Young People Ask . . .
Why Should I Study the Bible?
“WHEN I come home from school, I don’t want to study anymore. I want to go outside and be with my friends!” Such was the reaction of a teenager named Ken to the suggestion that he spend some time studying the Bible.
Like many teenagers, you may never have done much in the way of personal Bible study. Perhaps you believe that the Bible is God’s Word. You may even attend Christian meetings. But you may feel that you already know what the Bible teaches. Or you may wonder: ‘Why should I study the Bible? What will I get for my efforts?’
Satisfying Your Spiritual Need
Asking such questions is not wrong or disrespectful. On the contrary, it may even indicate that you are beginning to sense what Jesus called your “spiritual need.” (Matthew 5:3) This is more than idle curiosity. As The New English Bible renders this verse, it is a “need of God”—a need to know God intimately and to understand his purposes. For example, when you were a small child, your parents may have taught you basic Bible truths. You probably accepted what they said without question. But as you got older, you may have felt a need to “make sure of all things”—to know whether what you have been taught is true or not.—1 Thessalonians 5:21.
Then again, perhaps you were not raised in a religious home. Does this mean that you have no spiritual need? Hardly! Consider the situation in one land where atheism has long been promoted. In recent years young people there have shown an increasing interest in religion. One antireligious propagandist pointed the finger at, among other things, “the failure of atheists to provide convincing answers to questions about the meaning of disappointment and suffering in life.” You may find yourself asking the very same questions—proof that you have a spiritual need.
Not all religions, though, provide satisfying answers. Young Manish, for example, grew up as a Hindu, believing in millions of gods. Yet, he admits: “I started to wonder, ‘Who is God?’” And many youths raised in the religions of Christendom have found the search for satisfying answers to be just as elusive. Where can one go? Jesus Christ answers: “Your [God’s] word is truth.”—John 17:17.
An accurate knowledge of God’s Word, the Bible, can satisfy your thirst for spiritual truths. It will answer your questions about God’s identity, the reasons for present world conditions, and your prospects for the future. Granted, you may have been raised by parents who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and you may feel that you already know ‘the truth’ to some extent. But do you “grasp mentally . . . the breadth and length and height and depth” of the Bible’s truths, or is your knowledge merely at surface level? (Ephesians 3:18) If the latter is the case, you need to ‘prove to yourself the good and acceptable and perfect will of God,’ by thoroughly studying the Bible.—Romans 12:2.
Finding the Right Way
Have you ever been given the wrong directions to a place you wanted to go? The lost time and wasted effort can be frustrating. Yet, entire lives of many young people are heading the wrong way! The Bible says: “There exists a way that is upright before a man, but the ways of death are the end of it afterward.”—Proverbs 14:12.
Consider, for example, the issue of sexual morality. One 14-year-old girl said: “There is no right thing. There are just opinions.” Granted, the desire to experience sex is powerful, especially when you are young. But left unchecked, this desire can direct you into “the ways of death.” Every year, 2.5 million U.S. teenagers contract a sexually transmitted disease. Many young girls become unwed mothers—or kill their babies by abortion! And even though pregnancy or disease may be averted, premarital sex always incurs God’s displeasure.—1 Thessalonians 4:3.
So why stumble about in “the ways of death”? The Bible gives clear-cut direction to help you “flee from the desires incidental to youth.” (2 Timothy 2:22) This involves ‘deadening,’ not the normal desire for sexual relations in an honorable marriage, but immoral sexual impulses. (Colossians 3:5) Studying the Bible can help you accomplish that. It can give you the moral strength to run away from what is wrong—even though that wrong may seem very appealing. It can “give to the inexperienced ones shrewdness, to a young man [or woman] knowledge and thinking ability” so as to avoid circumstances that could lead to immoral conduct.—Proverbs 1:4.
Young Dan is one who has benefited from studying the Bible. While acknowledging that promiscuous teenagers seem to be having fun, he says he’s also seen “babies born out of wedlock, sex diseases, and many other problems.” He asks: “If I didn’t study the Bible, how would I be living?” The Bible can save you, too, from “the ways of death.”
Help in Drawing Close to God
While many youths today claim to believe in a God, the belief in a personal God diminishes as youths grow older. An article in the journal Adolescence observed that for some youths, “the concept of God is too abstract.” Many religions have made God seem abstract by concealing the fact that God has a name. After all, how can you feel close to someone whose name you do not know?
The Bible, however, reveals that God’s name is Jehovah, using that name over 7,000 times! (Psalm 83:18) Knowing that name opens the way for you to have a personal relationship with Almighty God. But this means more than having a casual interest in the Bible. Says 1 Chronicles 28:9: “If you search for him, he will let himself be found by you.” This implies digging into the Scriptures in an effort to know Jehovah intimately.
Have you done so? For example, can you explain why the Bible speaks of Jehovah as having “eyes,” “ears,” a “face,” and an “arm”? (1 Peter 3:12; Ezekiel 20:33) Does not the Bible say that “God is a Spirit”? (John 4:24) Or are you aware of the extent to which God has the ability to observe you, to know what you are about to say even before you say it? (Psalm 139:4) And what about Jehovah’s cardinal attributes of love, wisdom, justice, and power? Can you explain what the greatest manifestation of God’s love was? (John 3:16) Do you know the difference between God’s spirit and his power? (Micah 3:8) Can you prove that God has feelings—and that it is possible to hurt his feelings?—Psalm 78:40.
There is only one way to answer those questions—by studying the Bible. Young Luther has learned that “by studying His Word, I can ‘see’ Jehovah’s personality and the type of person he is.” (Compare Job 42:5.) Jaquella has similarly come to know God better. By a study of the Bible, she has come to appreciate “that Jehovah can back up what he says. When he promises something, he doesn’t break his promise; he doesn’t lie.”—Titus 1:2.
The Reward for Your Effort
Studying the Bible involves effort and the sacrifice of some of your free time. Getting started may be difficult and may even bring ridicule from family and friends. But look at the rewards. Regular Bible study has helped Paula. She said, I developed “a closer relationship with Jehovah, my Christian brothers, and my family.” Sandy says it helped her “build a conscience” that is responsive even in relatively minor matters. She says: “I can think of scriptures or principles that enable me to decide what to watch on TV.” And remember Ken who was mentioned at the outset? He began reading the Bible more often and says: “The more I read, the more I was impressed, the more it made sense.” Ken was moved to become a baptized servant of God.
Why not make a serious study of the Bible? View it as a challenge. Ask your parents or a member of a local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses to help you get started. Be determined not to quit. Apply what you learn. And remember: ‘He who peers into that perfect law and who persists in it will be happy in his doing it.’—James 1:25.
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Do you “grasp mentally . . . the breadth and length and height and depth” of the Bible’s truths, or is your knowledge merely at surface level?
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A parent or another member of the Christian congregation can help you get started on a project of Bible reading