Now, mere study of the Bible as an end in itself will be of little value. The goal of Bible study is to know the God of the Bible — not to merely know about the God of the Bible. This is also why neglect of diligent study is so terribly wrong.
To neglect Bible study because the Gospel is “simple” and I know it all from the back of a pamphlet is to say, I don’t care to know God. I am happy for him to give me something — my life forever, or my best life now (which as John MacArthur noted, means you’re going to hell, if this is your best life now)– or some other self-centered rubbish which comes from thinking of Jesus as a bellhop and my mere “personal Savior:”
Yes, Jesus does save individual human beings — and that is a great truth — but he saves us into his body, we are brought into the Church — there is far too much “personal” in the phrase for safe use. The phrase nowhere appears in Scripture, and it presents a poisonous temptation to those in a self-consumed society. It is to love God like you would love a cow that gave you milk.
It is ghastly that the same people who expect so much physical and personal satisfaction from Jesus are often those who are most likely to neglect any effort to know Jesus. Perhaps if they knew Jesus, they would understand he is far different from their fantasy. If they looked into the Word of God as given by the Holy Spirit, they would not neglect the effort to know God. To know the Triune God is the work of eternity — no one who thinks they know enough about God rightly know God.
None of this is to imply that the Gospel is not a matter of bare intellectual effort — a child could know the Triune God. (And I have a great many books by learned men who seem to have not the faintest acquaintance with Jesus.) But it is not a matter of neglect, either. To know God deserves my most assiduous effort. What then does this work entail?
J.I. Packer in Knowing God summed it up nicely:
“How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each Truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.”
That’s it: Dig up the truth, examine it, chew up it, study it, take for walks, take to the market and to work, bring it out to coffee and to bed: think very hard. And as the thinking gets harder and as the truth begins to wend its way through your consciousness, pray. And as you pray, lift your heart in joy to the Trinity.