You’ve heard the saying, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” Relative to God’s word, we might express this principle this way: “Teach a man what the Bible says, and he has knowledge for a day; teach a man to study the Bible, and he has knowledge for a lifetime.” Many people’s approach to Bible study is the “Let George Do It” method. They say to themselves, “I don’t have to study the Bible “” that’s what we have (insert the preacher’s name) for.” Several problems arise from this method:
- George isn’t always right “” That doesn’t mean George is intentionally deceptive. It just means he doesn’t know everything, and some of what he says may be incorrect (James 3:1-2).
- On judgment day, George won’t be able to stand in your place “” You’ll have to stand or fall on your own faith and obedience, not George’s (Gal. 6:4).
- George is not your judge, and it’s not his viewpoint that should concern you “” Jesus Christ will be your Judge in the last day (Acts 17:31; 2 Timothy 4:1), and His word will be the “standard” of judgment (John 12:48). You need to know what Jesus says in His word, not just what George “thinks” it says.
If you question the prevalence of the “Let George Do It” system of Bible exegesis, try starting a discussion on some challenging point of Scripture with a few of your religious friends. Before long, someone’s bound to say, “Well, my pastor says…” or “Well, my priest says…” or “Well, Reverend What’s-his-name says…”
While preachers have a responsibility to “preach the word” and in so doing, to “convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2), we need to realize that preaching the Word is more than simply telling the audience what’s in the Word. It’s also “empowering” each listener to study the Scriptures for himself, and to effectively interpret and use what he logically concludes using all the inspired writings (Psalm 139:17). It’s what Ezra and the priests did: “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8). They not only taught what the Law said, but taught the people how to comprehend it for themselves.
When Paul had taught Timothy all he had to teach, the apostle admonished him, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Rather than “letting Paul do it,” Timothy learned to study for himself (2 Timothy 2:15) and gained knowledge for a lifetime (2 Timothy 3:14-15).