The Purpose of Bible Study


Over the years, I’ve come to the Bible for many reasons: for devotions, leisure reading, to prove someone wrong, for homework, and simply to know what it means. But I fear, in the end, I’ve missed the true purpose of Bible study and saturation.

There is simply one main purpose for getting into the Word of God – knowing Jesus.

No, not knowing about Jesus. Actually knowing Him, the Person.


Scripture Scholars

Jesus often encountered the Pharisees over a variety of issues. In John 5.39, He makes an interesting statement to them: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”

What I find so startling about this passage is that if we ran into anyone like these Pharisees in the church today, we would celebrate them! Here they are searching and looking for eternal life in Scripture. Way to go Pharisees! Way to go Christian! Keep studying, keep reading, keep memorizing, keep …

Yet Jesus rebukes them. The Pharisees were getting into the Word looking for life, yet Jesus declared that everything in Scripture points to Him (who is Life – see John 14.6). They were in the right place, but missed it entirely.


Coming to the Word

Everything in Scripture points to Jesus; yes, even the Old Testament. He is called the Living Word – the fullness, culmination, and lived-out expression of the Written Word. And everything throughout the Old and New Testaments point to Him.

There is an interaction between the Written and Living Word. Getting into the Written Word leads us, by the Holy Spirit, into the Living Word. As you get to know the Written Word, you get to know the Living Word. Think of it like this: if I came up to you and shook your hand, I’d be shaking you. But if we were to cut off your arm, you are not any less you – you may be armless but you are still fully you. In a similar manner (though I realize the illustration breaks down), when you “shake” (get into) the Written Word, you are getting into the Living Word. We realize that the Written Word is not Jesus – Jesus is still fully Jesus even if you cut off the Written Word – but there is such an interaction between the two of them that as you get into one, it is as if you are getting into the other.

Do you want a greater level of intimacy with Jesus? You must be in the Word! Want to know Him better? Then you better be soaked and saturated within the pages of the Scripture – not because you are after eternal life apart from Christ, but because you are after a Person who is Life itself.

When we come to the Word, Jesus isn’t interested in us just knowing about the Word, He wants us to know Him. He wants intimacy. And the tremendous thing about the Word is that no matter where we dive into, it will lead us to Jesus (yes, even Leviticus! … perhaps more on that in another post).

If you come to the Word for any other reason than intimacy and oneness with Jesus, you will soon find yourself fizzled, disappointed, and quit. Sure, we can work ourselves up for an academic study of one more lesson or sermon, but unless we see the Word as living, active, and sharper than a double-edged sword that wants to do its work in our lives (see Hebrews 4.12), we will be approaching the Word out of duty and obligation, rather than delight, passion, and hunger.

Do you see that the Bible is not boring, dull, or old? The pages are still wet with ink as if God just spoke them. They are living and active. They are focused on the Person of Jesus. Why don’t you spend some time not learning about Him but getting to know Him as you would a good friend?

Question: how would seeing Scripture as an avenue of intimacy change the way you approached Bible study? Answer in the comments below.

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  • Joshua Toepper

    Great thoughts Nathan! Its always fascinating when the Bibliology takes greater emphasis than Christology. Preaching, teaching, devotion, education, and even Holy Writ itself MUST point to The Word Made Flesh!

    • NRJohnson

      Amen brother!

  • Victoria

    It changes the feeling behind reading the Bible from a chore or guilt trip, to a sense of anticipation as to what new thing you;re about to discover about a person you love, who loves you even more than you can imagine. It becomes an exciting endeavor versus a duty or obligation.

    • NRJohnson

      Victoria I absolutely agree! Great insight.

  • Nate Stults

    Refreshing style of writing about the most powerful truth. Keep it up and I will read other materials on your site. Thanks.

    • NRJohnson

      Thanks Nate (great name by the way) for the encouraging words. Cheering you on ever deeper into Jesus!

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  • Miao Dee

    I’m starting to approach the Bible as God’s love letter to me as I open its pages. :) it’s very refreshing and more real when you approach approach it like He’s talking to you through His Word because He does! Praise God!

    • NRJohnson

      Very excited to hear that Miao! Cheering you on ever deeper into Him!

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  • Robin

    Thank you so much for this. Very glad I stumbled upon your Web site. :)

    • NRJohnson

      Thanks Robin! Glad you found the site as well. Cheering you ever deeper into Jesus!

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  • bestforex

    Amazingly refreshing. Thank you brother NRJohnson. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and your family and all the Saints who read this.

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