“I Like to Dig” — A Potential Pitfall of Personal Bible Study

9 Oct

Whenever I hear a fellow believer say that they don’t want to sit in a Bible study or Sunday School class or a sermon because they like to study on their own, I always get a little concerned. Not that personal Bible study is bad (I think it can be great) but because often in back of that statement can be an aversion to sitting under the¬†teaching of another person. There is, in our culture which largely rejects authority and touts the individual, a temptation to avoid anything that smacks of being institutional or hierarchical. Yet the local church for the most part has always maintained some sort of line of authority and has generally entrusted teaching and preaching to those deemed qualified to teach and preach. Most churches don’t just let anyone into the pulpit and most churches haven’t abandoned the pulpit (although this is happening to some extent). Yet there are some on the edges of church life and even in the pews who have a general disdain for hearing the Word preached. This is not because of a dislike of the particular preacher but is the dislike of having to sit under any preacher. I think the statement that one likes to study the Bible on their own is often just a excuse for not wanting to sit under the preaching of another. This is a shame when it happens, because the person is shutting themselves off from a biblical pattern which will do much good for their soul, if the teacher or preacher is faithful.

I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit can speak powerfully to us through personal Bible study. But I have also seen in my own heart a tendency to rationalize or push away His work through the Word in personal Bible study which I find more difficult to do in a situation where I am listening to preaching or teaching. Yes, I can let my mind wander, but I find that the Holy Spirit often uses good preaching in a way that Bible study doesn’t quite match.

I think a good mix of personal Bible study and listening to good preaching and teaching is very important to a believer’s spiritual health.


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