left them, they exclaimed, ''Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?'' (Luke 24:32)
For many people today, Science and Health is opening the Bible. It unlocks the Bible's spiritual intent and makes ''our heart burn within us.'' Persistent study of the Bible helps us experience the living power of God's Word. More than ever, the Bible becomes a light unto our path and our ''chart of life.'' It reveals to us the kingdom of heaven.