Study the Bible
Categories: The Bible
Why is it important to study the Bible?
When I was asked to write a short piece on the importance of studying the Bible, I immediately turned to my United Methodist tradition. Our Doctrinal Standards affirm that the Bible contains all things "necessary and sufficient" for our salvation; and that the Bible "is to be received as the true rule and guide for faith and practice." The Bible shapes our understanding of God. This understanding is also informed by our tradition, reason, and experience. At the intersection of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience, the Bible becomes the Living Word of God, engaging us in our own particular circumstances and context.
Here are ways I have found the study of the Bible to be important:
- THE BIBLE INFORMS, DEEPENS, INSPIRES, AND ENLIVENS OUR FAITH.
The Bible continues to nurture us in faith, if we are open to where it leads us.
- THE BIBLE CHALLENGES US TO LIVE OUR FAITH IN DAILY ACTIONS.
James 1:22 reminds us "to be doers of the word and not merely hearers." (NRSV)
- THE BIBLE DEALS WITH REAL LIFE.
Contained in this holy book are stories of deep grief, joy, crises of faith, healing, love, lust, betrayal, renewal, salvation, grace -- you name it, it is there. The words may be thousands of years old, but they are stories of faith and the human condition. They reveal our journey with God and God's love for us.
- WWJD? (WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?)
WWJD became popular as a way to invite us to be more Christ-like. It's hard to do what Jesus would do if we don't know what Jesus did. The study of Jesus' words, actions, and life as recorded in the Bible provides us with Jesus' teaching and motivates us to follow in his footsteps.
- KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.
Often we leave it to the clergy, theologians, and scholars to know the Bible, expecting them to tell us what and how to believe. However, the Bible is for everyone. Our faith is stronger, deeper and more genuine, when we KNOW for ourselves the Christ we have encountered in scripture. Do you really want a second-hand faith?
- BIBLICAL THEMES ARE EVERYWHERE.
Listen to a political speech and you may very well hear references to and quotations of Biblical principles and themes. Read a novel, and you'll find that the Bible is quoted or that the old stories of jealousy between brother, or kindness to enemies, or wayward love are retold.
In November we observe National Bible Week, so dust off the family Bible and try reading some of it. Start with a few of the Psalms or one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John). Unless you REALLY enjoy reading legal code, we do NOT recommend starting with Leviticus. Consider getting a Bible in a modern translation to assist you in understanding scripture. Join a Bible study group at a local church. Frequently visit BibleWise.com for further study information.
Rev. Dee-Ann Dixon of New Street United Methodist Church, Shepherdstown, West Virginia