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 5:37-40).
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.
*Condensed, with permission, from the Blog posting of October 26, 2013 on lightontherock.org