Why we study the Bible

Julian Newman

"But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4

O let me hear Thee speaking
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self-will;
O speak to reassure me,
To hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen,
Thou Guardian of my soul.
("O Jesus, I have promised", John E. Bode)

God is the Almighty Sovereign. He could have chosen to leave us in the dark and ignorant about Him. Or He could have chosen to interact with us simply through private mystical visitations; or He could have chosen to give us a textbook about Himself (perhaps dictated to some chosen scribe) and then left us to ourselves. Or, He could have chosen to give us first a textbook for "head knowledge" and then private mystical visitations for personal interaction.

All of these would be within His rights; but in the wisdom of His eternal counsel, He has instead decided to speak to all people for all time, by moving various men in various generations to write down the words that comprise the Bible. The words of Scripture are breathed out by God Himself (2 Timothy 3:16); they contain God's progressive revelation of eternal truth to mankind, culminating in the coming of His own Son, the Lord Jesus, as it is written, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:2).

The Scriptures reveal to us God's eternal plans for the universe; they show us our true condition before God, and how we can be made right with Him through Jesus. God has established that through each of the 66 books that make up the Bible, the believer will personally hear His voice, will commune with Him, will learn from Him things that their heart did not understand before; they will be guided, encouraged and strengthened. And likewise, through these same words, the unbeliever will personally be convicted by the Holy Spirit concerning sin, righteousness and judgment. The Bible is the sole ultimate authority on all matters of faith and moral conduct; it is the rule by which all men will be judged.

The Lord Jesus tells us, "The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment" (Mark 12:29-30). Is it not clear that the fulfilment of this command must involve spending time communing closely with God, hearing Him speak as we engage intently in studying the words He has given us? How shall we fulfil Paul's instruction, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" (Colossians 3:16), without ongoing deep Bible study?

So in conclusion: Do we wish to have God speak to us personally? Then let us study the Bible, in humility and with prayer, that He would be with us as we do so.

"And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live." Deuteronomy 8:3

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.2 Timothy 2:15

"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.Psalm 19:7

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Colossians 3:16

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." James 1:22