Alexander Campbell once wrote: "A man may enter a garden for three purposes; first, to learn the art of gardening; second, for pleasure; third, to gather fruit. So may a man read the Bible for three things: first, to learn to read it or dispute it; second, read the historical parts for pleasure; third, to gather fruit. This last is the true way."
The inspired writer put it this way: "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves" (Jas. 1:22). There are some who would master the Word of God for no other reason than to argue its true meaning. There is nothing wrong with being able to handle correctly the Word of God; in fact we are admonished to be able to "give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear" (1 Pet. 3:15). But if this is the only reason for which a man studies God's Word, then he has entered the "garden" for the wrong reason. There are those who read simply for entertainment. Favorite passages are read over and over, and those passages which "reprove" or "rebuke" something in that individual's life are seldom, if ever studied and examined. Again, there is nothing wrong with reading the Bible for pleasure. Enjoyment and comfort come from a regular reading of the inspired writ. But, again, if this is the sole purpose for entering into the "garden" of God's Word, then one needs to re-examine his motives. The only wholesome motive for reading and studying God's Word is to learn the truth on any given matter in order that I might make the application to my life. Any truth contained therein, and which is applicable to me, is only of value if I make proper application. Unless one makes the proper application, James says such a man is "deluding himself." Proper and consistent application to life produces fruit worthy of service to God.
What fruit has come from your life as a result of reading and studying God's word? Have you read Hebrews 10:25 and remained negligent in attendance? Have you carefully studied 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 3:17 and made every diligent effort to stop smoking? Has your personal study of the works of the flesh set forth in Galatians 5:19-21 brought forth repentance leading to a life that is pure and holy in the sight of God? What specific effect has your study of the Sermon on the Mount had upon your life? Are you a better man or woman because of the influence of God's Word? And if there is no fruit being borne, then dear reader, what end can you look forward to except being cut off and cast into the fire? Jesus warns, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit" (John 15:2).
by Tom Wacaster