An alarming decline in biblical literacy in the church was the conclusion of studies conducted in the past few years. Not surprisingly, this trend continues today, signifying that more of God’s people know less of His Word. The following statistics helpfully illustrate the previous two sentences:
- 2014 Christian Post: 37% of Americans read the Bible once a week or more; 26% never read the Bible.
- 2015 LifeWay Research: 40% of churchgoers read the Bible once or twice a month; 20% never read the Bible.
- 2020 Barna Group report: percentage of US adults who claim to read the Bible daily: 14% in 2019, 9% in 2020.
What these statistics illustrate is that ignorance abounds about God’s truth concerning sin, salvation, marriage, family, life. The solution to this travesty is that God’s people need to devote themselves to the intentional study of the Bible to know His truth about all matters.
I first opened a Bible as a child in Sunday School, learning the familiar stories. It wasn’t until youth group that I was introduced to Bible study, which didn’t particularly excite me. Years later friends invited me to a nationally organized Bible study. I turned them down, thinking I knew enough about the Bible. After two years of their asking, I acquiesced to stop their badgering. As I committed myself to examining, investigating, and analyzing God’s Word, I was transformed by it. My relationship with God deepened and my thinking and behavior became more Christ-like.
Why should we study the Bible? Bible study is a way of connecting with God, a way of hearing Him speak to us that we may know Him, grow in Him, delight in Him and His ways and glorify Him.
Confidence in Scripture Comes from God Himself
When I open my Bible and study His Word, I am meeting God face to face as He speaks to me. I trust His Word because…
- All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). There is life in God’s Word in that it changes how we think and conduct our lives. By the living power of His Word we are instructed, corrected, transformed, comforted and matured to become more like Christ.
- All Scripture is totally reliable and without error. Proverbs. 30:5-6 says, “Every word of God is flawless.”… God is perfect and doesn’t make mistakes; therefore, His word is perfect, has no mistakes and doesn’t contradict itself. Every word is what He wants us to hear. The Bible is 100% authoritative and absolute because God is.
- All Scripture is eternal and immutable. – Psalm 119:89-, 91 says, “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens… Your laws endure to this day.”… God’s Word is forever and will not change.
1) We study the Bible that we may know God.
God created us to love and worship Him. The more we know Him the more we will love, trust, obey, hope in, depend on and honor Him. The best way to know God is to read His Word, to see what He says about Himself, His ways, will and commands. We cannot know the truth about Him without looking into Scripture because GOD’S WORD IS GOD.
- John 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He (the Word) was with God in the beginning.”
John 5:39b, “Jesus said…these are the Scriptures that testify of Me.”
God is almighty, eternal, faithful, gracious, holy, just, loving, merciful, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, perfect, righteous, self-existent, sovereign. Such knowledge stems from studying how He has revealed Himself in Scripture.
2) We should Study Scripture to believe and have eternal life.
God’s Word informs us of the faith required for eternal life. It tells us Whom and what we are to believe as it reveals the truth about God, man, sin, God’s righteous wrath and punishment, and His loving plan of forgiveness and salvation through His Son. We must know and believe these truths as the only Way to eternal life.
- Romans10:17, “faith comes from hearing the message; and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
- Romans 1:16, “The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”
- John 20:31, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
3) Study Scripture to know and hear the voice of God.
The Bible contains God’s very words and is the primary way He communicates with us. It is the most definitive and concrete way we can hear and know His voice. To ignore studying the Bible is to reject His communication. He inspired men to write His words but these words are His. He answers our questions with truth about creation, life, death, good, evil, relationships, and purpose. Scripture is eternal and immutable. – Psalm 119:89-, 91 says, “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens… Your laws endure to this day.”… God’s Word is forever and will not change.
- 4) Study Scripture to not fall prey to false teaching.
- Heb. 13:9, “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.”
- 2 Pet. 2:1-3, “there were…false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them…many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”
We study God’s Word to gain His wisdom for all situations in life because Scripture is alone sufficient. The Bible is a measuring stick by which we can distinguish truth from error, right from wrong. It tells us the truth about God so we know Whom to worship. It tells us the truth about sin’s eternal consequences and the remedy. It tells us what the world considers good and right but is evil and wrong according to God. We deceive ourselves and reap dire consequences if we persist in ignoring God’s Word. We must know His truth to not fall prey to the world’s lies.
5) Study Scripture to live for Him.
A physical body will weaken and die if deprived of food and water. Similarly, we will spiritually wither without God’s Word, which is our spiritual food and water. He designed us as spiritual beings who need to be sustained by His Word. We cannot live and grow in Him without feeding on His Word.
Mt 4:4, “ Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. God’s Word is life.”
Deut 32:46-47, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you…they are not just idle words for you – they are your life.”
God’s Word is essential to our life in Christ as Christians. While Scripture points us to eternity, it also teaches us how to conduct our earthly lives, helping us understand ourselves and our daily moment-by-moment need to depend on Him. Without a firm foundation in His Word and our obedience to it, we may be tempted to stray and accept what God hasn’t planned for us.
Prov. 119:97-105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Your commands make me wiser…for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me…I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore, I hate every wrong path.”
6) Study Scripture to align ourselves with His holiness and be transformed.
Christians are to be holy as God is holy. He has called us to be set apart for Him.
- 1 Pet. 1:15-16, “Be holy because I am holy.”
- 2 Pet 3:11-12, “Live holy and godly lives.”
God also calls us to become more like Christ; therefore, our thinking must be transformed by Scripture to be aligned with His holiness and will and not the world’s ways. We cannot know how He wants us to think and act if we ignore His Words.
- Romans 12:2 , “Do not conform to the pattern of this world…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
- Philippians 4:8-9, “ Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, think on these things. Whatever you have learned, received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice.”
- 2 Tim 2:22, “Flee evil desires of youth, pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace.”
Without being grounded in His Word our faith and confidence in God can erode when we face trials, fear and the world’s deceptions. By hearing and obeying His word that transforms, we are undergirded with His strength to withstand adversity.
Mt 7:24, “Everyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
Study Scripture to be equipped to serve God.
2 Tim. 3:16-17, “ All Scripture…is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
As we study God’s Word and experience personal life events, He shapes and molds us to conform to Christ’s image so He can better use us for His work. He teaches and corrects us that we may serve Him with pure hearts for His glory. His Word teaches us how to be godly and humble servants, share the gospel, care for His sheep and use our spiritual gifts. He is faithful in equipping us to carry out and complete the work He calls us to do.
- Study Scripture to teach others His Word.
Matthew 28:19-20, “ go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Deut.11:19,” Teach these words of mine to your children, talking about them when you sit at home or when you take a walk…”
God commands Christians to teach but we can’t teach what we don’t know. Teaching requires studying. In my desire to leave a spiritual legacy for my grandchildren I must share with them the things of God so they may know, love and serve Him. I can’t teach them what I don’t know, so it behooves me to study Scripture to be an effective spiritual influence.
Scripture and the Christian
The Bible is God’s primary method of communicating with us, containing what He wants us to understand. A true disciple of Christ must be a student of the Bible to lead a life that is purposeful, fruitful, fulfilling and God-honoring. The rewards are heavenly. Prepare to bask in God’s eternal glory by basking in His Word now!