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The primary purpose of this series of articles entitled “Why Study the Bible?” is to advance persuasive reasons why Bible study, i.e., knowing how to study the Bible for oneself, is vital to the life of a Christian.

 The primary purpose of this series of articles entitled “Why Study the Bible?” is to advance persuasive reasons why Bible study, i.e., knowing how to study the Bible for oneself, is vital to the life of a Christian.

The primary thrust of the term “Bible study” references the ability of a person to study the Bible on their own.  To possess this ability allows one answer questions like how do you begin to study the Bible?  Do you know how to ask questions of the text to gain the best observation of the text possible?  Can you explain how to analyze and interpret a passage of Scripture?  Are you familiar with the term “hermeneutics”?  Can you determine the historical context and determine its impact on the interpretation of the passage?  Can you carry out a word study of the Hebrew or Greek words of a text?  Can you diagram or structure a passage?  Do you know how genre impacts the interpretation of a text?  Are you capable of making a correct application of a correctly-interpreted text to the 21st Century?  See the article by Kelly Givens entitled “Why Aren’t We Teaching Christians How to Study the Bible?” at crosswalk.com. (https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/christian-trends/why-aren-t-we-teaching-christians-how-to-study-the-bible.html).  

A focus on study by an individual does not infer that Bible study together is unimportant. In fact, I believe that Bible study in community is critical.  But, how can anyone bring anything to the community study if he or she does not know how to study on their own?  The answer is without knowing how to study the Bible a person cannot bring to the group what he or she could bring if they did know how to study.  In the absence of Bible study skills, how can one authoritatively challenge any error?  They cannot do so.  An article published April 18, 2014, at the Gospel Coalition website entitled “The Assumption We Cannot Afford to Make” written by Jen Wilken (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-assumption-we-cannot-afford/) cries out for church leaders to teach their people how to study the Bible.  Her article reads [in part]:

We must teach the Bible. Please hear me. We must teach the Bible, and we must do so in such a way that those sitting under our teaching learn to feed themselves rather than rely solely on us to feed them. We cannot assume that our people know the first thing about where to start or how to proceed. It is not sufficient to send them a link to a reading plan or a study method. It is our job to give them good tools and to model how to use them.

I hope that this series is read and taken to heart by church decision-makers who through what they read will cause them to make a diligent and persistent effort to teach their congregations how to study the Bible.  In 21st Century America, it is critical to the survival of the evangelical church in America to teach Christians “how to fish”, which gives them food for their lifetime, rather than to “give them a fish” which enables them to survive for only a day still remaining dependent on other fishermen for their sustenance.