Why do we study the Bible? Why do it together?
We want to go deeper with you Lord!
Does Bible Study together really do anything? For me? For the church?
There is no matching the lifelong study of the Bible as part of the “the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27). Matthew 5:6 tells us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
We all want to know God better, we desire personal and congregational transformation, we strive to be “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17), yes, we want to make a difference with Jesus. Our prayerful consideration of the Bible, personally and together, are essential pathways to such spiritual maturity.
Jesus has accomplished, in his perfected humanity, everything we need for forgiveness, salvation, repentance, and eternal life so that, through the Holy Spirit, he might open our eyes to the amazing possibilities we have in God. In Bible study, we have this amazing opportunity to hear better from Christ, find our truest self in his perfected humanity, share his zeal for humanity, and be real instruments of advancing the gospel.
We can’t earn this through works; it is already real in Jesus. This about our participation, by the Spirit, in sharing in who Christ is and what is he doing for us and as us. Effective Bible study helps open our minds to the Sprit’s ministry of Christ’s victorious humanity. This liberates us from having to fall back on ourselves for our salvation and repentance. Jesus is both on God’s side and on our side. In the Person of Christ is the exact location of the permanent union of God and humanity (theologically, this is called the hypostatc union, the starting point of our transforming journey of salvation from bondage, in Jesus.) As believers, we have this amazing gift of participation in this phase of the Holy's Spirit's ministry, we are a new creation!
Effective Bible study begins with realizing the real agent of revelation and change is God, the Holy Spirit, in the foundation of prayer and in the context of Christian community, sent by the Father communicating the entire life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. The Bible is sustained an active and direct connection to God.
So we are capable in Christ of so much more than we imagine!
So our first task in this journey together is realize the foundation and objective of Scripture.
That is “Always start with Jesus.”
This is the overall principle for our study of the Bible. In a sense, all roads lead to Jesus in the Bible as we consider all the parts from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus is God’s voice and self-revelation to us-God’s direct Word to us. So God, as revealed in Jesus, and his redemption of humanity, is the focus. Christ is the center as all the Hebrew scriptures point to him and all the Apostle’s writings look back to his journey on earth and his resurrection and ascension.
The following is from the GCI Statement of Beliefs concerning the Bible, as we underline key terms:
The Holy Scriptures: The Holy Scriptures are by God’s grace sanctified to serve as his inspired Word and faithful witness to Jesus Christ and the gospel. They are the fully reliable record of God’s revelation to humanity culminating in his self-revelation in the incarnate Son. As such, the Holy Scriptures are foundational to the church and infallible in all matters of faith and salvation.
Some of foundational scriptures, among many, are these:
2Timothy 2:15-17: “and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
John 17:17: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword.”
Matthew 22:29: “Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
So, we view the Holy Scriptures with Jesus himself as the “interpretive key” and filter all through this lens.
Also important is to accept our place as Christians in God’s story as the beloved and adopted daughters and sons of Jesus, who are forgiven and declared righteous only in Christ. As Ephesians 1:4-5 tells us, ”just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will.”
So effective Bible study begins with the answer to the “Who?” question.
Jesus asked his disciples “Who do people say that I am?” and then “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8, Matthew 16, and Luke 9). So we continually learn from the Bible who our triune God is, as revealed to us in Jesus Christ, who is the focus of the Scriptures telling us we are his adopted children allowing access to the perfect life of the Trinity. So all other questions should reflect back on the question of Who?, for it is the basis for all biblical questions. As Jesus told the leaders in John 5:39,“You study the Scripture so diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.”
As we are in the traditional time of Easter preparation with self-reflection to better conform to Christ, our spiritual transformation (sanctification) necessitates prayer, Bible study, and other spiritual disciplines to allow God to bring us to the image of God, his original intention for humanity that has been severely corrupted by sin. Sanctification is the special opportunity of the believer who knows they have been saved by grace to submit to Christ’s perfect repentance as our own. Though all of humanity has been forgiven by the atonement of Jesus, (a subject for a subsequent post) not all will live a forgiven life in both union and spiritual communion with Christ. What was generally provided for all humanity, must be personally experienced and received in participation, through the Holy Spirit, in the believer's life and in the church, as co-laborers with Christ, for the sake of the world. This is the Father's will and pleasure.
We may come to view Bible study as allowing the Holy Spirit to bring us to real rest in Christ. As Matthew 11:28-30 states beautifully, 8 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
As the Message Bible paraphrases well: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Next, we look how spiritual disciplines like Bible study help us “keep company with Jesus” and develop “unforced rhythms of grace.”