The purpose of Bible Study is to understand what it has to say. You may be a believer, a non-believer, or undecided on it’s truth, but you cannot argue it’s importance. History has demonstrated that the Bible cannot be ignored and is worthy of study.
In addition, the recent rise of hostile criticism towards the Bible itself and religion in general also makes it worthy of study. Sometimes the critics do not always quote the Bible correctly or in context. Knowing what it says firsthand and having some knowledge of the context is helpful in understanding not only current events, but key ideas the Bible addresses such as the nature and existence of God, the human condition, the biblical pattern of redemption and salvation and ethics.
God’s Word to Us
For people the world over, the Bible is God’s Word to us. People inspired by God recorded the words that make up the Bible, thus communicating what theologians call special revelation. In other words, God has chosen to reveal Himself not only through creation and conscience, but also specially through Jesus and through His Word. Studying the Bible, then, is a matter of course for those who love God and desire to follow Him.
To Know God Better
Since the Bible is God’s Word, studying it is a way to know God better. Through His words we come to know not only the nature and attributes of God, but we also come to understand His plan for each of us. In a larger sense, we also come to know God’s plan in history, His sovereignty, His providence, His love and more. There is only so much we can learn about God apart from the Bible. But with it we can know God better.
Studying the Bible also helps us avoid theological error. The Bible tells us, “Watch your life and doctrine closely” (1 Timothy 4:16 NIV), adding that we “must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1 NIV). If the Bible is our authority for faith and life, then the inspired words it contains will help us to avoid error. In a pluralistic world with many religious and non-religious ideas competing for attention, studying the Bible provides us with a firm foundation in God’s truth rather than the errors of the world. Knowing the Bible also helps us respond to error and answer questions that skeptics and others may have about it.
There are several ways to study the Bible. One can study by Topic; by Book, Chapter and Verse; and or through word study. The list is probably much longer if you dig into it. Over the years I have adopted three simple questions to help me better understand God’s word. What? What? And So What?