Have you ever talked to someone and found them to be unreasonable? They won’t listen to your side of the argument but are ready with their opinion before you even finish speaking? (Maybe we are that unreasonable person. It’s such a temptation for most of us). This can be so very frustrating, but never so frustrating as when we are discussing biblical matters.
I remember several conversations with Christians throughout the course of my life where there were such strong opinions that even when biblical evidence to counter it was presented, they ignored or dismissed it. They were people who claimed to be in the Word on a daily basis so I was befuddled, to say the least. The topics were clear from scripture and not gray areas.
But they wanted to believe what they wanted to believe.
As Christians, perhaps we all may do this at times. We come to the Bible with everything that makes up who we are: The spiritual environment of our homes growing up; the opinions of the teachers, professors, and preachers of our lives; the doctrine and rules of all of our past churches and denominations; the voices of the authors we’ve read; the beliefs of our spouses, parents, siblings, friends, and other people we may love dearly. We also come to the Bible with our personalities–optimistic, pessimistic, realistic, etc.
This means that, without careful and deliberate intention, our Bible study will be tainted by our experiences and with worldly wisdom.
The Bible is the only certain truth we have in this world. It is our only anchor. Since the inception of Christianity and throughout the following centuries, this has been central to the faith. The Bible is God’s Inspired, Inerrant, and Authoritative Word. Any branch of Christianity that dismissed and negated the authority, inerrancy, and veracity of scripture was considered a false religion.
Oh, how things have changed.
God’s Word has been relegated to the backseat in favor of experience. Many people no longer even take a Bible with them to church. The worldly church hungers for entertainment and excitement, always craving bigger and better.
How did the church get here? How did we end up in a world where what is called “Christianity” is nothing like biblical Christianity?
I believe Biblical illiteracy has much to do with this. People stopped reading their Bibles and so they were easily distracted and deceived.
Hopefully, you are here because you want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. The main purpose of this blog is to point you towards God’s Word and to encourage you to know it and to study it.
But, even as I noted above, there are many who claim to read God’s Word who don’t seem to be transformed by it. How is that? They claim to read the Scriptures, and yet they cling to unscriptural principles and doctrines.
How can we make sure this does not happen to us? What can we do to make sure that we are not tainted by our past and our personalities when we come to God’s Word? How do we ready our hearts and minds, in order to be transformed?
There are five things that will maximize the work of God’s Word in our lives. Without them, the Bible will be just another book to read.
As we study God’s Word, let’s make sure that we are bringing these five things to our study–
1. FAITH. Faith, according to dictionary.com, is confidence or trust in a person or thing. Faith, in the biblical sense, is complete and utter trust in God. We trust in Him to save us from our sins and we also trust His Word. We have complete confidence that what He says is true.
There are many, many people who read the Bible. They read it for educational purposes. For its history. Out of a sense of duty. But this does not mean they are saved. Without true faith the Bible is just a book full of myths. Without the Holy Spirit to illuminate the scriptures, the Bible is just another religious book.
2. SUBMISSION. There can be no transformation without a willingness to yield to God’s Sovereignty. This can be hard and lies at the heart of every complaint and every heart-rending question of “why”. It lies at the heart of many physical illnesses and most cases of depression and anxiety. When we aren’t willing to submit to God’s Will for our lives, we rob ourselves of peace and joy. And, like a tiny ant shaking its fist, we demand our own way.
When we aren’t willing to submit, our will becomes the primary focus. Our desires and our dreams become the centerpiece of our religion and the heart of our Bible study is utterly self-centered.
This will completely render our study ineffective and useless. The Bible is not about us. It is about God. He is the Creator and we are the creature (Genesis 1-3). He is the potter and we are the clay (Isaiah 29:16). Oh, how important to understand this as we approach God’s Word.
3. HUMILITY. So often we have an agenda when we come to God’s Word. We want to believe certain things about God or mankind and so we focus in on the verses we like and skip over the ones we don’t like. But true humility takes God’s Word at face value. Instead of trying to pridefully turn and twist it to say what we want it to say, we humble ourselves before God and accept the Word literally and in its entirety.
Humility also recognizes that there are many things that can’t be understood. For example, we cannot understand how God draws and man chooses at the same time. These are parallel truths that our human minds can’t comprehend.
Deuteronomy 29:29 reminds us that we don’t know everything and that’s okay–
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
We must release our pride, our selfish agendas, and our need to understand everything in order to make the most out of our time in God’s Word.
4. WILLINGNESS to OBEY. If we aren’t willing to obey what we read, then we will never be transformed. I will take it a step further–if we aren’t willing to obey what we read, we probably aren’t saved. I John 2:3-4 makes this abundantly clear–
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
Obedience isn’t just something God would like us to do. Obedience is the sure evidence that we are Christ’s!
5. TIME and FOCUS. These two things are scarce, aren’t they? In a culture that demands busyness, we can quickly become over-committed. In a world that is full of distractions, it is hard to focus. We must intentionally change this or we will greatly impair our Bible Study time. It must become a priority. When we recognize the importance of God’s Word in our Christian walk, we must then deliberately take steps to be in the Word and to protect that time.
How do we do this?
It won’t be easy. But there are some steps we can take. I am working on these in my own life, so I am right there with you on this!
First, we must set a specific time, that is rarely altered. If we work, it may be setting our alarm clock earlier (which usually means turning the TV off and going to bed earlier); if we have infants or toddlers, it may mean taking that first half hour of naptime and dedicating it to God’s Word. Carve out a time that becomes regular. Don’t let a few days derail you from your plan. Illness happens. Teething babies happen. Other things sometimes get in the way. But let’s make a commitment to get back to our regular time when it is possible.
Second, we must eliminate the distractions. Oh, this is hard! But we can make a few little changes that will be immensely helpful. First, get a real Bible. A Bible app on your iPad or phone can be helpful, but it’s best not to use it for your quiet time in God’s Word unless you put it in airplane mode. Second, put all tech temptations in a different room as you read and study God’s Word. Intentionally give your undivided attention to the Bible for an hour. A half hour. Whatever time you have designated. Any time is better than none!
As we dedicate ourselves to the reading and study of God’s Word may we bring to it a right heart attitude. May we pray about these things. Let’s ask God to fill us with faith and humility. Ask Him to help us to yield to His will and to be obedient to His commands. And let’s pray that He would open up a way for us to spend undistracted time in prayer and in His Word. We know this is His will so we can pray with confidence!