READ THE BIBLE ALL YOUR LIFE
A Christian, regardless of his or her age, never outgrows the need for Bible study. The word of God is milk for the newborn babe in Christ (1 Peter 2:1-2); it is solid food (strong meat, KJV) for “those who are of full age” (Hebrews 5:14). Christ is the water of life and the bread of life (John 4:13-14; 6:48-51), and one never reaches the point where he does not need the spiritual nourishment that Christ provides.
This nourishment is available only through God’s word and can be accessed only by a diligent and ongoing study of the Bible. “Man shall not live by bread along, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3).
All Christians, young and old alike, need to remember: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6, NKJV). God’s word provides spiritual nourishment for those in all stages of life and at all levels of spiritual maturity.
There are several reasons why Christians need to be engaged in continuous Bible study.
First, one never gets too old to learn. Regardless of how many times one has read and studied the Sacred Text there always are additional nuggets of truth to be mined from the text. This is not to say that the text itself takes on new or additional truth; it is but to say that one never reaches the point where new insights do not occur with additional study of the Scriptures. And even when one is satisfied that he has learned everything to be found in a particular passage, there are many other passages that await one’s study. Regardless of our age, have any of us learned it all? There can be no “retirement” from the study and application of God’s word to our lives regardless of our age.
Christians need to persist in Bible study to deepen and strengthen their faith. Abraham was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran for the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:4). The vast majority of the things that we know about this great man of God occurred after that event. Older Christians need to study the accounts of Abraham’s sojourns, of his great faith test (Genesis 22), of the fact that “he did not waver (I still like the old King James rendering, “He staggered not”) at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:20). Older saints need to be encouraged by the fact that Abraham waited/looked “for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). We need the hope and encouragement that come from reading the life events of this great man so that we too will not “stagger” in our commitment to God.
As Christians age chronologically, their questions and perspective change. This does not mean that they forget or forsake their earlier convictions. In fact, growing older should mean that they become even more “grounded and steadfast in the faith” (Colossians 1:23) and even more “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). What changing questions and changing perspective do mean is that things that once seemed so far down the road of life are now looming ever nearer, and older Christians become more keenly interested in the eternal change that they know is soon to take place. To use a football analogy, things look different when one enters the “red zone” of life than they do from the ten-yard line, the twenty-yard line, or even the fifty-yard line.
All Christians should read and study God’s word for hope, comfort, the peace of God that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), and the glorious assurance of eternal life with God and all the redeemed in heaven. The love of God should flood our soul as we bask in the radiant joy of knowing that there is “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” and that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:1, 39). (I find it of great consolation to observe that the magnificent eighth chapter of Romans begins with “no condemnation” and ends with “no separation.”)
(Note: The above essay is the adaptation of an article published by the author in the May 2013 issue of the Gospel Advocate, Nashville, TN, and written at the request of that journal’s editor. It is used here by permission of the Gospel Advocate).
October 7, 2014