Fifteen years ago, I knew God but didn’t know the Truth. There’s a difference. I was a new believer and knew enough to be saved by God’s grace, but I didn’t really know God’s Word or believe it was infallible truth. God has changed all that.
It was fifteen years ago that I was introduced to an in-depth bible study where I read the bible for myself, answered questions, discussed it with a small group, and then received deep teaching about the passage. Each week I was challenged to not only read God’s Word but to apply it to my life. This seemed especially daunting the first year since we were studying the Life of Moses.
It was there, in the Old Testament, that I learned that the Bible is one story of God’s redemption of mankind. Up to that point, the God of the Old Testament (OT) and the God of the New Testament (NT) seemed very different to me. That view of God caused me to view God as changing which meant his commands were subjective. I believed that I could pick and choose what parts of Scripture were still true and which weren’t. I didn’t have to obey ALL of it, or so I thought.
Studying the Bible for myself has enabled me to see that God is just as loving in the OT as He is in the NT. He has saved people since the beginning of time. I have also seen that God judges sin in both the OT and the NT (just read Revelation if you don’t believe me).
God has not changed. His Word, the Bible, is just as true and as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.
God’s Word changes lives- but you have to read it! More than that, you have to study it. Some of the Bible is hard to understand, so it helps greatly to study it with a group. As a group, you have the opportunity to challenge one another to think biblically. You can ask questions and find answers as you learn from one another. This also gives you the confidence to talk to others about what you believe. Fifteen years ago I barely answered questions in my small group; now I’m one of the teachers. This is a great testimony of what God can do!
As I have studied the Bible, I have learned that I was wrong about many things. I had many beliefs that were based on what others taught me rather than based on what is actually stated in the Bible. It’s been shocking at times and certainly humbling. Each time I open the Word, I begin with a humble heart. I acknowledge that I need God to teach me.
I ask Him to teach me, and I willingly let go of beliefs that contradict God’s Word. It’s not always easy to do that. Sometimes things make more sense my way, but I’ve learned that I don’t need everything about God to make sense to me. He’s just too big for that! I need Him to be big more than I need everything to make sense. He’s bigger than my problems and my understanding. He’s beyond time and space, yet He desires to have a relationship with me. How can that be? Why would that be?! I don’t have to fully understand the answers to those questions to know that He loves me more than I can imagine and that He, alone, is my hope and my salvation.
Studying the Bible has not made my life easier, but it has made it richer (more meaningful). I’ve never invested much time in memorizing Scripture (though I think it’s a great thing), but I have invested in knowing the God of the Bible. Studying it year after year has it rooted in my heart. I may not be able to quote the verse verbatim or site the reference (Google can help with that), but I recognize what is true and what’s a lie.
You cannot truly know God and experience the freedom He offers without studying His Word for yourself (John 8:32; Romans 10:17). I may be surprised when trials come my way. They may knock me flat on my face. But, I am ever prepared for them because I know God, and I know the Truth. Knowing what is true makes all the difference in how I live each day regardless of the circumstances. It takes time and energy, but nothing in this world is more worth it!