Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 10, 1967
NUMBER 14, PAGE 8b-9

The Importance Of Study

Harry E. Ozment

In 1867, Secretary of State William Seward purchased Alaska from Russia for over $7,000,000. Many Americans were skeptical of the purchase, and they referred to Alaska as "Seward's folly" and "Seward's icebox." Thirty years later, on June 16, 1897, the steamship Excelsior docked in San Francisco. Coming down the gangplank were some rough-looking prospectors carrying some boxes and bundles. No one paid much attention to them until it was known what was in those bags and bundles - gold! For thousands of years, gold had been lying in Alaska ground, and yet no one benefited from it until it was found.

This reminds us of the importance of a study of the word of God. The word of God is a great treasure-but it benefits only those who are willing to search and study it. The great worth of the word of God is expressed by David like this: "The law of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward." (Psa. 19:7-11.) The word of God is the zenith of all treasures. It can do so much more than gold, silver, or precious stones. That's why Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal."

Many a Christian's eyes would light up if a gift of gold were presented to him. How many eyes light when the time comes each day to sit down to a study of God's word? When the time comes, do you take advantage of it and study? And those of you who do read your Bibles every day - is it really a joy to do it or is it just another chore, just a time-consuming task that "I just have to do if I hope to get to heaven?" Attitudes are important - heaven is a place for those who love God and who count it a joy to serve Him and to study His word. We should appreciate the great gift God has given us in his word, and we should thank Him every day for it in our prayers.

The word of God gives us true happiness. Read the beatitudes. Jesus tells us that a person is "blessed" or made happy when he does the will of God. And the only way we can know what to do in order to be happy is to study the word of God (Rom. 10:17) In fact, the word of God is the only source of true happiness. A recent magazine article tells about the young and immensely popular actress Julie Andrews. To look at her life, one would think her to be happy. She has fame and she has money. Yet, she's not happy. Her marriage is on the rocks, and for the past two years she has visited regularly a psychiatrist for help with her mental problems. She has put her career first in life. People such as this have gratified their worldly desires and have forgotten about the needs of their inner selves. The real person has lost all meaning and purpose. This is why the Psalmist said that the word of God is "more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold."

The word of God gives us hope. The inspired writer said in Hebrews 6:17-19: "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil." Why is it, after we have just buried a loved one, that we go home and read the word of God? Why is it, when a relative is in surgery, we look to God for solace in that time of trouble? Why? That, dear friend, is the only place we can go! Somehow, the $100,000 home doesn't amount to much at a time like that. For some reason, that pretty red Cadillac is suddenly forgotten. Why? Those material things cannot give us hope - and without hope, we soon lose all desire to live. If the word of God, then, is our only source of hope in time of trouble, why, oh why, do we neglect to search for its treasure in times of comparative happiness?

Not only does the word of God bless those who use it, it also condemns those who don't use it. The Lord said in Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." Paul is bringing out this same point in II Thessalonians 2:10-12, when he says, "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." Notice the words in v. 10: "who received not the love of the truth." Do you really love the truth if you don't study it? Of course not! And that's exactly how people are led to believe a lie. There are multiplied millions of people who are gullible enough to swallow anything the handsome preacher might dish out! They don't investigate -they don't study. The consequence is the belief of lies and the end result is a home in hell.

Test your knowledge on some of the primary principles of the word of God. If a person not a member of the church should ask you, "Why are you a member of the church of Christ," what would be your truthful answer? How many of us could turn to the book, chapter, and verse that would tell a person exactly why we are a member of the Lord's church? If someone asked us, "What must I do to be saved?" most of us would give the five steps each gospel preacher gives at the end of his sermon. But how many of us could turn to the book, chapter, and verse to prove each step? If someone asked you, "Why do you partake of the Lord's Supper every Sunday," would you be able to turn to the book, chapter, and verse to prove that what you do is indeed God's will? Many cannot do these simple things (which manifest a minimum of study,) and yet these same people will turn around with their nose so high in the air to a denominationalist and say, "I have the truth, and you don't." Such hypocrisy! How does that "Christian" know that he has the truth if he's never studied it and doesn't even know the basic rudiments of it? And what's more, what should it matter to him if he does have the truth - evidently he doesn't love it enough even to study it!

Brethren and sisters, these things are not written to offend or to belittle anyone. Rather, they are written to impress you and me with the importance of following Paul's instruction to Timothy, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Tim. 2:15.)