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Why the Child of God Should Study the Word of God

The following information comes from WILLMINGTON’S GUIDE TO THE BIBLE by Dr. H. L. Willmington TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC. Wheaton, Illinois and is placed here for edification purposes only

At first glance it would seem totally unnecessary to discuss reasons for studying God’s Word. One might assume that, upon conversion, the most natural thing for a new believer to do would be to begin a lifelong study of that Book which originally brought him to Christ. But personal observation, as well as church history, proves the facts to be quite the opposite. The truth is, most Christians know very little about the Bible! Here then are some sound reasons for studying the Scriptures.

I.    Because of its Author.

 Often God is thought of as a Creator, a Redeemer, a Shepherd, a Judge, etc. This is correct thinking, of course, for he does indeed function in all these roles. But there is one great accomplishment of God which is almost always left off the divine attribute lists compiled by men. This wonderful but forgotten role is that of Author! God has written a book, and that profound and priceless book is the Bible.

As testified to by any human author, the nicest thing one can say to an author is, “Oh, yes, I’ve read your book.” It is a tragic but true fact that many of the Christians who will someday (along with all believers) stand before the judgment seat of Christ will be sadly forced to admit that, while they were saved by heeding the salvation message in God’s Book, they nevertheless failed to take the time to read it.

Thus, if for no other reason, the Bible should be carefully read to allow the believer to proclaim to Christ on that day: “Dear Jesus, there were many things I did not do on earth that I should have done, as well as other things I did do that I should not have, but one thing I did—I read your book!”

II.    Because of the often-repeated command to read it.

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Josh. 1:8). “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4). Especially to be noted is this last verse. Jesus said every word.

III.   Because the Bible is God’s chosen way to accomplish his divine will.

A.    Sinners are saved through the message of the Bible. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:13-17). “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words” (Acts 2:14). “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:4-8). “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23). “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth—that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (Jas. 1:18).

B.    Saints are sanctified through the message of the Bible. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). “As newborn babies, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication” (1 Thess. 4:3).

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:9-11). “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Prov. 30:5, 6).

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (Jn. 15:7). “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

IV.    Because our enemy the devil has read it. During the account in Matthew 4, Christ is tempted three times by the devil. On each occasion the Savior answered Satan with the phrase, “It is written,” and then proceeded to quote from the Word of God as found in the book of Deuteronomy. But what is almost always overlooked is the fact that the phrase “it is written” is repeated four times in Matthew 4, and that the fourth time it is the devil using it to quote Scripture to Christ!

 Note the background at this point. “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Mt. 4:5, 6).

Here Satan quotes from Psalm 91:11, 12. It is taken completely out of context, to be sure, but how did Satan know about it in the first place? The answer is painfully obvious. One day when the devil had nothing better to do, he must have sat down and studied Psalm 91. Many Christians today have probably never even read this Psalm, but the devil apparently has it memorized! Thus, we need to read God’s Word lest Satan get an advantage upon us.

V.    Because of the example of Paul. Paul was probably the greatest Christian that ever lived. His spiritual accomplishments are nothing short of staggering. Here was a man who made the first three missionary journeys, who founded and pastored the first fifty or more Bible-believing churches, who wrote over half of the New Testament, and who on five occasions saw the resurrected Christ, and at least once was actually caught up into the third heaven itself! But then he was arrested, condemned to death, and placed in prison. Note carefully his final words to Timothy just prior to his execution.

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments” (2 Tim. 4:6-8, 13).

What were these parchments? They were his copies of the Old Testament scrolls. The point to be made here is that in spite of all his marvelous achievements, the old apostle still felt he could profit from studying the Word of God on the eve of his death.

VI.    Because the Bible alone provides answers to life’s three sixty-four-trillion-dollar questions. These questions, pondered by every generation, are:

A.    Where did I come from? “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:26, 27). “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Ps. 100:3).

B.    Why am I here? “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). “Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

C.    Where am I going? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:16-18).

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (Ps. 23:1, 6). “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

VII.    Because we’ll never have the opportunity to apply many of its verses after we leave this earth.

A.    There will be no opportunity to apply 1 Corinthians 10:13 in heaven. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Reason: In heaven there will be no temptation.

B.    There will be no opportunity to apply 1 John 1:9 in heaven. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). Reason: In heaven there will be no sin.

C.    There will be no opportunity to apply Philippians 4:19 in heaven. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). Reason: In heaven there will be no need.

D.    There will be no opportunity to apply John 14:1-3 in heaven. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:1-3). Reason: In heaven there will be no sorrow.

E.    There will be no opportunity to apply Psalm 23:4 in heaven. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4). Reason: In heaven there will be no death.

VIII.    Because the only ultimate proof for our faith is the Bible.

To introduce the eighth and final reason for studying God’s Word, the following imaginary situation is proposed. Often the unbeliever hurls the following accusation at the believer: “Oh, you Christians—you’re all alike! You’re so dogmatic. You think you alone are right and everybody else is dead wrong. How can you possibly be so sure what you believe is true?” This question, though often asked in a scoffing manner, is nevertheless a fair one. How does the child of God know his faith is the only correct one? Let us suppose that you are invited to an important social function in your hometown. Attending this gathering are people from all over the world.

As the introductions are being made, it slowly dawns upon you that the only professing Christian there is yourself. You are subsequently introduced to a Buddhist, a Confucianist, a Shintoist, a Moslem, and other individuals, all belonging to various non-Christian religions. After a pleasant dinner, the conversation gradually turns to matters of religion. Your hostess, realizing this subject to be of general interest, suddenly announces: “I have a wonderful idea! Since everyone here seems to have a great interest in religion, may I suggest that we share with one another by doing the following: Each person will be allowed to speak uninterrupted for ten minutes on the subject, ‘Why I feel my faith is the right one.’” The group quickly agrees with this unique and provocative idea. Then with no warning she suddenly turns to you and exclaims, “You go first!” All talk immediately ceases. Every eye is fixed on you. Every ear is turned to pick up your first words.

What would you say? How would you start? Let us quickly list a few arguments which you could not use.

1.    You couldn’t say, “I know I’m right because I feel I’m right! Christ lives in my heart!” This, of course, is a wonderful truth experienced by all believers, but it would not convince the Buddhist, who would doubtless feel that he was right too.

2.    You couldn’t say, “I know I’m right because Christianity has more followers in this world than any other religion.” This is simply not true today. Actually, the sad truth is that evangelical Bible-believing Christianity is a distinct minority in the world today. The Moslem would doubtless quickly point this out to you.

3.    You couldn’t say. “I know I’m right because Christianity is the oldest of all religions. Ultimately, of course, this is true. But the Confucianist might contend that Confucius presented his teachings centuries before the Bethlehem scene. Of course, he would not understand the eternal existence of our Lord Jesus Christ. These then are arguments you could not use. What could you say? In reality you would have at your disposal only one single argument. But that argument, that weapon, used in the right way, would be more than enough to overwhelmingly convince any honest and sincere listener at that social gathering.

That wonderful weapon, that unanswerable argument, is one’s own personal copy of the Bible! What could you say? Well, you could hold up your Bible and confidently proclaim the following: “Look at this! I know I’m right because the Author of my faith has given me a Book which is completely unlike any of the books of your faiths.” You could then continue (until your time ran out) by pointing out the unity, the indestructibility, and the universal influence of the Bible.

You could discuss its historical, scientific, and prophetical accuracy. Finally, you might relate exciting examples of perhaps the greatest single proof of the supernatural nature of the Bible, that is, its marvelous life-transforming power! Of course, it must be pointed out that neither the Word of God nor the God of the Word can be scientifically analyzed in a laboratory test tube.

The divine Creator still desires and demands faith on the part of his Creation.

(See Heb. 11:1-6.) But he has presented us with a heavenly textbook to aid us in this needed faith. In fact, the Gospel of John was specifically written “…that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” Jn. 20:31).

The Chronological Method

Nearly every Bible institute and Christian college offers courses in Old Testament and New Testament survey. The usual approach is to briefly examine the sixty-six books, suggesting a key thought, verse, truth, character, etc., for each book. The main problem with this method is the difficulty in connecting the many “keys” with the proper biblical “locks.” A simpler method would be to place every book into twelve logical and historical divisions. This we have done in this Guide to the Bible. Each stage describes a particular and unique period of time in God’s progressive revelation to man. These twelve divisions are historical, not dispensational in nature. A quick survey of these twelve reveals the following:

Creation Stage 1. Creation 2. Fall 3. Flood 4. Tower of Babel

Patriarchal Stage 1. Lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Job 2. Beginning of Hebrew nation 3. Arrival of Jews in Egypt

Exodus Stage 1. Deliverance from Egypt 2. Giving of Law 3. Building of tabernacle 4. Failure at Kadesh

Conquest Stage 1. Invasion of the land 2. Subjection of the land 3. Division of the land

Judges Stage 1. Ministry of twelve military reformers 2. Marriage of a Moabite girl 3. Call and ministry of Samuel

United Kingdom Stage 1. Reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon 2. Recovery of the ark and capture of Jerusalem 3. Construction of first Temple

Chaotic Kingdom Stage 1. Civil War 2. Capture of ten tribes by Assyria 3. Capture of two tribes by Babylon

Captivity Stage 1. Ministry of Daniel and Ezekiel 2. Fall of Babylon 3. Rise of Persia

Return Stage 1. Decree of Cyrus 2. Construction of second Temple 3. Deliverance of Jews in Persia

Gospel Stage Birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ

Early Church Stage 1. Birth of Church at Pentecost 2. Ministry of Peter, Stephen, and Philip (Acts 1-12) 3. Ministry of Paul, Barnabas, and Silas (Acts 13-28)

Epistle Stage Letters of Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude
 
The Theological Method
 

Perhaps no other single word has been so successfully twisted by the devil today as has the biblical word “doctrine.” In the minds of millions, doctrine involves the following concepts:

 1.    Doctrine is that silly and useless practice of arguing (in the spirit and tradition of medieval monks) such things as: “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” “Could God create a stone so heavy that he couldn’t lift it?” “Could he plant an immovable post in the ground and then throw an unstoppable rock at it?”

2.    Doctrine divides, whereas love unites.

3.    One cannot mix doctrine with soul-winning.

 4.    Doctrine is dull and impractical.

5.    Doctrine is over the heads of most people.

6.    Why learn a lot of doctrine when we don’t live up to the light we already have?

7.    The key goal is to let the Bible master us, and not spend our energies in mastering the Bible.

In answering these charges, one could say that they are as far removed from the truth as the Babe in Bethlehem is from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Each argument needs but a brief refutation.

1.    True biblical doctrine has nothing whatsoever to do with dancing angels, massive rocks, sturdy posts, and speeding stones! The word doctrine, as found in the Bible, refers to the systematic (and often simple) gathering and presentation of the facts concerning any great body of truth.

2.    True doctrine does indeed divide. It divides light from darkness, right from wrong, and life from death. But it also unites, for God’s love cannot be known or appropriated by sinful men without the involvement of doctrine.

3.    These two not only can be mixed, they must be mixed if God’s commands are to be followed. It is thrilling to note that the greatest soul-winner of all time and the greatest theologian who ever lived were one and the same—the Apostle Paul! The same man who went door to door, pleading with tears for men to accept Christ (Acts 20:20, 21, 26), also wrote some 50 percent of the New Testament, including that most profound of all doctrinal books, the epistle to the Romans.

4.    To the contrary, doctrine will put both a fire and a song in the hearts of those who read and heed its tremendous truths. “And they said one to another, Did not our heart bum within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Lk. 24:32). “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Rev. 1:3). “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Rev. 22:7).

5.    This is simply not true, as refuted by Christ himself. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:25, 28-30).

6.    To follow this twisted logic would mean never to go beyond the first commandment (Ex. 20:3), which says we are to have no gods or interests placed before the true God. But who has not on occasion been guilty of this? Should we therefore conclude that the sixth and seventh commandments (“Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery,” Ex. 20:13, 14) should not be kept simply because we do not always obey the first commandment?

7.    This statement is pious nonsense, for one cannot possibly be even remotely influenced, let alone mastered, by that which he or she knows nothing about. It is true that the goal of Bible study is to become Spirit controlled. But the fruit of the Spirit can never come apart from the root of personal study. Having listed and answered those objections to studying doctrine, let us now give some important advantages for doing it.

1.    Doctrine will help save us from theological food poisoning.

“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:13-16).

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:1-4).

2.    Doctrine will help settle us.

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14).

3.    Doctrine will acquaint us with the details of God’s eternal plan.

a.    Concerning the history of Israel. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea” (1 Cor. 10:1).

b.    Concerning the restoration of Israel. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25).

c.    Concerning spiritual gifts. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant” (1 Cor. 12:1).

d.    Concerning the rapture. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13).

e. Concerning the destruction of this earth. “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:8, 10).

4.    Doctrine helps us edify God.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

5.   Doctrine helps us equip ourselves.

“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

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” (2 Tim. 3:13-17).

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:10-17).