Elders, thank you for making an exceptional opportunity possible last week. Monday through Saturday noon I audited a graduate study of Acts at Harding Graduate School in Memphis. I attended to spiritually feed myself. I chose Acts in order to study under one of the most enlightening teachers I have met, Dr. Richard Oster. A semester's material was covered in one week of intense work.

At noon of the first day I told Joyce that I learned more about Acts in an hour and a half than I had ever known. It was a spiritually rich, wonderful week. My knowledge of scripture; my understanding the work of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit; and my faith grew enormously.

"Was it a refreshing experience because it proved that your 'factual knowledge' was correct?" No. It confirmed some of "my facts," but it also revealed that some of "my facts" were not facts.

"Was it a refreshing experience because it verified your concepts?" No. Some of my concepts were verified, but some were completely transformed. In some instances what I thought that I saw in Acts and what Luke actually wrote were not the same thing.

"Was it a refreshing experience because it justified the past conclusions that you drew from Acts?" No. Some conclusions were justified, but other conclusions were replaced with understandings that more correctly reflected the teachings of Acts.

"Then why was it such a valuable spiritual experience?" It deepened my understanding of scripture. It brought me closer to God. It deepened my understanding of Jesus the man and Jesus the Christ. It more clearly revealed the workings of God from Genesis 12. It created a better focus on the message of the Old Testament prophets. It created a more accurate understanding of God's intents and purposes. And all of that was refreshing!

What is the objective of Bible study? We do not study to massage our Christian egos. We do not study to pour concrete around our convictions. We study to draw closer to God. We study to better understand His will. We study to better comprehend His ways.

When we study the Bible to "defend self" or to "prove that I am right," we defeat the objective of Bible study. We close the eyes of our hearts. We become victims of the same spiritual blindness that destroyed the Pharisees. They knew what scripture said. They did not understand what scripture meant.

"God, please deliver us from the Pharisees' misuse of Bible study and Bible knowledge."

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 19 July 1998

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