By Jenny Culpepper
Many of us have heard the phrase, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” The same goes for Bible studies. What is the best Bible Study “fit” for you? What is the best Bible study for your small group? I have always looked for specific, concrete answers to these questions. “Five Steps to Being the Perfect Christian”? That’s a study I would buy and read. “A Guide to the Five Best Bible Studies”? Yep, another book I would add to my list.
As always, there is a catch. The Bible study that was right for me last year, five years ago, ten years ago, or twenty years ago may not be the best study for me now. When I was a new follower of Christ, I looked everywhere for the “perfect” steps to follow to be a “perfect” Christian. It took me a while to grasp that we have a perfect Savior who is part of the perfect Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) but that there are no perfect Christians. There aren’t even any “super” Christians. God alone is perfect and supreme. Our calling, in any Bible study, is to conform our heart, mind, and soul to his.
So how can we find Bible studies that draw our hearts to God?
An authentic Bible study is faithful to the Scriptures, both the Old and the New Testaments. The Old Testament tells us of the events from creation that lead up to the coming of Christ, and this understanding helps us grow in wisdom. An authentic study is also faithful to the teaching of Scripture—even the passages that make us uncomfortable or that we don’t understand. Most of us have a working knowledge of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but the theology of the Trinity can be mysterious or confusing. That doesn’t mean we avoid it.
A good Bible study will always point beyond the teacher and writer to the sovereign God. Does the study cause you to think more highly of God? He alone deserves the glory.
Early in my walk with Christ, I heard it said that “Jesus came to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” If the study you have chosen is faithful to the teachings of the Bible, it should cause you to reflect on your behavior and beliefs. A good Bible study will make us more aware of Christ’s holiness and our unholiness, his worth, and our unworthiness. A good Bible study will help us see our utter and total dependence on God’s grace.
Parts of the Bible make me uncomfortable. And that is good. When I read about blood sacrifice, Jesus’s crucifixion, or eternal separation from God, I squirm. These are hard topics. But my wants and desires don’t change God’s truth. Many Bible studies and books are written just to make us feel good. They avoid the promise of suffering and hardship for believers and offer us a picture of a perfect life with Jesus. But we live in a messy, fallen world. A good Bible study can show us God’s faithfulness through hard times, not in spite of them.
A good Bible study will call you to come closer to the throne of God. God pours out his mercy and grace so you can live differently in this world (Hebrews 4:16). A good Bible study will help you become more like Jesus and display the fruit of the Spirit in your life.
Bible Study Media (http://www.biblestudymedia.com) offers studies with these five qualities, studies that draw your heart closer to God. Search for these foundations as you choose a Bible study for your current season of life. The five best Bible studies will meet you in your journey now. If you need to understand better who Jesus is, check out The Christian Life Trilogy. Is your faith struggling? Consider our new online study, Unwavering Faith: A Study of James. Do you need more hope in your life right now? Look at A Living Hope: A Study of 1 Peter. For an excellent practical guide to living out your faith in the world, read Walking in Light: True Life in 1 John. And if you feel that you may be drifting away from the Lord, take time to study Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship. No matter what study you choose, the Holy Spirit will use God’s Word to transform you into the image of Jesus more and more (2 Corinthians 3:18).
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