Tuesday, August 3, 2010


There is a difference between "knowing about something" and "knowing something first hand." I like to fish for steelhead, I’ve been doing it for most of my life. But there was a time when I only “knew about” steelhead fishing. I had read books. I had gone steelhead fishing on a few occasions. I had heard what others had to say about it. Back then, however, I didn’t really “know” steelhead fishing because I hadn’t experienced it.

There are a lot of professing believers in the modern church who "know about" the Bible. They have heard sermons by Pastors, they have been to Sunday school classes and Bible studies and they know a lot about the Bible. They can repeat, as a Parrot would, whatever it is that they have heard. Sad to say, however, there are far too many who don’t “know” the Bible.

It is one thing to hear what a Bible teacher has to say about any given passage, it is another thing to study the Word of God for oneself. There is a need for teachers, numerous verses of Scripture speak to that (Eph. 4:11; James 3:1; 1 Cor. 12:29), but ultimately it is essential for believers in Christ to be “Spirit-taught.”

The Spirit-indwelt believer has been given all that is necessary to understand and apply the Bible to his or her life. 1 John 2:27, “And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” It is a ministry of the Spirit of God to apply the Word of God to the heart of the believer. In response to His ministry it is essential that we, as believers in Christ, endeavor always to “let the word of Christ richly dwell within” (Col. 3:16).

There is a great need for believers in our day to study the Word of God for themselves. In the “tickle-my-ears” climate of our day believers need to be challenged anew to think Biblically. I can still remember the day when Christian book stores sold mostly Bibles, commentaries, and such. Today they sell as much fiction as anything else. The serious study of God’s word by individuals within the church is becoming increasingly rare. The end result is that many are being “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14).

Good teachers of God’s word don’t just teach God’s word they teach that their students might be equipped to study it for themselves. They encourage their students to examine all that they hear through the “What does the Bible say?” filter (1 Thess. 5:21). It is the task of the Bible teacher to inspire a “Berean-like” approach to the Word. Those “noble-minded” believers were commended inasmuch as they were with “great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

I remember one of our elders sharing with me the story of how he first came to understand the importance of studying the Word of God for himself. Years ago he had come across a difficult and much debated portion of Scripture. He went to his Pastor to get his opinion as to what it was saying. The Pastor response was that he could give an answer as to his opinion, but that it would be much better for our elder to search the Scriptures for himself and arrive at his own conclusion. That is the kind of “Spirit-taught” approach that is so needful in our day.

We’ve been given, as born-again believers; all that we need to study the Word of God for ourselves. To be sure, it is good for us to have Spirit-led teachers to help us. And, it is helpful for us to have a sound approach to hermeneutics. The four-step approach to Bible study--preparation; observation; interpretation; and application—serves us well. It is also helpful to have good tools such as Bible dictionaries, and commentaries, and other tools. But ultimately the Spirit of God is our teacher, and He “teaches us about all things.” If we have the Spirit for a teacher, then there is no limit to what we can learn of God’s truth. But there is, on the other hand, no amount of lesser teachers, books, or tools that can make up for His absence.

The believers in Corinth were admonished because they elevated earthly teachers (1 Cor. 3:4-6). Their ill-founded approach accomplished no growth in Christ (1 Cor. 3:4). Let us be careful to elevate the Spirit and the Word and the Christ we yearn to know through our Spirit-led instruction. Let us be careful to be good students of the Word who earnestly seek to know for ourselves what the Bible says about any particular matter of faith and practice. Let us endeavor to be “Spirit-taught” believers in Christ!

Pastor Jerry

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