“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
“Cast all your anxiety on Him [Jesus] because He cares for you.”
I Peter 5:7 (NIV)
“I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
Revelation 22:13 (NIV)
To begin with, my family stopped going to church, for stupid reasons, when I was about eight years old and I did not return until I was saved when I was thirty-nine. In all of those years, the Bible had no place in my life; except for 1983 when I studied the Bible on my own before putting it back on the “shelf.” I am the only one in my family who goes to church and studies the Bible, let alone read it. This all means that I grew up not knowing the right way to live, and not knowing that God loves me and wanted to save me.
And then I got saved…. This dusty old, white pseudo-leathered, Bible of my sister’s that I had now became my best friend. I was soon able to afford a decent study Bible and began reading it as a ravenous lion to fresh meat. I read the New Testament over and over, devouring Jesus’ teachings and the letters of Paul and the others. I began to see that life was worth living and that living it right in the eyes of God was possible. I may not be able to tell you chapter and verse, but I can surely tell you, as sure as I know my own name, what God’s Word says about life and how to stay free from the things that steal our joy and peace.
This devotional wants us to discuss the importance of studying the New Testament both educationally and spiritually. I know that education has its place in our lives if we want to “learn” something we’ve never known before. But, when it comes to the Bible, I say that, educationally, you can “learn” from it, but if you don’t apply it spiritually, you will have really learned nothing. It’s not good enough to know the words in the Bible. It’s not just good enough to know what all the words mean in Greek to get a clearer understanding of their meaning for the time they were written. Learning is good, but living is better. You have to live the Bible to fully understand what God says and means in the words He provides. What good would all of this learning be if we didn’t take what we’ve learned and used it to help others find Jesus? If all we do is learn all of this knowledge and then sit back and let it ferment in our brains, who does that help or serve? People really don’t care what we’ve “learned”, but they do care a great deal how will live out what we’ve learned.
My advice to new believers or even those who have believed for a long time and have yet to read their Bibles through, is to just read the New Testament over and over. Don’t read it to learn something, read it over and over to absorb the words into your heart. You will be surprised at how quickly you will retain what you’ve read and, most especially, how much the Holy Spirit has taught you through your reading. Never read your Bible, not even a word, unless you have invited the Spirit into the conversation. The Word is God-breathed, so it must be Spirit-led. “Learn” the Word for yourself, but “live” it for others to see and hear.