To read the Bible experientially simply means to read it with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. That is how the Bible is intended to be read. The reason we even have to use the word "experientially" is simply because people imagine they are reading the Bible when they are only reading the Bible in a superficial way…Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible
A test as to whether you are reading the Bible experientially is whether in the process of reading the Bible, the Bible reads you. No doubt, this will sound like a peculiar way of thinking. "How can a passage read me?" you might wonder. "Words on a page have neither eyes nor a mind that they could read me. Besides, I am not a book full of pages to be read."
Admittedly, we do not typically think or talk like this. Yet, we miss something important as a result. Think of what happened when the prophet Nathan came to David the king with the parable of the young lamb (2 Sam. 12:1-6). It ended up revealing the sin in David's life that, until that point, he had not seen as he should have. Nathan's parable acted as a searchlight on David's heart and uncovered something that David had been concealing beneath layers of excuses and attempts to suppress his guilt. David grasped the Word of God that day. But, more importantly, the Word of God grasped him. Without a doubt, the Holy Spirit was working in David to produce accurate self-knowledge. But the word that Nathan brought was the means God used to that end. It should be not surprise that the Spirit loves to use the Word that way. After all, He has inspired it (2 Peter 1:21). He is pleased to use it to bring sinners to a true and saving knowledge of themselves and of God (John 16:8-14).
Yet, many today are content to read the Bible in a way in which the Word of God is subject to them, rather than they are subject to the Word. They study the Bible--so they think--but do not realize that the Bible needs to study us. We need to search the Scriptures, but it is a blessing when we discover the Scriptures are searching us, teaching us both how matters should go in our lives and how they often do go, which always falls short of how they should go (Romans 7:14-25).
When God uses his Word to search and change us, we have what theologians have called the experiential approach to the Scriptures. In fact, when you come to Scripture truly believing it to be what it claims to be--the Word of God--and submitting to its scrutiny of all of your life, then you are reading the Word experientially. In its entirety Psalm 119 is one glorious expression of experiential reading, and verse 130 states it succinctly: "The entrance of they words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple."
- Matthew 1-22
- 1 Thessalonians
- 2 Thessalonians
English Revised Version, 1885
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible