The Bible is the world’s best-selling book, has been translated into over 200 languages, and is the foundational text of Western civilization. When we look at the life transformation this book has had on a global scale, our attention should peak.
So why does Bible study feel so difficult? To overcome this perception, we need to refresh ourselves on some key reasons why digging deeply into God’s Word is so essential, combat excuses, and see that Bible study is a doable, worthy, and awesome pursuit.
6 Reasons We Should Study the Bible
1. We quest for meaning beyond ourselves. In the Word, we find our ultimate meaning in a Person, not a concept. Our goal in studying is to come closer and closer to the meaning God intends us to receive, and ultimately closer to him. Scripture is the breath of God carrying the weight of who he is with its message, which means the more we interact with it, the more we personally engage with the Spirit himself. When we refuse to open God’s Word, it is not just a rejection of a material book, it is a rejection of a relationship with God himself.
2. His Word creates life. Paul often begins his letters with some form of “grace TO you” statement and concludes with some form us “grace be WITH you” phrase. When we open God’s Word, its truth will be imparted to us in some way, and when we close it, we are left WITH his Word to shape us further. You see, Jesus’ words are his actions—just like Christ created life at the beginning of time, his words to us now are living and active to create new life in us (Hebrews 4). God’s Word promises to accomplish what it sets out to change within us (Isaiah 55:11). I am not alive, the Bible is, and when I read it, it makes me come alive.
3. The Word responds to our deepest needs. 2 Timothy 3:17 is a bold verse claiming that the Word is sufficient to speak to every human need, even the darkest ones—pain, insecurity, confusion, shame, stress, disability, betrayal, more. Scripture informs our brokenness and our joys, thoroughly equipping our minds and informing our everyday actions. No matter the magnitude of the mess we carry, the Word is alive and powerful to speak to those needs. In fact, our brokenness is what compels us to go deeper into it, and back to it, again and again.
4. Bible study is God’s will for our lives. God’s ultimate will for our lives is that we display his character no matter who we are or what we’re going through. While many struggles we face are more an indication of issues outside our own making or control, it may also be true that some of our struggles are because we are not prioritizing the pursuit of Jesus’ words in our lives to influence our thinking and behaviour.
5. Bible study deepens godly community. It’s easier to study when we’re not alone. Consider grabbing some friends to plunge into God’s Word together as a community. In doing so, we’ll deepen our relationships, keep one another accountable and encouraged, and reflect the nature of God, who characterizes community himself being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
6. Bible study grounds evangelism. Scripture is beneficial not only for the discipleship of believers but for bringing us to Jesus at salvation (2 Timothy 3:15).
7 Excuses We Make Not to Study the Bible
1. Studying the Bible is hard and too time-consuming. It’s a fair statement: studying the Bible can be confusing, difficult, and dry, but it is when we’re trapped in the fist of our excuses that we must look to the long-term goal over the short-term experience. Long-term, it affects our minds and souls and transforms us to be people who are resilient in crisis, can model Christ to others, and discern error in secular and Christian cultures.
2. Bible Study is boring. When we consider that God creates new life in us through its reading, how can new life be boring?! In fact, many times of Bible study can be rich and experiential, speaking directly to our current life circumstances and drawing us into a felt relationship. Having said that, Bible study can also be dry—cultural context can be confusing, and a lack of vibrancy to some of the text can be tiring to plod through. It is here where we can’t allow our feelings to trump reason and we must ask ourselves if it’s worth the effort and what the alternative is. Not connecting with God is simply not an option.
3. Spiritual warfare. Whenever we centre our efforts to engage in God-honouring activity we will encounter spiritual attack. In fact, we’re in spiritual battle on three fronts: the war against the sinful nature within us to seek to lure us away from truth; the world’s system around us who entices us to pursue activities that avoid sacrifice and focus on self and indulgence; and even Christian culture, which is losing the ability to interact personally, meaningfully, and accurately with the truth – who are at risk of demonstrating a form of godliness and denying its power.
4. It fails to delight. It’s our duty when it fails to delight. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 reveals God’s clear charge to submit to his Word in order to know Him ourselves and make Him known to others. Regardless of our lack of motivation, justifications, and preferences, if want to grow and glorify God then we must pursue and submit to his Word even when our feelings resist. Any skill worth having in life requires intentionality and discipline to train it up.
5. Bible study is not practical. All of our behaviour flows out of a theoretical framework regardless of whether we consciously realize it or not. Poor behaviour flows out of bad theories that might even have been developed inadvertently. It’s an important charge to pursue what is biblically right so that we guard against defaulting to what feels right. One of the primary purposes of grasping God’s Word is to impact the watching, needy world around us. As we connect with him, we’re compelled to serve.
6. Bible study doesn’t engage my emotions. Some of our most passionate expressions of emotion flow out from a strong clarity of his Word. We may appreciate a musical piece more deeply when we understand how the lyrics collide with the sweep of the notes. A sports game is more exciting to watch when we have first grasped the more academic rules of play. If we rely on “felt” experiences alone over biblical wisdom, what will happen when crisis leaves our emotions weighted down with sorrow? We’ll lack good theology to inform those circumstances and help prop us up when our feelings have left us. Rather than thinking of study as a chore with no meaningful endpoint, we can remind ourselves of this God-given thought–feeling connection. Some of our most robust emotional expressions will flow out of an understanding of God’s Word.
7. My church doesn’t offer Bible study groups. Because training people to grasp and engage with God’s Word on an accurate and personal level is a key component of discipleship, we can grab some friends together and be the solution to its absence in the church we attend.
In conclusion, the Bible is not merely a good book about God, it is God actually speaking to us. It is not inspiring, it is inspired. It is not a book with words for academics only, it’s a Person with a voice and he’s wanting to engage with YOU. In Nehemiah 8 we see ALL of God’s people listening attentively to the Word of God, and the teachers coming alongside them to make sense of what they were hearing.
We don’t need to walk through Bible depth alone all the time. We can engage with Bible study material that will plunge us directly into the Word so that we can “listen attentively” to it ourselves, and offers trustworthy, gospel-centred commentary that will help us make sense of what we are hearing where it’s confusing. So let’s ditch our excuses and link in with those who will help us pursue him! No matter who we are, we can come just as we are and be prepared to meet Christ for who he actually is.
Make sure to check out Andrea’s new book on Ruth.