Reading vs. Studying

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11

Sometimes, when I’m feeling especially lazy, reading one Scripture from the Bible qualifies as my quiet time. But, I learn nothing from reading it over once and I would hardly even remember what the Scripture said as I would go on with my day.

It becomes extremely easy to get into that rhythm of reading something from the Bible quickly and passing it as your time with God. But the problem with that is that: the Bible isn’t meant to just be read.  

They examined the Scriptures

Let’s define the word examine:

Inspect (someone or something) in detail to determine their nature or condition; investigate thoroughly. (thanks Google)

If you were to spend time studying for a biology exam, you wouldn’t glance at the words “DNA Replication for Mitosis” and think: “I think the author of this textbook is trying to tell me that DNA replicates for Mitosis” and decide for yourself that you’ve finished studying and are ready for the final exam.

No, imagine how silly that would be. You would have failed the exam! Instead, you would have taken time to fully understand that “DNA Replication for Mitosis” occurs within the nucleus of a cell during the Synthesis phase, and that the importance for replicating genetic information is to make sure that, before dividing, the cells get all of the right instructions for creating essential proteins. Right? Now, you understand what your textbook is saying and you’re ready for the exam!

So why should the Bible be read differently? It may not be an exam we're studying for, but I think the goal of eternal life is a good enough reason to be studying out the Bible. The Bible is amazingly complex, and just reading won't help us understand the Bible.

They examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true

Your pastors/preachers/leaders of your churches have probably said that “God’s Word is the truth.” How easily did you nod and agree with your pastor/preacher without even questioning it?  Is the Bible really the truth? How exactly are you putting your Faith in something that you don’t even understand fully?

“Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32)

The Bereans were adamant that everything they heard and read that was about the Bible or God was to be thoroughly examined by themselves, in case there was some false doctrine happening. The Bereans didn’t want to put their Faith in something blindly, they wanted to understand it all for themselves, and by doing this, they came to believe (Acts 17:12) in God and Jesus; not because they were told to, but because they knew why they should.

I remember listening to a lesson on the importance of studying one’s Bible during a sermon in Montreal, and one of my favourite points from the preacher that day was: “if we’re just reading what’s on the [Bible’s] surface, I don’t think we’ll make it.”

I was blown away, because his words were both scary to hear, and essential to be said. It’s true. If we are reading the surface of the Scriptures, how exactly will we grow in our Faith? Understanding God, understanding Jesus, understanding sin, and Grace, and Love, and so much more are what build Faith, and conviction, and help us grow closer and deeper with God. If we aren’t building an understanding, our Faith will only weaken and weaken and soon diminish, because we never bothered to learn.

There is one final point I wanted to talk about. The words “every day” are used in the Acts 17 Scripture as well.

Another one of my favourite lines that the preacher from Montreal had said was: “Each time you study the Bible, it is an act of war against evil.” Every day is a fresh new day for Satan to prowl around, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), so every day we should be spending time in the Bible. With an understanding of the Word, and in turn, an unshakable Faith (Proverbs 10:25), we will make it. 

My encouragement? Stop just reading the Bible. Stop reading what’s on the surface and qualifying that as a productive time with God. Study the Scriptures, and come to new understandings, and grow in your Faith! If you want to finish the race strong, then start by studying the Bible. (Luke 21:19)

Fools have no interest in understanding (Proverbs 18:2)

(shout out to Lauryn K. for helping me understand DNA Replication for Mitosis)

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