A few years ago, I stumbled across a long-lost treasure when cleaning out our garage. I found it in a box labeled Kids Art Projects. It was a gold-painted mold of our little five-year old son’s hand. He had crafted the wee gem in kindergarten. Holding it in my hand, the thought struck me: What if our son’s now 18-year-old hand was still this small? We’d be so concerned!
God very much desires that we and those whom we serve and teach mature spiritually too (Ephesians 4:15).
So to help us grow our faith and the faith of those we teach, He has given us His Word, the Bible. And studying and applying the Bible, like maintaining a nutritious diet of good food, helps mature our faith.
Chuck Swindoll, in his book Searching the Scriptures: Find the Nourishment Your Soul Needs, offers six ways that studying and applying the Bible helps us grow up spiritually:
- Studying and applying the Bible gives substance to our faith.
Jesus taught His disciples the importance of building their faith on the solid rock of His Word rather than on the shifting sand of feelings or worldly wisdom (Matthew 7:24–27). When the storms of life come, and they will come, how better to have a faith firmly rooted in the truths of God, carefully laid in place through the discipline of study and Spirit-directed application.
- Studying and applying the Bible stabilizes us during times of testing.
James wrote to life-weary Christians that “when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (James 1:2–3). Studying and applying God’s Word provides mainstays to keep our faith strong when winds of adversity blow. We don’t wobble in our faith, but, rather, we believe. And as we believe we lead more stable, effective lives.
- Studying and applying the Bible enables us to handle the Scriptures carefully and accurately.
When the apostle Paul laid his ministry succession plan in place, he wrote to Timothy, his apprentice, and urged him to “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker—one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). That “hard work” Paul referred to is the hard work of searching and studying the Scriptures. When we understand the major themes and theological parameters of the Bible, we rely on biblical truth rather than on the current trends of the day to win our audiences and serve them spiritually nourishing meals.
- Studying and applying the Bible equips us to confront and detect error.
When we are confronted with a passage of Scripture, we can understand it and interpret it on our own, rather than relying on someone else. As we grow in our spiritual understanding, we can more easily detect subtle errors and correct them with scriptural facts ensuring what we teach to others is accurate and biblical (1 John 4:1).
- Studying and applying the Bible strengthens our spiritual confidence.
The more we grow in our knowledge and application of God’s Word, the more confident we become in articulating what we believe and serving spiritual nourishing meals. That helps us remain steady when absolute truth comes under assault from a culture bent on denying the existence of God and mocking anyone who would follow His ways (2 Corinthians 3:4–5).
- Studying and applying the Bible filters out our fears and superstitions.
How easy it is for believers, especially those young in their faith, to respond in fear to life’s challenges. But when we have established a priority of studying God’s Word and allowing it to filter into our attitudes and our actions, and into our teaching, we can equip God’s people to avoid becoming irrational and superstitious (2 Timothy 1:7).
By the way, you can begin the process of studying and applying the Bible to your life today. Start with fifteen minutes in the morning or afternoon and allow it to increase over time. Make sure you have some great study resources, and pick up a copy of The Swindoll Study Bible to further guide your study.
You’re on your way to helping others grow up in their faith as you serve up the feast of truth from God’s Word!
Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Searching the Scriptures: Find the Nourishment Your Soul Needs (Carol Stream, Ill.: Tyndale House, 2016), 39–40.