Study means: To examine, consider, dig, inquire, research, scrutinise. To apply the mind in order to acquire knowledge or skill.
The word is derived from the Latin, ‘Studium’, which means “zeal” (strong, feeling, passion, eagerness, enthusiasm).
The desire to study God’s Word is under girded with a sincere love for the truth. If we genuinely want to know someone, we will listen attentively to what they say. Our God has spoken in his Word.
We are not merely commanded to love God with all our heart, but also with our mind. Our entire being is caught up in this glorious pursuit!
This will not be a sterile session outlining formal forms of study, although we will give some frameworks that may help the student, but rather a dynamic exploration of the wonder of Bible Study.
With David our heart cries out:
“Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.”Psalm 119:18 NKJV
In relation to the Scriptures, we are not in some official acquaintance, marked by formality and polite conduct, but rather we are in a passionate and enduring love affair with the truth!
We are married to Him who is the Truth. (Romans 7:4).
Just as the Shulamite in Song of Solomon eagerly sought her Shepherd lover, so we unashamedly pursue the knowledge of God.
“If Christ is perfectly one with the Bible, then it follows that the relationship of the believer to the Bible must be the same as his relationship to Christ. To this fact the Scriptures bear testimony in many places…Your attitude toward God’s Word is your attitude toward God Himself. You do not love God more than you love His Word. You do not obey God more than you obey His Word. You do not honour God more than you honour His Word. You do not have more room in your heart and life for God than you have for His Word.” Derek Prince, ‘Foundations for Christian Living’
Smith Wigglesworth, in his book ‘Faith That Prevails’ says:
How To Approach To Bible Study So Your Get The Most From The Word
1. Child like (expectant)
If we approach our studies and prayer times as mere obligations required of Christian Believers, duties of the religiously inclined, we will miss the innocent joy and excitement of real discovery. Few things are so sad as a marriage that has entered a stage of boredom, where neither partner is excited by the presence of and revelation of the inner self of the other. So too, over-familiarity with the scripture can crystallise into a “know-it-all, read it, seen it, done it, got-the-T-shirt” kind of attitude. Scriptures that once ignited our imagination with possibilities are now consigned to the internal filing system of doctrinal knowledge. Gone is the child like anticipation of unearthing fresh treasure. Gone the reckless willingness to believe at face value what is written on the living page, and jump headlong out of the boat of comfortable Christianity into the infinite world of our Father!
Wherever you are in your walk with God, I encourage you to re-discover God’s love letter to His people – Open it with fresh eyes and a hungry heart!
David’s son, Solomon, caught his dad’s passion and expressed it for you and I in the second chapter of Proverbs:
MY SON, if you will receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you, Making your ear attentive to skillful and godly Wisdom and inclining and directing your heart and mind to understanding [applying all your powers to the quest for it]; Yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures, Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God. For the Lord gives skillful and godly Wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”Proverbs 2:1-6 AMPLIFIED
… to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”Isaiah 66:2 KJV
God will always honour those who honour Him. We must approach His Word, not with the critical mind of certain of the ‘bible experts’ in some seminaries, not merely as great piece of literature, but as it is in truth, the very Word of Almighty God.
When we recognise that these words are from a dimension outside of time and space – that they are truly the recorded utterances of the Lord of the Universe, that the Bible is the “oracle”, or “speaking place”, of God, our attitude toward it will be marked with humility.
Eugene Peterson’s modern paraphrase of Proverbs 1:7, which earlier translators rendered, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”, says it so well:
Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.”Proverbs 1:7 MESSAGE
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God rewards the diligent. As we discipline ourselves in the study of the scriptures, it becomes our delight! Too often, people are faddish in their daily disciplines. We try something, and when it does not yield almost immediate results, conclude that it does not work. God, however, has not reserved wisdom for the casual enquirer, but for the diligent searcher after truth. There may be lots of dirt to dig before we find the gold, but who in the end is richer? The soiled and sweaty labourer carrying his prize, or the comfortable sloth watching him work?
Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.”Isaiah 28:9-10 NKJV
We do not want to build a prefab, but a strong solid spiritual house. This is done day by day, here a little, there a little, until all is complete.
“And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you —and more [besides] will be given to you who hear. For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away [by force],”Mark 4:24-25 AMPLIFIED
The Results of Diligent Study
The written Word, sown in our hearts, becomes the Living Word within us. It has within it an innate power to transform our life, just as God says in Isaiah 55:11.
We will now list just some of the benefits of Bible Study.
1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:12-14; Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:1-2
The Word brings us from babyhood to full maturity, where we are trained to teach others and bring them toward spiritual adulthood also. This, effectively, is what discipleship should accomplish. The disciple, if he or she is indeed a successful follower, should become a discipler of others.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 in the Amplified Bible, speaking of training our children in the ways of God, says we should be able to express the truths of God’s Word in a manner that ‘penetrates’ the hearts of our hearers. Ecclesiastes 10:10 diagnoses the problem of many churches, who tire themselves with endless programs to try and win the world, because the edge of their ministry is not ‘whetted’ and sharp.
Titus 2:6-8,15; 1 Timothy 4:12-16
A deep knowledge of the Word gives great security and authority to a man or woman of God. We cannot live according to what our Bible School teacher believes, or what our parents understood about God’s Word. We have to take these words and make them our own.
The Bible is our textbook for successful living. It is the banqueting table of kings and queens. The Scriptures are the ultimate universal authority in all matters of faith and morals. God is absolutely bound to His Word and will never break His covenant (Psalm 89:34). We speak with authority because it is not our own words that we bring, but His.
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”1Pet 4:11 NKJV
Study of the Word takes us below the surface words on a page and helps us grasp the Spirit of the Word. Ecclesiastes 12:12 says, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.”
Our authority is not based on an intellectual superiority, but rather a thorough acquaintance with the Author of the Bible Himself, the Holy Spirit, who breathes life into all our efforts and enlightens the mind with spiritual understanding. Prayer and study are two key elements that take us beyond the surface waters of intellectual assent to a given truth, into the living experience of it at work in our life and ministry.
The following picture illustrates this concept…
Our words carry authority and presence, not necessarily because they are the words written on the pages of the Bible. There are thousands of powerless preachers who speak Bible words every day with little or no transforming results.
Two men can preach exactly the same message, but see completely different outcomes.
I will use the iceberg as an illustration. It is not the towering edifice above the water that makes an iceberg so dangerous, but the unseen mass below the surface that gives it its awesome presence and power to sink even the great ships should they choose to argue with it.
Similarly, what we hold in our heart in the knowledge of God should far outweigh what we speak or people see. This unseen life with God and His Word gives presence and authority to a man of God, not charisma or exterior eloquence.
For this reason, it is not enough for us to engage with God’s Word just because we are preaching on Sunday and need a message, or because of some other ‘spiritual’ function. Such things lead to shallow ministry in the Body of Christ. We must develop a lifestyle of Bible Study and Prayer. Then, when we speak or minister it comes as a result of the overflow of God’s life in our heart.
1 Timothy 4:1; Titus 1:10-11; John 8:31-32; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Corinthians 11:13-14; Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22
Paul warns that doctrines inspired by demons will abound in the last days. It is essential that we, as men and women of God, are able, by a thorough knowledge of the Word, to avoid such heresies.
These heresies, promoted by false teachers clothed as ministers of the gospel, will have great seductive force. Only a true knowledge of what the Scriptures actually teach will protect us.
Jesus said that we will know the truth, and that the truth will set us free. It is important to note that it only the truth that we know that can have this effect in our lives. Something may be true, but if we do not know it, it will have zero influence upon us.
“It is as sport to a [self-confident] fool to do wickedness, but to have skillful and godly Wisdom is pleasure and relaxation to a man of understanding.”Proverbs 10:23 AMPLIFIED
I include this little gem simply because it is so unusual. Even Solomon in his woeful lament says that much study is a weariness of the flesh (Ecclesiastes 12:12), but he was not here referring to a vital and ongoing relationship with God through His Word. To have God speak to us from the pages of His Holy Word is truly invigorating. If only we kept this truth before us, that His Words are “spirit and life” to those that find them! (John 6:63)