Bible study is good, but we should ask the question ‘ why study’? What is the objective of Bible study?
Some study academically, researching its content analytically so as to categorize its theology and be able to make it fit a particular doctrinal dogma! Others study its origins, manuscripts and cultural settings to judge its reliability and relevance. Yet another will spend endless hours searching out fine details of translation hoping to find the key to interpretation. One man I knew actually rewrote the New Testament and had it published so that he could cut out the sections that didn’t make sense to him!
Do despise scholarship ? - No - I thank God for those who dedicate much time to research study, exposition, translation etc, but I do feel that many have wasted much effort distracted by side issues.
Why apply effort and time to Bible study? Is it for personal gratification and happy feelings? Shall I use my knowledge gained to promote myself as a teacher and secure an income? Do I use my understanding to criticise others?
If not, then WHY bother?
The Lord Himself rebuked the learned men of His day “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life: and it is they that bear witness about me.” John 5.39. For these dedicated people, their study was a total loss for they had missed the answer to the question “why” !
Paul encouraged study, in particular for the teacher and leader of the people. It is important to be able to “rightly divide the word of truth”. The fundamental question is, do we study for self, for others or for God? Unfortunately most of us begin with self first, others and then God. We need to be converted in our thinking, to let God be first, then others and ourselves last.
This leads to the very important principle of Bible study – ‘What is God saying in the Bible as a whole, and in it’s history, and in it’s laws, and in it’s songs etc ?
Then eventually we ask “what is God saying to me?”
The Bible can sustain scholarly research and be a blessing, but it is also a voice from God to individuals then and now, made good to the individual by the Holy Spirit. How many millions have experienced this, and so many have died for the reality of believing the voice of God to them through the Bible! His promises do not fail.
In Conclusion let me summarize my feeble answer to the ‘why’ of Bible study:
1 To lead us to worship God.
2 To reveal the Lord Jesus.
3 To instruct us in God’s ways, God’s will for us
4 To discover God at work in the past, present and future.
5 And more......................................................
Bible study is not an end in itself, but the object and end is to know Christ and be like Christ!
Put another way by Paul “the aim of our charge is love (God’s kind of love),that issues from a pure heart, and a good conscience (to discern right and wrong), and a sincere faith (implicit trust in God revealed in His Son Jesus). 1 Timothy 1.5
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all as you yearn to ‘know HIM, whom to know is life eternal’ ( heaven begun on earth).
Suggestions for further study welcome – firstname.lastname@example.org
These recent blogs are in response to a request for Bible studies by someone I met at the local market.