17 Oct 2014
Why do you study the Bible? There are surely many good answers to this question. And, of course, we are likely to find substantial discrepancy of opinion. On the other hand, what might be the answer if we move our focus from ourselves to God and ask this question from His perspective? In other words, to ask God: what is the primary purpose in your heart for Your children to read and study Your Word?
In our Nation for the past century and an half we have become primarily a literate people. The majority of our population can read and write and most complete high school and many attend or complete a college education. We have in one sense become essentially an academic society. This focus on learning has served us well in many respects. However, we have become in this process somewhat enamored by knowledge. Knowledge is important. But in the midst of our love affair with knowledge we have often made it the end as opposed to a means.
To no small degree this tendency has migrated into our churches and into our ideas about how to read and study the Bible. In the world of academia knowledge is neutral, normally not demanding either humble submission or obedience. Due to the influence of our academic training we tend to approach the Bible as just another book, seeking to gain knowledge and making the covert assumption that if we learn certain things and are able to recite certain truths or principals, we thereby graduate into mature Christian-hood.
Our emphasis on knowledge and learning has oft led us astray from the primary purpose of the Bible, getting to know God’s nature and experiencing God’s person. While it is, so to speak, hidden in plain sight the purpose of our creation and our existence is that we might be living in ever deepening relationship with God. Yet the natural tendency of man is to make rules to follow in order to boost our ego such that we feel that we are doing an excellent or at least an acceptable job.
God did not design us primarily to feel good about our accomplishments. He designed us to be filled with positive purpose and a sense of fulfillment in the context of an obedient and intimate relationship with Him. If this is true then we should read and study the Bible not primarily for accomplishment, but for the deepening of our personal relationship with God. We should read the Bible in order to better get to know and experience God and His amazing love.
From the Garden of Eden until now God has been and is a relational God. He calls us His people, adopted members of His family. We are instructed to call Him our Father. We find that in the Church we are all brothers and sisters. As in every effective family there are guiding principles and rules to enhance the effectual function of the family. But these rules are not the primary end. They are only the means to enhance the functioning of relationships.
So we propose that in the heart of God there exists a deep desire for us, His children, to read and study His revealed word with the desire to get to know and love Him more deeply and consistently. Of course as we grow in our capacity to receive His love, we naturally respond by loving Him and loving our neighbors. As we grow to deeply love God, obedience becomes the overriding desire of our hearts.
Herein is where humble submission is critical. We must come to God’s Word in humble submission if we are to have hearts prepared to draw near to God and to obey His directives.
James 4:6,7a But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." 7 Submit therefore to God.
Isaiah 57:15 (NASB95)
15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, "I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.
God placed His Spirit within each authentic believer. When we open ourselves to the Spirit’s filling and control we have the power, the wisdom, and the strong inclination to connect intimately with God. In order to experience the fullness of God’s Spirit, we must humbly submit to and seek His control and direction. Studying the Word of God while walking in the Spirit allows the Holy Spirit to help us better understand the nature of God and His love.
John 14:26 (NASB77)
26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
This place of humble seeking prepared by repentance is also a place for powerful prayer.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
God wants us to seek His face! Seeking His face cannot be done by the head alone but must include the heart. God requires us to pray because He strongly desires to communicate with His children. He instructs us to humble ourselves, because without humility intimacy with God does not occur. And God desires that we turn away from our rebellion and return again as the prodigal son. He deeply desires to be actively involved in our lives as our loving Father!
As you study the bible remember God desired you to know and experience His nature and His love. He deeply desires to have an intimate relationship with His children. So as we study and as we pray we must begin with these words deeply written upon our hearts … our Father.