On Wednesday I wrote about the fact that the mystery of salvation and this Christian life we live is really no mystery at all. It is all revealed to us in Scripture thanks to the sacrifice of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit as our teacher. But, even though this mystery is unveiled for us, there are so many times when we don’t dig in and seek out the truth for ourselves.
Authors everywhere have gone to the trouble of doing the research and writing a book or Bible study that gives us the perfect answer to life’s mysteries. There it is in a neat, handy package, just waiting for us to pick up and utilize. And, it’s so much easier than digging for ourselves! So, we go for it. We buy into someone else’s “perfect” answer. If someone else has done the digging, why bother doing it for ourselves? If someone else has it all figured out, why should we got to the trouble?
Like I said in Wednesday’s post, I have nothing against books and Bible studies that have been written to encourage and strengthen us in our Christian walk. I have read many of them and have grown greatly because of my responses to them. And, I will continue to do so. But, I would like to submit a few arguments for making sure that we do not rely too heavily on these books and studies. I would like to explain why I think it’s incredibly important that we put in the effort to seek out this mystery for ourselves.
Confidence. Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence because of the sacrifice of Christ. And yet, we are afraid to search the Word of God for ourselves. We are afraid we will not understand it or that what we see won’t be in agreement with what the true scholars of Scripture believe. It’s so much easier to rely on someone else’s insights and interpretations. But, the more we dig into Scripture for ourselves, the more confident we become in learning straight from God’s Word. The more we read, the more sensitive we become to the Holy Spirit. We will never gain this confidence as long as we rely solely on other people to reveal God’s Word to us. Their insights are good and helpful, but they are not all we need.
No other gods. We might not ever admit it, but one of the big reasons we don’t dig into the Bible on our own is because of our time limitations. In all honesty, life gets in the way. But, we ignore the fact that when we allow life to get in the way of growing on our own, we are essentially elevating our lives, our to-do lists, and our plans to a god status. They become our idols, leaving us to live perpetually in violation of the first two commandments (Exodus 20:3-4). Living our life becomes more important than learning the details of how God commands we live our lives. We choose instead to be spoon-fed from someone else. No! The things of God come first! It is the expectation of the Christian life! We must step up and learning His Word for ourselves. Only then will the full abundance of life truly be ours!
Discernment. When it comes down to it, we really can’t trust other people to be perfectly right all the time. My husband and thousands of other pastors could get up on Sunday mornings and preach things that sound good and Biblical and yet be dead wrong. Now, if the other pastors are anything like my husband, they shudder to even think that they might be misleading their congregation in any way. They desire to preach the truth. But, as my husband has said from the pulpit many times, it is imperative that we not blindly take the preacher at his word. The same is true of authors and teachers. As we listen to sermons, work through Bible studies, and read through books, we must be simultaneously working through the Word of God to make sure the input we’re receiving lines up with God’s truth. Without digging for ourselves, we will never know when a preacher, teacher, or author is wrong in what they are presenting to us. We actually give them greater honor when we search the Bible for ourselves instead of putting them on a pedestal of perfection – a place where they can never permanently reside.
Nourishment. At some point we have to stop being spoon fed. I am blessed beyond measure to have three normal, healthy children. Because they are normal and healthy, there are certain growth expectations placed upon them. At this point they are all old enough to eat the same things Doug and I do. They do need help cutting their meat and such as that, but it would be ridiculous for me to be sitting among them every meal time and placing the adult food into their mouths. Yet, that is what we seek so often. We want authors and teachers to place the spiritual truths into our mouths so that all we have to do is chew it up and swallow it. No! We must be willing to dig into the plate of God’s Word ourselves! To savor each truth and put in the effort of bringing it to our hearts and minds. Until we put forth that effort, there will always be stunting in our spiritual growth.
The Word of God is veiled and mysterious to this world. But, to believers it ought not be. We will not always understand everything we read. That’s why we read it again. And again. And again. The more we interact with Scripture, the more it makes sense to us. Then we compare it to the findings of others and learn and grow from them – and they from us. We are so blessed to have the writings and teachings of so many godly men and women. But those writings and teachings are always secondary to the Bible itself. Hunger to unravel the mystery for yourself and discover the beauty of the unveiled truths of God’s Word.