Profitably Learning from the Bible

The Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible (see our doctrinal statement on the Bible). While the writers were human, its ultimate author is God. This fact makes what it says:

  • Absolutely true
  • The only authority for what you should think about God and how you should live before God
  • All that you need to live a life that pleases God

Because of these things, unbelievers must hear the gospel message that is found only in the Bible (2 Tim 3:15) and Christians must continually listen to and learn from the Bible (2 Tim 3:16-17).

Christian, while holding a Bible in your hands and considering all that is in it, it can be very easy to get discouraged—“How can I ever learn all that is in this?” Don’t get discouraged! Remember that real growth in Christ takes time. You didn’t grow from an infant to an adult overnight, in a week, or even in a year! Physical growth and maturity involves slow and steady growth, and such growth only comes from eating food. Spiritual growth is no different—“like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Pet 2:2-3).

Perhaps you say you’re a Christian but you really don’t see the importance of learning from God’s Word. “What’s the point?” you could think. “Jesus Christ saved me from hell, so I’ve got the most important thing taken care of.” Consider what God says in the Bible about why you must learn from Him in its pages:

  • It is essential for spiritual growth (1 Peter 2:2), the “text book” for Christian living (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • It is necessary for living a life that pleases Christ (Colossians 1:9-10)
  • It is what the Spirit uses to make you holy (John 17:17)
  • It is the tool for protection against temptation and sin (Psalm 119:9, 11)
  • It is the means of learning Christian truth so you are protected against the many false teachers that would deceive you and take you away from Christ (Ephesians 4:14)
  • It is the instrument used for serving the Lord (Ephesians 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

In a nutshell, it is impossible for you to be and do what God expects of you as a Christian apart from the Bible. You must learn from God in the pages of Scripture!

Hopefully by this point you agree with what God says about how important it is to learn from Him in the Bible. How can you? There are three essential activities that you must be involved in to grow and mature in the Lord.

  1. You must read and study God’s Word
  2. You must listen to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word
  3. You must meditate on and memorize God’s Word

Let’s quickly consider why these three activities are essential for you as a Christian.

First, your own daily personal reading and studying of the Bible helps you continually learn and gain encouragement from your God. Think about that! Sin’s power and penalty had separated you from God yet He saved you from that. Not only did He restore you to a special relationship with Him, He gave you His written Word so you can know exactly what He wants you to know! By learning and studying the Bible you will have a regular diet of God’s Word to help you grow, and you can never get enough of this good thing! Start with the New Testament and then work your way through the entire Bible.

Second, you must regularly listen to preaching and teaching at a good Bible believing and practicing church. You will receive correct, challenging, and helpful instruction aimed at helping you be more like Christ. This is important because your pastor and teachers are mature in the Word, and you’ll need the help and correction for your own personal reading and studying. It is so important to recognize the importance of learning God’s Word with God’s people (Acts 2:42)—too often the emphasis is on the individual, and while that is important, if you look in the New Testament you’ll see that more often than not God’s people learn God’s Word with each other.

Third and last, you must meditate on what you have learned (Joshua 1:8), memorizing important parts, so it is ingrained in your heart (Psalm 119:9, 11). Continually meditating (mulling over and over) will help you grasp the significance of God’s Word for your life. Memorizing passages of Scripture enables you to always have God’s Word ready to use for any situation in your life.

How, then, can you profitably learn from God’s Word through these activities? You must be in SHAPE, learning from God’s Word—

Submissively: Always be ready to change in any way when confronted with God’s Word (Proverbs 1:23; 2 Timothy 4:2-4; James 1:22-25). It is easier to think “so and so should read this verse,” instead of applying it to yourself. It is easier to criticize the pastor or teacher than to give serious consideration to what God is saying to you through him.

Habitually: Discipline yourself to regularly read the Bible and listen to preaching and teaching in order to learn about God and His will for you (Acts 2:42; 17:11; 1 Peter 2:2). This commitment adds discipline, which will help carry you through distractions, things that would pull you away, and simple laziness or neglect.

Accurately: When reading the Bible, let it speak for itself—don’t change or miss its plain meaning (2 Timothy 2:15). Using a good translation will be a real help (such as the New American Standard Bible). Be sure you’re being taught from a church that proclaims and practices what the Bible says, not what people want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Prayerfully: Continually ask God to help you understand and apply what you’re learning (Psalm 119:18; Ephesians 1:18; Jude 20). Before and during your Bible reading time or listening to teaching, pray for God’s help in understanding the significance of the Word for your life.

Eagerly: This isn’t a chore to get out of the way but the wonderful Word to hear and obey! (2 Chronicles 36:15-16; Proverbs 1:24-33; 29:1; 1 Peter 2:2) Every time you have the opportunity to read or hear the Word, go expecting something good and looking for something helpful.