30 Sep 2011

God's Word and Bible Study

Submitted by Stephen Winters

I'm sixty years old and have went to numerous Bible studies over many years. Quite frankly, I don't like bible studies. All I ever found there has been an endless studying, for knowledge, the same book over and over again. It seems to me that, in general, many Christians don't know what to do with one another except to have a Bible study.

The main focus I found there was, seemingly, "Bible knowledge." The main focus of each of the Bible studies was on studying the text of the Bible. It's as though the prevailing thought is that we get to know God and become closer to God by studying "God's written Word". To me, this seems like endlessly studying a driver's manual so that we really know it inside and out, but never getting into a car to drive. Yes, we need to know laws of the road, which the driver's manual gives us. And yes we need to know the technical aspects of how to drive. This is best done by 1.)  us seeing by example how others drive and 2.) us doing lots of driving ourselves. This is a good example of how Christian living should be done. It's mostly in the doing.

In recent years I rarely go to Bible studies. I'd rather fellowship with other Christians one on one, or, in some cases, with just a few others. I'd rather be discussing what is going on in each of  our lives, and how we can motivate one another towards "love and good deeds." Yes, the Bible can have a place, but it is on the bookshelf with other helpful books. It can be referred to as needed, but it should not be the main focus, as it is so much today.

I did a search on the Internet today and came across this webpage: Why I Don't Like Bible Study where he writes this:   

"In our current educational climate "study" more naturally carries the connotation of dissection-for-comprehension. Rather than searching in order to meet God. It suggests that coming to the Bible is primarily an exercise in increased knowledge rather than increased love for God."

He wrote the Title as basically a way to get people to notice and possibly read his article. Much of he said was kind of tongue-in-cheek, but he made some good points. The thing that caught my attention was about, "Why do people study the Bible." It is important to have a proper focus when we study. Our focus will determine the outcome.

As I wrote previously, The word of God is a message, not a book." God did not stop speaking two thousand years ago, but rather he has been speaking throughout history, and he continues to speak today. God has so much more to say to each one of us than can ever be written in a book.

When we call our small group meetings "Bible Studies" we give an incorrect focus about what we should be doing in our meetings. I think about Jesus saying, "All men will know you are my disciples by your love...." I did a search of that phrase and found this

"Jesus said simply, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)2  This leads to an obvious question, what did Jesus command?  There is only one thing that the Bible records that Christ explicitly commanded his disciples to do: to love one another (John 13:34, John 15:12, John 15:17).  Jesus told them that their love for one another would become their trademark. And, indeed it did.  At the end of the 2nd century, the church father Tertullian described the reputation that the early church had earned: “What marks us in the eyes of our enemies is our loving kindness. ‘Only look,’ they say, ‘look how they love one another’”3" Principle 6: By this will all men know you are my disciples.

The author also said:

 "The words translated here as “love” and “loved” are forms of the Greek word agape.  Jesus didn’t leave us with a long sermon or a book on the meaning of agape.  He instead chose to show us the meaning of agape by living it out before us:"

Yes, we need instruction to live out the life of God, but that instruction needs to come more by example than by study. And, in much the same way witnessing,, if I'll even use that word, needs to come more by example than by words. We are to be living examples of the "word" of God.

"Preach the gospel always, if necessary, use words" has been attributed to Francis of Assisi

The main point of this blog entry is that yes, we need to learn about how to love. When we get together, we need to spend time getting to know one another and helping each other to live a life of love.


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