Summary: Our lives should involve a diligent search for truth and wisdom. Why Bible study must accompany Bible reading and prayer and how how Bible Study provides FRAMEWORK for all the other disciplines.
Purpose and Value of Bible Study
(Fifty Days of Consecration #7)
I want to begin this morning by sharing with you some results from a Bible knowledge test published by the Vancouver Sun.
Here are some of the answers given by people who said they knew the Bible.
1. Noah’s wife was Joan of Ark.
2. The seventh commandment is “Thou shalt not admit
3. The epistles were wives of the apostles.
4. A Christian should have only one wife. This is
5. Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball
of fire by night.
As you might imagine some of those mistakes could be quite consequential. There is a lot of difference between “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and “Thou shalt not admit adultery.”
This morning we will not have time to address the multitude of Bible verses commending the necessity of hiding God’s Word in our hearts and living according to His word. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Our eternal well-being depends heavily upon our attitudes toward the revealed word of God. The process of letting God’s word dwell in us richly involves more than Bible study. Prayer, fasting, meditation, and all the other disciples we are studying during this Fifty Days of Consecration are interrelated and depend heavily upon one another. Our focus this morning will be upon the objectives of Bible study and how it functions in relationship to the other disciplines.
What is Bible study? It is more than reading the Bible; but it includes that for sure. It is different from meditating upon Scripture although Bible study never reaches its ultimate purpose until the verses are applied to daily life through prayer, meditation, and obedience. “Meditation is devotional; study is analytical. Meditation will relish a word; study will explicate it. Although meditation and study often overlap, they constitute two distinct experiences. Study provides a certain objective framework within which meditation can successfully function.” There is much to be gained by becoming established in both Bible study and meditation. Bible study may involve discussion and interaction with others about Scripture. But when the proper preparation for the discussion is lacking there can really be little more than ignorance informing ignorance. Everybody is entitled to an opinion and most everybody has one. But an informed opinion is much more helpful than an uninformed one. Bible study is a more objective approach to Scripture in which through disciplined examination of Scripture we seek to discover exactly what is being communicated.
I. The Immediate Goal of Bible study is UNDERSTANDING.
In Acts 8 Philip encountered an Ethiopian Eunuch reading from Isaiah 53. Do you remember the question Philip asked the man when he heard him reading his Bible? Acts 8:30 "Do you understand what you are reading?" It’s good to read the Bible—and that was an important beginning for this Ethiopian. But he was not understanding what he was reading. The good news is –he at least knew he wasn’t understanding it and had enough humility to acknowledge that and be teachable.
But notice How God gave him understanding. Could the Holy Spirit have simply revealed it to him directly? Could the Holy Spirit have given him a vision or dream and in the dream explained Isaiah 53 to him? Could God have sent an angel to explain it to him? I think we would all agree that the answer to all those questions is yes—God can do anything. But the issue is not what God can do but what He has chosen to do. 2 Cor 5:18-21 “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. NKJV
Before Phillip could help the Eunuch understand the passage, he had to understand it himself. The immediate goal of Bible study is understanding. That usually comes through the Body of Christ.
8 Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. 9 He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.