Studying God's Word
Studying God's Word“These (Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
- Acts 17:11
1. Study God’s Word to defend against deception:
The Bereans reacted to Paul’s preaching of the gospel in a more noble sense than did those in other parts of ancient Europe. They went immediately to the source of God’s truth to compare it to what this stranger was telling them. So the writer of Acts (Luke), compliments them as if they had responded most appropriately. By comparing the teachings of Paul with what God had already revealed to them as truth in the Scriptures, they were certain to know whether Paul’s teachings were also true. Likewise, we Christians probe and study the Scriptures so that when extrabiblical claims of various kinds come along, we will be prepared to discern fact from fiction.
Jesus warns us sternly to “Take heed that no man deceive you”, because “many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many.” (Matt 24:4, 11). The Bible warns us of the deception that will endure throughout the new covenant era. Jesus even goes to the extent of saying that such deception will be so great that even those saved and set apart by God would be deceived were it not for His divine will to preserve His church in the truth (Matt 24:24).
Proverbs, the great book of wisdom, tells us “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” (Proverbs 30:5)
The purity of God’s word gives us a thorough, unalterable perspective of who God is, what promises He has given us and what we can truly put our hope in. Becoming well grounded in His Word provides security from deception and protection from teachers who offer unbiblical council and from false prophets who lead us away from the one true God. The Bible even contrasts the methods of discerning truth between a wise man and a fool.
Proverbs 28:26 says: “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.”
Proberbs 14:12 says: “ There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
The prophet Jeremiah reinforces this truth by revealing the condition of the human heart:
“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
The natural condition of the human heart is one of total depravity. We cannot assume that the strongest feelings or even most solemn, sincere convictions in our hearts are going to lead us to the truth. Our hearts trick us and deceive us. Many ideas and promises will sound good to our ears but in the end lead only to death and seperation from God. The Bible warns us that we are born into imperfect, sinful bodies (Romans 5:12) that are seperated from God and therefore we are incapable of discerning God’s Spiritual truth on our own.
The prophet Isaiah declared:
“But your iniquities have seperated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)
In addition, Satan is constantly mobilizing to use this weakness against us to deceive us and draw as many as he can further away from God. So God warns us sternly - we must "prove all things" of spiritual relevance by weighing it against what we already know as the truth - The Bible. (1 Thess 5:21) Whether it is a supposed “word” from the Lord that someone is sharing, whether it is a person making claims to be a prophet, whether it is modern day revelation, or whether it is an overwhelming feeling in our hearts, we MUST compare it to God’s Word to determine if God is indeed responsible or if it is something else responsible. Indeed, the Lord Jesus even followed the same pattern when the devil sought to deceive Him in the desert. (Luke 4)
Millions of people around the world have responded to the invitation of Moroni 10:3 by affirming that Joseph Smith is indeed a prophet of God sent to “restore” God’s church. At the spurring of the aggressive LDS Mormon missionaries, people make decisions that have eternal consequences based on a burning in the bosom, or conviction in their hearts without testing these claims to know if the Mormon lineage of prophets and their writings are true. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 and 13:1-11 tells us we must put all self proclaimed prophets to the Biblical test.
Consider the following:
- The Bible clearly reveals that a Spiritual battle goes on every day between Satan’s forces intent on deceiving people and God’s work here on earth.
- The Bible warns us never to be foolish enough to trust the persuasions of our own hearts, but rather trust in God’s Word the Bible.
- The Bible sternly warns us that many false prophets will appear who will deceive many people.
- The LDS church spreads a gospel message that is considerably different than that found in the Bible and boasts of a modern day prophet and a lineage of prophets many of whom have failed both tests found in Deuteronomy- some of whom have only failed one (but one too many).
2. We study the Scriptures to understand fully what the Lord Jesus has to teach us so that we will live victoriously as His disciples.
Jesus instructs those that believe in Him “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
As Jesus prays for us, He reveals His desire for us to be set apart from the world just as He is set apart from the world. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through the truth, thy word is truth.” (John 17:17)
As we come to know Jesus Christ in the Word of God, we see the example and instructions He leaves with us to follow. By knowing the Word of God, we will have a better understanding of what it means to follow Him, allowing His life to direct our own.
3. We study the Scriptures to equip ourselves to explain the hope we have in Christ Jesus.
Peter tells us to:
“be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”. (1 Peter 3:15)
We must be prepared for that time. To effectively communicate what God is truly like and the promise of the gospel we can truly hope in, requires knowing the truth in His Word. To not know the Word of God opens up the vast possibility that false hopes and false characteristics about God will be communicated as was noted previously.
2 Timothy 4:2 says “Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
To be ready to share the gospel with people even when unforseen opportunities arise, requires that we have God’s word in our heads such that it can be verbally shared. To prepare for this occasion requires time spent studying, memorizing, and meditating over what is in God’s Word.