Sunday, January 27, 2013

Because I Said So, Part 2

     We have the same Spirit that the early church had, the very Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, and yet our ability to transform our world pales in comparison to the first century believers.  How can this be so?  Now that's a good question that deserves a good answer!  Maybe I'll take a stab at that one in my next blog.  But for now let's dive into some biblical reasons why every believer should diligently read and study God's Word.
     We are all "kings and priests" (I Peter 2:5,9Revelation 1:5,6) and therefore have a responsibility to (1) maintain our own spiritual health (Matthew 4:4, I Timothy 3:11-16) and to (2) position ourselves to hear from God on behalf of others (Colossians 3:16, I Corinthians 14:31).  The Word of God assists us in both of these endeavors.
     God never intended for a special class of people to do all the studying and interpreting of the Word while the rest of us are spoon-fed whatever comes our way.  One of the aspects of the New Covenant that Jeremiah prophesied about was that we would all know Him, "from the least to the greatest." 
     The Word of God reveals God's nature and will, which enables us to (3) progress in our knowledge of Him, which ultimately enables us to live a productive life.  So if we want to know Him more and to make Him known through our lives, then a steady diet of the Word is vital.
     Pursuing a greater knowledge of God's Word is also pivotal to the (4) renewing of our minds, (Romans 12:1, Ephesians 4:23) which is presented as a continual process that requires continual pursuit.  God's thoughts have a way of transforming our thoughts when we allow the Spirit to illuminate His truth to us, even truth that He spoke to others generations ago.  This is possible because "the word of God is living and powerful." (Hebrews 4:12)
     Closely related to the renewal of the mind is the need to (5) counteract the influence of the world with the power of the Word.  The culture in which we live bombards us daily with beliefs, practices, priorities and values that are contrary to God's will for our lives.  In order to recognize these things before they conform us to the world's standards, we must become familiar with the culture of heaven, which is revealed through the Word of God.  We need to be mindful of our kingdom citizenship and to be reminded of the values of the kingdom that should determine how we live our lives.
     Another important reason that believers today should be consistent readers of the Word of God is to (6) familiarize themselves with Scripture so as to detect false teaching when they hear it.  The fact that the New Testament warns numerous times (Matthew 24:4-5, I Timothy 4:1 & II Peter 2:1-3) of false leaders bringing false teachings into the church in the last days should cause us to take measures to safeguard ourselves with truth against these lies.  Deception is much easier to accomplish in people who are not familiar with the truth of God's Word. 
      Notice that I have not listed the accumulation of biblical knowledge as a result or a motivation of reading the Word.  The Bible is a spiritual book and therefore should be treated differently from every other book on the shelf.  Reading the Bible without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit can actually be counterproductive.  Paul said in I Corinthians 8:1 that "knowledge puffs up."  When spiritual life takes a back seat to biblical knowledge, you're on the road to spiritual stagnation and pride.   
     Many Christians make the mistake of judging their own spirituality based on their biblical knowledge or past spiritual experience.  And this is exactly the moment that pride forms in believers, thus creating a hindrance to them receiving and walking in newness of life that is available through the Word.  The Word is a powerful tool but please understand that it was written through inspiration and therefore must also be read and understood with the same inspiration of the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is our Teacher.  Don't read the Bible without Him.
     In review, here's a list of a few "why's" of reading the Word.  Allow these reasons to motivate you to sit in the classroom of the Spirit, explore the holy textbook with fresh hunger and to walk revelation out in your everyday life.

     1.  Maintain your spiritual health
     2.  Position yourself to hear from God for others
     3.  Progress in your knowledge of God
     4.  Renew your mind
     5.  Counteract the world's influence
     6.  Protect yourself from false teaching 

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