Summary: Someone said, "Ecstatic experiences will not free us. Without knowledge of the truth, we will not be free." This talk explores the value of Bible study.

An Invitation to Abundant Living

“Lifetime of Learning”

Philippians 4:8-9

Instead of studying for the last exam of their college careers, four seniors spent the night partying in the house they had rented off campus. The next morning they waited until the test would be almost finished, and then made their way to class. Along the way they all put grease on their hands to support the story they were going to tell their professor. The class was almost done with the exam, when all four seniors burst into the room. They reported to the professor that they had a flat tire along the way and could they please retake the test? The professor said that he was a reasonable man, so he scheduled a test date for the following week.

Their plan had worked!

They studied diligently for the next week, making the most of their time. The day of the make-up came, and they were ready for anything. Each senior was placed alone in a separate classroom for the test. The first question, worth 5 points, was easy. The second question was worth 95 points, and it simply read, "Which tire?"

It pays to study

For many people the idea of buckling down to study is about as much fun as visiting the dentist. They strap your legs and arms to the chair as the attending assistant holds your head in her vice-grip locked fingers from behind you and the mad scientist is approaching with the instrument of choice laughing that sinister laugh! Okay, I’m exaggerating. But study is about as much fun as going to the dentist. Of course if you enjoy going to the dentist, my illustration doesn’t work and you need to “get a life”!

Someone wrote, “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, earnest in fulfilling their religious duties and still they are not changed…They may sing with gusto, pray in the Spirit, live as obediently as they know, even receive divine visions and revelations, and ye the tenor of their lives remains unchanged. Why? Because they have never taken up one of the central ways God uses to change us: study. Jesus made it unmistakably clear that the knowledge of the truth will set us free (John 8:32). Good feelings will not free us. Ecstatic experiences will not free us. Without knowledge of the truth, we will not be free.”

It pays to study.

If we will know the truth that will set us free; know the truth that will set our hearts on fire and enable us to experience God especially when we feel desperately disconnected from Him we must

1. Spend time at the table

“Time at the table” is a Newfoundland image. After Sunday night church someone would always invite us out for lunch, lunch being 10 o’clock at night, not that thin bread made with see-through meat called a sandwich at 12 noon! Lunch was a full-course meal of cold cuts a whole chicken, and potato salads followed by apple pie, blueberry tart or some other tasty sweetness with ice-cream! We would eat for an hour or two, followed by another hour or so of conversation in addition to the talking hours between servings! We’d often be heading home at 1 or 2 in the morning! We talked life, we talked ministry challenges; we talked about family and needs. We hammered out theology and faith victories and challenges. Time at the table moved us away from “how are you doing?” and “oh, we’re good” (which is often more untrue than true) to really digging into the things that excited us and things that hurt us; the things that brought us joy and the issues that gave us pain. Why? Because we spent time together and dug into life. It is the difference between casual acquaintance and intimate engagement.

The picture shows us the difference between reading the Bible and studying the Bible. Reading is a casual acquaintance – a jumble of words, phrases and even stories that ramble through our minds. Studying the Bible is different. Studying is an intimate engagement. It challenges our theology and unsettles our preconceived beliefs. It raises questions that don’t come with easy answers. It stirs our faith and ignites our hearts to believe the impossible and look to the unseen! Bible study draws us into the deep fellowship of sitting in the room with God and hearing the Cosmic Creator say something! Through Bible study He speaks life into our lives; he speaks hope into our situations; He challenges our complacency and comforts our brokenness; He lifts us up and knocks us down to the realities of where we’re at. These only come through intimate engagement. These only come through Bible study.

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