By Edem Adzaku
The parable of the builders (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46-49) is probably one of the best-known stories in the bible and one of its core lessons to us, is the importance of bible study. In it the Lord Jesus equated the wise builder with any person who:
CAME to Him
HEARD His words, and
DID what He commanded.
For us who live thousands of years after Christ walked this earth it is clearly not possible for us to approach Him physically as the original hearers of this parable may have understood it; instead we come to Him by faith. Likewise, we have to rely on the bible to hear what Jesus has to say to us. Thus for us to be wise builders whose lives and works shall stand the test of time we need in addition to a living faith in Jesus Christ, knowledge of the Word of God in order to know – among other things – what God would have us do and how He would have us live. Only as we walk in line with the revealed will of God for our lives can we then be sure that our lives are founded on a solid rock.
The above therefore suggests that bible study, especially personal bible study, is a spiritual exercise we cannot afford to take lightly. It is true that many times the thought of carrying out a bible study of any sort, never mind a personal study, may seem rather daunting but I believe that once we begin to understand the importance and benefits of bible study to our spiritual growth and maturity, we shall give it a higher priority in our lives, in addition to enjoying our study of the bible. The rest of this article will therefore consider some of the reasons all Christians need to study the bible.
It could be said that the over-riding reason we need to make bible study a priority is because God requires it of us. This is not so much to earn His favour, but rather that we may know Him, His perfect will for our lives and how to live for Him. The history of the nation of Israel is full of so many instances where God’s people were unfaithful to Him and this was in all cases dependent on the type of leaders they had. When they had God-fearing leaders like David, Hezekiah and Josiah, the nation walked right with God, and when the leaders were not godly, the nation served other gods.
Deuteronomy 17:18-19, gave the instruction that each king of Israel was to, “…write for himself in a book a copy of this law, from that which is in the charge of the Levitical priests…”, and to “…read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them”, it is clear that with a few exceptions like David, most of Israel’s leaders failed to comply with this instruction with disastrous results for the nation.
In addition, Deuteronomy chapters 6-8 also taught the entire body of God’s people that they were not only to study and meditate on the Law but also to teach it to their children constantly. I believe this teaches us that the first step in propagating the gospel and making disciples of all nations as Christ commanded, is knowing the scriptures so well that the Word of God permeates our daily activities so much that those around us, from family members to friends and colleagues are exposed to the life-changing power of the gospel at work in our lives (Romans 1:16). It would also enable us be always prepared not only to make a defence to any one who calls us to account for the hope that we have, but also do it with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15).
The book of Daniel tells (in verses 2 – 3 of chapter) nine of how Daniel understood from his prior study of the scriptures that the length of Israel’s Babylonian captivity was to be 70 years and that time for their release was fast approaching. Armed with this knowledge he was able to intercede effectively for his nation. There is also the well-known instance of how the scribes and rabbis were able to point out Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah from the scriptures when the wise men came looking for Jesus.
These two examples teach us that by studying the scriptures we gain an understanding of the will and purposes of God for our lives and that knowledge keeps us from falling prey to the deceit of the enemy. It is always sad to hear of people (including Christians) who have been deceived by false leaders, sometimes to the extent of losing their lives, but therein lies a lesson to all of us to take heed least we be likewise deceived.
Another key reason to study scripture is that it keeps us from sin. The greatest example we can point to is the temptation of our Lord Jesus at the beginning of His earthly ministry. The biblical record makes it clear that the devil actually quoted scripture during the temptations and that should teach us that at times the devil may distort scripture in order to tempt us. Only a sound knowledge of the bible will help us recognise and overcome such spiritual attacks.
One desire of many Christians is to grow in their faith. Apart from the gift of faith which is specially given by the Holy Spirit, Romans 10:17 teaches that “…faith then [is] by a report, but the report by God’s word” (Darby Version). This teaches that, the more we are exposed to God’s word, the more our faith increases until we eventually reach maturity, the fullness of the stature of Christ, as Ephesians 4:13 teaches. It is interesting to note that in all the great works performed by Christ and the early disciples, there is no record of anyone receiving (or increasing) their faith through the laying on of hands or any other intervention by a third party.
Passages like Psalm 1 and Joshua 1:8 teach us the secret of true success – meditating on the word of God daily. This requirement goes beyond occasional casual reading of the Word to an intensive, regular and consistent study of the bible, hence the use of the words, “meditate”, “day” and “night”. Additionally, the aim of carrying out this daily meditation on the word should not so much be on attaining success as on us being careful to live in line with the Word of God. Our success is as much a fruit of that dedicated study as a farmer’s bountiful harvest is a result of dedicated hard work in the months before harvest time. It is not surprising therefore that David, the man who loved God’s word so much, is still regarded today as Israel’s greatest historical leader despite his well-known shortcomings.
Anyone who reads the bible cannot fail to notice the numerous promises God has in His word for those who believe in Him. There are promises of divine favour, protection, answered prayer, good health, guidance, enjoyable family life and provision for our needs, among others. Many of these promises also come with conditions which need to be fulfilled prior to receiving these benefits. These conditions typically entail walking in obedience to the will of God (e.g. as found in Deuteronomy 28: 1 – 14), which obviously requires first hearing God’s word. In short, studying the bible gives Christians knowledge of their privileges, rights and responsibilities as children of God.
In conclusion, there is a story of a man in England who decided to move to America to start a new life. He saved up all his money to buy a ticket on a ship sailing from England to America and after he bought his ticket he didn’t have much money left so he made himself some sandwiches for the journey. For the first week of his journey he stayed in his cabin and ate his sandwiches and drank only water. Soon he had run out of food and was starving so one day he went to the ship’s captain, explained his situation and offered to work on the ship in exchange for food. The captain gently explained to him that there was no need for that because the price of his ticket covered meals on board ship. Unlike that poor man, let us not allow ignorance to keep us from enjoying the many benefits that God has prepared for us. God bless you!!!