(One of many Bible articles on the "Wielding the Sword of the Spirit" web site at www.matthewmcgee.org)
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Why should we study the Bible?

Matthew McGee

Why should we study the Bible? The some of the reasons may be obvious to many Bible students. When the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe has something to say, we had better listen. Unfortunately, many churches downplay the importance of studying the scriptures or even discourage Bible study. But just as children cannot grow to be strong without meat, new Christians must partake of the meat of the Word of God in order to mature as believers (1 Corinthians 3:1-2 and Hebrews 5:12-14). Even mature believers who have studied the scriptures for years can still uncover many more precious truths in God's Word. In this article, we will also look at several Bible passages that encourage us to study the Bible. Then we will also look at some passages which explain more specifically why we should study Bible prophecy.

When instructing the younger Timothy in the ministry, our Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to shew thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." This call to Bible study echos an earlier point that Paul had made in 1 Timothy 5:17, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." Note how these verses contrast those who study with those who do not study as "approved of God" and "worthy of double honour", versus disapproved and "ashamed".

During Paul's second missionary journey, when he and Silas arrived at Berea in Macedonia, Acts 17:11 says of the Bereans, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Note that the Bereans searched the scriptures, not one day a week, but daily, and with minds that were open to God's truths.

In in Ephesians 6:11, Paul instructs the believer to, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." A few verses later in Ephesians 6:17 he explains that part of that armour of God is "... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God ...." We should go into battle with the devil skillfully wielding a sharp sword rather than fumbling with a butter-knife.

In Matthew 4:4, Jesus Christ says, "... Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Many churches use quarterly booklets that cover ten or so Bible verses each week, and boast that the quarterlies cover the entire Bible in seven years. But at that rate, only about ten percent of the Bible can be covered. This falls far short of being "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

In a passage filled with prophecies about the future battle of Armageddon, Isaiah 34:16 says, "Seek ye out the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail ...." With this verse occurring in the midst of a passage filled with prophecies, it not only calls for study of the Bible in general, but also more specifically, it calls for the study of Bible prophecy. Even among those Christians who do study the Bible, there are many who make an effort to steer clear of studying Bible prophecy, and there are many churches that make a point of avoiding the study of Bible prophecy.

The most obvious reason to study Bible prophecy is because God said it. About one third of the Word of God is prophecy. The Old Testament prophetic books from Isaiah to Malachi alone are more than twenty percent of the Bible. The book of Revelation and substantial portions of almost every other book of the Bible are also prophetic. Prophecy is found in the teachings of Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, and in the inspired letters written by Paul, Peter, and Jude. Genesis, the books of the law, the books of Samuel, the books of Kings, and Psalms also contain large amounts of prophecy.

Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:19, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy: whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place ...." This statement is even more remarkable considering the context. Peter had just been describing great things which he had witnessed with his own eyes and ears. In the preceding verses, Peter had described what he, John, and James witnessed when Jesus Christ was transfigured before them on the mountain in Matthew 17:2-5. He says in 2 Peter 1:16-18, "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount." We cannot imagine the awesome power and majesty of this event. Yet Peter follows this by saying that the word of prophecy is even "more sure" than that, as "a light that shineth in a dark place".

Revelation 1:3 says that those who read or hear prophetic words of the book of Revelation will be blessed. "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."

Our God has foretold the future in the Bible and fulfills His prophecies. That sets the Bible apart from the books of false religions. God had this to say about false prophets and false gods in Isaiah 41:22-23: "Let them bring them forth, and shew us what will happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods ...." Here the true God is daring the false gods to prove themselves by predicting the future, knowing that they cannot do it. Contrast that with what God says about Himself in Isaiah 46:9-10, "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure ...." God proclaims that His ability to know and declare the events of the future one of his main characteristics, and evidence that He is the one true God.

One final reason that we should study Bible prophecy is that when we study the Word of God, we need to understand the context of the passage that we are reading. To avoid taking scriptures out of the appropriate context, we need to see the prophetic framework of God's whole plan for the ages. Prophecy provides both the background (history) and the foreground (future) information that is essential to understanding each passage from the Word of God in its intended context.

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Copyright © 1997 Matthew McGee. All rights reserved.