Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).
I wonder how often, over my four decades as a pastor, I urged God’s people to spend more time in his Word. If I averaged once a day, it would total 15,000 times!
I wonder, even more, how often that encouragement–though biblical and essential to Christian living–was understood as an end rather than a means.
Our time in God’s Word–meditating on it, studying it, talking about it–is not a final goal. We misunderstand the purpose of the Bible if we believe we must spend a certain amount of time in it in order to attain spiritual success.
Regular study of God’s Word is the means that bring us to the final goal. That final goal is an ever-growing, intimate relationship with our Savior. So we spend time in God’s Word in order to get to know and love Jesus the person better.
The Spirit actively works to increase our understanding of the Bible’s message. But his ultimate purpose is not to fill our heads with more information. It is to bring us into a closer relationship with God.
Even after almost 45 years of marriage I keep learning wonderful lessons about who my wife is. I thrill to see how she demonstrates her Savior’s love day after day in her selflessness, her commitment to love her family and others, her willingness to forgive, and her sacrificial giving. The more I see Jesus in her, the deeper my love for her grows.
The Scriptures demonstrate God’s selflessness, love, forgiveness, and sacrificial giving page after page. The Spirit uses those Scriptures to deepen our relationship with him. Yes, there is an important element of Bible study that grows us intellectually. But the goal of the Scriptures is to fix our eyes, as well as our hearts, on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.