Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth: Why Study the Bible?

There are many religions that claim to have an authoritative holy book.  Some of these include the Qur’an for Muslims, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price for Mormons, and the New World Translation for Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Those of the catholic faith retain the apocrypha in their Bibles.  The Bible is not one of many holy books on the same level as others; the Bible is in a class by itself, distinct from all others.  One of the significant reasons for this assertion is that the Bible antedates all of these other books or writings.  They often claim to have some connection to the Bible and then venture down the path of false doctrine which gives birth to other religions and cults.   

I want to be clear that I write with the conviction that the Bible alone contains God revelation for man and has no literary equivalent.  I appreciate what Roy Zuck states concerning the important correlation between interpretation and application: “We must know the meaning of the Bible before we can know its message for today.  We must understand its sense for then before we can see its significance for now” (Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation, 10).  With this in mind, I’d like to suggest five compelling reasons every believer ought to be engaged in Bible study.     

  1. Because of the Bible’s Uniqueness. 

The Bible is a unique book.  What makes it unique?  The fact that it has come from God Himself.  In the sense that it is God’s written revelation to man, it is exclusive; there is only one of its kind.

 

  1. Because of the Bible’s Nature.

We find the nature of Scripture is Divine revelation because it comes from God.  2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”  In fact it is breathed out by God (qeovpnuestoV).  One vital presupposition when it comes to Bible study is that God is the Supreme King over the universe.  If God is the Supreme King, then what we ought to know what He has to say.  If we discover what He says, we ought to obey what He commands.  The Bible is, to borrow the title of Emil Brunner’s book, a Divine Imperative to man.  The Bible’s nature imputes an intrinsic, divine value to its sacred pages.  It distinguishes itself from the mere musings of men (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:13). 

  1. Because of the Bible’s Author.

Who wrote the Bible?  2 Peter 1:21 tells us “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  Men who spoke and wrote down the words of Scripture were its authors.  But we are told that the ultimate Author is God.  In this sense, there is a dual authorship.  The human authors of Scriptures were the agents God used to pen His thoughts to man.  This is inspiration, or “the determining influence exercised by the Holy Spirit on the writers of the Old and New Testaments in order that they might proclaim and set down an exact and authentic way the message was received from God (René Pache, The Inspiration & Authority of Scripture, 45). 

  1. Because of the Bible’s Message

The Bible message is one of redemption.  “The underlying theme of all the Scriptures is Redemption: in the Old Testament the anticipation of it in type and prophecy; in the Gospels the accomplishment of it by the death of Christ; in the Acts and epistles, the application of it to the needs of man; and in the revelation, the achievement of it in the subjection of all kingdoms to the rule of God” (W. Graham Scroggie, The Unfolding Drama of Redemption, 32).  Ultimately, the message is embodied in the Logos of God, Jesus Christ (John 1:1; Revelation 19:13).  As W. Graham Scroggie says again “Christ dominates the whole Biblical revelation, and see also how the presentation of Him, alike in prophesy and history, promises to meet, and does meet, man’s deepest needs” (30).

 

  1. Because of the Bible’s Efficacy (cf. Sproul, Knowing Scripture, 22-23).

We learn from 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”  It serves as the map for the path that man ought to follow.  As the front page in the Gideon’s Bible reads: “It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.”  Notice the various effects of Scripture on a believer:

A.     It is profitable for teaching.  That is, the Bible is to be propagated.  We ought to hide God’s word in our heart (Psalm 119:11), and then let what is in our heart proceed from our mouth (Matthew 15:18).  The epistle to Timothy was written fro public reading and therefore the teaching that is being spoken of here is public teaching of the Word.  The content of the Scriptures are profitable for the instruction of the Bible.  The Bible ought to be our Catechism book, if you will.  Galatians 6:6 “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.”     

B.     It is profitable for reproof.  This is an often painful effect of Scripture.  Proverbs has much to say about reproof, or the reigning in of the wanderer (Proverbs 1:23, 25, 30; 3:11; 5:12; 10:17; 12:1; 13:18; 15:5, 10, 31; 29:15).  Proverbs 15:10 “There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.”

C.     It is profitable for correction.  Again, another painful effect of Scripture.  Jeremiah 5:3 “O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.”

D.     It is profitable for training in righteousness.  The word “training” comes from the word paideivan.  It means “the act of providing guidance for responsible living” (BDAG, 748).  It is what parents do for their children.  The Bible is the milk for the baby Christian (1 Peter 2:2) and meat for the mature believer (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12, 14).

While all of the reasons listed above are important reasons to study the Bible, ultimately the most significant reason of all lies in Whom they proclaim:

“Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ [45] Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures [the Old Testament],  [46] and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,  [47] and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:44-47, ESV, italics added). 

It is only in the Scriptures (which now includes both the Old and New Testament) that Jesus Christ is revealed and the Gospel proclaimed which alone “is the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16, ESV). 

We have an incredible privilege to have the word of God in our hands.  We must not forget that to whom much has been given, much has been required.

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