IMPORTANCE OF BIBLE STUDY
How does one show himself approved unto God? Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." To be approved by God, one must rightly divide the word of truth. In order for one to rightly divide the word of truth, one must know the word of truth. In order for one to know the word of truth he must study it. The only book that tells of man's origin and destiny is the Bible. It ought to be of utmost importance to every person to read, study and learn what the Bible has to say, because it answers the questions that people have ask since the beginning of the universe. "Where did I come from?" "Why am I here?" "What will happen to me when I die?"
Human beings have a dual nature. Paul wrote, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16). Paul tells us that we are made up of the "outward man" and the "inward man." The "outward man" refers to the physical body. The "inward man" refers to the spirit. Paul tells us that the "outward man" (the physical body) is perishing. We all know that to be true. Especially, those of us who are older. We realize that we are growing old and that we will die. The "inward man" (the spirit) is being renewed day by day. The spirit will never cease to exist. It will continue to live after the physical body perishes.
Paul wrote, "..while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). The "things which are seen" refers to the physical. It includes our physical bodies ("the outward man"). The physical body is temporary in nature. There will come a time when it will die. It does not live on although Paul teaches that it will be resurrected and changed at the last day (see 1 Corinthians 15). The "things which are not seen" includes our spirits. Our spirit is eternal in nature. It will never cease to exist.
Jesus Himself shows us which part of a human being He considers to be the greater. He said, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). He further said, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:25-26). Both of these passages clearly tell us which Jesus considers to be the greatest. It is the "inward man," the spirit or soul. There is nothing in this world that is as valuable as one's soul or spirit.
WE ARE COMMANDED TO STUDY AND UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE
The prophet Isaiah wrote, "Search from the book of Yahweh, and read: Not one of these shall fail; Not one shall lack her mate. For My mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them" (Isaiah 34:16). Just as the nation of Israel in Isaiah's day were exhorted to "search from the book of Yahweh, and read," we today must do the same. That "book of Yahweh" is referring to the Bible. Paul exhorted Timothy, "Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine" (1 Timothy 4:13). This is why Paul wrote, "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17). We must understand what the will of the Lord is. The only way we can do this is by studying the Bible.
Jesus once compared those who hear Jesus' sayings and does them to "a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock" (Matthew 7:24-25). If we want to be the wise man, we must know what Jesus' sayings are. The only way we can do that is to study His word. If we fail to study His word we will be "like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall" (Matthew 7:26-27). The person who fails to study God's word will never be able to withstand the storms of life that are sure to come his way. Thus, we see the importance of studying and understanding the Bible.
Paul told us, "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. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:16-17). We must let the word of Christ dwell in us "richly." The only way we can do this is to study and know the word of Christ.
The Palmist wrote, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of Yahweh, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper" (Psalm 1:1-3). Notice that the Psalmist speaks of having our delight in the law of Yahweh and meditating in that law day and night. Look at the blessings one receives as a result of this meditation!
IGNORANCE IS A CURSE
Ignorance is responsible for many curses on mankind. Paul speaks of Gentiles who "...walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness" (Ephesians 4:17-19). Ignorance alienates people from the life of God. It blinds us spiritually. It makes us past feeling and it makes us give ourselves over to all kinds of terrible sins.
God, through the prophet Hosea said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children" (Hosea 4:6). Even God's people can be destroyed because of a lack of knowledge of God's word. Anytime we reject knowledge, God rejects us. When we have forgotten the law of God, God will forget us.
Jesus warned His disciples about the ignorance of the Jews. He said, "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor me" (John 16:1-2). We have an example of one who killed Christians and thought he was serving God in doing so in Saul of Tarsus who later became Paul the apostle (Acts 7:58; 8:1). My friends, Paul was ignorant of what God's will was, and as a result he led many people to their deaths thinking all the while he was serving God (Acts 23:1; 26:9). When the people crucified Jesus the Bible says that they did it in ignorance (Acts 3:17). If we are ignorant of God's word today, it will lead us to do all kinds of things that are contrary to God's will, all the while thinking that we are faithfully serving God.
Only knowledge of God's word will enable us to avoid these curses.
PEOPLE CANNOT DIRECT THEIR OWN WAY
The prophet Jeremiah wrote, "O Yahwah, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). No matter what we may believe, we don't have the where-with-all to find our own way spiritually. We cannot direct our own steps. We must rely upon God to tell us which way to step.
The writer of Proverbs said, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 13:12). If something seems right to us, that does not mean that it is right. The only way we can know what the right way is, is to gain a knowledge of God's word.
Jesus said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). To most people, the wide gate seems to be the right way to go. Yet, Jesus said that the wide gate and broad way is that which leads to destruction. This again illustrates the fact that people cannot direct their own steps without revelation from God - without direction from God's word.
GOD GUIDES MAN THROUGH HIS WORD
"For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death" (Psalm 48:14). God will be our guide and when we let God be our guide we will never be lost. But how does God guide us? The Psalmist wrote, "You will guide me with Your counsel..." (Psalm 73:24). He further wrote, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105), and "The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple" (Psalm 119:130). How does God guide us? Through His word.
Jesus said, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). What is the truth that will make us free? Jesus also said, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). Jesus is speaking to God the Father in this passage. Thus, the truth is God's word.
We have to be careful, however, to distinguish God's word from man's word because the Bible warns us, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Yes, there are many false teachers even today. We must be careful and not believe a person simply because he claims to speak for God. We must measure what he teaches with what God teaches in His word. If a teacher is not teaching God's word then his teaching must be rejected. Jesus said that there were people who were worshipping Him in vain "...teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). Paul warned about false teachers in Galatians 1:8 saying, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed." We need to understand that there are those who teach false doctrine. We need to watch for them and reject their teaching.
When we reject the word of Christ we reject Him. Jesus said, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). You cannot separate Jesus from His word. We will all be judged by Jesus' word in the last day. That is how important it is that we study, learn, accept and obey Jesus' word which is only revealed to us in the New Testament. But that word includes the apostles word too. Jesus once said to His disciples, "He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent me" (Luke 10:16). If we reject what the apostles and other inspired men wrote in the New Testament, we are rejecting both Jesus and the Father, because those men wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21).
We will be judged by God's word on the day of judgment (John 12:48; Romans 2:2; Revelation 20:12). Can we not see the importance of studying God's word?