The Pleasure of Bible Study
by Ed Vasicek
How many times have you heard the saying, "One man's meat is another man's poison?" It often rings truenot only in selecting a menu—but in much of life. Take Bible study, for example. To me, Bible study is THE highlight and privilege of the pastorate. I do not necessarily enjoy all my pastoral tasks. During dark times, I often ask the Lord why He called me to the ministry. But even during those dark eras of ministry, I still look forward to studying the Word. Of course during the brighter times, well, ministry can be a great joy.
Like all men, I am but human. Sometimes I fail the Lord. Sometimes I make bad or selfish decisions. I have been known to speak a rash word or camp on a soapbox. Even when I am frustrated at myself, I still love the Word of God. Whether the ministry gets to me or whether I get to myself, I still consider the Word one of my greatest rewards in life.
Not all believers have this same intensity. Part of it may be calling and part of it giftedness. My strongest gift is probably teaching, and God has called me to full-time ministry. God has also provided me with a great education and wonderful resources. But let me share my story of loving the Word.
My love for the Word began with my conversion. After I was saved at the age of 17, I almost burnt my eyes out: I read the Word, underlined the Word, and thought about the Word. I also read biographies (Luther, etc) and even tackled books I did not understand (e.g., I read some of Francis Schaeffer's books at age 17; I only understood a bit, I must admit).
I listened to WMBI-FM in Chicago, Moody's flagship station, on a daily basis. I attended Sunday School and all my newfound church's services. Cicero Bible Church was famous for teaching the Word, and they lived up to that reputation. Dozens (perhaps scores) from that church ended up on the mission field, in the pastorate, or in other full-time Christian work. At 10-months-old in the Lord, my home church sent me to a seminar in Ohio to learn how to teach evangelistic home Bible studies. As a result, I saw a few friends come to Christ. I was leading studies at age 18, less than one-year-old in the Lord.
My friend George Cline (who was saved a year before me) and a couple of other guys (Norman and Victor) would meet together for all-night prayer meetings and fellowship. All four of us are serving the Lord. Two of us are in the pastorate; a third received an M.Div from Trinity (but felt no call to the ministry) and serves the Lord with all his heart; the fourth has an M.D. and loves the Lord zealously. George has nearly received his doctorate from Dallas Seminary and pastors in Texas. Back when we first met, George determined he was going to read through the Bible in less than a year, and I followed suit. I read through the entire Bible along with the excellent "Unger's Bible Handbook." I learned an awful lot that first time through.
A lot of people from Cicero Bible Church have grown into key servants in the Kingdom of God. Others simply came and went. The dividing line, at least in my observation, was a love and hunger for the Word of God. We four and many others had the real disease and are still infectious.
No, I do not think that all are called to a ministry of teaching or preaching. Yes, I think Christians can be equally close to God and yet differ as to how much they love the Word. But I think all Christians who are truly walking with the Lord and sold out to Him do have an intense love for the Word. The difference is between an intense love, a very intense love, and an extremely intense love.
I try very hard not to bore the flock with the Word of God. I know I do not always succeed, and perhaps the pressure under which I place myself is, at times, counterproductive. But I am burdened: I want each of you to love the Word of God, to enjoy its study, to let it change your lives. I want us all to have the real disease. I am still excited about the Word of God.
Reprinted from the December 2001 Body Builder, a publication of Highland Park Church.
Highland Park Church