By Cindy Koch –
Let’s face it. They lurk around every corner. Mid-morning MOPS meetings, afternoon Bibles and coffee, evening small groups, in churches, in homes, in the park, and at the local Denny’s, there is no shortage of Bible Study. Most of us have tried a few here and there. We may have even found a group that addresses our needs. But be on the lookout, my friend. Not all Bible studies are good for you.
But what I love about you is that you hunger and thirst for God’s Word. You will search out a group that gathers around the Word of our Lord. You ache for a fellowship that will strengthen your faith. You know the power of God’s Word to endure through the wasteland of our world. And this is why I warn you, dear friend.
There are a million ways to study the words of Scripture. We find hidden treasures in the history, narrative, prayers, emotions, applications, songs, themes, original languages, names, geography, prophesy, and story of the Bible. We learn, pray, support, and act. But there is a terrible temptation that creeps into our well-intentioned Bible Study. In a passionate fervor, we begin to think that the Bible is about us; we forget that the Bible is all about Jesus Christ.
The God-breathed Words of Scripture all point to one thing: a desperate dependence on a Savior. Adam and Eve quickly learned that there was Another that would save them from themselves. Old Testament Israel trusted in a blood sacrifice for the payment of their sins before a Holy God. New Testament Christians wondered at the man called Messiah, marveling at His power and unraveling the mystery of reconciliation. The Revelation of the new heavens and new earth describe our beloved bloody Lamb sitting on the throne, surrounded by his joyful people. Beginning to end, the Bible is the epic story of a Christ who has come to set things right.
Somehow, these studies turn His journeys into our directions. These studies skip over the incarnate Christ and strap the burden of righteousness on our own backs. These studies mindlessly put us in the place of our Savior, requiring us to please a Holy God. And when we have lost Christ, we have lost the life-giving Word of God.
The effects of unhealthy Bible Study are like an uncontrollable cancer; it begins small and unnoticed. Stories in the Bible sound like stories about us. We learn morals and behavior. The sickness expands. We practice these lessons and are encouraged to do better. The tumor grows larger. We fulfill the Law, bring His kingdom to earth, and strive to live in a happy paradise of our own making. The cancer consumes, and our ears fall dead on the external Gospel of Christ.
I watch my close friends recover from years of Bible Study as we read the Book of Proverbs together. Every verse is saturated with the story of a Wisdom given and shed for them. But my group sludges through the years of “practical wisdom” that has bound their hearts and minds in the shackles of a deadly Law. Proverbs without Christ had unrighteously suffocated my sisters. I actually think this is the most easily perverted of all Bible studies that often entangle a woman. If only a friend were there to say “Don’t do it.”
And so my friend, don’t Bible Study without Christ. He sings freedom in the middle of your chains. He shouts victory in spite of your failures. He promises comfort even when you feel pain. He doesn’t make you look around it, get over it, try harder for it, pray more for it, or conquer it. Every Bible Study should proudly proclaim: He has already done it all.