I believe the Bible to be inspired by God, if nothing else because of its incredible, unprecedented preservation. That alone is a miracle. I make it a priority to spend time reading it everyday. But merely reading a copy of the Bible or learning the Greek and Hebrew or having theological discussions about certain passages does not mean you have actually studied God’s word.
It took three centuries for Christians to have access to what we now consider the inspired Word of God, and another millennium before it was available to the masses. This tells me that there is a whole lot more to studying God’s word than merely reading the pages of a book. In order to understand which writings were true and what to believe, early Christians had to rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit (personally and through other believers). They had to actually KNOW Jesus: both through conversation (prayer) and experience.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1,14). He is the perfect representation of God (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15). God’s word, His message, to the world is, simply, Christ.
To truly study the Word of God, we must intently focus on Jesus (James 1:25). This primarily comes through prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit who only says what Jesus says (John 16:13).
Reading and being immersed in the Bible is powerful and essential but should be done with prayer and discernment from the Spirit because that is the primary communication between God and man. You cannot understand the truth of the Bible unless the Spirit illuminates it to you.
I cannot stress, enough, my belief that the Bible is inspired by God and should be taken literally and COMPLETELY. You can be certain that God will not tell you to do something which contradicts the absolute truth He has already spoken through the Bible. But knowing the Bible does NOT mean you know Christ. It may lead you to a deeper understanding of who Christ is and His characteristics, just as a detailed map of LA helps me get around. But studying a map is not equivalent with “getting around” and actually KNOWING Los Angeles. The Bible may be a love letter from God, which is pretty awesome, but no lovers are ever satisfied with only letters. They want real interaction.