In last week’s post, I made the case that proper theology is essentially Bible study done well. Perhaps some of you are still unconvinced that proper theology is necessary for the growing Christian. If you accept this premise then to ask why we should practice theology is to ask why we should study God’s Word. (If you disagree with my premise, then that’s another matter for another time.) Here are some additional thoughts.
First, Jesus demonstrated a pattern of teaching the scriptures throughout his ministry. Wherever he went, he unpacked the meaning of scripture and taught it to those around him, so it was obviously important to him. He taught from an early age, even as a child who was left behind in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-51). Jesus taught in what we refer to as “The Sermon on the Mount,” and when He was finished the crowds were amazed by His teaching (Matthew 7:28-29). Even in the Great Commission, Jesus commanded His disciples to teach others to observe His commandments (Matthew 28:19-20). Everything that He commanded was based on His unique insight into scripture, and He expects us to continue teaching it!
Second, the leadership of the early church demanded that knowledge of the scriptures be passed on to other believers. In 2 Timothy 2, Paul wrote, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” Later in the chapter, he told him to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Just as it was important to Jesus, it was important to Paul.
Third, the testimony of scripture about itself is that it is “breathed out by God and [is] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture is inspired by God and equips us as believers to do the work that God has for us.
These examples are but a few quick glimpses into the role of scripture in the life of the believer, and they fall in line with the importance of teaching throughout the Bible. In other words, these examples are not the only places we find scripture being taught. The faithful among God’s people have always studied God’s Word. That’s how they develop intimacy with Him!
Many people approach the idea of study with apprehension. Too many of us see those who like to study like Hermione Granger: insufferable know-it-alls who spend their time with their noses in a book, only looking up long enough to tell us condescendingly the things we ought to have known already. People like that have little of value to offer those of us who live in the real world, so should we truly advocate for more study?
The answer to that is yes. It is impossible to sustain any kind of lasting spiritual growth without serious study of God’s Word. The Reformers referred to the scriptures as the only infallible rule of faith and practice because it is the record we have of the things God wanted us to know. However, it is also important to note that the stuffy picture of intellectuals presented above is not our aim. Even Hermione got out of the library and put her knowledge to work. In fact, it wasn’t until she did so that she made any friends or did anything of value! We do not study the Bible simply to fill our heads; we do it to change how we live and so honor the God who loved us and gave Himself for us. We will attempt to look more into that idea in the next couple of posts. Specifically, we will address what the Bible means when it says that we “know” something, and we will also discuss how what we know informs what we do. I hope you will join me again in the weeks to come!
How do you feel about study? Do you think of it as something helpful, or as something that has no purpose in our day? Please leave your comments or questions on Facebook!