How to Study the Scriptures and Get it Wrong

How to Study the Scriptures and Get it Wrong

Wrong Way

Imagine you are invited to attend a very special event. You get the address; you look it up in your map, spend hours carefully studying all the fine details in the map and off you go. However, after all that effort in studying the map and the time spent travelling, you are told that you are going to the wrong destination. Why? Despite your diligent study, you missed the most important thing, the correct route! This sounds bizarre right? Sadly, this is an illustration of the way many people study their Bibles. Sure, they read it, know many facts, and have a head full of knowledge. However, they have missed the main thing.

John 5:39-40 contains a sad tragedy. Jesus was speaking to a group of religious leaders who spent hours upon hours studying the Scriptures, yet they had got its message completely wrong. In what way was it completely wrong? Through their study of the Scriptures they obtained many facts and even thought that they had eternal life. Then suddenly Jesus says to them,

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

What was their problem? They were heading to the wrong destination because they were on the wrong route. They studied line upon line, precept upon precept and failed to see that those Scriptures point to Christ. Evidently their trust was not in Him but in their knowledge and rituals. Concerning our Lord’s words in this text JC Ryle comments,

“His words show the important truth which too many are apt to overlook, that every part of our Bibles is meant to teach us about Christ. Christ is not merely in the Gospels and Epistles. Christ is to be found directly and indirectly in the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets. In the promises to Adam, Abraham, Moses, and David,—in the types and emblems of the ceremonial law,—in the predictions of Isaiah and the other prophets,—Jesus, the Messiah, is everywhere to be found in the Old Testament”  (JC Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels – John).

This teaches us an important lesson. Having lots of knowledge about the Bible has no eternal benefit. Now, don’t think that being lazy concerning the study of Scripture is any better! The point I’m raising in this post is that if you are going to read the Scriptures, read with the view of seeing and knowing Christ. The Scriptures point to Christ (Luke 24:27, 45), and in Him alone is the only way in which we will receive eternal life (John 14:6).


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