Study With Purpose
The hour was late, and the only light shining in the little home was in the diningroom; the Christian husband bent over his Bible and books was at the end of the long table. Frequently, he was to be seen in this same posture, for like the Psalmist he could say, “O how love I thy law: it is my meditation all the day.”
In another part of the same town, in a well appointed library, sat another student; he, too, read the Bible, but, alas, subjected it to a textual criticism. He also spent much of his time reading the philosophies, and preparing lectures on social advancement. Theologically, he was very modern in his views.
These two men illustrate the spiritual man who discerns all, and the natural man who receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him (1 Cor. 2:14-15) .
The Bible student, if he would understand the “things of the Spirit of God” must be a genuine Christian, one who is born of God, and anointed by His Spirit.
Through the impartation of divine life, the soul becomes a partaker of the divine nature; it, therefore, becomes necessary that this nature be sustained, and that proper habits be developed which will result in the building of a strong character. Strict attention must be given to the daily custom of prayer and Bible reading.
In order that a desire to study the Bible more intensively be deepened in the soul, and that helpful habits for so doing be developed, we shall discuss certain purposes, qualities, conditions, helps, and methods, conducive to this objective. Let us commence with the purposes.
Naturally, many reasons will occur to the mind why we should carefully study the Bible; for example: it is of great historical value, it describes briefly, but majestically, creation in all aspects; it traces the descent of man from Adam, and the rise and fall of the nation of Israel. Moreover, it is of value in the realm of literature, being the great classic in all languages. In the matter of jurisprudence, the Bible might also be studied, for it has provided the foundation upon which most of the laws rest, and it reveals to us the meaning of justice. In this discussion on the purposes of studying the Holy Scriptures, we must become more personal, and consider the effects of Bible study upon us as individuals.
The following suggestions, it is hoped, will stimulate a greater effort in this regard. We must study the Bible for:
SPIRITUAL REFRESHMENT. The Apostle Paul, during his last imprisonment felt lonely, for he wrote to Timothy, “This thou knowest that all they of Asia be turned away from me” (2 Tim. 1:15). Consequently, he longed for companionship so, he says, “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me” (2 Tim. 4:9). There were also other things that he needed in that Roman prison; therefore, he adds, and we might paraphrase his meaning: “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee,” for I have need of some physical comfort and warmth in this damp place. “And the books,” yes, those precious books, for I do require a certain amount of mental diversion and relaxation. “But especially the parchments,” those inspired epistles, above everything else bring them, for I seek more than all else true spiritual refreshment. I know their contents, but the very reading of them is like cold water to a parched throat, and they make the Lord’s presence so real to me. “Bring the books, but especially the parchments.”
When Hilkiah found the book of the law of the Lord, he gave it to Shaphan the scribe to read it before King Josiah, and such was the impression upon the king, that in repentance he rent his clothes. When Jeremiah heard the news he cried, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” (Jer. 15:16). They refreshed the soul of the weeping prophet.
THE DEEPENING OF OUR ACQUAINTANCE WITH THE LORD. What precious pictures of Christ are revealed to us in the Bible. Christ is constantly showing Himself through the lattice work of Holy Scripture. He manifests Himself in the types; He makes Himself real in the histories. He foreshadows Himself in the prophesies, and among all the characters in the Word of God, He is pre-eminent. To get better acquainted with our blessed Saviour, we must not only read the Bible, but study it, for therein is the Christ of God revealed.
Of the wonder of our salvation we read, “The angels desire to look into” (1 Pet. 1:12). As the disciples, baffled by the mystery of the resurrection, stooped down and looked down onto the sepulchre; even so, the angels attempted to understand the wonder of the purposes of God in redemption. What an example they set before us. We ought to search diligently into the Word of God, in order to learn more of the blessings which accrue to us through the death and the resurrection of our Lord.
One of the means of developing personality is to identify oneself with a superior person. The New Testament emphasizes the need for the Christian to identify himself with Christ, not only in His death, but also in His life. “He has left us an example that we should follow His steps.” In order to do this we must know the footsteps of the Master, and to know these we must study the Bible.
THE ASCERTAINING OF THE WILL OF GOD. God has a very definite path of morality for the individual believer, a path of separation from evil and of devotion to the Lord. He, in like manner, has a plan for His Church in her pilgrimage and corporate testimony. He also speaks of that little group, the local church, as it attempts, in a miniature form, to witness for our rejected Lord. Throughout the New Testament, God has made known His will as to the internal functions of the Church, and as to her outward testimony. Any approach to Bible study would be most incomplete, if to know the will of God in all things present and future, for the Christian, and for the Church, was not a major objective.
THE ACQUIRING OF A KNOWLEDGE OF THE BIBLE. “Knowledge puffeth up,” the Apostle Paul warns us. Let us ever keep these words of caution in mind.
Biblical knowledge may be used to display personal pride; nevertheless, to be fully furnished and ready for every good work, a Christian must know his Bible. He must know where to find the gospel in its blessed simplicity, in order to point souls to Christ; he must know its teaching relative to the Church, in order to clarify his own ecclesiastical position; he must know its teaching on prophecy, to give a reason of the living hope of the Church. The Christian is under obligation to the Lord, to himself, to the Church, and to the world, to acquire a working knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.
As it is essential that to be a Bible student one must be a Christian; even so, is it that to be a Christian demands that one be in some degree a Bible student.