Teleios and other authors have shown Christian belief can improve personal wellbeing! Therefore, we are examining the Christian life in more detail to see if we can uncover in the Bible some of the underlying causes of the improved wellbeing.
We are discussing currently the practice of Christianity for which we are using Acts 2:42-47 as a basis. These dynamic verses describe the activities involved in the Christian lifestyle within the early church. These descriptions are repeated throughout the Epistles and so are vital to us today. I call them the ‘5 tools to maturity’ and can be summarized conveniently as: prayer, praise, fellowship, outreach and Bible study. Last week we discussed fellowship. Today’s tool for overview is Bible study.
We need to know the Bible! Why? Can we just not memorize the most important verses and follow the style of Christianity we learned in our college group or Sunday school and live a good Christian social life? Social Christianity brings some good things to us and our culture, no doubt. However, it is like settling for crackers when you could be enjoying steak. Let’s examine what the Bible says.
The Bible is an authoritative source as it comes from God through the Holy Spirit by way of the apostles (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21, 3:16).
We are told to know and understand God’s word (Ephesians 1:15). There are several reasons for this:
· It is a command (Colossians 1:9)
· We cannot bear fruit or know what to do without first knowing and understanding the Bible (Colossians 1:10). Accordingly, to function as a Christian, like anything in life, we need to follow the manual.
· When we know the manual and know what to do, then the process bears much fruit in our lives. We have better wellbeing from a confident relationship with God. Teleios research has actually shown that those who have more knowledge have better well-being and less guilt than those who don’t (1)!
It takes a little work and time but the benefits are huge. We can have the joy of:
· Bearing fruit in our lives such as: joy and peace, etc. (Galatians 5:22).
· Seeing God work through us in others’ lives (Colossians 1:10).
· Judging (i.e., assessing) what’s good and bad in situations and people very quickly (Hebrews 5:14) thus keeping ourselves out of life’s difficult situations.
· Not having to rely on our emotions so our life becomes more stable and predictable (Hebrews 5:9-14). The Bible does not state that we have a religion based in emotions and actually warns against it (Ephesians 4:12-16, James 1:5-8).
You may be thinking ‘But isn’t listening to my pastor’s great sermons and watching an effective video enough?’ As good as these learning experiences may be, we need to study the Bible itself in some detail to fully understand and receive its benefits.
How then do we effectively study Scripture? There are plenty of Bible study resources on Amazon.com or on line that might be effective. Make sure they are Bible and Christian based. In addition, someone in your church also may be able to help you.
You can start with these basic steps:
· Download a web-based Bible study tool such as eSword. It’s free and has multiple exciting resources to help understand Scripture (www.e-sword.net).
· Start with a power-packed epistle such as Ephesians or Colossians that will give you essential information about Christ and our Christian life in a concise manner.
· Slow down! Take your time and follow these four basic study steps:
o Observation – Ask questions about the verse.
o Interpretation – Use resources on eSword to answer your questions.
o Application – How should the first specifically change your life?
o Integration – What are other verses that support your interpretation so you can confidently build what you know about the topic discussed in the verse (e.g. salvation, the Spirit, etc.)?
That’s all for today. The Bible is so rich and exciting! If you need help, contact us email@example.com and we will do what we can to assist you. Join us next week as we talk about outreach.
1. MacIlvaine, W.R., Nelson, L.A., Stewart, J.A., Stewart, W.C. (2013). Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract, 19:251-255.
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