In the wonderful Broadway hit Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton writes letters to Elizabeth Schuyler to win her heart, and when he devastates her heart by publicly exposing an elicit affair, she burns those letters and “erases herself from the narrative.” There is something about words one takes the time to write down. It creates evidence that the spoken word lacks. Writing something assumes that what one is writing is worth revisiting time and time again and possibly passing along to others to read and enjoy. The spoken word is limited to those within the range of hearing, but the written word has a vast number of ways of being reproduced and shared. So, what is the difference between simply reading a text and studying it?
Merely reading a text is a way for information to pass to you, but to study it is to acquire the information and transform it into knowledge. I have been acquainted with the Bible since I was a young girl. I attended a Baptist Church growing up where we were taught memory verses like John 3:16, and we did Bible drills (a leader gives a scripture and the first person to find it in their Bible wins a prize). But when I got to high school, I attended Young Life with some friends and met leaders who talked about Jesus like they KNEW Him. That was new and incredibly interesting to me! I followed those leaders to CHS and learned that the Holy Spirit wants to teach the scriptures TO me. Joining a Bible Study called Experiencing God was a huge step to growing in my knowledge of Christ. After that initial step, I availed myself of many ways of studying the Bible, and I grew to love it because I was getting to KNOW the God who chose me, rescued me, and called me for His purpose. Now I, too, talk about Jesus like I know Him … because I do!
God has revealed Himself to us in His Word. We can read it just as we would a passing news article, or we can study it for the knowledge it reveals. In the beloved classic, Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster makes this claim:
“Many Christians remain in bondage to fears and anxieties simply because they do not avail themselves of the Discipline of study. They may be faithful in church attendance and earnest in fulfilling their religious duties and still they are not changed…Why? Because they have never taken up one of the central ways God uses to change us: study.”
The picture above shows powerful prayer time birthed from men and a woman who daily feed themselves on God’s Word. There is transformative power in studying the Word of God and that study has several components:
- Spend time alone in the Word – Reading and meditating on the scriptures in a quiet time alone allows you to hear from the teaching of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26). Learning to hear Him speak to your own heart is special.
- Discussion questions or a study guide – Allowing a leader or writer to pose questions about what you have spent time learning can challenge the hardened and deep places that we may not think about on our own.
- Community – Discussing those questions with other people who have been spending time doing the same thing is powerful … you will realize you are not alone in your thoughts and experiences or you may hear a perspective that you would never have considered on your own.
- Listen – Faith comes by hearing (Rm. 10:17); listening to a teaching or a sermon preached on the same passage is a unique way that God may continue to speak to your heart about Himself to grow your faith.
- Reference – Reading other books and writings about the subject or passage of scripture you have spent time in will also help you to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
So, come study the Word of God with us in 2021! Join a Life Group, Women’s Bible Study, or Men’s Small Group. Let’s make the choice to be transformed by the WORD surrounding us and not by the WORLD around us.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” (Rm. 12:2)