The Expository Files




 Failed Study

 2 Timothy 3:15


“…from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2Tim.3:15).
Scripture is “able ” to make us “wise for salvation ” as well as to “reprove ” “exhort ” “rebuke ” “chasten” “instruct ” “thoroughly equip to every good work ” (3:16,17) Scripture is “able;” it often does not! — through no fault of the Bible. Two areas account for this: a closed book failure (do not read) and open book failures. The latter is at least as frequent as the first.

Why study? “Why” is exceedingly important. It usually dictates results — what we get from study. We are unlikely to find pearls while digging for worms.
Do we study to be scholars? — to unravel the mysteries of complex verses? — to solve perplexing dilemmas? — to parade our “smart”? Most anyone with reasonable mental ability, time to devote, and the drive to keep at it, can qualify as such a scholar. They quote Hebrew and Greek — recite “scholar s” —– impress folks. Yet they may be far from “wise for salvation” and inept at making others so.

Do we study to debate? — to win arguments? — to defeat our opponents? We gear up to fight while few Goliaths challenge and no great crowd gathers to listen. We search debate books, learn strategies, memorize traps and ploys, collect syllogisms, learn defensive and evasive answers. We may easily learn to be smart alecs — or downright mean. We can do it well — if we are ever drafted! Few will ever debate. Warriors stand beside an empty battlefield — sermons filled with “this is how we answer this argument” — while opponents are a “no show.” We become truly wise for debate but often not at all “wise for salvation” nor able to make others so.

Do we study to document sermons? We start with our own conclusions, our beliefs, our practice. We then search for the verses to support them. Invariably —almost guaranteed, we find them and prop our ideas up with Bible verses. In our “proof passages” quest, we rush thoughtlessly past marvelous precepts. Our footprints decorate the trampled tulips. Our Bible is worn —our sermons filled with verses, yet we fail to be “wise for salvation” and to make others so.

Do we study to “get our lesson”? We copy phrases from open Bibles to blank worksheets —often without the principles passing through our mind or sticking there. The result? — stacks of “filled out ” workbooks, and empty hearts. We copy lots of scripture, but are likely no closer to“wise for salvation ” or being able to make others so.

Quarter after quarter, our children “fill out” quarterlies until they are grown. Boxes are filled with well worn quarterlies and Bibles, but they have no grasp of the “sinfulness of sin,” God’s love, Jesus’ sacrifice, righteousness, or vital character building principles. Small wonder the world swallows so many of them as soon as they leave home. They should be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” — able to “stand against the wiles of the devil.”—”able to withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand” (Eph.6:10- ) Scripture thus equips. They should be able: they are not. They studied for years, and are not even close to “wise for salvation” and totally unequipped to make others so.
Fill out the books, debate the cause, document the sermon, but do not forget the primary object of study!

How different if the book is opened because it is His book — because it contains His truth — because it reveals what pleases Him — because it declares what He wants me to do and be.

How different if a searching and willing heart opens the book — looking for God’s will — open to correction — ready to accept any charge. What if I open the book as though it was written just to instruct me in how to live?

How different if we read the book — listening to the Master! — simply because he is Lord. Be quiet! Don’t talk! Listen! — no arguments to make — no sermons to produce — no books to fill out. The prophesy would be fulfilled: “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God” (Jno.6:45). Just read scripture; you will be amazed at what you find. Read; God surely supplies the conclusions —some you never imagined — life altering concepts. Read; He drastically changes your life values.

Through His book —– through such study, He surely is “able” and will make you “wise for salvation.” He will also “thoroughly equip” (3:17) you so you can help make others “wise for salvation.” Any study that does not transform the life and character of the student has surely failed.

  By Joe Fitch
From Expository Files 22.10; October 2015