Why You Need to Come to Bible Study
This has been a rough year. Even now with things reopening we feel the weight of a thousand strange, unique, and painful experiences over the last several months taking their toll. We are not the same people we were in February 2020. Like the Israelites on the banks of the Jordan, we find ourselves wilderness-weary, confused, and afraid to hope.
Now is the time to think hard about what we want our lives to look like. What we are hearing over and over is that we should exact our “revenge” on COVID with a new life, new interests, a new town, and new friends. We want the pandemic to pay for what it has taken from us. But there is a danger that we will forget these words of Jesus in Matthew 7:24-27:
Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
These word of Jesus demand that we ask this question:
What kind of life do we want to build? One that withstands the rain, the floods, and the blowing wind, or one that breaks down?
With that in mind, I urge you to take the Bible seriously in the post-pandemic world. The world is open, the choice is yours. But if you’d like to really grow, you need to come to Bible study on Sundays at 9am. Here’s three reasons why:
God wants you to grow up (spiritually)
The author of Hebrews found himself stuck when he was trying to tell his readers about Jesus. “About this we have much to say,” he began, “and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk and not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14).
Just as we’d recoil in horror at a twelve-year-old still on a steady diet of formula, so too Christians who don’t grow in their spiritual wisdom and understanding of God’s word are strangely stunted. When the complex problems of life come our way we end up in quagmires of our own making if we are Word-ignorant.
The Bible is not naive. Scripture is aware that life is full of complex, difficult issues. Failing to study God’s Word and know what it says is like putting little Jimmy in the driver’s seat of an F-15. If you’d like to have the tools to stand strong in the midst of a confusing, conflict-ridden world, you need to study the Bible.
Reading the Bible In Community Keeps You Honest
When Pastor Kenny preached on Acts 17 a couple months ago, he made the crucial point that God’s Word is best read in the company of God’s people. We often miss that the Bible is God’s Word for God’s people, not God’s individual message for his disjointed persons. Christianity is a remarkably public faith. Christ speaks to his body by His Spirit in His Word. But when we read the Bible isolated from the body, we find ourselves in danger.
How do we find ourselves in danger? It’s simple: our ears are constantly filled with messages. The more we imbibe isolated, vitriolic voices over the radio waves or on YouTube, the more those voices implicitly influence how we read the Bible. When our primarily influences are angry gurus (Christian or otherwise) our biases aren’t checked but reinforced. The voices of our virtual rabbis are seductive and exclusive. Our own persuasions and proclivities become “biblical” and we begin to judge our brothers and sisters for failing to see the light.
That’s hard to get away with in real community. When we study the Bible in community the Spirit uses each of us to teach, reprove, correct, and train one another for righteousness by the Word (2 Timothy 3:16). When you read the Bible together with God’s people, the Spirit uses them to change you, to reveal blind spots, and to encourage you toward Christlikeness.
Don’t get me wrong: God does work in your quiet time. But, if you’d like to grow the way God designed, the simple fact remains that you need to study the Bible in community.
Either the Word or the World will Rule Your Life
Jesus came to direct us to a new way of life (Matthew 11:28-30). We learn to live a life of rest, peace, and mission when we learn and apply God’s design for each part of our lives. This is why James urged his readers to be “doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). Part of our “doing” of God’s Word means we organize our lives around it. A big part of this is scheduling our lives so as to learn from that Word.
The number-one reason that people tell me for missing Bible study is busyness. Believe it or not, the Bible recognizes that our lives can quickly fill up with the urgent so as to preclude the important. The answer for this danger is the practice of Sabbath. The revolutionary idea of Sabbath is rooted in the reality that we are not gods but creatures, that we have limited resources and therefore must rest. The Bible’s understanding of Sabbath teaches us that our schedules reveal what we worship. The idea of Sabbath encourages us to a mindset of limitation, responsibility, and therefore flourishing under God’s direction. This kind of mindset rests responsibly on Saturday night so that Sunday morning isn’t recovery time. It prepares for worship by refusing frantic weekend activity and prepping for an early departure on Sunday morning. It is the mindset that misses soccer and baseball games when they conflict with studying the Bible in community. It is the way of life that sacrifices entertainment for the enduring feast of God’s Word. It is the kind of life that is organized, Monday through Saturday, around the reality of God and his Word to us.
Now, I don’t mean to say that anyone who misses a Bible Study is committing a grave sin. Some of you have great and godly reasons for not attending regularly (like helping with worship). But brothers and sisters, the world would love for us to be so busy that we never really grow in God’s Word. It would love it if you never found yourself consistently learning Scripture in community because of a thousand “justifiable” reasons. The most useful person to the enemy is not the satanist or the villainous politician, but those Christians who were so caught up in the urgent that they never got around to the important: hearing and obeying Jesus’ commands.
In this new world, the question is the same as it has always been. What kind of life do we want to build? One that withstands the rain, the floods, and the blowing wind, or one that breaks down?
See you Sunday for Bible study.