The Importance of christian study
by Todd Shupe
For many of us, the thought of studying brings back memories of cramming for exams in high school or college. Many men would rather engage in Christian action rather than Christian study. Through action, we can see the fruits of our labor and be the Body of Christ in our neighborhood and beyond.
Our goal as Christian men should be to develop an intimate relationship with God. There are many paths in which God can reveal Himself to us: prayer, worship, sacred moments, and fellowship with other Christians. For us to have a relationship with God, we must actively seek him. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13) The Bible is perhaps God’s most direct means of revealing Himself to us.
Have you ever heard the expression “Stay in the Word”? I always thought this was encouragement to read the Bible. However, after reading the Bible we begin to learn that the Word is more than just a book. It is God himself! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) The Word can also refer to Jesus. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
As we read scripture the Holy Spirit will help us to understand the message that God has for us. Therefore, we should not be surprised when different people read the same scripture and come away with different interpretations. They all have the right interpretation – for them. The Word is also alive. So you can read the same scripture for years and then one day something clicks and you have an epiphany and now you see a different meaning, application, or interpretation of the same scripture. This is truly the work of the Spirit delivering the right message to you at the right time.
Knowledge and application of scripture opens your heart to Christ. As we mature as Christian men, we try to grow closer to Christ. We want to seek His face and become more Christ-like in our thoughts, words, and actions. Paul addresses this notion in 2 Corinthians 5:17. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Some may debate if the Bible is the word of God or a book about God that was written by men? For me, the answer to this question can be found in 2 Timothy 3:16. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
Looking at the Greek word for “God breathed” or as some translations say, “breathed out” is “theopneustos” and means “inspired by God” or literally the very “breath of God.” I believe the Word of God is God’s breathing out His literal Word. The breath of God is all powerful and can even raise dry bones to life. “Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet — a vast army.” (Ezekiel 37:9-10).
Scripture is inspired by God. We know that “prophecy was never produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21). It’s important to note that the word “prophecy” does not mean, in this context, predicting the future. The Greek word “prophēteia” means “a discourse emanating from divine inspiration.” Therefore, we can say that all Scripture is God’s breathed words and emanates from a divine (God’s) inspiration. In other words, the Word of God is not of human origin but originates from God Himself … and to study scripture is to study God himself.
Men should study scripture because it is totally reliable and without error. We should read and study the Bible because God’s Word does not change. It is as relevant for us now as it was when it was written. “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
While technology and culture change, mankind’s nature and sinful desires do not. As we read scripture, we find that “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Mankind continues to seek answers and comfort in the wrong places. The Bible is so important that Jesus said of it, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) In other words, if we want to live life to the fullest, as God intended, we must listen to and heed God’s written Word. The Word is the only offensive weapon in the armor of God. (Ephesians 6:17)
The Bible gives us a pathway to salvation and to Heaven. God’s Word shows us just how much God loves us (Romans 5:6-8; John 3:16). We are drawn to love Him in return (1 John 4:19). God extends grace upon grace to us.
You cannot lead if you are not equipped. The Bible equips men to serve God (2 Timothy 3:17; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). Scripture helps men understand how to be saved from their sin and its road to death (2 Timothy 3:15). Meditating on God’s Word and obedience will bring success in life (Joshua 1:8; James 1:25). God’s Word helps us to identify sin in our lives and remove it (Psalm 119:9, 11). It gives us guidance in life and makes our paths straight (Psalm 32:8, 119:99; Proverbs 3:5-6). Life is full of dangerous snares but the Word will show you the way. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
It cannot be emphasized strongly enough just how important the Bible is to the lives of husbands and fathers. Studying the Bible can be compared to most anything else in life. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. I have heard it said before that it is important to know the Bible because you may be the only Bible that somebody else may ever see.
Dr. Todd Shupe is a Christian blogger and president of drtoddshupe.com, a wood science consulting company. He currently serves as president of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is in training to become a Men’s Ministry Specialist under the General 02Commission of United Methodist Men. Todd is a native of Carrollton, IL and retired from LSU as a wood science professor after more than 20 years.