“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a
college education.” Theodore Roosevelt
True story – three women were visiting Bellevue, Washington and were out after midnight, unable to find their way back to their hotel. After asking their GPS to re-route them, they took what they thought was a road that would lead them to the highway. Instead, their SUV ended up sinking into deep water. It seems that the “road” turned out to be a boat launch, and the water a lake. All three managed to get out safely, but by the time the tow truck arrived, the SUV was completely submerged.
I’ve had that experience too, though not nearly as serious. Some years ago I remember my GPS directing me deeper and deeper into a subdivision for the local Walmart. It quickly became apparent that the GPS was wrong and I never did find the Walmart.
Think about this. When do you need a map or GPS? When you’re going somewhere you have never been. When it comes to life and eternity, we are all traveling somewhere we have never been.
Last week school started locally. Students entered new grades. Some entered college for the first time or a new stage in college. All of us are continually moving into new phases of life. We move from being single to marriage, to having kids to having teens, to having an empty nest to having married adult children, to having grandchildren to having great-grandchildren. Every part of life has a new season from education to work to a career. It happens with housing. Most couples start small and rent, yet will finally move to owning a home.
Life is in a constant state of change. Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, was correct, “No man ever steps into the same river twice for its not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
At Grace, we believe without apology in Sola Scriptura. That simply means that all truth necessary for our eternal salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. It’s not a claim that all truth of every kind is found in Scripture. For example, Scripture has little or nothing to say about DNA structures, microbiology or even the rules of Chinese grammar. Scripture though is a “more sure Word,” standing above all other truth in its authority and certainty.
We believe every person should first study God’s Word for themselves (2 Timothy 2:15). Yet, what’s lost in an individualistic culture is the vital importance of group Bible study. The model of group study and learning permeates God’s Word. Jesus chose 12 disciples to teach and do life with. The Apostles traveled, studied, prayed and did mission work as a team. God designed the local church to be a family, a body, an army – to name just a few New Testament metaphors.
When we study in a group, we profit from multiple insights and perspectives. The amount of combined knowledge and experience will be broader than when we study on our own. We gain much by learning from others. We also serve others by sharing our own knowledge and experience. It opens up a place for us for discussion and application of what we’re learning. As we share what we’re learning, it becomes more imbedded in our hearts. We can ask each other questions, share real-life stories of how Scripture has transformed us and share struggles of faith.
God never intended Christianity to be a “me, God, and my Bible” lifestyle. We’re designed for community. God’s Word teaches that we greatly need each other. What are some benefits of group Bible study?
In a group we realize that others have similar struggles and problems. We often think there’s something uniquely wrong with us. When we hear that others have similar struggles, we feel both relieved and encouraged.
In a group we can encourage each other in our faith. The Apostle Paul taught us that when we see the faith in another believer, it encourages us in our own (Romans 1:12). In a group, people share personal insights and testimonies. As we share, others see new ways they can draw closer to God and new steps they can take with others.
Change is hard. There’s nothing like a word of encouragement when someone feels hopeless or discouraged. Members of a study group support one another, both during meetings and outside of them (2 Corinthians 1:4).
In a group we can use the spiritual gifts that God has entrusted to us to minister to each other. God never intended spiritual leaders to do all of the ministering. He’s given each of us gifts and talents to encourage, teach, and challenge one another. Group Bible studies provide an ideal setting for Christians to minister to each other (Hebrews 10:24).
In a group we help hold each other accountable. When someone announces he or she plans to work on making a change, others in the group may ask how it’s going the next time they’re together. It can be done in a positive, encouraging way. Or, group members may make a plan to be accountable to each other. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Then, when members know that they have an upcoming meeting, they’re motivated to prepare and do their “homework.”
In a group we pray with and for each other. God honors and answers prayer. As we begin to pull back the masks, we become more transparent and are more deeply connected with each other. Then, we’re more open to praying for each other. We begin to share burdens and prayer requests or even become prayer partners (Matthew 18:20).
In a group we help each other in tough times. Periodically, all of us feel isolated, alone or frightened when facing health, emotional, family, financial or spiritual problems. Group members help provide a “safety net,” supporting one another through those hard times. Too many Christians lack close friends. When believers get together in a smaller group, close friendships form and often remain long after the group ends.
God said, “It’s not good to be alone,” so don’t be! Join a group Bible study!
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.