OK, so God wrote the Bible. That makes it important. But why do we need to study it?
Often we come out of study groups saying, “That was a good Bible study.” But what do we actually mean by that?
Does it mean that we learned something or felt convicted at points? Or do we say this because our lives actually changed?
The Point of Bible Study
Good Bible study leads to transformation. It may not happen all at once, but we should be noticeably different because of our time with Scripture.
We’ve already looked briefly at Hebrews 4:12: “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
The Bible isn’t merely an inanimate object that we study and pull information from. It has a life of its own. It acts. It reads us; it pierces to the deepest parts of our being and discerns our motivations.
Since our God is a living God, his Word is alive, and he works through his Word to actively transform every part of our being.
Study the Word to Do the Word
James used striking imagery to highlight our need to be transformed by the Bible:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
– James 1:22–25
James compared the process of studying the Bible to a man looking into a mirror. That’s because, just like a mirror, the Bible has the ability to reveal to you the truth about your condition.
First, he described a man who looks into the mirror, clearly sees the reflection, and then walks away without doing anything. This person is clearly foolish, but he also perfectly represents the way most Christians study the Bible. They read their Bibles, see the truth that demands transformation, then walk away as if nothing ever happened.
James contrasted this fool with the person who looks into the mirror and does something about what he sees. This person reads the Word of God, takes what he sees at face value, and then acts on it. James is clear that this person is the one who will be blessed in what he does.
Here’s why this matters: There is no reward for merely hearing the truth. That means Bible study is incomplete and illegitimate until it turns into obedience and transforms us.
The Key to Spiritual Growth
I remember the first time I was devastated by that reality. It was when I read James 1:18-19: “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.”
By the grace of God, the Bible has that power, which is why reading the Bible is key to spiritual transformation.
Every study I’ve ever read on spiritual growth has the same takeaway: reading the Bible is the number one catalyst for spiritual growth. Trying to grow in the Christian life without reading the Bible is like trying to drive a car without gas. You won’t get very far, and at some point, you just won’t go any farther.
Now, understanding why the Bible is crucial to spiritual growth may actually increase your hunger for it. I found this to be helpful for me.
Why the Bible is Key to Spiritual Growth
Let me explain by looking at the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of bones in Ezekiel 37. Ezekiel writes,
1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.”
– Ezekiel 37:1-4
Ezekiel knows he’s helpless to bring this bunch of skeletons to life. He says, “God, I don’t know, but you do.” Good answer!
God tells Ezekiel what it takes to bring the bones to life — his words.
Ezekiel then speaks the Word of God over those dry bones and the unthinkable happens:
And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them … So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
– Ezekiel 37:8,10
God spoke and enfleshed those piles of bones, then breathed into them the breath of life — all through the power of his Word.
Hope for Spiritual Sacks of Bones
The Word of God is the only thing powerful enough to transform your heart.
That might not mean much to you right now, but one day you’re going to come to a place where you realize you’re not enough to change your life, your heart, your emotions, your children.
If you want to change, if you want to grow, if you want to become more like Christ, you have to read the Bible.
If you want to be transformed from a spiritual sack of bones into a tree that is planted by a stream and prospers in all that you do, you have to read the Bible.
This is part 4 in the Appreciating the Bible series. Read part 1: Does Your Bible Look Like Brussels Sprouts or Dessert? | Part 2: What is the Bible? | Part 3: Who Wrote the Bible? | Part 4: Why Study the Bible? | Part 5: Bible Study Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore