- Central church of Christ NSB published a newsletterReadCentral church of Christ Weekly Newsletter/ BulletinJanuary 13, 2019Study May Be Abused
By Mark Mayberry
Nothing is more important than the study of God’s word. The Bible is the greatest book that has ever been written. The inspired Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation. Through application of the truth to our lives, we are made complete and are thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:14–16). Those who abide in Christ’s word, and thus obtain a knowledge of the truth, shall be set free from the bondage of ignorance, darkness, and sin (John 8:31–32). Thus we should love God’s law, meditate upon it daily, and walk according to its precepts (Psalm 119:97, 103–105).
Diligent Bible study is greatly needed. However, let us be mindful of how we go about this serious work. It is possible for the study of God’s word to be abused in the following ways:
1. By studying only fragments of the Bible. Many people have only a fragmentary and incomplete knowledge of God’s word. They are familiar with only bits and pieces. They have no idea of what a given book is trying to teach. They don’t really understand what it’s all about. Why? Because of their poor and inadequate study methods.
Consider a woman whose method of study was to randomly open her Bible, cover her eyes, and then point to a verse. That would be her “Verse for the Day.” One morning she allowed her Bible to fall open and pointed to the verse which said, “Judas cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5). Hoping to find something more positive, she tried again, this time finding the verse which said, “Go and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37). In frustration, she tried one final time. This time she pointed to the verse that said, “That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:27). Needless to say, she was a very confused woman.
We must develop a systematic approach to Bible study. It is not enough to be familiar with a few isolated verses; rather we must interpret them in their context. We need a clear overview of the Scriptures as well as an understanding of individual verses. A regular reading program can be of great benefit. Attending the Bible classes can be an invaluable aid in our quest for knowledge and understanding.
2. By studying to receive the praise of men. Like the Pharisees of old, many today view religious service as a means of self-promotion. They seek acclaim and applause from their fellow men. Whatever they do is done for selfish motives. There are those who study God’s word hoping that others will recognize them as being learned, scholarly, and erudite. However, if we study simply to receive the praises of men, all our efforts are in vain (Matthew 6:1–6; 23:5–6). All Christian service must be approached with a spirit of humility, sacrifice, and service (Romans 12:1–3).
3. Many seem to view study as an end in itself. They think if they attend all the Bible classes and periods of worship, they have fulfilled their Christian duty. However, nothing could be further from the truth! Christianity not only demands a receptive ear, but also a responsive heart. Hearing without obedience will lead to disastrous consequences (Matthew 7:21–27). It is utter folly for one to be a hearer of the word but not a doer (James 1:22–25). The promise of salvation is extended only to those who obey God (Hebrews 5:8–9).
4. By studying to justify one’s preconceived notions. Many today are self-serving in their approach toward God’s word. They study the Bible, but to justify their preconceived notions. However, such persons are prejudiced against the truth. We must not form an opinion beforehand, and then go to the Bible to prove it! Those who twist and distort the Scriptures do so to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15–18). In contrast, we must love truth for truth’s sake (Proverbs 23:23). Let us have the same open-minded and honest attitude as did the Bereans (Acts 17:11).
5. By not retaining the knowledge one has gained. Israel of old was repeatedly admonished not to forget the Lord their God. However, they failed to heed this warning. As a result, God rejected them as His chosen people (Hosea 4:6). Let us learn from their tragic example. Ministers of the gospel are obligated to constantly remind the brethren of the fundamental principles of faith and Christian doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6; 2 Peter 1:12–14). Let us not forget God’s word!
Let us study God’s word with diligence (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1–3; 2 Timothy 2:15). However, we should also be aware of the pitfalls that can cause us to stumble. Let us not fall into the trap of studying only small fragments of God’s word, or to receive the praise of men. Let us not be deceived into thinking that study is an end in itself. Let us not blindly set out to justify our preconceived notions. And, finally, let us remember and apply the things we learn.
Mayberry, M. (1993). Study May Be Abused. (D. Bowman, Ed.)Christianity Magazine, 10(5), 13.
- Charles Knight published a newsletterReadCentral church of Christ Weekly Newsletter/ BulletinJanuary 6, 2019Why Obey God?
By Judy Anderson
The easiest way to answer this question is to say that we are the creation and God is the Creator and, as such, we have no right to question or disobey God. Isaiah 45:9 gives the example of the clay asking the potter, “What are you making?” We realize the foolishness of this, but sometimes we want to ask God, “Why do I have to do that?”
I would like to suggest another reason for our obedience, as if we need another one. Have you ever heard the expression that God knows our make? I’d like to illustrate this, and then show how it could affect our obedience.
In the Old Testament, under the law of Moses, God commanded some things of the Israelites that we today can understand. Back then, I’m sure they didn’t have the slightest idea of the reasoning behind those laws.
Leviticus 11:29–40 discusses the laws concerning the uncleanness of dead animals. Verse 31 says, “Whatever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening” and verse 32, “anything on which any of them falls when they are dead … it must be put in water” and verses 33 and 34, “Any earthen vessel into which any of them falls you shall break … and any drink that may be drunk from it shall be unclean to you.” Today we understand the principles of contamination, and we would call these practices good common sense. The Israelites had no knowledge of germs. They just did what God commanded, and thereby protected themselves from possible danger.
Now look at Leviticus 13:45–46. The first part of the chapter tells the Israelites how to recognize leprosy, and these verses tell them what to do once it has been diagnosed. The leper is to be quarantined and precautions taken to make sure everyone knows he is a leper. He has to yell, “Unclean, unclean” when he sees someone approaching, and his clothes are torn and his head bare so he can be identified. He lives outside the camp. As a final precaution, he covers his moustache. I have yet to figure out an easy way to cover your moustache without covering your mouth. We recognize these laws as a type of quarantine, but the Israelites didn’t understand that. They just obeyed God because He said, “This is the law concerning leprosy” (Leviticus 15:32).
Today we are commanded to do and not to do some things, without any specific reasons. Some of the things we understand right away. We usually don’t have any problem with stealing and murder because we can see the reasoning behind these laws. The commands we have problems with are the ones we don’t see the reasoning behind.
The point of this whole lesson is that we don’t have to see the reason for a law before we obey it. We obey the laws of the land when we don’t understand them. An employee doesn’t always understand the reasons he does what he does, but his job is to obey his boss, and he does it. How much more should we obey our perfect, all-knowing Father?
Some of God’s commands I didn’t understand at first, but now I think I see the reasoning behind them. I obeyed, and then I saw what it did for me.
For example, assembling. In Hebrews 10:25 we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. I don’t think I fully understood why until one time I had to miss services for awhile because of a sick child. When I finally returned to services, I realized that I had lost a lot of my enthusiasm; I felt weaker. I am now thankful for the command, because I could tell what it did for me. But I had obeyed it for years without fully understanding it.
Prayer is another command that I better understand now, after obeying it. We pray because it is commanded (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Why do we pray? God knows what we need before we ask. He knows who is sick before we tell Him. He even knows what we are thankful for before we thank Him. I think that we pray to help ourselves realize things about ourselves. When we can get our thoughts together enough to pray about them, then we have clarified them enough to act on them. I don’t want to be misunderstood—I do believe God answers prayer; but He also knows it helps me.
As a child, I had the blasphemous idea that we worshipped God because in some way He needed it—maybe to satisfy His ego. Acts 7:24–25 says that God isn’t worshipped by men as though He needed anything. If worshipping isn’t for God’s benefit, it must be for me. When I worship something, I am putting it on a pedestal, making it better than me in my own mind. It helps me realize God’s place, and my place.
There are many of God’s laws that we can see the beauty of, that clearly make the world a greater place to live in. Then there are some laws that we may not fully understand. I believe we can rest assured that all of God’s laws are to help us, even if we, like the Israelites, don’t see how they are helping us. Hebrews 13:20–21 says that God can make us perfect in every good work. We’ll not only receive a reward, but we’ll be doing the best things for us here and now.
God knows our make.
Anderson, J. (1988). Why Obey God? Christianity Magazine, 5(6), 9.