“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
It could be said that one of the biggest problems that we face in the Church today is the lack of knowledge of God’s Word. We tend to get too comfortable, allowing others to spoon-feed us information, rather than diligently following up on what we hear and learning for ourselves. In our culture, we have information lying at our very fingertips; it has never been easier for everyday people to own a copy of God’s Word, not to mention the abundance of study tools available with the push of a computer button. We literally have no excuse for a lack of knowledge!
Bible study is an action verb. If we do not set aside the time for individual Bible study, it will not happen on its own. It requires careful “digging”, motivated by our desire to learn. According to Dictionary.com, the word “dig” means “to break up, turn over, or unearth; to find or discover by effort or search”. Acts 17:11 says, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the Word with all eagerness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
So, why is the study of Scripture important?
First, it is because of Who the Author is. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” To study the nature of God is to study the greatest subject ever known to mankind. It is impossible for our human minds to know all there is to know about God, but does this stop us from wanting to learn more each day about Him? Of course not! Moreover, a greater knowledge of God strengthens our relationship with Him. Think about what all your closest earthly relationships have in common. It is probably the extent of your knowledge about that person. What if you said you had a wonderful relationship with your dad–but you seldom talked to him, rarely spent time with him, or knew just enough about him to get you by? What kind of relationship is that? It’s the same way with our relationship with God. The more we know and seek His Word, the better our relationship will be (Jeremiah 15:16).
Second, it is because of What it does. The Bible is active in our hearts today (Hebrews 4:12)! In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul tells the church, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers.” When we get in the Word, people can tell a difference because of how it changes our lives. For instance, Psalm 119 tells us that by studying, we can receive strength (verse 28), faith (verse 30), life (verse 93), light and guidance (verse 105), joy (verse 111), and wisdom (verse 130). 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence” (emphasis added). There are countless blessings in being a diligent “digger” in the Word, if we will only receive them!
The constant searching of Scripture will also keep us from temptation. Psalm 119:9,11 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word. I have stored up Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Knowledge of Jesus will enable us to escape “the defilements of the world” (2 Peter 2:20), to grow spiritually mature (Ephesians 4:13-14), and to remember how we are to live for God (2 Peter 1:8-15, 21). Most importantly, studying the Word leads us to salvation and keeps us right with God (James 1:21). Of course, all this will not happen if we do not study. May we never be considered “unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus” (2 Peter 1:8)!
In order for daily study to become a habit, we must make it personal. We’ve established a few reasons why Bible study is important, so now what? Where do we begin? Here are a few practical study tips:
- Set aside a specific time that becomes your time with Jesus. Whether it be in the morning, afternoon, or evening, make that time all about Him.
- Designate a “study place”, free of distractions, that will help you focus.
- Keep yourself accountable by asking a friend or family member to be your study partner, and exchange ideas and what you’ve learned.
- Make it fun! Pick out a pretty notebook and colorful pens and highlighters, if that’s your thing. Bible-marking tools are my best friends. I especially love Micron pens and these highlighters that won’t bleed through the page.
- The most important thing is to plan a schedule in which spending time with God is its greatest priority. Imagine getting to the point of feeling so strongly about our God that we don’t want to stop learning more about Him and searching His Word!
Here are a few personal Bible study materials that I and others have enjoyed and benefited from:
- “Digging Deep in God’s Word” by Cindy Colley. It is a year-long study, with a new theme every year. Each month, it digs into different books or people of the Bible that go with that theme, along with a practical challenge to apply to our own lives. To learn more about this study method and this year’s theme (“Persecution: For Righteousness’ Sake”), visit thecolleyhouse.org.
- Finer Grounds Bible Studies. This is a series of ladies’ Bible study books. This description comes from the Come Fill Your Cup website: “These verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book, meaty, deep digging study of God’s Word are sure to enrich your personal Bible time or study with a group of ladies. Thought- provoking questions help you reach new levels of faith. Studies are thoroughly researched and passages are expertly explained. Lessons are structured in 13-week (one quarter) segments so you can easily share them with your ladies’ Bible class.”
- Women Opening the Word by Casandra Martin. This is also a series of ladies’ Bible study books. These particularly stress that transformation is at the heart of Bible study. From Casandra Martin.com: “[These books answer] three challenges that every woman who longs to live closer to God faces: Commitment – WOW’s four day format is designed to help you find the time and develop the discipline of daily Bible study; Confidence – If Bible study seems intimidating and overwhelming, WOW guides you on a walk through Scripture to seek God’s face and experience His transformation as you connect God’s truth directly with your life; Creativity– When Bible study feels stale, the WOW studies provide a refreshing and innovative way to encounter God, through a variety of study methods, techniques, and special features.”
- Come Fill Your Cup.com provides an abundance of different approaches to delving into the Word for women, including books, articles, Bible marking topics and tips, and daily devotionals on a variety of subjects. If you’re looking for some inspiration, this is the place to go!
- Apologetics Press.com focuses on answering diverse issues such as evolution, the existence of God, the inspiration of the Bible, alleged discrepancies, world religions, and so much more. As Christians, we are commanded to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15), and this website (loaded with podcasts, articles, study courses, books, and more) can help us get started knowing how to do just that.
Of course, I have only skimmed the surface when it comes to materials that can help us study God’s Word. Other ways to study might include word/phrase studies, cross referencing, character studies, etc. Maybe you have a favorite way to dig deeper, or you’re looking for a fresh perspective. Whatever the case, I hope you’ll check these out and look for even more ways to broaden your knowledge of the greatest Book on earth.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
(2 Peter 3:18)