WHY DO WE STUDY THE WORD OF GOD? By Philip Shields (Condensed, with permission, from
the Blog posting of October 26, 2013 on lightontherock.org) Many of us study the Bible every
day. If we’re not, we should be. But why
do we study the Word of God? Many of
us frankly enjoy learning more “things” about scripture: more data, a
fascinating Hebrew word picture, the meaning in the original Greek or Hebrew,
some historical tie-in to what we’re reading, and so on. I do, too. But
here’s where I caution us as well.
Many of you love the scripture, as I do, that prompts us to “grow in grace
and knowledge…” (2 Peter 3:18). Some use the verse that says “Study to show
yourself approved unto God…” (2 Timothy 2:15). Actually the word “study” in the King James Version of
2 Tim 2:15 is an old English word meaning “be diligent”. The Greek word there
actually has nothing to do with Bible Study directly. But as you’ll see, we must study and we must know why we study. It’s far more than just
gaining more knowledge.
Our modern learning system comes
from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle - - the Academy, where students were
expected to just have new information funneled into their brains while one
speaks and everyone else listens. But the learning system in Jesus’ day was
far different. Disciples didn’t just learn the words their rabbi was teaching
– they watched their actions and copied their reactions to everyday
situations. They learned by doing and watching a life. It wasn’t enough to
pore over the scrolls by themselves. Their teachers were like a parent
running alongside a young child learning to ride his bike for the first time
without training wheels. They were in the thick of learning by doing and
watching – not just studying documents. The goal was to create a bond between
teacher and student. The goal was a deep relationship.
What am I getting at? The goal of Bible study goes far beyond
knowing what’s in the Book. It’s about coming to know the Author of the book.
Not just coming to know about Him, but to know HIM, directly and personally.
Holy Scripture is Yeshua (Jesus)
in writing. When we read it, we should be hearing his voice. Everything you
read, study or hear should be helping us have a closer walk with our Beloved
Savior. To know him, and help as many as possible to come to really know Him,
is my overriding mission in life, as Paul teaches us in Philippians 3:
“Yet indeed I also count all
things loss for the excellence of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus my lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of
all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in
him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which
is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I
may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of His
sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to
the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11).
Notice also these words in the Gospel of John:
“And the Father Himself, who sent Me,
has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen
His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent,
Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you
have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. [then He tells us
the point of searching scriptures] But you are not willing to come to me that you may have life” (John
Knowledge – in the Biblical sense
– should not be knowledge for knowledge sake, but to transform us. We should focus on the transformation, not just on
the information. Information is to help in the transformation. Sure, 2 Peter
3:18 says we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge”, but of what? Finish
the verse: “Of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ…” – 2 Peter 3:18.
ALL knowledge from Bible study should result in knowing Him more than ever
before. It also should result in having a closer relationship with him and with all those made in his image.
That’s ultimately what the two greatest commandments are: to love God with
all your being and heart and soul – and to love fellow mankind as your own
self. all our learning should be
pointing to that goal: greater love, a closer relationship with our Maker and
fellow humans – no matter where they live, no matter their nationality or
skin color, no matter what they’ve been in the past. If they are a believer,
or a potential believer, we are to love them as we love one another and our
Maker. When you’re thrilled with new
information, ask yourself: how is this helping me draw closer to my Maker and
to my fellow humans?
Study to come to Christ. Study to know Him
better. Study to love God and mankind better. And so remember: the reason we do
Bible study is to come to know Him (Philippians
3:9-11). It is to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We study the
book to come to know its author better.
So we search the scripture, for there’s life there, and He is our Life. We study to find Him, to come to Him, to learn about Him and to be like Him as He comes into our lives
and lives again in us.