About Jesus - Steve Sweetman

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Why I Study The Bible


I
've been around Bibles since birth.  I heard it read at home, in Sunday school, and other church meetings as a child.  My sister and I would memorize our weekly Sunday school verse.  While in my preteens I would read a few verses from my large print Bible every day just to appease my feelings associated with guilt.  In my teens I was part of our church's youth Bible quiz team.  One year our tournaments were based on the book of John.  I knew that book backwards, forwards, up, down, and all around.  I had memorized much of it.  When a question was asked in tournaments I'd be one of the first to jump to my feet with the answer.  We won first place in eastern Canada and third place in eastern North America in 1969.  After a short prayer in February, 1970, Jesus delivered me of every haunting and nagging guilty feeling that persistently plagued me.  I immediately began to devour the Bible.  In 1972 I memorized close to 2,000 verses.  In 1982 I memorized the book of Philippians.  I could repeat it word for word without hesitation or a mistake.  Attempting to understand Biblical truth has been a life long pursuit.

 

Note the title of my article.  "Why I Study (not read) The Bible".  Studying the Bible for me is not an intellectual exercise.  It's not a mere matter of cramming knowledge into my head, although knowledge is necessary if you are to transform your minds as Romans 12:2 commands.  Biblical knowledge is also the prerequisite for heartfelt understanding that leads to its implementation into my life.  The sad fact of the matter is that our secular, not interested in details, mentality has inflicted western world Christianity to such a degree that Biblical truth is not implemented into our lives.       

 

The reason why I study the Bible is because Jesus told me that I don't live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from God's mouth (Matthew 4:4).  I believe, as Christians have always believed, that the Bible contains the words of God.  If I want to be a healthy mature believer; if I claim to follow Jesus' instructions; and if I don't want to be spiritually malnourished, I have no other logical choice but to devour every last slice of Biblical bread.  I can't swallow it down in western world fast food fashion.  I must chew on it, digest it, and allow it to nourish me into spiritual health.        

 

The Apostle Paul said, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16 NIV)."   I understand that the pronoun "you" in context is plural.  Paul is writing to a community of believers, not just one person, but, if God's word is to live in us corporately, I suggest that it must first live in me individually.  It must live within me richly, or abundantly, as the Greek texts implies.  The word "abundantly" tells me that I must have a daily feast of my Biblical bread.  Snacking is not an option.      

 

The English verb "dwell" is a present active imperative Greek verb in Colossians 3:16.  Present means that right now in real time the words of Christ must live within me, and us.  Active means the words of the Bible will actively influence my life, and our lives.  Imperative means that it's a command to have God's word living within me, and us.  It's not a suggestion.      

 

Paul told Timothy to "study (Greek spoudezo - to be diligent) to show yourself approved rightly dividing (Greek orthotomeo - to cut, divide, or dissect) the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).  Paul told Timothy, and I believe me too, to diligently dissect God's word in proper hermeneutical fashion.  Hermeneutics is the process by which we interpret the Bible. Only then would Timothy, and me, and you, be approved for ministry.  Few of us view the Bible as a book to dissect.         

 

Western world Christianity is presently inflicted with a deadly decease called Biblical illiteracy.  It's starving the life out of both individuals and the church.  More than any other time in the history of Christianity we have the time, opportunity, and tools at our disposal to study and understand the Bible.  We don't even have to leave our homes.  At the click of an internet link we have all we need to dissect, devour, and implement the word of the Lord into our lives.  My Bible college days in the mid 1970's would have been much easier if I had these tools back then.

 

In many parts of the world today believers yearn for portions of the Bible.  They share Bibles by ripping out sections and passing these ripped sections around among themselves.  Here in the wealthy west, we have tons of Bibles sitting on shelves begging to be used.  I'm not suggesting that we all need to be Bible teachers in the Body of Christ because that's not what Jesus' body is about.  What I am saying is that if we desire to be healthy mature believers we must devour our daily Biblical bread as if it was Christmas dinner.

If you're not motivated to study then find a qualified and reputable teacher of the Bible to disciple you in Biblical truth.  Notice I said teacher of the Bible, not an inspirational preacher of the Bible.  There is a huge difference between the two that our modern church frails to distinguish between.      

 

I am legally blind.  When I read my Bible the tip of my nose often gets a little black as it scrapes across the black ink on the pages of my very large print Bible.  I may be legally blind but I'm not spiritually blind.  I feast on my daily Biblical bread as Jesus commanded me. 

 

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