|Volume 18 Number 8 August 2016||
Investing in God’s Word
In his book, The Hermeneutical Spiral, Grant Osborne mentions an interesting point about personal Bible study.
The big problem with Bible study today is that we think it should be easier than other things we do. We study recipes for quality meals, how-to books for all kind of things – carpentry, plumbing, automobile maintenance and so on – and read vociferously for our hobbies. Why do we think the Bible is the only subject we should not have to study?!... What if we spent as much time and money on Bible study as we do our hobbies? What if we took the same amount we spend on golf clubs and courses or on skiing equipment and skiing trips, and put it into Bible study? Yes, encyclopedias, commentaries and other reference materials are expensive. But so is everything we do. The question is about priorities: what is important enough for our time and money? (25)
Mr. Osborne’s words may be pretty harsh, but are they true? How much time, money and resources do we invest in the study of God’s Word? Consider some benefits as to why we should invest in studying God’s Word: (1) to know truth (Acts 17:11; John 8:31-32), (2) to be blessed (Psalm 1:1-2), (3) to keep from sin (Psalm 119:11), (4) to promote a healthy and peaceful life (Proverbs 3:1-2), (5) to receive guidance (Psalm 119:105), (6) to know Christ and the way to eternal life or making one wise to salvation (John 5:38-39; 2 Timothy 3:14-17), (7) to increase our faith (Romans 10:17) and (8) to teach others (Ephesians 6:17; 1 Peter 3:15).
There are many wonderful and admirable fields man can study, but it is only God’s Word that reveals to us the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). The study of psychology may help people with some of their problems, but it cannot alone properly answer some of life’s most important questions, such as “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?” The study of medicine may cure diseases, but only the Great Physician can cure man’s greatest “sickness” (Matthew 9:9-13). The study of astronomy may teach us about the stars, but it is limited in teaching us about the One who made the stars (Psalm 19:1). The study of nutrition may contribute to one’s health and wellness, but it cannot cause us to grow spiritually (1 Peter 2:1-2). Therefore, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
In 1 Peter 2:4, Jesus Christ is depicted as a “living stone” that was rejected (“disallowed”) of men but selected and deemed precious by God. When one rejects Jesus Christ, spiritual ruin is certain, it is sure (1 Peter 2:8). Yet, all men had not rejected Jesus, and by coming to Him would not be ashamed (1 Peter 2:6). Instead, Jesus had given them a new identity and an extraordinary responsibility in Christ. This new identity and extraordinary responsibility continues to be bestowed today.
Jesus Christ, the living stone, transforms those who come to Him into “lively stones” built up as a “spiritual house.” Peter understood that Jesus Christ possessed the “words of eternal life” (John 6:68-70), and it is obedience to His words that allow men to possess a “newness of life” (Romans 10:17; 6:4; Mark 16:16). When one obeys the Gospel, the Lord adds that individual to His “spiritual house,” the church (1 Timothy 3:15; Acts 2:47).
As part of God’s spiritual house, the Christian has a great responsibility to serve within His house. Peter, inspired of God, proclaimed that Christians had become “a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5). When one comes to Jesus by obeying the Gospel, the blood of Christ cleanses that individual of his sin and makes him “holy,” separated for His service (Acts 20:28; Colossians 1:14). Christians, as a “holy priesthood,” are granted access to God, but they must maintain holy living (1 Peter 1:15-16).
Holy living is a challenge for everyone. Often there is confusion about what God really wants from His people. Peter offered clarification with these words, “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Under the Old Law, God required priests to offer up the blood of animals to satisfy the sins of His people. However, the blood of bulls and goats could not truly serve as a remedy for sin, which made it necessary for Jesus to offer Himself on the cross “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). With the perfect physical sacrifice having been made, God expects “spiritual sacrifices”! Spiritual sacrifices are those things God has asked His people to do in His Word, the Bible. In Hebrews 13:15-16, praise and thanksgiving to God is called a sacrifice, and in Romans 12:1, Christians are instructed to present their “bodies a living sacrifice.”
When spiritual sacrifices are offered, they are “acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” The word translated “acceptable” means “well-received.” Too often, men have concluded that God is required to accept and appreciate whatever they decide to offer Him. However, God rewards those who give Him exactly what He desires, nothing more and nothing less (Matthew 7:21; Micah 6:6-8). Are you offering spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God?