There are various places in the Bible which emphasize the importance of being familiar with the instruction of God (Hos. 4.6; Psa. 119). Moreover, among these instances God has often warned his people from adding to, or removing from what He has entrusted humanity with (Deut. 4.2; Rev. 22.18-19).
This concept was expressed to Joshua in the following way:
Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. (Josh. 1.7 ESV)
In order for Joshua to fulfill this obligation he was told to “meditate on it [the law] day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Josh. 1.8). God-given education when followed faithfully produces success.
It has often been affirmed that Christianity is a religion of education. Jesus supports this affirmation, for he argues:
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, “And they will all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. (John 6.44-45 ESV)
Observe that the phrases “taught by God,” “heard” and “learned from the Father” all underscore a matriculation process in the knowledge of God.
Moreover, one can only appropriately come to God upon the basis of proper instruction –the “written” word.
From these passages it is evident that God expects his people to be proficient in his word (cf. Deut. 6.1-4). Meditation upon the word is essential to enjoy a life that is blessed by God (Psa. 1.1-6).
In fact, we must abide in his word to have fellowship with Heaven (2 John 9). Heaven’s word instructs us on how to become free from our sins:
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8.31-32; cf. vs. 33-38)
A failure to grasp the importance of Bible study is truly unfortunate. Not only is it unfortunate, but ignorance of the Gospel is also condemning (2 Thess. 1.8).
Perhaps one of the greatest pitfalls in the endeavor of Bible study is never implementing a “home” program of personal study. In other words, some people simply do not start. Even if they start, their Bible study program eventually “gives up the ghost.”
There may not be a single answer to account for this problem, but perhaps some may be encouraged to dust-off their Bibles by considering the goal and importance of Bible study.
One of the clearest passages which demonstrates both the goal and importance of Bible study is 2 Timothy 3.14-17. Paul encourages Timothy with the following words:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Timothy was to understand that the “sacred writings” give both the wisdom to obtain salvation and the spiritual training to become a mature Christian.
The bottom line is that Scripture must be properly applied to life. To do so, one must properly approach and understand Scripture.
To properly apply Scripture to life, the Bible must be carefully examined. The process of drawing out “the meaning of the biblical text and explaining it” is known as exegesis.
Exegesis comes from two Greek words (ex, out, and egeisthas, to guide or lead), and literally means “to lead out”. The basic thrust of exegesis is to be faithful to the Bible by extracting and applying its original message.
Exegesis is what Paul calls “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2.15). Consequently, this is the responsibility of every Christian. As “teachers” of the word, we must be cautious in our presentation of the Scriptures, for we shall receive a greater judgment (Jas. 3.1).
These are sobering concepts. Furthermore, since the Scriptures are understandable we must supply the dedication to know the law (Acts 17. 10-12; Eph. 3.1-7; Psa. 119.18).
God desires us to follow his word. May we be impressed with the importance, purpose, and need of properly studying the Scriptures.
Let us do our part as stewards to be found faithful with the Scriptures (cf. 1 Cor. 4.1-2), for in it are the “words of life” (cf. John 6.68).
- Matthew S. DeMoss, 2001, Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek (Downers Grove: InterVarsity), 54.
- D.R. Dungan, 1888, Hermeneutics: A Text-Book, 2d edition (Cincinnati, Oh.: Standard Publishing), 1.