“What have you been studying out of your Bible lately?”
To many within Christendom, this would seem an unanswerable question. It is as though some irrefutable argument was thrown at them, and they’re squirming to respond with solid logic. The reason for this is of course obvious, they haven’t been studying their Bibles. Searching the Scriptures seems to be a neglected and forgotten practice in the Churches of today. A variety of reasons are usually cited, from not having the time to not knowing how.
At one time, I had the opportunity of attending a group Bible study at another Church. It was aimed dominantly at young people, and I was invited to it by a couple of friends. Rather than an interactive study as I was typically used to from my own Church, this seemed more like a sermon with some discussion that followed than anything. One of the people who I met from here remarked, “I don’t need to study the Bible. It’s not like it’s a salvation issue!”
Evidently this individual did not consider Bible study to be important enough to be ranked as something effecting their salvation. To this day such a statement causes me to smack my palm against my face as a reaction to what was said by this person. Bible Study is perhaps more important than we as Christians give it credit for, and it does indeed have an impact on our personal salvation.
Without even addressing the act of searching the Scriptures itself, there is the fact that the Bible teaches precisely how to be saved. Thus if a Christian is neglecting to study the Bible, they will not have a correct knowledge of salvation, which would impact their’s in a negative way. Without an understanding of how salvation works, how is it that you’re supposed to be saved? You could literally wind up attempting to earn it by your own good works in spite of passages like Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 6:23, but you would not know about these texts if you had not studied your Bible.
The Scriptures are also a safeguard against deception. To be clear, deception isn’t given to save you. The entire purpose of it is to lead you away from the true path, to cause you to miss the mark so to speak that would lead to God and salvation. Real world examples can be in the form of other religions, such as Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Can you believe that the teachings of these groups will save the members of their congregations, and that these religions genuinely do lead to God and salvation? If this is in your thinking, you’re probably heading down the path of subjective truth and universalism. Both beliefs are wrong, but you wouldn’t know this unless you had studied your Bible.
The first great deception provides us an example of how error and false teachings are given to trigger the loss of our salvation. Especially when you consider the source of deceptions, as outlined by the Scriptures, and where the first one came from. In fact, we as Christians are in the mess we’re presently in, in which we’re sinners in need of a saviour, because of the first deception and it’s results causing the fall of man.
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:1-5
Many of us know where this story goes from here. If you don’t, Genesis 3:6-24 will finish it off for you. Eve and Adam both ate from the tree as a result of these statements of the devil, although according to other Scriptures [“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in transgression” – 1 Timothy 2:14] Adam was apparently not deceived during this whole mess. To an extent, the implication here is that he ate from the tree deliberately. I’m not certain we have the full picture as to why he would do this, but I can make a well-educated guess that it has something to do with Eve. Evidence supporting the fact that the serpent is in fact the devil can be derived from the book of Revelation.
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” – Revelation 12:9
A few key points may be gleaned from this incident.
- The result of the fall of man, brought on by deception, was the entrance of sin into this world. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death, referencing the loss of one’s salvation. [Revelation 21:8]
- The fall of man resulted in Adam & Eve being kicked out of the Garden of Eden and access to the tree of life being barred, in one sense causing them to lose eternal life. [Genesis 3:22-24, 3:19.]
- Deception resulted in the first sin ever committed. Is it not logical to conclude that one purpose of deception is to trigger the commission of sin?
In view of these facts, it should make a bit more sense why the Bible is full of strong warnings about deception, false teachers or teachings, and false prophets. [2 Peter 2:1, Matthew 7:15-20, 1 John 4:1, Matthew 24:23-24, Matthew 24:4-5, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12, 2 Timothy 3:13, Revelation 16:13-14, Deuteronomy 13:1-4.] These things are not brought onto the scene to save you, they’re strictly for the purpose of misleading you so that you will miss the mark and ultimately miss out on eternal life.
The only way to defeat deception is a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. Think of the Bible as a map and a compass. We use these tools to find our way in order to avoid being lost in the wilderness when we go hiking or on long backpacking trips. They help us find direction and determine our position. Imagine for a moment that these instruments have given you the details of where you need to be and go in order to avoid getting lost, but on your journey you come across many who say you’re heading in the wrong direction. There is nothing wrong with either your compass, and your map is accurate. In all reality, they’re the ones taking the wrong route. But you wouldn’t know this unless you checked your map and compass.
When false teaching, teachers, or prophets arise telling you “this is the way”, a thorough knowledge of your Bible enables you to know the correct path in spite of their deception. If it points one direction, and people point another way, in all reality the Bible is correct and they’re wrong. But without studying your Bible you will not be able to detect these things. This is why the Bible gives us the example of the Bereans, who literally checked their “compasses and maps” when they were introduced to fresh concepts to be sure if they were heading in the right direction.
“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming hither went in unto the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” – Acts 17:10-11
The Bereans are termed “more noble than those in Thessalonica” due to the fact that they “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” As Paul and Silas preached to them, they had a tendency to check their “map and compass” as I stated above to determine if those two were teaching truth, which I would suggest is a part of the reason why they “received the word with all readiness of mind.” This where the phrase “being a Berean” in Christianity originates from, and it is based on their example of checking things out.
Your Bible cannot function as a spiritual map and compass for you, if you are not well conversant with it. Thus if deceptions particularly relating to salvation were to arise, you wouldn’t be able to pick up on it. In such a case, you could more than likely end up losing your salvation, as Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden. Especially if you’re as accepting of passages quoted out of their context as the last post demonstrated many Christians to be.
You are dealing with a foe who is also a thorough Bible student, and who has often quoted texts outside of their context to support his deceptions. You can especially observe this taking place in Matthew 4:5-7, which are passages from which we get the concept of presumption, or simply “tempting God.” Since Christians have demonstrated due to Jacob Dufour’s experiment that many of them cannot pick up on when some one quotes a verse out of context, unless they obtain a thorough knowledge of their Bibles they’re likely to be swept up by the strong current of the devil’s lies. This is not something that Satan does to save you, neither are his deceptions things that you would want to run around believing if you had their true character unmasked.
At this point the reasons mentioned above are usually cited, such as not having the time. The demands of married life can be somewhat understandable, in addition to work. But at the same time there needs to be some questions asked as to whether or not your time is being used wisely. If you were to calculate the amount of time you have in the day in which you’re not working, spending time with family, or sleeping perhaps you would be shocked to find that maybe you have more time for the Bible than you thought.
For instance, how much time after work is spent in front of the television watching movies or some show? In the case of youth, how much time is spent playing video games? These are buttons that need to be pushed in the Christian world, because I strongly believe that many of us have made idols out of entertainment. Our free time is often all-consumed by amusements whereas very little time is spent in the word or in prayer. We neglect these important practices of the Christian life in favor of amusements and suffer the results in a lack of power and discernment in our walk.
When I worked swing shift at a foundry a few years back, I was still able to find time to pray and study my Bible. I would spend breaks and lunch during my shift praying and memorizing Scriptures, and took the time before work to pray and study the word. Theoretically you should have time both before and after whatever job you work and time off from work. This can be in the form of vacation time, holidays, weekends, or simply just days off that some jobs give. How much of this time is spent in your Bible as opposed to on other things? Most people have a tendency to gravitate towards entertainment/amusement first over the Bible during such days.
Reality boils down to the fact that “I don’t have time” is an excuse. You would probably find that at best you have anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour every day in which you could be studying your Bible, or at least memorizing a passage of Scripture. The real reason probably goes back to the previously mentioned entertainment. Idols in the form of movies and video games have created a situation in which Christians would rather engage in these activities than spend time in the word.
Not knowing how to study the Bible is a little bit more legitimate of a reason. I’ve come across some that are fifty-five years old, have been Christians all their lives, and they still do not know how to study God’s word. Many can find the task a little daunting. But I’ve written two posts here and here which deal with this subject in-depth, and should help to resolve that problem. Even then, much of what I learned was through trial and error, sort of jumping in and learning to swim. I had the advantage of naturally being somewhat of an intellectual individual who is analytical in his thinking, but this still demonstrates that you can figure it out if you’re willing to.
One of the real problems may rest in the fact that there are hordes of people in our age who do not like reading. In all reality, if this is you I would say you’re going to have to overcome this in the case of your Bible. This is because the idea that searching the scriptures has no impact on your salvation is a false teaching, the Bible has a major impact in the transformation of your character, and you more than likely will be swept up with the current of Satan’s deceptions otherwise. You do not need to spend time diving into a reading list which is 144 books long like myself, but I cannot stress enough how important it is than you get into your Bible. It is probably the most important book that you will ever read.
I would go so far as to say that reading the word isn’t enough. Simply studying it isn’t enough either. You need to thoroughly examine it and apply its teachings to your life. You can study the Bible as one studies the sciences, but it will not be of any value unless you’re living up to teaching of the Scriptures. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” – James 1:22
If you catch the importance of Bible study, than my appeal to you is to spend at least one hour every day, whether before or after your job, searching the pages of holy writ. Use the methods outlined in my other posts, and perhaps leave a few comments about the effects on your walk with God.