3 Reasons Studying Scripture is an Absolute Necessity

woman-studyingMany Christian women today are searching.  I hear women say they are searching for “freedom,” “a word from God,” “purpose,” “calling,” etc.

Unfortunately, too many Christian women today are not being told they already are free and they need to live like it (Romans 6), they already have a Word from God and they need to believe and obey it (Psalm 119), and they already have a calling and they need to fulfill it (Titus 2).

Instead, women are often told by well-meaning Christian authors, bloggers, and leaders that what they need is something more or a little different than what they have already been given in God’s Word.  They need a different community or mystical experience, a different spiritual tactic, a different worship style or event, etc.  The list goes on and on; and so does the search, leaving women spiritually dissatisfied and longing for the next mountain-top experience to soothe their clamoring souls.

I believe this sad search stems from a faulty view of the Word of God:  the Bible is true, but not sufficient; it is accurate, but not authoritative.  Many Christian sisters seek and place their hopes in things such as feelings, experiences, or signs from God as means or evidence of spiritual growth in lieu of diligently studying and applying the Scriptures—the very words of their God, whom they so desperately, and rightly, desire to know.

I can only scratch the surface here about the urgent need for Christian women to grasp the sufficiency and authority of Scripture in their lives, but I do want to mention three crucial reasons why the study and knowledge of the Scriptures (above all else) is absolutely necessary for spiritual growth and life in Christ:

  1. To know the certainty of your salvation

By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the disciple John gave this reason (twice!) for his writing of Scripture.  First, he said he wrote “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).  And secondly he wrote, “I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (I John 5:13).  Are you one who struggles with knowing for certain that you are saved, forgiven of your sin, and eternally loved and received by God?  Study the Scriptures!  See who Christ is in the revealed Word of God.  Do not settle for a feeling or an experience.  Instead, settle yourself on the person and work of Christ as found in the Scriptures.  Study them so that you will have the faith to believe and the assurance of your salvation.

2.  To be equipped to do what God wants you to do

I love this verse!  It is such a strength to me!  “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17).  Not only do I love what God says His Word is for, I am thankful for its result!  His Word will make you able to do everything God has called you to do. Theologian Matthew Henry put it this way, “Whatever duty we have to do, whatever service is required from us, we may find enough in the Scriptures to furnish us for it.”  Do not rely upon a poetic sentiment, a “sign,” or human method to equip you for faithful obedience or to direct your path.  Do you have a trial to walk through?  Do you have a sin to overcome? Do you have a burden to bear?  Do you have a relationship to mend?  Do you have a decision to make?  Do you have a service or sacrifice to render?  Do you have mundane responsibilities to undertake?  Find out how the Scriptures address your situation and then obey in faith.  The Scriptures alone, by the power of His Spirit, will equip you and teach you in the way you should go.  

3. To know God more deeply

A gem of a verse is found in Exodus 33:13.  Interceding on behalf of the wayward Israelites in the wilderness, Moses prays to God, “If I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You . . . ”  Hmm.  Let me know your ways that I may know You. Do you want to know God more deeply?  Then know His ways.  Do you want to love God more?  Then know His ways.  Do you want to walk with Him in life-changing faith?  Then know His ways.  Where do we find the most complete display of the ways of God on this side of eternity?  Not in well-marketed Christian books and conferences.  Not in ourselves.  Not even in nature.  The perfect display of the ways of God is found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.  There He reveals Himself to us (Hebrews. 1:1-2).  As we study the Scriptures and come to better see, understand, and believe the Lord’s ways, character, and thoughts, then our faith and love for Him grows (II Peter. 1:2-4).  If you long for a a closer relationship with the Lord, spend consistent time carefully and prayerfully studying His Word.  He is faithful and will not disappoint you, so don’t settle for gimmicks or short-cuts. Through the Scriptures you will come to intimately know and walk with Him.

Finally, I Thessalonians 2:13 says, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”  Are you willing to receive what God says about his own Word?  Are you willing to base your spiritual growth and life on his Word instead of your emotions and experiences?  Are you willing to accept the Scriptures as the very words of the Lord of the universe to you? Then take comfort and courage knowing that the Bible “performs its work in you who believe.”   Receive and believe God’s Word, and it will perform it’s work in you.

How do you study the Bible?  What have you found helpful in personal Bible study?  Share with others in the comment section!

Pursuing Change in 2016

Change aheadAt the beginning of the New Year, many of us are thinking of changes we would like to make in our lives. Some of those changes are rather small and insignificant, maybe even silly. Other changes may be desperately needed—a relationship needs to be mended, a destructive habit needs to be kicked, or a health or financial concern needs to be dealt with head-on.

The Bible says a lot about change: changes in nature, families, governments, etc.  The most radical change the Bible speaks of is the life-change of one who belongs to Him. One of the reasons God saves us is to change us. He sees us in our sinfulness, weakness, and foolishness, and yet God makes us as His own and doesn’t leave us the way He found us.  He loves, purifies, prunes, and refines.  What an amazing God we have!  Personal.  Powerful.  Life-penetrating.

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 1:6: “For I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Dear Christian, the God who saved us is the One who will change us to be like His Son—Holy.  He promises us that we will not always be as we are today, struggling with sin. When we are plagued with doubt or self-condemnation, we can rejoice knowing that God promises to finish the good work He started in our lives.  Day by day He is transforming us to overcome our sin.  Sometimes we see leaps in our growth and sometimes we barely see baby-steps, but we can be assured that the transformation He began the day He saved us will continue until we are perfected in Glory.

Our salvation (God forgiving our sin and declaring us righteous) is the work of God alone, but we are responsible to actively pursue obedience to Him.  Growing in godliness (or sanctification) is achieved by both the Holy Spirit and us working together: ” . . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).  As we pursue a life of obedience, the Lord produces godliness in our lives.  It is He who transforms our desires and life to please Him, and He calls us to participate in this transformation.

I have been reading and studying a little book that helps explain biblical change and its pursuit.  I highly recommend it if you are done with playing around the edges of sanctification and are ready to dive in to experience life-altering change.  The book is Stuart and Zondra Scott’s Killing Sin Habits: Conquering Sin with Radical Faith.  I pray that it will bless you as it has me.

Happy New Year!

Cheryl

He Is Building a Palace

palace“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”  (Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis)

Have you ever been on a construction site for a new home?  It can be pretty ugly.  While walking through an unfinished building, it’s hard for homeowners to imagine exactly how their home will look when they finally are handed the keys. But when that day arrives, they breathe a sigh of relief.  Their new home is absolutely beautiful.

You and I are under construction, and it can be ugly, too. Changes need to be made. Habitual sins need to be hammered. A self-righteous heart needs to be drilled. A view of God needs to be expanded. It hurts. These changes aren’t simply made by adding a fresh coat of paint. These changes often come through pain. Ripping. Pushing. Pulling. Dragging. Nailing.

Oh, but there is hope.  Not a wishing hope.  Rather, a true, rock-solid hope.  It is a sure hope that stands on the promise of God spoken by Paul, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)  God is changing us.  Building us.  Sanctifying us.  He won’t stop until the job is done.  By His free grace, He has made us new creations and has set us apart to be holy, and now He is working in our sinful hearts to change us so that we will love righteousness and hate our sin.  Throughout this life we will grow less sinful and more obedient to Him, and in heaven God’s sanctifying work in our lives will be complete.  But, like walking through a home under construction, it’s difficult to imagine the finished product.

Take heart for you are in the hands of the Master Builder.  His skill is flawless, and His plans are perfect.  You will be made complete.  When that day arrives, you will breathe a sigh of relief.  You will be absolutely beautiful.