Read: John 5
“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.” (John 5:39-40, NLT)
I can think of no simpler yet more powerful practice for greater spiritual growth and intimacy with God than daily Bible study. The truth is, if you don’t have a regular quiet time with God—which would include not only reading, but meditation and prayer as well—you will fail to thrive spiritually. It is a simple as that.
Yet Bible reading, journaling and Scripture memory alone aren’t enough. In fact, there is a very real danger lurking in the practice of a daily quiet time that will lead to even greater distance from God than not reading at all: Love of Scripture without love of God. That is what we might call bibliolatry.
Bibliolatry occurs when we acquire biblical knowledge without spiritual discernment; when our study of the Word is not commensurate to our obedience of the Word; when our love for Scripture exceeds our love for God, and correspondingly, love for our fellow man; when pride in our practice of Bible reading leads to a false sense of righteousness; and when the spiritual discipline of quiet time becomes a work of law rather than an offering of grace. When that occurs, in effect, we are worshiping the Bible rather than the God of the Bible.
There are far too many “Christians” who read the Bible little, if at all. That is an unfortunate blight on the modern church. Yet there is another segment of believers, much smaller, but in deeper spiritual danger, who have been lulled into a sort of spiritual smugness because they fancy themselves as “people of the Word” or because, as they happily proclaim, the church they attend really “teaches” the Word.
Knowing the Bible isn’t enough. Satan knows the Bible as well as anyone. He can quote it at will. Daily reading and Scripture memory aren’t enough. Nicodemus (see John 3) had that down pat. Going to a church that teaches the Word verse-by-verse isn’t enough. There are people in those churches who are lost and don’t even know it.
Hearing, reading, and believing the Bible aren’t enough. Believing in Jesus is. Jesus said, “Whoever believes the Son has eternal life.” (John 3:36)
The goal of Bible study is not to grain greater knowledge of Scripture, or to grow spiritually, or to simply be able to check off that item on your daily list of things to do. It is to know God and his Son, Jesus Christ. By “knowing”, I am not referring to an intellectual event, but the intimate exchange of one’s life with the Almighty whereby love is deepened, obedience is practiced, and faith is expanded.
That is when searching the Scripture leads to eternal life.
“Christ is the Word of God. It is not in certain texts written in the New Testament, valuable as they are; it is not in certain words which Jesus spoke, vast as is their preciousness; it is in the Word, which Jesus is, that the great manifestation of God is made.” ~Phillips Brooks
What If God Took Over?
Lord, may my study of your Word always lead me to greater intimacy, obedience and love. May I not simply grow more knowledgeable of the Bible—may I grow more knowledgeable of you.