The Importance of Meeting with God in His Word

The Importance of Meeting with God in His WordIn Exodus 19 an amazing thing happens to Moses. He’s called to the top of Mt. Sinai where he meets with the Lord and the Lord speaks with him and gives him instructions.

What if I told you, you could meet with the God of the Universe, the most powerful Being in existence and hear from Him any time you desired? That this same God who called Moses to speak with him desires to speak with you today?

The truth is we can meet with this God and we can get close to Him and we can know Him because we have a great high priest who is our mediator. Jesus Christ is the mediator for us, through His blood shed on the cross. He is the perfect sacrifice, paid once for all time. And so Hebrews 4:16 says:

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

And one of the ways, I’d say the primary way, God has graciously provided for us to “draw near” to Him is through His Word, the Bible. I would argue that hearing and especially reading the word of God is the most important thing we can do in our process of sanctification.

In John 17:17, in what we call Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, he says:

…Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Jesus prays for our sanctification, the daily process of being made righteous and being conformed to His image. Jesus wants us to be like Him. And in this prayer He reveals how that happens – through interaction with the truth. But He doesn’t stop there; He also makes it clear what the source of truth is that sanctifies. It is the Word of God. The Bible is composed of sanctifying truth.

Back to the book of Hebrews:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

Sanctification is about heart change and nothing impacts the believer’s heart like the word of God. Neglecting the word of God is neglecting to expose our hearts to the thing that is most needed to change them.

Why would I say it is the most important thing? Why not attending church or praying or loving our neighbor or obeying Christ? Because regular reading and study of the word of God shows us the importance of all of those other things and leads us to them. We know we should pray and how to pray because the Bible tells us those things. We know we should not neglect attending church because the Bible tells us that. We know we should love our neighbor as our self because the Bible tells us so.

When, for example, my prayer life has become dry or infrequent it is almost always because I’ve stopped spending regular time in God’s word. When I become cold to the things of God and to His church, it’s because I’ve stopped spending time reading the word. When I’m impatient with my wife and children, it’s the same reason – I’m not reading and studying God’s Word like I should.

Psalm 119 is an extended a psalm of praise and a prayer to God from a man who places high value on God’s Word.

Psalm 119: 62 says:

At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.

The psalmist praises God because of God’s law. Or, said another way, because of God’s word. One thing we find is that our praise of God and our desire to obey him are functions of the time we spend in the word and it’s a circular process:

We spend time in the word —> This leads us to praise God —> This leads us back to His word to learn more about him —> which leads us to praise God, etc.

So regular, I would say daily, intake of God’s word is essential for the Christian. It is the oxygen of our Christian life. Without it we suffocate and die.

10 Ways to Be a Better Student of the Bible in the New Year

10 Ways to Be a Better Student of the Bible in 2013

This is the time of year people begin to think about their goals for the coming year. If one of your goals is to be a better student of the Bible in the New Year, here are 10 things to consider:

  1. Read the Bible through during the year. If you’ve never read the Bible all the way through, this should be your number one goal for the coming year with regard to your Bible study. It’s impossible to rightly understand God’s word apart from a holistic view of the Bible.  If this seems intimidating, remember that it can be done by reading less than ten chapters each day. The key is to have a plan. Don’t just start with Genesis 1:1 and say “I’ll read a little each day until I’m done”. Have a plan and follow it. One of the best is Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System.
  2. Choose one book of the Bible and read an in-depth commentary on it. When you visit a new city for the first time, you don’t want to explore it totally on your own, you need a tour guide. Commentaries perform much the same function for books of the Bible. It’s like having a tour guide to show you the best places to eat or the most important sites – theologically speaking. If you need some suggestions, try here.
  3. Read without stopping to look up things you don’t understand. This helps get the flow of a passage or book. Paul’s epistles, for example, were originally letters and would have been read in one sitting.
  4. Read stopping to look up things you don’t understand.  As a pastor at our church is fond of saying, the Bible was not written to you but it was written for you. Those to whom it was written lived in a different era and sometimes we need to understand things about that era to best understand a passage or book. So if you don’t understand a word or a custom, take time to investigate.
  5. Invest in a good systematic theology book. Two of the best are Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem and The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way by Michael Horton.
  6. Familiarize yourself with BibleGateway.com. This site allows you to view a Bible passage in multiple translations (even multiple languages if you like) as well as view notes from several commentaries (click the “Study This” button in the upper right when you’re in a passage).  One of the most powerful features is the ability to find something in the scriptures using key words. Great for those “I know it’s in there somewhere” situations when all you can remember is a few words from a passage.
  7. Study the Bible with a friend. You can put any of these tips into practice along with someone else. For example, if you and a friend each buy a different commentary for a book study, you can benefit from two commentaries for the price of one. Partnering up is especially helpful if you’ve decided to read the Bible through during the year. A bit of accountability or even friendly competition makes reaching your goal much more likely.
  8. Attend a Bible-believing and teaching church each week. To be a serious student of the scriptures, you must belong to a church that takes them seriously as well. Look for a church where the pastor exposits the Bible each week. This will be a powerful supplement to your individual or small group study.
  9. Do a teaching outline of a passage or book. Even if you never intend to teach the Bible to others, thinking about how you would teach a particular passage if you had to will help you learn it as well. Write down the main points of the passage and then think about how best to explain those to another person. Who knows, if you practice this one enough, you may begin to desire to teach the scriptures to others.
  10. Pray. Lastly and most importantly, remember that the best resource for understanding and studying the scriptures is God Himself through the Holy Spirit. Ask God to open your eyes to the truth of His word and for the things you read to sink deeply into your heart and mind making you more and more like Christ.

What has been most helpful in your study of the Bible? I’d love to hear some other ideas.