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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Insulation

What is the purpose of insulation?

Insulation reduces the ability of an atmosphere either inside or outside a building to escape out or penetrate in.  It isolates us, puts a barrier between us and a climate.  It allows us to control our surroundings and our immediate atmosphere.
That’s great.  Life is better with insulation.

The Christian life however is not better with insulation.
Christ commands us to abide in His Word.  John 8:31 – 32; John 15:7 are examples of this.  There are so many more that it would be more than a little redundant.  Both the old and new testaments are full of examples, Psalm 119 is a prime example.

But it seems that many of us are insulating ourselves from the Word of God.  How?  We use secondary sources rather than engage directly with God’s Word.
  • We need to honor those who share the Word with us, we should listen to good messages, but that message is not the Word of God.  Hopefully it is the result of the messenger’s personal engagement with the Word, but it may not be.  Some people who speak are sharing what they read in other secondary sources.  Either way, it is not direct involvement with the Word, there is a layer of insulation, not all of it is getting through.
  • Fill in the blank or other types of Bible study guides are really helpful.  I have used them and in some cases still do.  But in those studies someone else has directly engaged with the Scripture and is leading you through what they learned.  You are being steered in the direction of their conclusions both by the references they ask you to consult, and the questions they ask about those passages.  Again, a layer of insulation…
  • I am currently reading through two or three books that deal with Biblical topics.  If you could see my office you would note that I am literally surrounded by books and my Bible program has hundreds more in its library.  While I am helped by those books, they are, again, someone else’s work.  Someone else dug into the text and wrote what they saw.  I can benefit, but it is a layer of insulation between me and the text.
The point of all of this is that as good as some speakers, study guides, and Christian books may be, they cannot be our primary input.  They are not even a pale substitute for diving into the Word on our own to work through a verse, a chapter, a book, a topic, or a character.

The challenge is that many of us have not been shown how.  That is the purpose of this ministry.  If you need help with this, let me know.  I will help you take down the insulation.

2 comments:

  1. I can't possibly disagree with your observations. I do find that studying the text itself, despite my limited formal study training, is a high privilege of my Christian experience. My first desire when I awake in the morning is to get my Bible open and get to work. This morning I was awake at 1:30 AM and unable to get back to sleep (common these days) so I got up, spent about an hour reflecting personally and reflecting back to the Lord what I was reading as it applied to my current experience. Without that my life would be an impossible struggle.

    I find that the greatest use of other inputs, whether verbal or written, is to challenge my thinking on passages or truths I think I know. Sometimes it's new material applied in a different way. Sometimes it's forcing me to think more deeply or clearly about a passage or truth. Sometimes it's just pure delight to hear the truth revealed by another in other words.

    But I think that all this is built on a foundation of my own study through the years and especially in my current experience. Truth should have relevance to my needs today. The Lord knows how much I need it....

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    Replies
    1. You are right on. We should only use secondary sources after we have done our own study. Otherwise we will be like a student in their classroom. When we read those works on a foundation of our own interaction with and study of the Word, we are then in a dialog with the author. We are in a place where we can compare what they have written with what we have seen. It gives us much deeper interaction both with their writing and in some cases will push us deeper into our own study.

      Good stuff Chuck.

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