Studying God’s Word

If we are going to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, we have to be a student of God’s word. There are no short cuts. Nobody else can study for us. Old ways of living in this world have to be replaced by new ways of living in the kingdom of God. The lies of this world have to be replaced by the truth of God’s word. God’s word sitting on the shelf will not transform us. The truth has to be in our hearts. It is not enough to think about Scripture. We have to think Scripturally. The wise person sees life from God’s perspective.

Ezra devoted himself to studying God’s word, but he also took the next step and that is the most important part of learning. He observed the law of the Lord (Ezra 7:10). We learn far more by doing than we do by just hearing. People retain only about ten percent of what they hear, twenty percent of what they see, but ninety percent of what they do. Only when we have incorporated the word of God into our lives are we in any position to teach others. Teachers have to live according to what they profess to believe in order to be effective in ministering to others. James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does” (Jms. 1:22-25).

The truth of God’s word is not supposed to be intellectually discussed without appropriation. The goal is transformation; not information. The truth is supposed to enter our hearts, set us free, and transform our lives. Interpersonal conflicts arise and our witness is compromised when we indoctrinate people with knowledge beyond their spiritual maturity. We will be perceived as noisy gongs or clanging cymbals (1 Cor. 13:1) if we have no love. A lot of noise, but no substance. Studying God’s word is not an intellectual exercise. It is an interaction with God. The living Word transforms our lives, and it becomes evident in the way we live.

Dr. Neil

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