III. Why should we study the Bible: Centuries ago, the Psalmist wrote: Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Ps.119.11). How apt is the statement: “Either the Word of God will keep you away from sin, or sin will keep you away from he word of God.”
Bible is like a mirror. It shows the dirt that in us while we look at it. But many that know this fact refuse to read and study the Bible. They don’t want to change.
Some of them look at it only to see if they can find any mistake in it. There was a critically ill atheist lawyer frantically leafing through the Bible in his hospital room. When asked the reason, he replied, ‘Looking for loopholes.” Such men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself, but because it contradicts them. There are thousand of men who don’t like the Bible because it cramps their lifestyle.
Then there are those who say that the Bible was written centuries ago and is not relevant for the times, and therefore they refuse to study it. The Bible is not a book on science, but every scientific statement made in the Bible is correct, and it was not necessary to change them. So is the case on every subject mentioned in the Bible. It is not a textbook on astronomy, arithmetic, Allopathy or any other subject. But it is as relevant today as it was on the day it was written.
“I am not a theologian or a pastor of the church. I am just a layman. Therefore I need not study the Bible”, is the argument of some. Bible is for every man. It is not for some particular class of people. It is the word of God to humanity in general. Therefore we should study it.
I am a very busy man. I don’t have time to study the Bible. I leave it to those who have sufficient time. I am not very religious. So goes the argument of some. The only question that will affect our life in eternity is whether we know the Author of the Bible and what is our relationship to Him. As the Bible affects our life in the eternity to come we should study the Bible.
“I am told that there are many errors in the Bible and that the Bible contradicts itself. Therefore what is the use of studying a book in which there are many errors”? Ask some people. Though many critics allege that there are errors in the Bible, none has conclusively demonstrated any error so far. Not only so, but to be honest with ourselves we should study and see for ourselves whether the Bible is true or not, before we judge it. Then we will find that it is the Bible that judges us.
Above all these let me give you three very important reasons why we should study the Bible. We should study the Bible because it is needed for our spiritual growth.
When a person is born again, he is a new creation. In a believer there is the old self and also the self. They are contrary to one another. One of them will be stronger than the other. The strength will depend upon what we feed them and how they grow.
Our physical body needs food to grow. In one sense we can say that our physical body is the sum total of all that we have eaten in the past. As the physical man needs food to grow, the spiritual man, i.e. the new man, also needs food to grow. The word of God is the food for the new man. Apostle Peter says: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that by it you may grow to salvation (1 Pet.2.2).
When a child is born, the mother applies some medicine to the palate of the child. This is to sharpen the taste and thus enable the child to suck the breast milk. A newborn child’s appetite is to be cultivated.
Peter teaches that we have to lay aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking before we desire the word. We should avoid anything that will weaken our appetite for spiritual food.
Bible is not given to us to increase our knowledge, though Bible study will definitely increase our knowledge. The purpose is to change our life, and to make us grow. Regular Bible studies will transform our lives.
The Bible is called by different names and we have many names which are characteristic of the food we eat. It is milk for the babies It is bread for the young ones It is hard meat for the grown ups It is water for the thirsty It is food for the hungry It is honey for all We should study the Bible to become spiritually mature.
While milk is for the children, hard meat is for grown-ups. When Paul was teaching about the high priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, he told the Hebrew Christians, that they are not in a position to take this hard food. Those who use only milk are unskilled in the Word. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, i.e. mature, that is those who by reason of use or practice, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb.5.11-14).
Constant use of the scripture makes one mature. It is the Bible that makes a person to distinguish between good and evil. The mark of maturity is not how much scriptural knowledge you have, but how much you make use of it and how you make use of it.
We should study the Bible because it thoroughly equips us for good works. Partial study of the Bible could be dangerous. Some believers have their favorite passages of scriptures, and they neglect other portions to their own downfall. Some study only psalms. Some study only New Testament. Some study only prophecy.
All scripture is inspired of God and is profitable. Any imbalance in the study of the Word only brings imbalance in doctrine and life and this will only engender envy and strife. The whole of the Bible is good for doctrine. And when you go wrong, the word reproves, and thus brings you back to the original path. This is the correction by the word. And when you are brought back to the original path again the same word instructs you to continue in the correct path 92 Tim.3.16-17).
The whole of the Bible, when we apply it to our life, changes us, transforms us and thus equips us for the work that God has for us. It is futile to enter the service of God with partial knowledge of His will. We need to learn the Bible.
The best place to learn is at the feet of the Lord, as Mary did (Lk.10.39) The best attitude is to be attentive always (Lk.9.48) The best time is daily (Acts 17.11) The best preparation is readiness of the mind (Acts 17.11) “Master speak, they servant hearth”(1 Sam.3.10). The best reason is, it teaches us, trains us. (Tit.2.12) The best person to learn from is the Lord. He has the words of eternal life (Jn.6.67) The best model is the also the Lord (Matt.11.29) “Learn of me” he said.
IV. Preparation for study: We have seen earlier that Bible study is necessary for Christian growth, maturity and usefulness in His service. As we are now ready to study the Bible we shall see quickly how to prepare ourselves and what are the tools we need to study the Bible.
You have heard the famous story of a person who wanted to read the Bible and know the will of God. But he has very little time. So he read the Bible at random:
“A bit of John or Mathew Now a snatch of Genesis Certain chapters of Isaiah Certainly Psalms (the twenty-third) Twelfth of Romans, first of Proverbs Yes, I found a through reading Was a different thing to do And the way was unfamiliar When I read the Bible through’.
So when the crucial time came for him to find the will of God, he opened the Bible at random and put his finger on a verse: “Judas went and hanged himself”, he thought, definitely that is not God’s will for him. So he closed his eyes and opened the Bible again, and put his finger on a verse and read: ‘Go and do likewise”.
He was very upset and knew definitely that this was not God’s will for him. So he closed his eyes and opened the word a third time; and his finger pointed “whatever you have to do, do it quickly”. He was so upset afterwards, and never went to the Bible again, wondering what it will tell him next.
We should study the Bible systematically, and the following points may be carefully noted: Have a regular time for Bible studies: This is not the quite time we have. The quite time that we have is for fellowship with the Lord. We need of course practice the presence of God with us, but this is not a substitute for Bible study.
When the quite time may be for 10-30 minutes in a day, do not be satisfied with half an hour every day for Bible study. As the physical body need food every day, and we take it regularly at meal times, Bible study should be scheduled in such a way that nothing will rob you of this time. It is for each individual to assign the time convenient for him.
Prepare Spiritually: Pray to the Lord of the Word to give you a receptive heart. The Spirit of God Himself is the teacher of the Word that He inspired. Confess any known sin in your life. Let the Lord open your eyes to see the wondrous things in the word. Any bias and prejudices should be avoided when you go to the Bible.
Prepare a place: It must be well-lighted area and a place you will not be disturbed. Nothing but emergencies should distract you from the privilege of studying the word.
Prepare your mind: The Bible was written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic languages. What you have in your hand is only a translation. A translation involved interpretation. So it would be good to read the Bible in different translations. “You do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and that anointing is read” (1 Jn.2.27). Yet we have teachers and commentaries to help us understand the context and meaning of a passage. Commit yourself to good, valid intellectual guidelines, but at the same time see that none of them become a substitute for the Bible itself.
Select the right tools: Bible study today is a pleasure that you can enjoy. Unlike the earlier centuries, today we have sufficient tools so that even without knowing the original languages you will be able to understand what the original writers meant with a large amount of accuracy. As I write these few simples lines and lift up my head to the shelves before me I am able to point out many tools of Bible Study available for us:
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