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13.03.2009 Religion

Why study your Bible!

By Ms. Joyce Aryee - Ghanaian Chronicle

God created us for a relationship and as we know, any relationship that is of value and is going to grow and develop requires communication. Communication is not just talking and not just listening, it is both. We need to talk to and listen to the Lord in order to grow spiritually. When we build our relationship with God through excellent communication we link up with the source of life and truth: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

We cannot build any relationship of value with God without getting to know Him intimately. The only way we get to know Him intimately is through His Word.

1. It is only through the study of and meditation on His word that we really get to know God.

2. Bible study must be daily and not haphazard, and the use of Bible reading guides can be very helpful

We are called to discipleship
God's intention and purpose for our lives is to be disciples – real followers of His Son Jesus Christ. Indeed God wants us to be like Christ. A disciple needs to know the Word of God because the Bible is God speaking to us men and women. In order to live as disciples of Jesus we need the Word of God because:

a. It makes us wise - Psalm 119:98-104 b. It gives us light if we receive it - Psalm 119:130 c. It gives us peace and stops us from stumbling – Psalm 119:165 d. It builds us up and gives us an inheritance among all those who are made holy (sanctified) through faith in Christ Jesus – Acts 20:32 e. It enables us have faith – Romans 10:17 f. It gives encouragement and enables us have hope – Romans 15:4 g. It is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness – 2 Timothy 3:16 h. It really searches us and exposes us for who we are in order to make us who we ought to be – Hebs. 4:12 Let us not ever forget that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is totally true, absolutely reliable and it is the final authority for all we do as Christians and as a church – 2Tim 3:16-17.

5 Reasons why we should study the Bible
1. Revelation: It is only the Bible that gives us a full revelation of God. Through it God reveals the truth about Himself and His purposes for His people. Most of all it is through the Bible that we understand God's revelation in Jesus – John 5:3a.

2. Discipleship and Growth - 2 Tim. 3:16-17: I have already said that we are called to be disciples, that is followers of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is very progressive. It leads to growth. The Word of God is creative and powerful. Through the Bible the Holy Spirit:

- brings us the conviction of our sin that leads to repentance. - reveals to us the holiness of God and the stature of the Lord Jesus Christ. - leads us into all truth so that we can know how to stand firm in the faith.

We can say that scriptures to the Holy Spirit are like the scalpel to the surgeon. Just like the surgeon cuts to heal so the Holy Spirit uses the scriptures with great skill and power to bring about the healing which God wants to accomplish in our lives.

3. Faith and Encouragement - Romans 15:4: We read in Romans 10:17 that faith comes by hearing the Word of God, so through our study of the Bible we will hear many things from God which will help us to grow our faith and lift up our hearts. In the Bible we will find materials which speak on faith. We will encounter men and women of faith in the Old and New Testament, our own faith will thus be challenged and corrected under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

4. Witness and Evangelism - 1 Peter 3:15: Most of us fail to evangelize because we do not know enough of Scripture and therefore lack confidence in the power of God's Word. Once we get a firm grasp of the scriptures through our consistent study we become fully aware of the need to fulfill the commands of the Lord through scripture to be involved in witnessing.

5. Spiritual Warfare - Ephesians 6:17: We are commanded to take the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Through Bible Study we become aware of how to operate in spiritual warfare. By example and teaching we will learn how to confront the evil one and how to gain the victory. It is in the Bible that we learn that faith is the ground of our victory – 1 John 5:4.

- It is the scriptures that demonstrates for us the power of the name of Jesus – Acts 4:10-12 - It is the Bible that teaches us to resist the devil and he will flee from us – James 4:7

Benefits of Bible Study
1. Our lives are sustained by God Himself through His Word – Jeremiah 15:16 2. We learn how to be set free from sin – John 8:32; John 12:50 3. Studying the Bible helps us to recognize true and false teaching – Acts 17:11 4. We are able to keep a right attitude towards God and others – Deut. 17:20 5. We are warned about things that harm us – Psalm 19:11 6. Keeps us pure – Psalm 119:9 7. Guides us in our daily living – Psalm 119:19 & 105 8. Provides good counsel for our problems - Psalm 119:24 & Proverbs 6:22 9. Gives us hope for the future – Psalm 119:43 & 50 10. Gives us comfort – Psalm 119:52

Greatest benefits a more ultimate relationship with God a greater growth as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and a keener awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit as a Helper and Guide. The Bible must however not be studied with wrong motives. The noblest motive is to study the Bible to be a workman approved by God – 2 Timothy 2:15.

The Discipline of Study
Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline has this to say about the Discipline of Study: “The purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines is the total transformation of the person. They aim at replacing old destructive habits of thought with new life-giving habits. Nowhere is this purpose more clearly seen than in the Discipline of study.” The apostle Paul tells us that we are transformed through the renewal of the mind – Romans 12:2. The mind is renewed by applying it to those things that will transform it. 'Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure , whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things – Phil. 4:8. Discipline of study is the primary vehicle to bring us to 'think about these things.' Therefore, we should rejoice that we are not left to our own devices but have been given this means of God's grace for the changing of our inner spirit.

Many Christians remain in bondage to fears and anxieties simply because they do not avail themselves to the Discipline of study. They may be faithful in church attendance and earnest in fulfilling their religious duties, and still they are not changed. I am not here speaking only of those who are genuinely seeking to worship and obey Jesus Christ as Lord and master. They may sing with gusto, pray in the Spirit, live as obediently as they know, even receive divine visions and revelations, and yet the tenor of their lives remains unchanged. Why? Because they have never taken up one of the central ways God uses to change us: study. Jesus made it unmistakably clear that the knowledge of the truth will set us free. 'You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free' – John 8:32. Good feelings will not free us. Ecstatic experiences will not free us. Getting 'high on Jesus' will not free us. Without a knowledge of the truth, we will not be free.

This principle is true in every area of human endeavour. It is true in biology and mathematics. It is true in marriages and other human relationships. But it is especially true in reference to the spiritual life. Many are hampered and confused in the spiritual walk by a simple ignorance of the truth. Worse yet, many have been brought into the cruelest bondage by false teaching. 'You traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves – Matt. 23:15.

Let us therefore apply ourselves to learning what constitutes the Spiritual Discipline of study, to identify its pitfalls, to practice it with joy, and to experience the liberation it brings. Stay Blessed.