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Scripture Engagement/Speaking Scripture
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Speaking Scripture

One of the most powerful means of engaging with Scripture is by doing something you naturally do every day: You talk to others. Conversation is one of the most natural human social processes. We are created for community and wired to speak with others. The things in our lives that are on our hearts naturally come out in our conversations. The conversations we have with others result in our turning those ideas over in our minds (in other words, what we talk about often leads to what we think/meditate about). By speaking about Scripture with other people, we deepen our connection with God and his Word.

One of the amazing things about being human is our wonderful capacity to communicate, our ability to understand words. A huge portion of our brains is dedicated to language, and learning to speak is one of the most complicated things we ever learn to do (and we do it when we’re so young!). God specifically designed us to be able to communicate both with one another and with him so we can experience relationships. It is no wonder that Jesus is called “the Word” (John 1:1), because he is God in the flesh, God communicating verbally and in action with us.

A consistent theme in the Bible is that God tells us to speak to others about what he has said. We aren’t to keep his Word to ourselves; instead, his Word is to be on our lips and we are to speak Scripture to one another. A very important passage in the Bible is called the Shema (the Hebrew word for “hear”) found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Jesus partially uses the Shema to develop the Great Commandment, where we are called to love God and to love others (Mark 12:28-33). As you read the Shema below, you’ll see that part of the process of loving God is to teach the commandments of God (i.e., his Word, the Bible) by talking about them throughout our entire day.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (emphasis added)

How do we “impress” God’s Word on others? We talk about the Bible wherever we are while doing whatever we’re doing. It isn’t just in the Shema that God calls us to speak Scripture. Take a look at the BibleGateway sidebar titled “Selected Verses on Speaking God’s Word” for more passages about having God’s Word on our lips.

It is helpful to notice that Jesus and all of the New Testament authors constantly quoted the Old Testament. Their lives and words were absolutely soaked in Scripture. We are called to do the same.

Benefits of Speaking Scripture

Sharing Scripture this way is beneficial to you and to those around you. Adding Scripture to your daily conversation helps you deepen your engagement and understanding of a passage. As you discuss a passage with others, you fine tune what you think about what is written, helping you grow in your relationship with God.

Research on Scripture engagement done at the Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement found a very strong correlation between higher levels of spiritual growth and more conversations with friends about Scripture. The same truth also came out in the Canadian Bible Engagement Study: Talking to others about Scripture is highly correlated with Bible reading and religious commitment. Because of the nature of both of these studies, it isn’t possible to discern if spiritually mature people naturally have more conversations about the Bible or if having more Bible conversations causes people to be more spiritually mature. It is probably both. Either way, increasing conversations about Scripture is deeply beneficial!

Those who hear you speak Scripture also benefit. God may use a passage you share as a tool to speak into another person’s life. A friend may be struggling with an issue or just need some encouragement—a piece of Scripture may be just what the Holy Spirit wants you to share. Your personal advice might be helpful, but surely God’s Word is what the other person truly needs. As you talk about Scripture with a Christian friend, your relationship will also be deepened. As the church, we learn from and grow closer to one another as we speak about God’s Word.

Speaking Scripture to others is central to evangelism. This doesn’t mean just giving people passages about how to become a Christian (which is critical at the appropriate time). Instead, sharing with a nonbeliever about what you’re learning from the Bible may open up a conversation with someone. God may already be working in that person’s life behind the scenes and your words may have the spiritual influence that person needs. Research says that many people who are not followers of Christ actually self-report having a real curiosity in knowing more about what the Bible has to say (for a biblical example, think about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40). Many nonbelievers can benefit from you gently and respectfully sharing what the Bible actually says (1 Peter 3:15).

How to Speak Scripture

There isn’t a magic formula for how you speak Scripture into people’s lives. The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) gives a guideline in showing that you can speak Scripture at any time and any place. It really shouldn’t be made into a complicated or unnatural process. If your life is soaking in the Word of God, you will be reminded throughout the day of passages that relate to what you are experiencing. Using wisdom and courage given by the Holy Spirit, choose appropriate times to bring up a passage and share it with those around you. In sharing God’s Word, you are sharing God himself, a wonderful gift you can give to others!

Crockett, Joseph V. "Engaging Scripture In Everyday Situations: An Interactive Perspective That Examines Psychological And Social Processes Of Individuals As They Engage Scripture Texts." Black Theology: An International Journal 3.1 (2005): 97-117. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.

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© Phil Collins, Ph.D., 2014. This material was created in partnership with the Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement.