STUDYING THE BIBLE WITH OTHER BELIEVERS
Are Bible studies really that important? If we’re honest, many of us likely believe that we already check off enough boxes on the “Christian to-do list.” We read our Bibles, go to church, say our prayers, listen to Christian radio, and refrain from using curse words. We have busy schedules and don’t feel like we can make time for any more appointments, so we often let Bible studies fall to the bottom of our priority list and don’t think twice about it. This is a dangerous habit to develop as a believer, however. Studying the Bible with other Christians is extremely beneficial for our relationships with God.
Why is it important to study the Bible with other believers? In short, because the Bible tells us to. In Colossians 3:16, Paul writes, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit…” He continues in Hebrews 10, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Paul instructs us to let the message of Christ dwell among us, to not give up meeting together, and to teach, admonish, and encourage each other in our fellowship.
If we are faithful to meet with other believers to study the Word of God and pray together, we will experience the following benefits:
- God’s presence. God will be with us when we gather together. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” When we join together in prayer, reading the Scriptures, and pursuing of our Savior, we are unified in His presence. He is there with us as we join together as the body of Christ.
- Accountability. We will find accountability amongst other believers. Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” This verse refers to an Old Testament practice in which one iron blade was used to sharpen another blade until both became more effective tools. Without each other, both blades would be dull. Similarly, believers “sharpen” one another by holding each other accountable in their walks with the Lord. When we gather together as brothers and sisters in Christ and openly share our struggles and failures, we learn how we can help hold each other accountable to stay faithful to our calling as children of the King.
- Fresh perspectives. We all come from different backgrounds with different experiences, and consequently, our viewpoints can vary widely. Meeting with other believers to discuss the Bible can bring about lots of different perspectives on Scripture and spiritual matters. This is healthy as it enables us to interpret Scripture through different lenses than we might personally have and exposes us to wisdom outside of our own mindset. We may find ourselves learning things that we never would have considered if we weren’t in community with other believers.
- Encouragement. Meeting together as like-minded believers can be greatly impactful on our faithfulness. Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” We are naturally sinful, and Satan seeks to devour us, but when we gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ to learn about God and grow in our faith, we encourage each other to stay faithful to Him and not fall prey to Satan’s lies. This encouragement is vital both when we are spiritually weak and when we feel spiritually strong. We will have highs and lows in our walks with the Lord, but having other Christians to walk beside us and encourage us in our journeys is infinitely valuable. We were created for community; we need it for spiritual survival.
Bible studies can take many different shapes and forms. It may be just you and one accountability partner reading the same book of the Bible together and chatting about it on the phone a few nights a week. Perhaps it’s a group of men meeting at a coffee shop one morning a week before work to discuss the Bible passage from Sunday’s sermon. Maybe it’s a weekly women’s Bible study at your church. You can use an official, organized, biblically-based curriculum or simply read through a book of the Bible; the structure doesn’t matter, just make sure you are meeting with other believers on a regular and consistent basis to dive into the Scriptures and pray together.