Most people reading this believe the Bible is the Word of God; Spirit-inspired, inerrant, and profitable for the life of a Christian. But there is a big difference between having a head knowledge about the importance of scripture and actually living by faith in the power of God’s word.
How a Christian views and handles God’s Word will greatly affect the depth of his or her spiritual well-being. Some view the Bible as something that the preacher talks about on Sunday. That’s the only place they hear the Word. Others practice the spiritual discipline of daily reading. Some carve out time for deeper study, using a commentary or study Bible.
Are these just personal preferences? Personality differences? How is the Christian supposed to handle the Word?
God wants us to handle it like Ezra did:
For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel -Ezra 7:10
One of the major themes of Ezra-Nehemiah is revival stemming from a high view of God’s Word. And the man God used to spark this revival had a well-rounded view of the scripture.
I want to point out four things from this verse that help us understand how we should handle God’s word.
1. Set your heart
This wasn’t just a discipline for Ezra. His heart’s desire was to study, do, teach the word of God. Many of us are trying to live by the word without a heart for the word. When this happens, daily disciplines become dry and joyless. We are merely checking a task off of a list. Or become self-righteous, attempting to do, do, do in our own strength instead of the power of Jesus. This is why prayer and the word are inseparable. We are sinners in constant need for the Great Physician to work on our hearts. Beg God for a heart like Ezra’s.
Sadly, many Christian’s think that study is the task of the preacher and/or the seminary professor. But to be a follower of Christ means to grow in relationship with Him. In order to grow in relationship with Him we must devour God’s word through which He has revealed Himself to us. We must train ourselves in good doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6).
Notice the order of this. Before we get to Ezra’s teaching, we read that he lived out the book that he studied. This is what I mean by “well-rounded”. There are plenty who study the Word of God without doing it. Is that You? If so, think on James 1:22-25 for a bit:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Again, this is an area where many have left teaching the Word to those who do it ‘for a living’. How sad! Ezra was on a mission. He was bringing God’s Law to the exiles who returned to Jerusalem. We’ve been commanded to go (Matthew 28:18-20). And by “we” I mean me, you, your pastor, and every other follower of Jesus Christ.
This shows us that the main reason we should seek a deeper knowledge of scripture is not for ourselves, but so that others may be taught the Gospel for the glory of God. That is what Paul is telling Timothy in 1 Timothy 4. After telling him the importance of personal spiritual training, he says, “Command and teach these things.” (v.11) This is a big deal! This means that if you don’t seek a well rounded view of God’s Word, you’re not prioritizing the advancement of His kingdom.
Obviously, much more can be said about these four areas. My prayer is that this will help you gauge just how precious God’s Word is to you. I’ll leave you with a thought that God has used to reveal my own enormous shortcomings in this area:
If you care about God’s mission, you will be a person who loves, studies, does, and teaches the Word of God.