Don't Just Read the Bible; Study It
Jesus commands us to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37).
The last element of the command is often overlooked, but no doubt refers to treating the truth of God’s Word with reverence and respect. That said, we are expected not just to read the words, but to study them as well.
Biblical study is a spiritual discipline. Disciplines are practices that we must be intentional about keeping, being that they require effort on the part of the believer, with the intent of helping our growth through spiritual maturity and sanctification. Though this is not always easy, it is beneficial in many ways.
Studying Scripture involves more than mere reading of the text. It involves homework. We must look for the Author’s Intended Message, which requires delving into the context of each passage of Scripture we read. We need to understand the genre, the setting, the overall message of the passage, etc. While reading God’s Word certainly illuminates, we should treat God’s Word unlike any other mere book.
What Does the Bible Say About Studying the Bible?
Scripture tells us to study. Ezra “set his heart” to the study of God’s Law: “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” Ezra 7:10. God tells Joshua to “meditate” on the Law (Joshua 1:8). Jesus describes the Word as truth, and says that God will sanctify us through it (John 17:17). Paul tells Timothy that it is vital for a believer (especially a teacher of the Bible) to be able to “rightly handle” the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15). In the book of Acts, when the Apostles would teach the Bible, the listeners would then turn to the Scriptures to examine them, seeing if the things preached were so (Acts 11:17). We should be doing the same thing. Do not simply listen to the pastor’s reading of a text; examine the Scriptures for yourself in order to obtain a deeper understanding.
Studying Scripture may also involve consulting other works as well. Let me be clear; this does not mean other texts which claim inspiration, such as the Mormon religion treats the Book of Mormon. I am simply referring to tools which help us to study the Bible. These may include Bible commentaries, Biblical dictionaries, books on apologetics and systematic theology, etc. There are a myriad of resources at the disposal of believers. Many ministries are dedicated to equipping believers to possess a deeper understanding of Scripture and how to relate to the world from a Christian Worldview (ministries such as Remnant)!
We should also be memorizing Scripture, not for the sake of simply knowing it, but so that we can be equipped to defend it as well. Jesus quickly combatted lies from Satan by quoting God’s Word. We should do the same.
Studying Scripture is a necessary discipline in a world permeated with lies. In order to be the light of the world, the study of God’s Word within the Church is imperative.