Home |  About Us  |   News & Views  |   Articles & Studies | Meditations  | E-periodical |   Links | Contact Us |

The Importance of Systematic Bible Study

By Nelson Thomas Mumbai

Introduction: -
      Martin Luther said he used to study the Bible as a farmer gathers apples! A farmer shakes the entire tree so that the ripest may fall down, similarly Luther used to read the Bible in its entirety and then as the farmer shakes each branch, he studied each books of the Bible. Finally, as the farmer carefully looks under every leaf for apples, he carefully observed each chapter and versus.
      This illustration clearly presents the importance of systematic bible study. It also describes the difference between normal reading and a study program.
Reading versus learning
       Just imagine the reading of a news paper and the study of a text book. Both are different things. While reading of news paper may be done in a casual manner, often skipping some matters or even pages; studying a text book is a serious issue. Real students do everything to fully grasp the subject they are studying. Such serious, earnest attention is necessary for the study of the word of God as well.
      Most Christians do read the word of God, but only few studies the Bible systematically. Do not think it is only for pastors or teachers to do so, or we are not in a Bible college or seminary. Each believer must be a student of the scripture. In fact each local church must be a bible training centre. And even every Christian home must be a place where Bible is regularly discussed and taught. Deut 6:6, 7.
      It is really sad to notice that often in many local churches either there is no Bible study time at all, or even if they have; only few are able to benefit it. What is the result? Many believers do not know why they believe what they believe; do not know why they practice what they practice! So they are prepared to accept any doctrine or practice. They begin to think, it’s Ok’; ‘that also is OK’! Easily they drift away from the true path, and trapped by the enemy!

Five Reasons to study.
1. God commands us to study eagerly cf. Deut 5:1; Col 3:16; 1Tim. 3:2; 4:13; 2Tim. 2:2, 15.
Just as the word of God commands everyone to read, meditate, memorize and practice the scripture, study of it also is God’s commandment to believers. We see how Moses commands Israel to learn and teach the law. One of the qualities of the elders is that they must be able to teach, that means teaching and studying of the scripture is not an option but an obligation before the Lord.

2. Spirit of God commends those who study and teach the word. Cf. Ezra 7:10; Act 2; 42; 11:26; 15:32; 17:11; 2Tim. 3:14;
The Lord lauds Ezra for his commitment to study and teach the law to God’s people. Dr. Luke writes about the diligence of the early church to study doctrine. Barnabas brought Saul from Tarsus and conducted a year long Bible study at Antioch! Dr. Luke also appreciates the Berean believers for their eagerness to search scriptures daily. He says they were noble men. Paul commends Timothy for learning the scripture from childhood and encourages him to continue in it. Paul reminds him, elders who teach must be specially honored. Cf. 1Tim 5:17 cf. 3:2. Thus we see the scripture speaks good of those who gave themselves for the study and teaching of God’s word.

3. To understand the Bible correctly. Acts 17:11.
What made the believers of Berea to search the scriptures daily? The basic reason was to understand the truth as it is. They did not simply want to follow what some men say. They want to follow what the Scripture alone says, not the teachings and traditions of men. So, to understand the true scriptural position of any topic we need to search the word diligently.
      Of course that demands our time and effort too, but the result is far reaching; correct understanding of the Bible. Why such effort is essential to understand the Bible correctly?

Notice four things.
a. We need the help of the spirit of God to help us understand it. 1Cor 2:14. Remember it’s not that easy to comprehend Bible doctrines. It’s not like a secular book. As the Bible is the divinely inspired (God-breathed) word of God, from the infinite to finite, we cannot grasp it in our intellectual knowledge; God has to illuminate this inspired word to our mind and hearts. Cf. 2Timothy 3:16; 2Peter 1:21.
b. We need to go to the various portions, from Genesis to Revelation to get a clear picture of the Bible doctrine. Cf. Hebrews 1:1. Since the revelation of God’s word happened progressively, little by little, today as we set out to study what the Bible says about a particular theme, we cannot just view few verses and come to a conclusion. Need to learn the entire spectrum of God’s revelation. Cf. Isa 34:6
c. We need to notice the context of each of statement or each reference. Because the Bible also contains words of unbelievers, wicked men and even demons! How foolishness it would be to pick up some isolated verses or statements from here and there and make a doctrine out of it. This is the exactly the reason behind many wrong teachings or practices prevailing among Christians today.
d. We need to divide the word rightly. Cf. 2Timothy 2:15. As mentioned above, God revealed His purposes and counsel to man through a variety of ways in various times. Heb : 1:1. Today revelation is complete. No more new revelation. Now, God’s entire program is found in various portions of the Bible. There are occasions, when within the same verse God’s plan for different times are mentioned. For example see Isaiah 61: 1, 2. When the Lord Jesus Christ read it in the synagogue at Nazareth, He stopped at the first line of verse 2. Cf. Luke 4: 16 – 19. The Lord knew well that ‘the acceptable year of the Lord’ refers to His first advent, and the ‘day of vengeance’ to His future program. So, we need to know where to draw the line; which verse refers to which occasion or which program of God etc.
      The above mentioned four facts tell us undoubtedly, to understand the Bible accurately, one has to study it in an organized, systematic manner; a casual reading is not enough.
      Trusting in the Lord we ought to go to various scripture portions, carefully taking note of each context and rightly dividing it, and then we will get a clear understanding of the word of God.

4. To teach the next generation. 2Timothy 2:2
If we do not know what the truth is, how can we teach others? We know, good students become good teachers! It’s a depressing fact that many believers though they are sincere and godly Christians, do not study to understand the word of God; as a result they fail to explain it to the next generation. Their children do not see any meaning or relevance in the faith and practices of their fathers. Even some of them do not hesitate to abandon the precious truths forefathers held, taught and practiced. (Doesn’t mean one should simply follow what forefathers taught, children must be reasonably taught why we do follow certain doctrine or practices.)
To avoid such pitfalls church leaders should make every effort to teach members the Bible in a systematic manner.

5. To fully enjoy and experience the blessings of the Bible. Cf. 2Timothy 3:16.
More than anything else, the purpose of our study of the word of God is to experience its benefits. There are so much blessings and benefits one can draw from the word of God. It gives light to our path, life to our spirit and nourishment for our inner man. It can break us like a hammer, purify us like fire, and cleanse us like water and reveal our true state like a mirror. The word of God makes one holy, pure, strong and successful. It reveals to us God’s plan for us and draws us near to Him, and makes us more like Christ. So many blessings the scripture promises for a careful reader and follower of God’s word.
      Paul summarizes these benefits in 2Timothy 3:16, 17; “…..its profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
       But all these can be experienced only as we understand and follow the word as God intended for us.
       So, let us take time and effort to study the word of God. Be willing to spend our time, energy and resources for it. Certainly its benefits are immense and its blessings are everlasting. Luke 10: 42

How to study
Before we close it’s imperative to see briefly about our approach to the study the Bible. As mentioned earlier it’s not like a secular book, which can be learned academically. As Christians our approach to the study of the word of God must be different. Let me add some suggestions; try to find more from the Bible itself. Cf. Nehemiah 8; Jos 1:7, 8; 1Pet 2:1, 2 etc

1. Study prayerfully.
2. Study attentively.
3. Study humbly.
4. Study believingly.
5. Study regularly.
6. Study eagerly
7. Study with the help others.
8. Study with an open mind.
9. Study with an obedient heart.

Related topics: Systematic Bible Study // Timeless Truths about the Bible



Prepared by Nelson Thomas as part of his teaching ministry. You are free to use it for your personal study. You can also reproduce this article in any medium, provided it is unedited, and retain the original author / copyright information and
reference to this website. Please feel free to write to the author for details. Or contact    gracepeaceu AT gmail.com