Bible Study and Reading

A lawyer told an attorney friend of his that he was now teaching Sunday school. His friend scoffed and said, “You don’t know enough Bible to be teaching Sunday school. Why I bet you don’t even know the Lord’s Prayer.” The lawyer replied, “I do, too. ‘Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, and if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.’” His attorney friend was astonished. “You win,” he said, “I didn’t know that you knew so much Bible.”

Honestly, we don’t want to be guilty of that much Bible ignorance. So, we need to read, study and memorize scripture.

When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, he quoted Deut 8:3 as a defense. He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” And if you are going to live by the words of God, then you are going to have to be in your Bible, reading it, studying it and memorizing it.

Reading the Bible – We are told specifically to read the book of the Lord in Is 34:16, which says, “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord and read.” What could be clearer? The way to do this is simple. Start reading in the book of Genesis and keep reading daily all the way through to the end of the book of Revelation. Then when you finish reading it, read it again and again and again. I have a friend who was raised Roman Catholic. When he was in his fifties, he got saved. He started reading his Bible right away. He says, “I have been reading my King James Bible every day. I read it twice through every year.”

Dick Elkins was a Wycliffe translator in the Philippines. Siblian was his helper, his first convert and the stepson of the tribal chief. Dick’s 4 year old son needed surgery in the US in 3 months so Dick and Siblian would have to work non-stop to finish translating the Gospel of Mark before Dick and his family left. But Siblian had just planted his rice crop and now needed to build a fence to keep wild hogs from destroying his crop. Therefore, he left. But in just a few days he returned and said that when he was building the fence all he could think about was Mark. Hence, he trusted God with his field and returned to help translate Mark. They finished the translation before the deadline but his crop was destroyed. He harvested only 3 sacks of rice. Nevertheless, he said he had made this choice because “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” It was more important for him to produce spiritual food to nourish souls than for him to produce carnal food for the mere feeding of his body.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate. Nonetheless, when he ministered on earth, he was able to confound the Jews out of the law, not because he was the Word of God and not because he was formally educated [Jn 7:15-16], but because he received the written words of God under the instruction of his Father [Is 50:4]. Early each day he was instructed in the words of God. Look at Luke 4:17. He knew right where to turn in the book of Isaiah. No chapter numbers or verse numbers marked the scriptures back then. In Matt 19:4, he rebuked the Pharisees by asking them “have ye not read?” That was their problem, the failure to read and believe the scriptures.

There’s a parable about a man in the desert. A voice said pick up some pebbles and tomorrow you will be both sorry and glad. He picked up handful of pebbles and put them in his pocket. The next day he pulled them out and found diamonds, emeralds and rubies. And true to the voice’s prediction, he was both glad and sorry. He was glad that he had taken some of the pebbles. Yet, he was sorry that he hadn’t taken more. So it is with God’s words. Don’t just read a little because though you will be glad you did, you will one day be sorry that you did not read more.

Studying the Bible – In 2 Tim 2:15, we are commanded to study the words of God in order to be approved by God. The Bible says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Studying is different than reading in that it involves searching the scripture, Jn 5:39, Acts 17:11. Basically, you should compare and contrast scriptures, check cross references, look up the definitions to words, and believe what you are reading and studying. You do not have to be a scholar to do this. You just have to be a regular student of the Bible. A preacher used to go to an old uneducated cobbler with questions about the Bible. Though the cobbler was uneducated, he had a profound knowledge of the word. A young, prideful, educated friend of the preacher wanted to ask the cobbler some questions to stump him. “What’s the Urim and Thummim?” he asked. The old cobbler answered that he was not sure. They were something in the breastplate that meant “Lights and Perfections.” By inquiry, priests could use them to discern the mind of the Lord. “However,” he continued, “I found that by changing just 2 letters, I too can get the mind of the Lord.” I take this blessed book and by “Usin” and “Thummin” I can get the mind of the Lord that way.

Memorizing the Bible – These references show us that we need to hide the words of God in our hearts, Deut 6:6, Deut 11:18, Ps 119:11; Ps 37:31. We do that by memorizing the verses. Pastor David Holwick quoted, “Many believers remain weak because they fail to store up in their minds helpful passages from the word of God. Apparently they do not realize that in times of stress, sorrow, or temptation, the Holy Spirit can bring those portions to their remembrance to comfort, warn, and direct them. The followers of some pagan religions are often required to saturate their minds with their sacred writings.

“For instance, no one can teach in a Mohammedan mosque until he has first memorized the entire Koran! One missionary tells that for 21 hours she heard a group of Buddhist priests quoting their devotional literature from memory, seldom if ever making a mistake. Michael Billester once gave a Bible to a humble villager in eastern Poland. Returning a few years later, he learned that 200 people had become believers through using it. When the group gathered to hear him preach, he suggested that before he spoke he would like each person to quote some verses of Scripture.

“One man rose and said, ‘Perhaps, Brother, we’ve misunderstood you. Did you mean verses or chapters?’ Billester was astonished. ‘Are you saying there are people here who could recite complete chapters of the Bible?’ That was precisely the case. In fact, 13 of them knew half of Genesis and the books of Matthew and Luke. Another had committed all the Psalms to memory. Combined, the 200 knew virtually the entire Bible. Are you constantly hiding the word of God in your heart? If not, begin today!”

When you do these three things then you will be able to do what we are instructed to do in 1 Pet 4:11. You will be able to “answer as the oracles of God.”