Ezra “prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord” (Ezra 7:10). Right methods of study must begin with right attitudes.
A. Appreciate the Importance of Study
People must be motivated before they will study a subject. Christians have all the reasons they could possibly need to study the Bible. Consider a few. As you do, note the emphasis on regular, frequent study.
#1: Study so you can obey God and grow in His service.
Joshua 1:8 – Success in pleasing God requires obedience. To obey, we must meditate on God’s word day and night. Frequent, regular study is required.
1 Peter 2:2 – Can a baby grow without nourishment? No, and neither can Christians grow without Bible study. Do we long for the word like a baby longs for milk if we neglect to attend assemblies or to study at home?
(See also 2 Tim. 2:15; Rom. 10:17; Matt. 4:4; John 6:44,45; 2 Peter 1:12-15.)
#2: Study so you can avoid error and false teaching.
Hosea 4:6 – God’s people were destroyed for lack of knowledge. Many Christians and congregations have been led astray by error and false teaching. To avoid this we must put teachers to the test (1 John 4:1,6). How do we do this unless we know God’s word (Gal. 1:8,9)?
Acts 17:11 – The Bereans distinguished truth from error because they studied the word. To imitate their example, we must study “daily.”
(See also Matt. 22:29; 15:14; Prov. 2:1-20; Rom. 10:1-3.)
#3: Study so you can teach others.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 – Parents should teach their children diligently through the day. This requires us to first have God’s word in our own hearts. How can we teach what we do not know?
Hebrews 5:12 – The time comes when we ought to be teachers, but these had not studied so they needed others to teach them! There is no excuse for Christians who do not study. Teachers know they need to study. If you are not a teacher, you must study to prepare yourself to become a teacher!
(See also 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Tim. 1:7; 1 Peter 3:15; Col. 3:16; Rom. 15:14.)
#4: Study to express love for God and His word.
Psalm 1:2; 119:47,48,97-99 – One who delights in God’s word will meditate on it day and night. The time we spend thinking about God’s word indicates how much we love Him. Those who truly love Him will not complain about “having to go” to worship services or prepare for Bible classes. (See Psalm 19:7-11.)
John 14:15 – If we love God, we keep His commands (cf. 1 John 5:3). But obedience requires knowledge. So one who loves God must study His word.
Suppose a young lady is separated from her boyfriend. He writes every day, so she prominently displays his letters on the coffee table. But they sit there for days before she opens and reads them. Does she really love him? No, we want to hear from those we love. The Bible is your only way to hear from God. How much do you love Him?
If we studied all subjects as negligently as some people study the Bible, we would surely be ignorant people. On the other hand, if we would study the Bible as diligently as some people study about sports, hobbies, etc., we would all be excellent Bible students. How much more important is it to understand the Bible than to understand secular subjects?
B. Study with an Open Mind & a Love for Truth.
We must strive to learn truth and obey it regardless of the consequences. Seek it even if it disagrees with what we have believed in the past and requires us to change.
Acts 17:11 – The Bereans were also noble because they received the word with readiness of mind – minds open to truth.
Matthew 5:6 – Hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Matthew 13:14,15 – Some misunderstand truth because they close their hearts, eyes, and ears. They enjoy practices or have prejudices contrary to what God teaches. They have motives for rejecting Bible teaching, so they satisfy their own minds that it is not true.
If we do not have a burning desire for truth, God will not force us to accept the truth. He will let us be lost (cf. 2 Thess. 2:10-12; 2 Tim. 4:2-4; John 3:19-21).
(See also 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Thess. 5:21,22; Prov. 18:13; 23:23; 15:10; Luke 8:15; 1 Sam. 3:9,10.)
C. Respect the Bible as Being Verbally & Infallibly Inspired.
If a person doubts that the Bible is God’s infallible word, he is much more likely to disagree or reject it.
The Bible is from God.
2 Timothy 3:16,17 – All scripture is inspired by God to teach us and provide us to all good works.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 – It is the word of God not of men (cf. Gal. 1:11,12).
1 Corinthians 14:37 – Paul wrote the commands of the Lord. To reject any command is to reject the will of God.
(See also Eph. 3:3-5; Luke 10:16; 2 Peter 1:20,21.)
The Bible is verbally inspired.
Some people believe that God just gave the inspired men ideas, then let them explain them as they saw fit. This belief leaves room for error in the way the men expressed the ideas. “Verbal” inspiration means that every word written by the inspired writers was exactly the word God wanted.
1 Corinthians 2:10-13 – The Spirit guided men so they received, not just the ideas from God, but also the words from God.
Deuteronomy 18:18,19 – God put His words in the prophet’s mouth, so the prophet spoke (or wrote) the very words chosen by God Himself.
God gave the inspired men the very words they used to express the inspired ideas.
(See 1 Cor. 2:3-5; Matt. 10:19,20; 2 Sam. 23:1,2; Ex. 24:3,4,7; Isa. 51:l6; Jer. 1:5-9.)
The Bible is infallible
The message of the inspired writers cannot possibly be wrong because God does not make mistakes.
Psalm 119:128 – God’s word is always true and right.
Titus 1:2 – God cannot lie or be wrong.
Matthew 22:32; Galatians 3:16 – The Scriptures are so accurate that we can rely even on the tense of the verbs and the plurality or singularity of words.
We should approach the Bible with faith that every word is exactly right and true, otherwise we may reject its teaching.
(Cf. John 17:17; Psalm 33:4; 19:8; 147:4,5; Rom. 3:4; Job 37:16; Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18; Deut. 18:20-22).
D. Believe that the Bible Can Be Understood.
Some believe that the Bible can be understood only by specially-trained preachers or priests, but not by the average person. As a result, they approach the Bible convinced they will never understand it, they put forth only a half-hearted effort, and of course they do not understand.
Mark 12:37; Acts 17:11 – Inspired teachings were addressed to the common people, not to some special elite group. (See also Gal. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 5:27; 2 Peter 1:1; Rev. 1:4.)
Mark 7:14 – Jesus required everyone among the great crowds of people to understand His teaching.
2 Timothy 3:16,17 – The Scriptures are profitable to teach and provide to all good works. What profit would they be if we could not understand?
People were expected to understand the written word (Eph. 5:17). Instead of just accepting whatever preachers say, people should use the scriptures to check out the teachers (Acts 11:17).
(See also 1 Cor. 14:33; Eph. 3:3-5; Isa. 55:11; 35:8; John 20:30,31; 8:32; Prov. 2:1-12; Psalm 19:7; 119:105; Col. 1:9-11; 2 Peter 3:15,16.)