I’m a part of a bi-weekly Bible study that I love. Rather than working through a specific text together, we each come ready to talk about what we’ve been reading on our own.
It’s nice because each time we meet is very different. Also, it adds accountability. And no matter how many good reasons to read the Bible I have in theory, it’s easy to let it slip in practice. But if I show up and haven’t been reading my Bible, I’ll have to answer to the group as to why I’m not able to share with them.
But more than anything, the blessing is in the fellowship as we reflect on what God is saying to us through his word in an ongoing, relational context that is deliberately set-up to foster fellowship.
This past Monday night one of the people in our group shared something with me that really challenged me. We were talking about why we sometimes get away from regular Bible-reading and he strongly admonished us, ‘Don’t be okay with not reading your Bible!’
This is a busy study week for me. In the Lord’s providence I’ll be preaching three very different messages over the next few days, so I’m studying lots in preparation.
Tonight as I finished working my way through another commentary and compiling notes I had a funny thought:
Even on the most productive of days, a pastor often has nothing tangible to show for all his labour.
I worked hard today. I laboured to stay on task, I made my way through a lot of material, and I think I understand the word of God better. I think I’m better prepared to teach God’s people what they need to hear from God.
But there’s nothing yet tangible to show for it. Nothing in the world (apart from a few files on my computer) are any different now, despite a full day of work.
By Whose Standard?
Honestly, that can be a little discouraging. By way of comparison, I could spend 30 minutes pushing a lawn mower and it looks like I’ve done something productive. But now I spend an entire day at a desk, working hard, and it doesn’t look like I did a thing.
Imagine for a second that you’re inept in the kitchen (for some of us, that’s not much of a stretch). Picture this: you need to make one cookie. It has to be in a specific shape. Thankfully, you have the right cookie cutter and the right ingredients. But one problem remains: how do you make just one cookie?
Of course, since you don’t know how to make just one cookie, you find a recipe that makes a dozen. You make the dough, roll it out, and get ready to use your cookie cutter.
But which part of the dough do you use? Which part is the best? That’s your first tough choice. So you pick a part that you think looks the best.
But that leads to your second tough choice: what in the world do you do with all the extra dough?
These are some of the tough decisions that your pastor needs to make every week. We study a text all week, examining historical backgrounds, thinking about the linguistic realities of the text, placing it in its canonical context, figuring out where the truth fits in our systematic theology, studying what experts have said about this text, and thinking hard about how it applies to ourselves and others in our congregations.
Most Christians inherently feel the need / desire / drive to study the Bible, but a lot of times we’re not too sure why. And sadly, not too many of us stop to think biblically about why we should study the Bible.
So, from the Bible itself, here are seven great reasons, plus one ultimate reason why we should all be quick to study the Bible.
1. We must study the Bible to grow in faith
Rom 10 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
2. We must study the Bible to grow in joy
Ps 19 8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; … 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
3. We must study the Bible to grow in righteousness / good works
2Tim 3 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.