Lesson 8: The Bible Is Unique In How You Study It--Reasons To Study ScriptureRelated Media
Unfortunately, many Christians struggle with establishing and practicing a plan for reading and studying the Bible. Why? For many reasons. One of them is a lack of motivation. As with any endeavor, if we don’t recognize how beneficial something is, we will struggle with motivation and without motivation, we won’t do it, or won’t do it consistently.
This is, in part, why Scripture repeatedly teaches about the benefits of studying the Word of God. It challenges us to study, not only because God calls us to do so, but also because there are so many blessings for us when we do. In this lesson, we will consider ten reasons for studying Scripture, with the goal of becoming motivated to study God’s Word with greater dedication and continuity.
People Should Study Scripture To Learn About Salvation—How To Have Eternal Life
In 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul told Timothy to continue in what he had learned—referring to the Scriptures—because it was able to give him “wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Scripture gives people wisdom on how to be saved. The Old Testament tells the story of God creating the earth, the world falling into sin and disarray, and God’s promise to redeem the world through a male child. It reveals that the child would have a Jewish lineage and that the child would be both human and divine. Then, the Gospels reveal this person as Jesus, the Son of God. The Son of God lived, died on the cross for our sins, and rose from the dead, so we could have eternal life through faith in him. People should read the Bible because no other book teaches about how a person can be saved. The Bible teaches redemptive history—how God saves the world.
People Should Study Scripture To Grow In Righteousness
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” After people accept Christ, Scripture gives them “teaching” or “doctrine.” This is one of the elements that makes Christianity unique in comparison to other religions. It is filled with doctrine. Scripture not only teaches the doctrine of salvation but also the doctrine of God. God is a triune God: a trinity. He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are three independent persons, co-equal, and yet one.
The Bible teaches the doctrine of humanity (or anthropology). People were made in the image of God and reflect God in various ways, including through being male and female (cf. Gen 1:27, 1 Cor 11:3). It teaches the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. God gave the Holy Spirit to convict unbelievers and lead them to the truth; additionally, the Holy Spirit is given to believers to empower them and transform them into the image of God. The Bible is filled with doctrinal teachings, which we need for life and godliness.
In addition, the Bible rebukes us by revealing the ways we are in sin and calls us to repent. The Bible also corrects us by not only showing us how we are wrong, but how to get right. Finally, the Bible trains us for every good work, which includes being a godly spouse, parent, child, worker, or leader. This is what we call the sufficiency of Scripture: it equips us for every good work. The more a person knows God’s Word, the more God can use them to bless others.
People Should Study Scripture To Discern God’s Direction
In Psalm 119:105, David said, “Your word is a lamp to walk by, and a light to illumine my path.” For David, to be in the Word was to be able to see clearly and make decisions about going to the left or to the right. To not be in the Word was to make decisions in the dark. The Bible tells us what to do in moral situations—do not lie, steal, or cheat—and also gives us principles for all situations, including marriage, parenting, work, and conflict, to name just a few examples. Proverbs 11:14 says there is victory or safety in the multitude of counselors. We should seek wisdom from other godly people in making decisions. Romans 12:2 teaches us about how to better discern God’s direction. It says, “Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.” Many can’t discern God’s voice because the world’s voice is so strong in their ears. The more we reject sin and the teachings of the world, and instead renew our minds according to God’s Word, the more we’ll be able to better discern God’s clear guidance.
People Should Study Scripture To Have A Fruitful Life
Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV) says:
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
David described how a person who rejects the world and sin and instead delights and meditates on God’s Word will become like a tree. What does the tree metaphor signify? Trees are not made for their own pleasure but for the pleasure and security of others. God said to Abraham, “I will bless you and you will be a blessing” (Gen 12:1-3). People would eat from the fruit of Abraham’s life (and his descendants) and find nourishment. Similarly, God will use those who delight in and live in Scripture to bless many. In fact, the Psalmist says, “whatever they do prospers” (v. 3).
Unlike the fruitful person in Psalm 1 whose life is a blessing to others, many people are consumed with themselves. They are takers instead of givers. That is the natural disposition of people apart from God; however, when we allow God to rule in our lives—specifically through living in and obeying his Word—he makes us givers. We become like trees, bearing fruit that many will eat.
People Should Study Scripture To Conquer Sin And Temptations From The Devil
In Psalm 119:11 (NIV), David said, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” By hiding Scripture in his heart, David was able to defeat sin. This is exactly what Christ did when tempted in the wilderness by Satan: He defeated Satan by quoting Scripture (Matt 4). Similarly, 1 John 2:14 says, “I have written to you, young people, that you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil one.” The implication is that spiritual young men (and women) conquer the devil because of their deep knowledge of Scripture, even as Christ conquered the devil. In contrast, if people are weak in Scripture, they will find themselves more vulnerable to temptation, sin, and the devil.
Paul taught that even the Old Testament narratives were meant to help us battle sin. For example, in 1 Corinthians 10:6-11, Paul said that Israel’s grumbling and committing immorality during their wilderness wanderings were included in Scripture “as examples for us, so that we will not crave evil things as they did” (v. 6). Therefore, we should study Scripture to help us conquer sin and temptations from the devil.
People Should Study Scripture To Be Protected From False Teaching
One of the most repeated themes in the New Testament is warnings against false teaching. Christ warned against false teaching (Matt 7:15-20). Most of Paul’s letters were written to correct false doctrines that were spreading throughout the church. He also taught that in the last days there would be many demonic teachers and teachings in the church (1 Tim 4:2).
Because of this reality, believers must continually study God’s Word to be protected. Paul described immature believers as “children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes” (Eph 4:14). Just as small children are prone to danger because of lack of wisdom and life experience, so are spiritual children. In order to grow, they must study Scripture. First Peter 2:2 says, “And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation.” By yearning for God’s Word (and therefore studying it), believers mature and become less vulnerable to false teaching. In fact, the Berean Christians in Acts 17:11 (NIV) were called “noble” because of their consistent and fervent practice of testing Paul’s teaching against Scripture to see if it was true. We must do the same.
People Should Study Scripture To Know And Experience God’s Promises
Scripture is full of promises. Some have counted over 3,000 within Scripture. Second Peter 1:3-4 says this about God’s promises:
I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire.
These promises were given to enable us to participate in the divine nature—which means to make us more like God—and to help us escape the corruption of the world. Some are unconditional, such as God’s promise, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you” (Heb 13:5). However, others are conditional—meaning that we have a role in receiving them.
Here are a few conditional promises to consider. Philippians 4:6-7 says,
Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
God promises his supernatural peace for those who practice prayer, petition, and thanksgiving in everything they do. When we live out these disciplines, instead of worrying and complaining, God gives us his peace.
First John 1:9 says: “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.” God promises to forgive us when we confess our sins to him; therefore, believers don’t have to live in guilt. God is gracious to forgive all our sins when we come to him with repentant hearts.
Proverbs 11:25 says: “whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Likewise, Christ said, “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy” (Matt 5:7). This is especially important for those in serving ministries who are prone to burn out and discouragement. This doesn’t give them a license to neglect rest and self-care, but it does mean that when they prioritize caring for others, God will care for them.
Scripture is full of God’s promises which are meant to change, direct, and comfort us.
People Should Study Scripture To Find Endurance And Encouragement
In Romans 15:4, Paul said, “For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.” For example, many find great encouragement by reading in the Psalms, how others transparently wrestled with their faith while encountering the trials and worries of life. The Old Testament narratives also often help people endure difficulties, as they consider how others faithfully endured seemingly insurmountable circumstances and how God used those circumstances for good. God used Moses’ flight from Egypt as a fugitive and his role as a shepherd in the wilderness for forty years, as preparation for him to lead the Israelite slaves out of slavery in Egypt and shepherd them for forty years in the wilderness. God used the evil Joseph’s brothers did against him—selling him into slavery—to create character in Joseph and the circumstances where Joseph would one day rule over Egypt and help many people. We should read Scripture to gain endurance and encouragement to persevere in life’s trials.
People Should Study Scripture To Be Empowered By God’s Spirit
Consider the following passages: In Ephesians 5:18-20, Paul said:
And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
When Paul commanded believers to be filled with the Spirit, he was challenging them to be continually controlled and empowered by God’s Spirit. This is clear from the implied comparison with drunkenness. In the same way wine can control a person, believers should be controlled and empowered by the Spirit. Paul then described the fruits of a Spirit-filled person: a Spirit-filled person worships God by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. While an unfilled person is consumed with themselves, a filled person is consumed with worshiping God. The filled person is thankful. When unfilled, we are prone to bitterness and grumbling, but when filled, we see God in control of even difficult circumstances, causing us to be thankful. Finally, the filled person submits to others out of reverence to Christ instead of constantly fighting with them and seeking his or her own way. Such submission is accomplished by the power of the Spirit. A Spirit-filled life is a supernatural life.
How then can we be filled with the Spirit—controlled and empowered by him? Consider a parallel passage written by Paul in Colossians 3:16-18,
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
As believers allow the word of Christ to dwell in them richly, they become teachers, worshipers, Christ-conscious, thankful, and submissive. These characteristics are virtually the same as being filled with the Spirit. This makes perfect sense. Since the Spirit is the author of Scripture, he controls and empowers the person who is filled with God’s Word. Unfortunately, many lack power in their Christian life—power to conquer sin, to love others, and to be thankful, regardless of their circumstances—because they are not filled with God’s Word and therefore are not filled with God’s Spirit.
People Should Study Scripture To Please God And Be Approved By Him
In 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV), Paul said, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Essentially, Paul said that God approves those who do their best to study and correctly handle God’s Word. Therefore, it must be realized that some will ultimately not be approved because of how they neglected and mishandled Scripture.
This is not referring to God rejecting some for salvation, as salvation comes by faith and not by works (Eph 2:8-9). But it certainly refers to being useful to the Lord and rewarded. To some, God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” and reward them (cf. Matt 25:21, 1 Cor 3:14). For others, there will be a loss of reward, based on what they did (or did not do) with God’s Word (cf. Matt 5:19, 2 John 1:8, 1 Cor 3:15). We should do our best to study Scripture, rightly apply it, and teach others so we can bring pleasure to God and be approved by him. As Paul said of himself and the apostles, we are all stewards of God’s mysteries, who must prove ourselves faithful (1 Cor 4:1-2).
Why do so many Christians struggle with reading and studying Scripture? Maybe, in part, because they have never thought deeply about how great Scripture is and the benefits of studying it, and therefore lack consistent motivation.
- People Should Study Scripture to Learn About Salvation—How to Have Eternal Life
- People Should Study Scripture to Grow in Righteousness
- People Should Study Scripture to Discern God’s Direction
- People Should Study Scripture to Have a Fruitful Life
- People Should Study Scripture to Conquer Sin and Temptations from the Devil
- People Should Study Scripture to Be Protected from False Teaching
- People Should Study Scripture to Know and Experience God’s Promises
- People Should Study Scripture to Find Endurance and Encouragement
- People Should Study Scripture to Be Empowered by God’s Spirit
- People Should Study Scripture to Please God and Be Approved by Him
- In the reading, what reason for studying Scripture stood out most to you and why?
- Do you struggle with being motivated to study Scripture? If so, why? If not, why not?
- How have you experienced the benefits of Scripture, including God making you more fruitful, giving you encouragement, endurance, guidance, and the ability to conquer sin?
- What is your favorite promise in Scripture and why?
- What are some other, unlisted, benefits of studying Scripture?
- What other questions or applications do you have from the reading?
Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown
Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.
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Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Bibliology (The Written Word)