Why Don't People Study Their Bibles?
It’s highly unlikely that I could list all the excuses that people have used over the years in answer to the question posed in our title. For excuses are like opinions; everybody has a bag full. You probably noticed that I underlined the word excuses in the first sentence. I did it to make a point. Excuses that people give for not studying the Bible are just that–excuses! Not reasons!
The Lord condemned excuse-making when he gave the parable of the great supper. He said, “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper” (Lk. 14:16-24).
Let’s consider our subject title. Is not the study of God's Word a partaking of the great feast, the “bread of life”? Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (Jn. 6:35). Therefore, all men everywhere should be thankful for God’s word, which when read, studied, obeyed, and properly applied, can make one “wise unto salvation” (Cf. 2 Tim. 3:15; Jas. 1:22-25).
Leading to their own spiritual destruction, many people, including some of our brethren, fail to participate in the life-giving study of God’s word. Some excuses given are:
I’m too busy; I don’t have time to study. All people have the same amount of time–24 hours a day, 168 hours a week. They have time to work, play, sleep, eat, and satisfy their own whims. If they were really truthful about this point, they would confess that they don’t take time to study. In 2 Timothy 2:15, the apostle Paul commanded Timothy to study. Paul also wrote, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15-17). So, the “I don’t have time” excuse doesn’t hold water. Those who use this excuse are like the thorny-ground hearers mentioned in the parable of the sower: “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mk. 4:18, 19).
Such people are too busy living the “life of Riley,” rather than living lives of sacrifice. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1, 2). I wonder if those who make this excuse are too busy to die and live out eternity in the devil’s Hell?
The Bible is just too hard to understand. Any subject, if not studied, is difficult to understand. If this excuse is valid, the apostle Paul didn’t know it, for he wrote, “How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” (Eph. 3:3, 4).
As I pointed out earlier in this article, Paul said, “Be not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Peter wrote that some things were hard to be understood (2 Pet. 3:15, 16). Notice that he did not say they were impossible to be understood.
The Bible, when properly studied, can be understood. To say the Bible is too hard to understand is to foolishly charge God for giving man words that he cannot understand, but “shall judge him in the last day” (Jn. 12:48). Do you honestly believe God would do that?
The elders and preacher are supposed to do the studying. I am persuaded that many of our brethren actually believe this. If so, they are being taken in by the clergy-laity form of religion, which is foreign to first-century Christianity? Some brethren have the false notion that since we pay the preacher, it is his job to study and spoon feed the brethren. Did Paul’s command to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 apply only to preachers? Hardly!
The Hebrew writer scolded the Hebrew brethren for their lack of spiritual growth and ability to teach (Cf. Hebrews 5:12-14). The Bereans “were more noble (fair-minded, NKJV) 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). Who was doing the searching, the preacher only? I think not! The Berean brethren were searching the Scriptures.
Paul commanded Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).
The fruits of this excuse are brethren who cannot teach Bible classes, can’t or won’t read the Scriptures before an assembly of brethren, and can’t fill in if the preacher is sick or out of town. The result is, the church is weakened by weak-minded brethren who, when they “ought to be teachers...need that one teach (them) you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God” (Heb. 5:12). Brethren, we violate God’s simple commands when we expect the preacher or elders to do all our studying for us.
God’s Word is not the only thing we need. Denominationalism relies on men’s creeds and manuals and on perverted versions of the Bible.
$ Baptists have the Baptist Church Manual;
$ Jehovah’s Witnesses have the New World Translation;
$ Methodists have the Methodist Discipline;
$ Mormons have the Book of Mormon;
$ Presbyterians have the Book of Order and Book of Confessions;
$ United Pentecostal Church International has its manual, etc.
Some brethren are even soaking up the error of writers such as Charles Swindoll, Robert Schuller, Max Lucado, and L. Ron Hubbard (founder of the Scientology cult and the writer of the popular book Dianetics). Some have been taken in by the “Promise Keepers” movement and other cult organizations.
Such brethren have more love for the evil devices of men than they have regard for the gospel of Christ, which is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). Let us learn “not to think of men above that which is written” (1 Cor. 4:6), and let us remember the words of the wise preacher who wrote, “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: For this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:12, 13).
The Bible is too negative. Really? The Bible exposes the sins and errors of men and directs man to the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ. Many people, some of them our brethren, avoid open study of controversial subjects, such as marriage, divorce, and remarriage; fellowship; gambling; immodest dress; smoking; social drinking; and such like.
In some areas of the country, brethren who in reality are ashamed of the gospel of Christ, boycott congregations that boldly stand for the truth and teach “the whole council of God.” They avoid gospel meetings where these subjects are openly examined in light of God’s word. Such congregations are generally small in number and struggling because of their open stand against sin, error, and compromise. Some look down on them because of their small size. One compromising brother who “preaches” says that someday, they may not need church buildings for meeting places, just “phone booths.”
In describing a preacher who openly warns against sin and error, his accusers make derogatory statements, such as:
$ “That preacher is a serpent in the garden.”
$ “He’s a watch dog preacher.”
$ “He makes slurs from the pulpit.”
$ “He is a name caller.”
$ “He is a contentious troublemaker.”
$ “He makes personal attacks.”
$ “He is reckless.”
$ “He is an extremist who has his own agenda to promote.”
Those who make these faulty charges would not tolerate the preaching of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, Peter, or Jesus Christ. Paul warned Timothy about brethren who would reject the truth when he wrote, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3, 4). A preacher’s bold rebuke of sin and error usually brings one of three possible results–the sinner will be “cut to the heart” and repent, completely ignore the message, or reject the message and stone the messenger (Cf. Acts 2:38-14; 7:51-60). How many of God’s messengers have you ignored, rejected, or stoned?
Conclusion: The few words in this article have not “touched the tip of the iceberg” regarding the countless foolish excuses that have been, are being, and always will be given for not studying the Bible. The maintenance of our faith, our spiritual survival, and our salvation depend on proper Bible study. One cannot spiritually grow one proverbial inch without a steady diet of God’s word. What “good” excuse could anyone give for not studying the Bible? NONE! Certainly, many “bad” excuses are offered. The Apostle Peter’s words are appropriate for closing this article – “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Pet. 3:17, 18).