Worship . Grow . Serve
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14, NIV
Growing as a disciple of Jesus is impossible without serious, daily Bible study. There are many passages in the Bible, like the one above, in which the concept of Christ and the concept of the Word merge. Jesus Himself taught this relationship. He often said, “I tell you the truth . . .” but He also said something much more important. He said, “I am . . . the truth . . .” (John 14:6) Then, in that most wonderful of all prayers in which we are privileged to listen in as Jesus prays to the Father on the night before His crucifixion, He said, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
Christianity is not a religion. Religion is man’s search for God. Christianity is a personal relationship between each Christian and Christ, who is God. As Christians, it is both our sacred privilege and our solemn obligation to grow in our relationship with Christ. If we want to grow in a relationship with someone, we want to grow in the knowledge of that person, and it is through the pages of the Bible that we grow in our knowledge of Christ.
Jesus’ primary work on earth was to bring salvation - the only possible way for man to deal with his sin problem. The Holy Spirit’s primary work on earth is to bring knowledge of Christ and what He has done for us. The Holy Spirit does His work through the Bible. Many people who carry the name of Christian don’t study the Bible because they think they can grow based on their own experiences and their feelings about God and right and wrong. They think they can determine truth by deciding what ought to be true. But, the Holy Spirit does not work with us in that way. If we trust our own experiences and feelings, we will not grow in knowledge of the truth, but simply develop another man-made religion. The Bible has a name for man-made religions - idolatry - and it is a violation of the first commandment. (Exodus 20:3) It is only through the Bible that we learn truth.
John 14:15 teaches that if we love Jesus, we will obey His commands. If we want to grow in a relationship with someone, we certainly must love them. Jesus gave us the Great Commandment in Matthew 22:37-38, “. . . Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” In order to obey this commandment, we must love Christ by obeying His commands, and the only way we can learn Jesus’ commands and then obey them is through Bible study. How close can our relationship with Christ become? Jesus’ words recorded in Luke 11:27-28 show that if we both hear the Word and obey the Word, we are closer family members with Him than His own mother.
Too many Christians are comfortable with salvation and fail to grow as disciples. The writer of Hebrews has some very harsh words for them. “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14)
The solution to avoid being guilty of these harsh words is clear for every Christian. Find time everyday to engage in serious study of God’s Word. Study it alone in privacy and with prayer. Study it with other Christians in order to profit from each other’s growing understanding. But, don’t let anything else take priority. JBL