This content is adapted from the Joseph Solomon YouTube channel.
Bible study, for some people, looks a lot like having theological head knowledge with no heartfelt relationship with God. Joe shows us why loving and knowing God does not work against deep study of the Bible.
- Many Christians want to follow God but don’t want to study the Bible. In Matthew 22:29, Jesus, correcting an error of some religious leaders, says, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” By not understanding the scripture, these leaders were missing out on the power of God, much like how the people Joe knows are missing out on God’s power in the mistaken notion that it will somehow weaken their connection the Holy Spirit!
- Turning God into a subject is a real danger. Much like the Pharisees of Jesus’s day who knew the Scripture back-and-forth, we today can know the Scripture deeply while failing to heed its life-changing truths. James wrote in James 1:22-25, “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”
- We are all theologians. The Bible warns us not to turn God into a subject, but it is a dangerous overcorrection to say that this means we should not study the Bible and seek to grow in our knowledge of God. Knowing Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord is the most important part of our Christian life (Philippians 3:7-9) but Jesus also commissioned His earliest followers to make new disciples who would follow all of His commands. In Matthew 28:20 He says, “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” While loving God and our neighbor are the first and second most important commandments (Matt 22:37-39) Jesus had plenty to say about other topics. Part of knowing Jesus is studying and applying these other truths, and He has not granted us the option of ignoring these things.
- Knowing the Bible helps us grow in our knowledge of and relationship with God. Numerous passages teach that knowing God, being formed by the Holy Spirit, and studying the Scripture are all integral, interconnected parts of our spiritual growth (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 1:17; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:9; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Titus 1:1-3). Being “led by the Holy Spirit,” then, means that we are also being led by the Holy Scripture–the Bible.
It’s easy to fall into the separate traps of ignoring emotions and love for God over Bible study or ignoring Bible study because we think it will make our relationship with God cold and emotionless. But knowing and loving God and knowing and loving his word, the Bible, are two sides of the same coin, not two opposing forces.
Written content for this topic by Daniel Martin.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Joe says that all Christians are “inevitably theologians.” Is he correct? Explain why or why not.
- Joe says some people accuse him of “turning God into a subject.” Do you think there are dangers in talking about God too much?
- Joe says there are only two options for the Christian: sound theology or poor theology. Is he correct? Explain.
- Joe quotes a pastor who said, “Some preachers are saying what the Bible says but not saying what the Bible means.” What is the difference between saying what the Bible “says” and saying what it “means?” Can you provide an example?
- “Wanting to be Spirit-led starts with the Word of God.” What is your reaction to this statement?
- How often do you read or study the Bible? Why do you not read it more? Why not less?
- Have you ever heard a pastor or church leader take a Bible verse out of context for their own agenda? Explain.
- Read Acts 2:36-42. Describe what the “apostles’ teaching” was. Do we have it today?
- Read Acts 17:10-12. What was the result of the people there comparing Paul’s teaching to what was recorded in the written Word? How does this lesson apply to what we hear taught today?
- Can a Christian can grow closer to God without reading/hearing the Bible? Explain.
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.