We have a brief pause this week in our study. This Sunday the next book for our Life Groups will be introduced. As we take this pause, we thought it was a good opportunity to look at why we should participate in a study. The efforts of our pastoral staff to coordinate sermons with the materials being discussed in our Life Groups bring a whole new level to our understanding and application of scriptures. If you are not participating in a Life Group, please follow the link at the bottom of this blog to find one. If you missed the sermon this past Sunday, you have find it here. This was a very special event as we blessed and sent the team for our new Berea Heights campus. Pastor Ken did a great job, but an extra thanks to Pastor Greg from La Roca for providing a Spanish translation during the service.
Five Truths that Motivate and Shape our Bible Study By Daniel Barta
In the church, most would affirm the importance of reading and studying God’s Word, but unfortunately many of the same people who affirm its importance spend very little time outside of church studying it. Many obstacles hinder consistent and disciplined study of God’s Word. Many find great difficulty in carving out time in the day between getting the children ready for school, being prompt to work and participating in social activities in the evening. Some have attempted to study in the past, but their efforts seemed unfruitful and the text seemed irrelevant to their lives. Others feel inadequate and incapable of deciphering the meaning of Scripture and have found it more efficient to rely on professional pastors to teach them what the Word says. Still others simply find the study of Scripture laborious and boring.
At different times in my own life, I have neglected the pursuit of God through the study of His Word for all the reasons mentioned above. Thankfully, over the last several years, God has given me such a strong hunger for Him. He has filled my heart with a passion for His Word. This passion has grown out of a few glorious truths I now firmly believe. These truths compel me out from under the warmth of my bed and up the stairs to my private little study where I seek God in His Word nearly every morning. These truths have both motivated and shaped my pursuit to know God.
Truth #1 | God is most glorious, most satisfying, most valuable and most worthy to be treasured.
All of us pursue what we desire, and we desire what we find glorious, satisfying and valuable. In the Scriptures, we find the God who claims to be the only true source of satisfaction. He invites all who experience thirst, “Come to me and be satisfied.” He calls to the hungry, “Come and be filled.” He says to the wealthy, “Sell all you have, and follow me, for I am the treasure that surpasses the worth of all your earthly possessions.” The Creator warns each of us that our pursuits to be satisfied by anything other than him will leave us empty and unsatisfied. Their glory, their value and their worth get overtaken by the light of the glory of God.
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. – Matt. 13:44
Truth #2 | God makes himself known.
By known, I do not simply mean “known about.” We all understand that one can know something of a person or thing without actually “knowing” him or it. In today’s vernacular, we might distinguish the difference by using the terms “knowing” versus “experiencing.” There is an eternal difference between knowing a camp fire burns at roughly 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and experiencing its warmth on your cold bare hands on a cool autumn night. To know the flames have the warmth you need does nothing to satisfy your longing to be warm unless this knowledge moves you into the place of experience.
Thankfully, God has not only made it possible for sinners to know facts about him, but he has also made himself available to be experienced. He has removed the sin of his people, and He has given them access into His presence. Just as a great difference stands between knowing the temperature of a fire and feeling its warmth, so a great difference remains between knowing God’s love and experiencing the extent and perfection of that love to your own satisfaction. God declares to each of us, “I am good!” Then He invites all who believe to draw near to Him and experience His goodness!
Taste and see that the Lord is good. – Ps. 34:8
Truth #3 | God makes himself known in Jesus Christ.
How does an invisible God make Himself known to His people? He does so through His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He sent over 2,000 years ago.
He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. – Heb. 1:3
No one has ever seen God… [Jesus] has made him known. – Jn. 1:18
When one desires to see the power of God, he must look no further than to Jesus as He says to the storm with all authority, “Peace, be still!” If one desires to feel the holiness of God, one must only behold Jesus’ hatred and hostility for those who defiled the Temple with their passions for worldly treasures. And, if one wants to be moved by the steadfast love of God, he must only behold by faith the suffering Christ on the cross dying in his place. The God of all glory has chosen to not remain hidden. Instead he has made himself known by entering our world. In Christ, we not only learn of God’s character, but we also experience Him as his character gets lived out through Christ in relationship to us.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. – Jn. 3:16
Truth #4| God makes Himself known in Jesus Christ through His written Word.
If you are like me, you have never enjoyed a cup of coffee with Christ. God has not designed for us to know him through a physical relationship. Instead, he has recorded all we need to know about Christ in the Bible. The Bible consists of 66 individual books written by 40 authors over the period of several millennia. Each book contains no errors, and each one has been written by God himself.
All Scripture is breathed out by God… – 2 Tim. 3:16a
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. – 2 Pet. 1:19-21
Much variety can be found in the Scriptures. Even a casual reader will notice many characters, settings, plots and genres. In the Bible, many women, children and men have found encouragement, instruction and hope. Yes, the Bible has been used for many purposes over the years, but we must not forget why God spoke all of these Words. Jesus informed his contemporaries:
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me. – Jn. 5:39
And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. – Lk. 24:27
God has made his glory known and experienced in Christ, and He has made Christ known and experienced in His written Word.
Truth #5| God transforms His people as they behold His glory in Jesus Christ.
In the beginning, God created humanity in His own image to reflect and demonstrate His glorious character in the world He created. Unfortunately, man rebelled against God and the purpose for which He created him choosing rather to pursue his own glory and the fame of his own name. In response, God chose to enslave man – every human – to the evil desires and intentions of his heart. As a result, men and women feel, think, choose and act always without fail in accord with their dark and evil hearts.
God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they ex-changed the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen…
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. – Rom. 1:24-25, 28-32
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. – Eph. 4:17-19
Thankfully, God has chosen not to leave man enslaved to his evil desires, and He has graciously chosen to save a people out of mankind for Himself whom He has promised to transform back into the image in which He created them.
For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified. – Rom. 8:29-30
Those chosen by God no longer walk as the rest of the world; instead, they are being renewed and transformed by the knowledge of Christ.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 2 Cor. 3:18
Seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. – Col. 3:9b-10
One can see how the knowledge of the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ – led to radical transformation in the pagan city of Thessalonica.
We know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth every-where, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. – I Thess. 1:4-10
Transformation comes through the knowledge of God in Christ as He is revealed in Scripture.
Conclusion: Seek to know and enjoy God through the study of His Word
If God himself is the most glorious and most satisfying, we have no greater news than the message that He can be known and experienced. We have no greater resource than the Scriptures. And we have no greater activity than sitting in His presence. Many methods of Bible study have been formulated and used by God’s people throughout the years, but a common desire to know God has driven all of those who genuinely know God. We pray God uses this resource to show you His glory as you seek to know Him through His Word.
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.—Psalm 27:4
Things to Know:
- If you are not involved in a Life Group you can find a complete listing of our Life Groups by clicking HERE
- You can get a member book for the study at the Life Group table in the Worship Center this Sunday.