In John 5:39, 40, Jesus rebukes the first century religious leaders in Jerusalem saying, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is these that bear witness of me and you are unwilling to come to me that you may have life.” These religious leaders made a mistake similar to one that is frequently (and often unconsciously) made by many today, failing to use the Scriptures primarily to point us to Jesus that we may have life.
While academic study of the Bible is interesting to some, it is not the source of spiritual life and health. This comes only when we follow the direction of the Scriptures into relationship with Jesus. As we see God’s likeness and character in the passages of Scripture and reach out to God in prayer, our resulting relationship to Jesus refreshes us spiritually. As Jesus promises in John 7:38, “From [your] innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”
The academic study itself does not dry us out spiritually. It is in essence spiritual neutral. The drying out comes when academic study replaces the pursuit of relationship with Jesus and the resultant filling of the Holy Spirit.
Do not be fooled into thinking that an academic study of the Bible will bring you into relationship with Jesus. Such study can be much like study of any other book. It is only when we enter into relationship with Jesus that we gain the life gaining benefit of interacting with God’s word.
There are some parallels between studying the Scriptures (special revelation) and studying nature (i.e., the creation–the general revelation). God has disclosed himself through His creation as well as through the Scriptures. Some can study the creation and just gain scientific information. Others will study and through the magnificence of the creation begin to recognize the glory of the Creator. The handiwork of creation thus is part of the road map God has left to bring people into fellowship with Himself.
Do not just read the road map, take the journey and enter into continuous relationship with our creator.