Why Do I Need To Study The Scriptures?
By Steve Altamirano
Why do I need to study the Scriptures? At first this may sound like a silly question. After all, we’re the church of God. We know that we need to be spending time with our Lord in His Word daily, right? That’s what I would think. That’s what I think every Christian would think. However, with the growing number of devices and distractions we have as a society (phones, tablets, computers, games, television, social media, etc.), and the time we spend completing our daily tasks (work, sleep, family time, etc.) it’s becoming easier and easier for us as believers in Christ to spend our time in anything but the Scriptures. Sadly, many of us are falling into this trap.
Perhaps you’re fairly new to the faith and you just see the Bible as an overwhelmingly large book with 1189 chapters. You may say to yourself, “That’s going to be too hard for me to tackle so I’m just not even going to waste my time trying. I think I’ll do ______ instead.” Or maybe you’ve read the Bible for decades and, quite frankly, have just become bored with it. You may think to yourself, “I already know the stories and have a good general knowledge of the text. I think I’ll spend my time doing ______ instead.” Or maybe you find yourself somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. You’re not new to the faith. You have read the Bible. However, you don’t have as good of an understanding of the text as a Christian who’s been reading it for 30 years. You’re just a regular guy or girl who goes to school. Or maybe you work a 9 to 5. Or maybe you have a significant other. Or maybe you have some kids. Or maybe your life consists of a combination of all these scenarios. You may say to yourself, “I have too much going on in my life. I just don’t have time to read the Bible. I have to do ______ instead.”
When examining the thoughts of each believer in the situations given, we begin to notice a pattern. The word “time” was mentioned in each response as to why the imaginary believer chose not to study the Scriptures. It takes time to study the Scripture. Everyone has 24 hours in a day but not everyone uses those 24 hours in the same way. If we have the desire to read the text, yet we’re having difficulties finding the time, maybe we need to reevaluate our daily schedules. If we have the time (or don’t have the time) to read the text, yet we lack the desire to do so, maybe we need to reevaluate the spiritual benefits of it.
Why do I need to study the Scriptures? First off, the Bible commends and, even at times, commands the study of the Scriptures. Paul told Timothy to be diligent to present himself approved to God as a workman who accurately handles the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). He also told him that the Scriptures give us the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15). Joshua was commanded by the Lord to meditate on the Word of God day and night (Joshua 1:8). Luke commended the Bereans as being more noble-minded than the Thessalonians because they examined the Scriptures daily to see if the things that Paul had preached to them were true (Acts 17:11). Peter exhorted the believers scattered abroad to long for the pure milk of the Word so that by it they may grow in respect to salvation (1 Peter 2:3).
Why do I need to study the Scriptures? Secondly, the Scriptures help us to learn about and know the God of the Bible, how He saves, how He works (to a certain degree), how He views us in relationship to Him, and what He expects of mankind. With so many teachings about God from various churches, denominations, cults, and religions, how do we know which ones are true? Is there only one God, or are there three, or even more? Is Jesus God, or was He created by God? Is Jesus just a Way, or is He the only Way to salvation? Are God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit co-eternal, or did God manifest Himself in different modes at different times? Is the Holy Spirit a Person, or an impersonal force? Can God sin? Did Jesus ever sin? Did God create sin? Is Jesus Lucifer’s spiritual brother? Can I become a god and someday receive my own planet? Is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, or by having a secret knowledge? Did Jesus really come in the flesh, or did He just appear to? Should I venerate Mary, or any of the saints of old? Does salvation come through the church? Must I confess my sin to a priest and receive his forgiveness to be saved? If I die without being baptized, will I be saved? Should I baptize, or dedicate my baby? Am I saved by faith alone, or by faith plus works? Are people annihilated in Hell, or do they suffer for eternity? Did God choose me, or did I choose Him first? Do I really have eternal security, or can I lose my salvation? Is God sovereign, do I have free will, or is it a little bit of both? Does God perform miracles today, or did He cease from miracle working in the first century? Is Jesus really coming back? Did He already come back? If He is coming back, will it be in two phases? Can I really trust God’s promises? Am I a sinner? Can I live my whole life without ever committing a sin? Does it really matter to God if I sin? The list goes on and on. The study of Scripture will help us answer these questions.
Why do I need to study the Scriptures? Thirdly, the Scriptures equip us to present the truth of the gospel to others, answer questions from those who ask us to give an account of the hope that is in us with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15), and even answer objections by contending earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints (Jude 3). We may not have the knowledge or wit of some of the great debaters of our day such as Ravi Zacharias, James White, or William Lane Craig. We may never get to proclaim the gospel in front of thousands of people on the campus of a major university. We may never get to travel half way across the world and share the gospel with those who live in some of the most poverty-stricken nations. But we do have the opportunity to share the good news with those whom God has placed in our lives around us. Many times we choose to ignore the fact that the people living around us have questions about eternal matters just like people who live on the other side of the world. We’ve all heard the questions from the uninformed, the unbelieving, and the skeptics. Is there really a God? Did He really create everything out of nothing, or was there a big bang and we just evolved? Is the Bible really the Word of God? Doesn’t the Bible contradict itself? Will God receive me into heaven as long as my good outweighs my bad? Is there really a Hell? How can a loving God send people there? How can a loving God allow good people to suffer? How can you be so narrow minded by saying that Jesus is the only Way to God? Isn’t the God of the Bible the same as the god of the Quran? What about reincarnation? Again, the list goes on. The study of Scripture will help us answer these questions.
Why do I need to study the Scriptures? To sum it up, this blog is not about promoting Bible worship. It’s not even about giving you the answer to a bunch of questions that people have about God, our lives here on earth, and the afterlife. It’s about seeing the spiritual benefits of Scriptural study for us as believers and for those around us. It’s about you taking the time to mine the Word of God to find the answers to these questions. It’s about provoking those of us who don’t have the time to study to reevaluate our schedule. It’s about provoking those of us who would rather spend the majority of our day indulging in entertainment to reevaluate our purpose and make the choice to spend some time in the Word. It’s not about a guilt trip, a legalistic study schedule, or even abstention from all forms of entertainment. It’s about knowing the God who loved us and saved us and avoid being carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery, craftiness, and deceitful scheming of men (Ephesians 4:14). It’s about knowing how to agree to disagree with a fellow believer on a secondary issue instead of calling him a heretic. It’s about studying to learn how to offer our lives as a pleasing aroma to the Lord instead of reeking of arrogance once we’ve gained some Scriptural knowledge. It’s about seeing our need to be spiritually fed, to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), and to see a hurting world around us that desperately needs the church to proclaim the truths of the Scriptures to them.