There are dozens of reasons for our collective lack of Bible study, but here’s one we need to address: I’m not smart enough.
Few people use those words, but this captures the general sentiment. Many people feel inadequate or intimidated by the task of studying the Bible, so they never attempt it.
How does this happen?
The Quicksand of Comparison
We live in a culture of experts. And in the church we propogate more of the same.
We cite brilliant philosophers and commentators in our sermons. We watch polished teachers on video in Sunday school. Over and over we see examples of those with great training, ability, and insight. They make the Bible come alive.
We compare ourselves to all-stars and find ourselves lacking. How can we compete? If I can learn from experts, why should I study the Bible myself? I’ll never learn as much on my own.
This argument is easy to believe but important to reject. Gifted scholars and communicators are blessings to the church, but they do not replace the need for individual time with the Bible.
Bible study is never about bare facts or ideas. We study the Bible to know Jesus and have eternal life, to love God and obey him. We aren’t cramming for a test; rather, we need God’s truth to sink deep into our souls. Instead of borrowing the work of others, we need to digest and rejoice over the Bible ourselves.
Here’s the bottom line. You don’t need to be smart to study the Bible. As Peter wrote, Bible study “should be simple enough to engage young children yet profound enough to occupy erudite scholars.”
You don’t need seminary training. You don’t need a full bookcase or years of experience or an understanding of Greek and Hebrew. You don’t need a high IQ or a big vocabulary. You don’t even need a high school diploma.
I don’t dismiss any of the education, intellect, or training God gives. But only a few things are necessary to study the Bible. You need a Bible, a pen, paper, a heart that seeks God, and the Holy Spirit. Gather the first three, ask God for the last two, and you’re ready to go.
We must remind each other that there is no intellectual barrier to the Bible. When Christians come up short in their comparison to others and withdraw from Bible study, they miss a vital connection to Jesus.
What We Miss When We Neglect Bible Study
Do you believe we need the Bible? That it is not merely an add-on, but that it is more essential than bread (Matt. 4:4)?
We forget, and in the Bible God reminds us of the truth.
We sin, and in the Bible God corrects us and teaches us about forgiveness.
We despair, and in the Bible God gives us hope.
The Scriptures are not a burden or a weight, but a privilege and a blessing. We get to study the Bible! The Bible is truth from our loving God who wants us to know him and be transformed. And we miss out on these blessings—in fact, we miss God himself—when we neglect Bible study.
How to Begin
Whether you’ve been away from the Bible for years or you’ve never picked it up—you can start studying the Bible.
Pray. Ask God humbly and confidently to teach you by his Spirit. Only he can give you the understanding you need for life.
Finally, contact a friend from church. Ask them to pray. Arrange to meet every week or two to discuss what God is teaching you.
Buckle up. God will teach you and change you in ways you never imagined!