Quest. 18: Why is it vital for every believer to study the Scriptures?
Ans: The Scriptures are the only and all–sufficient rule of both faith and practice. The Holy Spirit never leads the believer apart from or contrary to this inscripturated Word.
Matt. 4:4. …It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
2 Tim. 2:15. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Tim. 3:16–17. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
See also: Psa. 11:3; 19:7–14; 119; 138:2; Amos 8:11; Matt. 5:17–18; 1 Jn. 2:3–5.
The Scriptures are the very Word of God inscripturated. The vital importance of possessing the very Word of God in exact and written form cannot be overestimated. This is at once a great blessing, privilege and responsibility. It is the believer’s only objective rule and guide. Everything else is relative and subject to change. Subjective religious experience can easily be misunderstood and misinterpreted. Religious feelings or impressions may and can deceive. Religious fervency, zeal or subjective experience can never become a substitute for an intelligent, humble obedience to the Word of God.
Believers need to study the Word of God for their spiritual health, doctrinal purity and practical consistency. The life of the church as the pillar and ground of the truth necessitates a biblical faithfulness. Evangelism and defending the faith presuppose a biblically–based content and impetus.
In a day characterized by doctrinal disinterestedness and looseness in both believing and living, an emphasis on subjective experience, and a lack of careful Bible study, the very foundations of Christianity continue to be shaken. Almost every biblical doctrine has either been modified or come under attack. The thrice holy God of Scripture is largely unknown. Multitudes of professing Christians are wholly ignorant of his Divine attributes. The salvation of sinners, biblically a spiritual work of God, is often reduced to the mere psychological level. What faithful, godly service God requires in his Word has often been cast aside for a pragmatic, innovative approach which is neither biblical nor godly. The regulative principle of worship, which seeks to be wholly scriptural and glorifying to God, is often set aside for contemporary expressions which are man–centered and characterized by entertainment.
Indeed, even within the ranks of Evangelical Christianity, the authority of Scripture is often little valued. Many no longer look at modern religious innovations from a scriptural perspective, but tend to pragmatically view Scripture from the perspective of such modern innovations! The Scriptures are then twisted to conform to this modern, religious pragmatism. The only preventive against this current myriad of ills is to faithfully return to the knowledge, worship and service of God through his Word. May such a scriptural reformation lead to the blessing of revival! Both Scripture and history witness to such. See Questions 143–145.
It must be carefully noted that God honors his Word above all else, and so must we (Psa. 138:2; Matt. 5:17–18). Further, it is incontrovertible that the Holy Spirit never leads the believer contrary to or apart from the inscripturated Word of God. If we are to know the revealed will of God and walk obediently before him, then we need to have a thorough knowledge of his Word. Such is not always an easy matter. One must become a serious and spiritual student of Scripture, given to prayer for guidance and understanding, becoming acquainted with the proper principles of interpretation, making the necessary distinction between interpretation and application and coming to terms with biblical doctrine. All such study must then be consistently applied in practice. The true Christian may have to stand alone in his biblical convictions. Blessed is the believer who finds the fellowship of those who are like–minded in their reverence of and obedience to the Word of God! Do you live daily under the practical authority of God’s Word?
By Dr. W.R. Downing