If you’ve spent even a moderate amount of your life in church, chances are you’ve been pushed to join a Bible study program of some kind. Growing up evangelical, Wednesday night Bible study was a staple of my churchgoing experience, and was viewed as a crucial stepping-stone to more intensive Bible seminars and theology programs. But is all that really necessary? Doesn’t God see our heart and intentions? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Here are just a few reasons to spend time in the Word of God.
1. Knowing the Bible = Knowing who God Really Is
John 1:1-4 tells us that God is inseparable from His Word, that He is the source of life, and that His life brings light to all of humanity. If God, the Bible, His Light and eternal life are indistinguishable from each other, then shouldn’t we take the time to truly know Him? The best way to get to know someone is spending time with them, learning about their life and experiences through their own words. As Christians, we shouldn’t see Bible study as a burden or a waste of time, but rather take it as a precious opportunity to grow in our faith with proper knowledge and instruction. So many of us in the modern church fail to recognize the importance of knowing who God says He is according to His own words. Some of us know more about athletes’ career stats or our favorite celebrity’s last five relationships than we do about the Creator Himself. John 17:3 even tells us that the path to eternal life is knowing the one true God and His son Jesus…pretty straightforward there, no? Most of us know about God’s love and grace already (heck, those of us raised in the church probably grew up singing “Jesus Loves Me” since kindergarten). But how much do we know about what God expects from us as believers?
There’s a difference between reading casually and reading to learn. The latter forces us to deeply consider what we’re reading and pushes us to retain that knowledge. If we spend time earnestly seeking to learn about who God is, then we’ll know how to conduct our life of faith. Speaking of which…
2. The Word Gives Sound Instruction
We can delude ourselves into thinking that our good works and intentions are sufficient, but let’s consider the question: What does the Bible say about this way of thinking? According to James 1:22, true believers don’t just hear the Word, but act upon it as well. This same verse even warns us that by not putting our faith into practice, we open ourselves up to self-deception. After all, isn’t it false righteousness that did the Pharisees in? Wasn’t the serpent able to deceive Eve because she didn’t follow God’s instructions clearly? That’s just one example of how the Bible provides us with wisdom so that we know which pitfalls to avoid.
We can see this problem manifest itself in the church. Modern Christianity is filled with so many doctrines that have no basis in Scripture. I mean…seriously…can anyone show me where “reckless love” shows up in the Bible? It may sound pretty as a song, but some pastors take it a step further in building sermons around a doctrine that isn’t even in the Bible. Even commentaries are unreliable, as different pastors and theologians have wildly inconsistent theories based on their own interpretations. Which of their explanations is correct?
What we come to realize as we spend time in the Word is that the Bible provides us with moral instruction so that we may carry out our life of faith based on God’s standards rather than people’s faulty logic. 1 Peter 2:2 tells us that believers ought to “long for the pure milk of the Word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (p.s. notice how it doesn’t say “long for pure commentaries”). Speaking of milk…
3. The Word is our Spiritual Nourishment
How long can you go without food? According to science, most of us could survive up to two weeks without eating (couldn’t be me) but only three days at maximum without water. If we’re going to ask why studying the Bible is necessary, we should also ask if it’s necessary to eat and drink regularly for our physical health. John 4:14 tells us of spiritual water that will quench our thirst forever; John 6:51 tells of living bread that sustains the spirit. If nourishment is so important for our physical bodies, how much more important is it to sustain our spiritual health as well?
Using food as a comparison, Scripture even warns us against spiritual complacency. Hebrews 5:12-14 implores us to move beyond the elementary principles (likened to spiritual milk) and graduate onto solid foods (mature knowledge of the Word). How underdeveloped would our physical bodies be if we relied only on milk as the sole source of nourishment?
4. Our Hope for Eternal Life is in the Word
The ultimate goal for a believer is Heaven/eternal life. 1 John 2:17 tells us that the desires of this world will pass away, but those who do God’s will live forever. But can we truly have hope in eternal life unless we know what this “will” of God is referring to? Matthew 13:10-11 says that the knowledge of the secrets of Heaven are embedded in parables. If that’s true, how many of us know the parables and their correct meaning? If nothing else convinces you to spend time studying the Bible, let this be the one reason that does.
Many of us spend years in our churches going through the motions like a hamster running in place, but we never come any closer to understanding the deeper things of God’s Word. Whether we grew up piously reciting the liturgy, or speaking in tongues among Baptists, or attending a super trendy church where the worship leader has a tasteful sleeve tattoo, chances are we don’t know nearly enough to qualify for the gift of eternal life.
If our true hope lies in Heaven, then at the bare minimum we should consider whether we’re on the narrow road to salvation (Matthew 7:13-14) or comfortably cruising through life down the multi-lane highway to hell. If we’re serious about eternity and we truly recognize our need for salvation, this is the kind of self-interrogation one should engage in.