Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 24, 1952
NUMBER 50, PAGE 12-13

On Studying God's Word

Rufus Clifford, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee

In the long ago God said to his people through Hosea, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of God, 'I will also forget thy children." (Hosea 4:6) Israel had abundant means and opportunities of knowing God. They had the oracles of God, they had no excuse therefore for their unbelief. They possessed the law of God, but neglected to look into it, and forsook it. In this Israel are like many today, who in the midst of religious services, in a land of Bibles, disregard, neglect their salvation, and live in total ignorance of God.

Ignorance is one of man's worst enemies. There is no more destructive influence. It is destructive physically, morally and spiritually. Ignorance of the laws of health will lead to an early grave. Ignorance of the laws of God lead into wickedness and idolatry. It leads people to do the exact opposite of what God teaches, believing honestly at the same time, they are doing God's service. To be ignorant of God's will is to rob ourselves of happiness and expose ourselves to death. Ignorance perpetuates folly, for because of it men fall into temptations, seek sensual gratifications, and live in error. Ignorance destroys happiness, for the words of God are the health and life of the soul. Ignorance destroys future happiness. Eternal life is dependent upon knowledge of the commandments of God, for "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." (Rev. 22:14) How we need God's warning to Israel impressed upon us in our day! The Jewish Nation did not receive Jesus nor accept his teaching. John says, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." (John 1:11) The Apostles whom Jesus sent forth were likewise rejected and persecuted. Why did the Jews not accept the teaching of Christ and his Apostles? Paul declares that it was because of ignorance. "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." (Rom. 10:3)

Why did the Jews crucify the Son of God? Listen to Jesus as he prayed on the Cross and we will learn that the reason was ignorance. "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Lk. 23.:34) Later Peter said to the Jews on Solomon's Porch, "I know that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." (Acts 3:17) Religious people crucified Christ and they did it through ignorance. Why did Saul of Tarsus persecute Christ and His Church? We will just let Paul speak for himself. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." (1 Tim. 1:12,13) He said to King Agrippa, "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." (Acts 26:9) Only about 35 percent of the world today believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The remainder of the teeming millions of earth reject Jesus as the Son of God because of ignorance.

Why did the Gentiles not accept the teaching of the Apostles? Paul gives the reason in writing to the Ephesians. "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." (Eph. 4:17-19) Here the reason is stated why they lived and acted as they did — it was through ignorance. The dangers of ignorance not only suggest the need of knowledge of things divine, but we are commanded to study God's Word. "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim. 3:15) Bible study is not optional, but imperative. God commands us to study. If we study, we obey. If not, we disobey. Bible study is paramount and fundamental. Without study, there can be no faith, for "faith comes by hearing God's word." (Rom. 10:17) Consequently, without study, no faith; without faith, no hope, no joy, no interest, no activity, no pleasing God.

We should study that we may be prepared and equipped for usefulness in the Master's service. We should study that we may save ourselves from captivity — slavery. "Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge." (Isa. 5:13) Study of God's Word will save us from the captivity of selfishness, indifference, ignorance, and error in every form.

A study of God's Word is of little value, however, unless we give it opportunity to stir our emotions and govern our lives. Jesus said to those who would not obey his teaching: "Why call ye Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Lk. 6:46) If we do not let His Word control our lives, we are like the people in the parable of the sower: the seed falls by the wayside or in stony ground. In either case there is no fruitage unto life.

Bible study will teach us the proper attitude to sustain toward God. When we learn that God desires reverence and humble obedience, and gives us such examples as Jesus, Abraham, Moses, Ruth, David, and Paul, it will make us want to hold Him in reverence and humbly obey Him.

The study of the Bible will also teach us the proper attitude toward Jesus Christ. When we read that He gave up heaven and came to earth; that He was opposed, insulted, misrepresented, tried and tempted in every way possible; yet He never ceased to love, serve and forgive His fellow man, and finally died the painful death of Calvary — all that we might be reconciled unto God — our hearts are touched and tendered and filled with love, pity and a desire to lift Him up among men.

Through the study of the scriptures we will learn our duty to ourselves. When we learn that it is not in man that walks to direct his steps (Jer. 10:23); when we read that those who forget God, who are fornicators and adulterers, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners are not fit for the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9, 10); when we read that the unbelieving, the abominable, murderers, liars and idolators will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8), we will humble ourselves before God and bring our passions, desires and appetites that lead us into such a manner of life under the control of His Will.

A knowledge of the Bible will encourage us to be faithful and courageous in the face of trials and temptations. When we read Psalms 23 and 27, the Psalms of calm and fearless trust in God; when we read that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear, and that with the temptation He will provide a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13); when we read that Jesus says, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 15:5); when we read that "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" and that if we are without chastisements we are not sons (Heb. 12:6-8); when we read that God will make all things work together for the good of those who love and serve Him according to His will (Rom. 8:28), we can take courage to "fight the good fight of faith" and "lay hold on eternal life." (1 Tim. 6:12)

Finally, the study of God's Word will create within our souls a bright hope and wean us away from this world by pointing us to the joys that await the faithful. When we read in Revelation of "the city of pure gold," with its "walls of jasper,' 'and "gates of pearl," where all tears are wiped away and there is no death, "neither sorrow, nor crying, neither, shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4); when we think of the conditions that characterize our days and years here below and of the state that awaits the faithful and obedient, we are weaned away from the things of the world and our hearts are filled with a great hope and joyous anticipation.

Blessed Bible, how I love it, How it doth my bosom cheer!

What hath earth like this to covet?

Oh, what stores of wealth are here?

Man was lost and doomed to sorrow;

Not one ray of light or bliss Could he from earth's treasures borrow, Till his way was cheered by this.

Yes, sweet Bible, I will hide thee;

Hide thee richly in this heart.

Thou through all my life shall guide me, And in death we will not part.

Part in death, no never, never, Through death's dark veil I'll lean on thee, Then in worlds above forever, Sweeter still thy truths shall be.

— Author Unknown