At face value it doesn’t even seem possible that God could be offended when people study Scripture. But the real issue isn’t that God would be offended that people were practicing the spiritual discipline of Bible Study, the real issue is if God is offended by HOW we study Scripture.
We’ve all seen this scenario: As Christians gather together for a Bible study, often what happens is that the leader reads a verse or short passage of Scripture, and then he turns to each member of the group, asking for their comments. Starting with the man next to him on his right, he asks, “Bill, what do you feel this means to you?” Bill struggles to think of something to say, but stumbles through the ordeal, and relates an incident he experienced at work that he thinks the passage might relate to.
Its a serious and holy thing to teach God’s word (to many people or to few) and it is not something which should be done lightly. James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
Scripture commands us, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) We should be ashamed if we fail to study and fail to rightly handle the word of truth. If we’re talking about the average Bible Study that takes place as I’ve decribed it above, I believe that God can be very much offended by the proceedings. Let me explain:
Jesus, in the preamble to quoting a verse from the Old Testament said, “…have you not read what was spoken to you by God…” (Matthew 22:31). The testimony of Jesus and of the Bible is that “All Scripture is God breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16). Therefore, when we open up a page in our Bibles, we are treading upon holy ground. The Bible, although a book, is also unlike any other book. It is not simply a book giving facts about God. The Bible is a book written by God. Certainly, human writers were involved, but the text of Scripture is inspired or breathed out by God Himself.
No Big Deal?
Just having this concept in place would greatly help us in our Bible studies. What do I mean by that? Well, many people view the interpretation of God’s Word as “no big deal” really. To them its nothing more important than the reading of any other book, at least in their methodology.
Remember when you were in school and you had to take a test on a book you were assigned to read? You studied and invested time in learning the background of the author, the context in which he lived and wrote, his purposes in writing, his audience, and the specifics of the text. You did not simply come to class, pop open the book, read a few sentences, and say, “Well, I feel the author here means this.” Yet, for some odd reason, this attitude is prevalent in Christian circles. Whether that feeling results in an interpretation that has anything at all to do with what the original author intended to convey is really not considered an important aspect. Everyone, seemingly, has the right to express their “feelings” about what they “think” the Bible is saying, as if those thoughts actually reflect what God inspired in His Word. While we would never let anyone get away with treating our own writings like this, we seem to think God is not bothered, and what is worse, that our conclusions are somehow authoritative in their representation of His Word. – Dr. James White
To some people it would seem to be “un-spiritual” to invest time in studying the historical backgrounds, the context of a text or passage in Scripture, or the original language… no, many today want to “feel” something about a passage… or better still, just want the Holy Spirit to whisper His interpretation in their ears supernaturally. This tends to become highly subjective… and the hard labor of the study of the Scriptures is thrown out of the window.