"For the word of God is alive and active sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attributes of the heart' Hebrews 4:12 ESV.
This is the first of five articles about Bible study. Today we look at why we need to study the Bible. Then we will cover how to observe Scripture, What do I see? How to interpret the Scripture. What does it mean? How does the Scripture apply to me and how does it apply to others? Ending the series with methods of Bible study.
Have you ever questioned why you need to study the Bible (Not just read but study)? Or maybe you wonder what influence the Bible might have on your life? Is the Bible relevant and important today? The fact is that the Bible has sold more copies than any other book in history and is what shaped and built the United States of America. The Bible influences much of what is taken for granted in areas of science, art, literature, technology and even in politics.
Even though the Bible has sold more copies than any other book, it is a neglected piece literature. Lifeway research in 2017 publish the results of a poll that showed that only 20% of those surveyed have read the entire Bible and only 9% read the entire Bible more than once. And few readers have a systematic plan for reading scripture each day. In most American homes they do not pick the Bible up daily.
The great tragedy among Christians today is that we are under the Word of God, not IN THE WORD unwilling to pick up the Bible and get into it for ourselves.
Why people do not study the Bible
Here are a few reasons why people do not getting into the Word
- • It doesn’t work for me.
- • I don’t know how to read it.
- • I am just a layman, how am I to understand it?
- • I don’t have the time
- • I doubt the authenticity.
- • I can’t seem to make it interesting
- • It is not relevant in the world today.
Bible Study is essential to growth.
"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed back and forth, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" Ephesian 4:14-15 KJV
We need God’s Word just like a newborn baby needs milk for nourishment. It stunts us spiritually when we do not have nourishment from God’s Word just like the baby without milk. Unless we receive spiritual nourishment with constant practice of study, we grow stunted.
The Bible is not an easy read. It was written by God in ancient times through people of different cultures and languages. The original audiences lived lives from the modern culture. The Bible is a book about God written by God and his work in the world.
Daily Bible study maintains our connection with God through his written word reminding us of His character, promises and our dependence upon Him.
With regular daily study we become familiar with the complete story of Scripture keeping our souls energized.
Bible Study is essential to spiritual maturity
Spiritual maturity is walking in obedience to God. It is choosing to live by God’s viewpoint and not by our own viewpoint, learning to walk in step with God, applying His Word to our life.
Spiritual maturity needs to be our number one priority and we need to feed on God’s Word. In depth Bible study on the sustenance will feed you spiritually as you walk in the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual maturity comes by grace and God is our only resource. When we accept God as His child we are given all we need to become spiritually mature. It is our responsibility to make the choice to use and apply God’s principles in our life. Through submission to God’s maturing process we become a new person, God does the changing.
Serving others in love is a part of spiritual growth.
Bible Study is essential to spiritual effectiveness
In order for Bible study to be spiritually effective we must consider four things the believer needs daily to be more effective in God’s Kingdom.
Anybody in a relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ can do these.
First is prayer. This goes without saying, but a vibrant, dynamic prayer life is essentially both in our relationship with God and our relationship to our world today. Ask God to show his will and desires. Spend quiet time with God asking Him to develop you into His image. Present your need and the needs of others asking him to fix the world’s problems.
Learning to read the Bible, again and again. It reveals God’s will and His character to us through the written word. The little things revealed on the Bible’s pages require study to understand. Seek the Holy Spirit for an understanding of the parts that are confusing. Ask him to give you understanding about things in your life and in the world that don’t seem to line up with the Bible.
Get to know new people. God wants to repair relationships between all of us as individuals and with Himself. Meet somebody new, ask about their triumphs and struggles. Invest in the lives of those around you whether they are new or old friends.
Finally, share God’s word with others sharing what God has done in your life, the strength, love and resources He has given you. Get to know God through prayer and studying the Bible.
Can we Trust the Bible?
In the book “Living by the Book” by Howard and William Hendricks they offer a good answer to this question. “Never before has the world been so desperately asking for answers to crucial questions and never before been so frantically committed to the idea that no answers are possible. To paraphrase the Bible, the modern attitude is, 'Father, forgive us, for we know not what we are doing–and please don’t tell us!'”
We want a word from God, but we don’t want the Word of God. We own Bibles, but we do not know enough for the Bible to own our life. And we fail to give the Bible “life service” only giving lip service. In our world today there are no absolutes leaving little room for God’s authoritative Word to be revealed in the Bible. Is the Bible credible; is it reliable, does it matter in our life and time?
The Bible is not only one Book, it is sixty-six books collected together in a single volume, written over a period of sixteen hundred years by over forty human authors. The authors came from different backgrounds and at different times all bound together by God and His relationship with human beings revealing His truth.
Often the Bible is difficult to understand with its description of a God nobody has seen, its strange stories about miracles and about a man rising from the dead. Mark Twain explained it “[The Bible] is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; some clever fables; some blood drenched history; some good morals; a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.”
Here is the question: Can we trust the Bible? Can we genuinely believe what it says about history, life, truth and God. Can it stand up to the scrutiny of the historians, scientist, and common sense? Or is it no different from books about Humpty Dumpty or Santa Claus?
Can we believe Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address as the newspapers of the time reported? Maybe he varied his words from the prepared manuscript given to journalists. Maybe one reporter wrote what he thought he heard and did not refer to the provided manuscript. Years later no one can know the truth with absolute certainty. To learn what truth is we examine the evidence?m
Let’s examine the evidence to learn if the words of the Bible are true.
First are there archaeological discoveries which have validated the accounts we read in the Bible.
Are there literary works from the first century after the birth of Jesus that attest to the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life.
Through the understanding of the ancient languages, the literary genres and cultural context we find good explanations why some passages seem to contradict other passages.
"The stars may fall, but God's promises will stand and be fulfilled," J.I. Parker
"Living By The Book" by Howard G. and William D Hendricks
Heavenly Father as we search Your Word for understanding may the Holy Spirit guide us and bring true meaning to Scripture. Amen