Monday, June 8, 2009

Learning Scripture: Perception, Purpose, and Practice

Today's mindset of learning is to get knowledge or retain knowledge. Learners usually think of themselves as containers with space to be filled by information a person or book possesses - the from "jug to mug model." Learners look to be filled with "truth" that may or may not later make some difference to their own life. The learners' goal is to put information into themselves. And our most common method of testing if someone has learned something is by written tests to see if the information can be reproduced in language or words rather than how the information actually affects their lives.

In Jesus' time the goal of a teacher wasn't to impart information, but to impact the life of the hearer, leaving a lasting impression without the benefit of notes or recorders. Whatever didn't make a difference in the hearer's life simply didn't make a difference. We instantly remember what makes a real difference in our life.

Knowledge of scripture shouldn't be held as trivial knowledge which in no way relates to our real day to day lives but being about God and who He is and what He has said in order for us to grow in love in our relationship with Him.
• This is the difference between what is often called "head knowledge" and "heart knowledge"
• Head knowledge is information that doesn't make a change in our life except that it is just more information. With just head knowledge a person can easily become prideful and argumentative.
• Heart knowledge changes our perceptions, beliefs, and character. Those things effect everyday life.
• We must not look at knowledge concerning God as trivial or a static list of memorization. Memorization can be good but knowledge for the sake of knowledge gets you nowhere. Knowledge for the sake of knowing a living God and to grow in a love relationship with Him, that knowledge can take you anywhere.

Jesus says in John 6:63, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
• This is a proper perception of learning God's words
• The Holy Spirit gives life & illumination.
• The flesh is no help at all. Trying to change in our own strength is like being on a tread mill. We get wore out assuming that because we are moving we are progressing.
• Paul says in Philippians 2:13, "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
• Jesus' words are life
• Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Note that Jesus said "every word." God has not stopped speaking to us just because we have the Bible. Illumination involves present interaction from God.
• God is not going to hand a written test to us when we get to heaven and say, "Here you go, you pass this test and you get in." No, God wants us to know Him before we get there.

Jesus is the Word of God
• Revelation 19:13 says, "He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God."
• Jesus says in John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
• If our perception of learning about Jesus is less than this, seeing Him as the way, the truth, and the life our perception is wrong. For years I saw Jesus only as the way and the truth. Then I saw Him as the life, as my life (Colossians 3:3). Seeing Him as life grew my realization of His love for me and grew my love for Him. And the love we share continues to grow & grow to this day.

• As discussed the proper perception of learning scripture concerns a change of heart by God and not a simple addition to the mind.
• God wants to change our heart, our character, our day to day life not by changing what we do on the outside but by changing who we are on the inside.
• Jesus prays to the Father concerning His disciples in John 17:17, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."
• God's words help sanctify us. He can use them to change who we are instead of just what we do.

Our modern purposes of learning are almost purely selfish. We look for a blessing or a benefit and if we find one it stops & stays with us.
• Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture inspired by God is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
• Teaching, rebuking, & correcting.. none of those can apply to a single person.

So God wants us to not just learn of Him for ourselves but for the sake of others as well?

Let's see what Paul says to Timothy right after what we just read.
• I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: proclaim the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
• God wants us to share His truth so that others may not only come to know Him but come to know Him better.
• How much value do we have in what we know if we are not willing to share it?
• God wants us to teach not for someone to simply learn information but to learn God's love more and more.

First I must point out that Christianity is not about practices to perfect but rather about a perfecting person who is God.
• It isn't about do, it is about who. Not about what we do but about what God has done, is doing, and will do.
• No practice, curriculum, or method can be of any worth without the work of the Holy Spirit
• The Bible is unique in that it is essential to know the author in order to truly understand it.

One important thing to realize is that while the bible is written for you it is not all written to you.
• Paul wrote in Romans 15:4, "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope."

God doesn't want us to have what He called "the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees' They knew about God in their head but their hearts were far from Him. They tried to obey the law for the sake of obeying the law and impressing men.

So in closing I would just like to reiterate.
• Knowledge of scripture shouldn't be held as trivial knowledge which in no way relates to our real day to day lives.
• Knowledge of scripture should be held as being about God and who He is and what He has said in order for us to grow in love in our relationship with Him.

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