Is reading your Bible the same as studying your Bible? You can never go wrong by reading your Bible, but studying your Bible has many more benefits. In this fast paced world many Christians have traded a daily dose of Bible study for a weekly (or should I say weakly) glance of Bible reading. Far too many Christians settle for a Sunday morning dessert from God’s Word rather than a daily nourishing diet from God’s Word. I love hot fudge cake way too much, and most often would prefer that over a good healthy meal! However, I know that a good balanced diet is essential for good health. Eating hot fudge cake for every meal may be a delight to me, but it’s also a lack of discipline. So it is with just reading the Bible. Reading God’s word may be a delight, but in order to study the Bible it takes discipline. Let me mention three things that take place when you study the Word of God.
Studying your Bible leads to spiritual growth. 1st Peter 2:2 states, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks in their book, Living By The Book, emphasize three elements that are involved in this passage of Scripture. They state, “The first one is attitude. Peter is describing the attitude of a newborn baby. Just as the baby grabs for the bottle, so you grab for the Book. The baby has to have milk to sustain its life physically; you have to have the Scriptures to sustain your life spiritually.” Secondly, Hendricks mentions your appetite for the Word. The newborn baby has a desire for milk, and the child of God should desire the Word of God. Just like the baby craves milk, the Christian should “crave the spiritual milk of God’s Word.” Thirdly, they mention aim as another element in this verse. What is the aim of studying the Bible? This verse tells us that we may grow. To quote Hendricks again, he states, “The Bible was written not to satisfy your curiosity but to help you conform to Christ’s image. Not to make you a smarter sinner but to make you like the Savior. Not to fill your head with a collection of biblical facts but to transform your life.”
Studying your Bible leads to spiritual maturity. Hebrews 5:11-14 states, “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” There comes a point in the Christian’s life that we must grow up in spiritual maturity. The writer of Hebrews declares that he has much to say, but it’s hard to explain. Why the difficulty? The simple reason is because, “You are dull of hearing,” meaning that they are slow to learn. Hendricks states “The key word …is time.” By virtue of the passing of time you ought to be entering college, however you’ve got to go back to kindergarten and learn the ABC’s once again. Once the believer has developed spiritual maturity through the constant study of the Bible, he or she knows how to distinguish good from evil.
Studying your Bible leads to spiritual effectiveness. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Paul says that all Scripture is God-breathed and that it is profitable. He mentions four things in these verses. First, it is profitable for doctrine. In other words, what you think determines how you behave, and that is where correct doctrine is vital. Secondly, Scripture is profitable for reproof or rebuke. This is important because God wants only the best for your life, and when you step out-of-bounds reproof is needed. Thirdly, the Bible is profitable for correction. Is there some unconfessed sin stowed away in your life? If so, the Bible corrects us as it points out the righteousness and holiness that our lives should exemplify. Fourthly, the Scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness. When God corrects us on the negatives of our lives, He then uses His word to instruct us on the positives, which opens the door to righteous living. What is the purpose for all these things Paul mentioned? The purpose is that you might be equipped for all good works, so that you might become an effective Christian!