“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” –2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
There is a difference in definition between ‘Bible’ and ‘Scripture’.
According to the English Dictionary, The Bible is a book that contains the sacred writings of the Christian religion, while the Scriptures are the sacred writings of the Christian religion. From both definitions, we can say that the Scripture is God’s word contained in the Bible.
The Scriptures are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by not only Christians but also Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.
“The Bible has been a massive influence on literature and history, especially in the Western World, where the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed using movable type. According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible “has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating.” With estimated total sales of over 5 billion copies, it is widely considered to be the most influential and bestselling book of all time. As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually.” – Wikipedia
But while it is true that the Scriptures are central to the Christian belief, there are many Christians who do not treat it as such.
A good number of Christians do not even own a Bible, many who do, go weeks, months and years without opening their Bibles. To them, the Holy Bible is no different to the flowers they decorate their rooms with. Other people just keep it for odd reasons like oath taking and swearing. (I wonder who started the later)
Actually, I have a confession to make. I used to be part of this group. I remember when i was around 12 years old, my Dad bought me a ‘revised standard version’ Bible, it was the first time i was gifted a Bible. Obviously it was for me to study and become conversant with the scriptures at an early age, but most of the time it was locked up inside my bag, I almost never brought it out. The day I decided to bring it out, I ended up misplacing it and I couldn’t find it, not that I was very keen on finding it. In fact, it didn’t bother me one bit that I had lost my Bible, because I didn’t think it was that important.
Subsequently down the years, I received more copies of the Bible at different times mostly from my parents but it still didn’t mean much to me. The only times I ever remembered my Bible were during Sunday School or whenever i was forced to attend midweek bible study meetings, because it would look awkward if everybody else was holding a Bible and I wasn’t, Or if the preacher points to me and ask me to read a particular scripture verse. I didn’t want to look like the worst person in the Congregation.
There were times when I did read the Bible for certain purposes, like when a “Churchy boy” in my C.R.K class challenged me to read the whole New Testament or when I was preparing for a Bible quiz organized by my Church.
As I entered into my teenage years, it became worse. It got to the extent where I couldn’t afford to be seen with a Bible, because it made me feel ashamed. I didn’t want my mates in the street to see me and start shouting, “Pastor, Pastor”. Yes, i grew up in such a neighbourhood and I was quite heavily influenced.
Years later, when I became born again, I discovered the importance of the scriptures. I began to spend more and more time studying the word of God and evidently it has left and is still leaving positive impacts not just in various aspects of my life, but also in the lives of those who I come across.
That was just a little part of my story, but there are many Christians who currently are just like the ‘old me’. They attach little or no importance to the scriptures.
A Christian lady once told me that she does not see the need to study the Scriptures, since she is not a Pastor or an Evangelist. According to her, “Scriptural study is for Pastors, Evangelists, Priests, Bishops and other Clergy men and women.
Another Brother said that he simply doesn’t have the time. “Why should he spend valuable time reading the Bible when he already has so much to do daily?”
It may sound like a genuine excuse to say we are very busy people and simply don’t have the time, but it isn’t.
“Studying the scriptures is spending quality time with God. We always make out time for the things we love. No matter how busy we may be, we still have time for social activities and sin.” – Precious Anih
I have to point out that there is a difference between reading the Bible and studying the Scriptures. Reading the bible is no different to reading a novel if you are only interested in the story. Where as, when you study the Scriptures, you are not just interested in the stories but also in the divine teachings, promises and messages it carries.
BELOW ARE 7 IMPORTANT REASONS WHY WE SHOULD STUDY THE SCRIPTURES.
1. TO TRULY KNOW GOD.
People study the Scripture for different reasons. It could be for research, apologetics or even critic. We all have our reasons, but if for all the reasons you study the Scripture, it doesn’t include knowing God, then you are ultimately doing it with the wrong intentions.
As Christians, It would make no sense to worship a God whom we know nothing about. I Believe it is the aim of every believer to know God better, (at least that’s the case with me) and what better way to do that than through studying his word. God talks to us through the scriptures and if we pay attention, we would get to know of his loving nature, sovereignty and providence. Also we get to know of his many promises to us, and his will for our lives.
2. TO TEACH AND DEFEND OUR CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
Another importance of studying the Scripture is that we would be able to boldly proclaim and defend our faith especially in the midst of unbelievers, as we are instructed to in 1 Peter 3:15
It is true that there are some deep supernatural knowledge beyond human understanding, and compared to God, humans are always going to have limited Knowledge, but as followers of Christ, every information we need, not only to affirm our faith but also to witness to unbelievers, are contained in the Scriptures.
Many Christians, when faced with situations where they would have to defend their doctrine, cannot give the right response. They say things like, “there are certain things we cannot understand”. Some will argue that they have not been led by the Spirit to comment on certain issues. However, most of the time these are not cases of being led by the spirit, it is about having concrete knowledge with reliable evidence about the faith we profess, and the Scriptures provide you with that.
The events recorded in the scriptures stretch over decades. In fact, Bible scholars will tell you that there is no viewpoint of human history and behaviour that is not addressed in the Bible, even non religious views are addressed in it. That goes to show how divinely inspired the scriptures are. The Bible is not your average story book at all.
3. TO OVERCOME TEMPTATION
In a world where temptations abound and the allure for immorality is pretty strong, the Scripture gives us an edge. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he overcame the Devil by quoting the Scriptures. That is a perfect example of how useful the Scripture can be for us when we are facing temptation.
4. GIVES DIRECTION
The Scripture is a map that directs and keeps us on the right path in our walk with God. If we do not check in with the Scriptures for direction frequently, we are going to lose our way, but the good news is that whenever we lose our way, the Scripture helps us get back on the right track.
5. GIVES WISDOM
The Scripture gives us wisdom beyond our years. Some of the wisest men that ever lived and are still living frequently indulge themselves with the Scriptures. For some of the greatest writers, even on other subject matters, vast knowledge of the Scripture comes in handy.
6. DISCERNS BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG
In a world where it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate between right and wrong, the Scripture clearly tells us what is right and wrong before God.
“For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)
7. NOURISHES US FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
The Scripture is food for the Spirit and the Holy Spirit is the stamp of our discipleship. Without the Holy Spirit, we would struggle to fulfil the mandate given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Peter ministered and about Three thousand souls were converted to Christ in one day (Acts 2:41), This was the same Peter who denied Jesus three times in quick succession. If the Apostles did not receive the Holy Spirit, they wouldn’t have been able to spread the Good news with such assurance and conviction as they did.
The Holy Spirit plays an important role in our lives as believers. Therefore, it is important that we pay attention to the needs of the Spirit, similarly, if not more than we pay attention to the needs of our physical body.
We know the effects of starving on our physical body, that is why the average person eats at least three times daily. If you go a whole day without food, your body is going to be weak. Imagine going a week without food, you are likely going to loose some calories which would in turn lead to weight loss, your whole body system would likely not function as effectively as it should, and if you starve yourself a little longer than that, your entire organs might eventually shut down. That is why you hear stories of people starving to death.
Now what many believers don’t know is that the same principle applies to the Spirit.
When we receive the Holy Spirit, he comes and takes residence in us. We begin to manifest his fruits and the Spirit begin to work through us. However, we need to continuously feed the Spirit for it to continue to function effectively, and we do this through frequent study of the Scriptures.
When you go days without the Scriptures, the Spirit becomes weak, you go weeks without the Scriptures, you begin to lose passion for the Gospel, and if you keep going longer periods without studying the word of God, you would eventually ‘kill’ the Spirit in you. The word of God is important for our spiritual growth.
Think of the Spirit as a flame, and the Scripture as fuel. The more fuel that is poured on the flame, the more it increases and the more fiercely it burns. In the same vein, the more we study and understand the Scriptures, the more our passion for Christ increases.
The Scripture tells us that the word of God is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). What this means is that the Holy Spirit utilizes the word. There is no substitute for the Scriptures. It holds the answer to so many questions, even the most complicated ones.
How can we even call ourselves Christians when we do not study the Scriptures? It is not about having a Bible at home, rather it is about opening that Bible and actually going through it in other to find the truth of God’s word.
For Christians who do not study the Scriptures, permit me to ask; Where then do you get your beliefs from? Perhaps from your Parents Or maybe from your Pastor or Priest…
The truth is, Christians need to know that Christianity is not something you are supposed to embrace Blindly, simply because you were born into a Christian home or community. Jesus instructs us to take up our cross and follow him at our own will (Matthew 10:38).
“There are two main reasons we should give God as much time as we can out of the twenty four hours he gives us each day – LOVE and TRUST. We love God enough to want to spend time with him and we trust him enough knowing we wont be misled or lose anything in spending time with him. Believers don’t lose. We either win or we learn” – Precious Anih
For every Christian, “the importance of the Scripture” cannot be over emphasized.
Heavenly Father we thank you for the truth which you have revealed to us through the Scriptures. We pray that as we continue to make conscious effort to know you better through your word, that you will open our hearts and gives us complete understanding.
Oh Lord, let your word bear divine fruits in every aspect of our lives as we make up our minds today, to not only be hearers, but doers of your word. We pray in Jesus name, AMEN!