As a young believer studying God’s Word, I often found myself bypassing books, like James and 1 John, due to the fact that the text in those books appeared to conflict with what I had always been taught. When I would read epistles of the Apostle Paul and compared the language with James, for example, I could not help but notice that certain passages seemed to contradict each other. Rather than searching scriptures more deeply for an answer, like the noble Bereans of Acts 17, I simply avoided the subject all together and stuck with those passages within my comfort zone.
[Tweet “What I didn’t realize then was that reading the Bible and studying the Bible are not the same thing.”]
What I didn’t realize then was that reading the Bible and studying the Bible are not the same thing. Studying requires far more effort and many Christians, like myself, prefer something a little less mentally taxing. Instead of finding out answers for myself, I bought books that professed to have all the answers. My bookshelf was chock full of bible study materials, commentaries, study aides and Christian self-help books. I at least started reading each of them. And to be honest, most times, I never double checked the Bible references used, to make sure they weren’t being taken out of context. I just took the authors at their word and assumed everything they wrote was true.
However, the Bereans, upon receiving the Apostle Paul’s message, searched the scriptures, to be sure what they were being taught was true. Even though they received Paul’s message with eagerness, they didn’t assume His message was from the Lord. As faithful stewards, they searched the scriptures, not once in a while, but daily. They wanted to be absolutely sure that Paul’s message was God-inspired.
In 2 Timothy 4, we can see why following the Bereans’ example is so very important. In this passage, Paul cautions believers about the latter times. He warns about those that will depart from sound doctrine. They will turn away their ears from the truth and turn, instead, unto fables. Then, in 1 Timothy 4, Paul says that these people will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. If we are not careful stewards of God’s Word, we may find ourselves among those Paul warned about.
Never, at any point in our nation’s history, has the Word of God been attacked more than it currently is today. With atheism on the rise and issues like homosexual marriage dominating the headlines, darkness is overtaking our neighborhoods and creeping into our churches. Never has it been more important for Christians to know our Bible.
We need to stop placing more faith in our pastors and teachers than we do the Bible. When we do so we risk being like those mentioned in Ephesians 4:14, “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” We can no longer stand idly as the Word of God is contradicted by the word of men. Our doctrine needs to be firmly cemented in God’s truth, not the wisdom of fallible men. As Paul said, in Romans 3:4, “Let God be true and every man a liar.”
If we are to be faithful stewards of God’s Word, we can ill afford to be lazy Christians, resting in someone else’s laurels. In Timothy 2:15, Paul urges all believers to study, to “show themselves approved unto God, workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We have been entrusted with the very words of our Lord. Shouldn’t we be more mindful of how we use those words?
Surely Paul found this to be an issue of great importance. His epistle to the Galatians is written primarily to warn them of the dangerous trek they were on. Many of the Galatians had been seduced by judaizers, who lured them away from the grace and compelled them to abide in the law, including circumcision. Notice to Paul’s words to the Galatian believers:
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
The Galatians were taught the truth but then abandoned it for a lie. They willfully surrendered to the false teachers because they did not abide in the Word of God, so they were easily swept away by the wind of false doctrine. And all because they failed to study to show themselves approved unto God.
[Tweet “He wants us to be grounded in His truth so that we will not be moved when the winds begin to blow.”]
God doesn’t want us to make the same mistake. He wants us to be grounded in His truth so that we will not be moved when the winds begin to blow. For believe me, those winds are surely coming! He wants us to be workmen that needeth not to be ashamed. And most importantly, God doesn’t want us to end up like the foolish Galatians, that so easily traded the truth for a lie. He wants us to study to show yourself approved.
I know I still have much studying to do.
How about you?
Grace be with you,