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LIFE > Life in Christ > Summoned to Study 


To be Embraced by Truth and to have life in Christ is to be summoned to study; in fact, the summons is in the embracing and the resulting new life. Imparted to the believer is the desire to investigate, understand, and apply the Truth that has invaded the life (see: Sovereignty in Salvation). Study is not viewed as an obligation, but as a privilege, even as a highly desirable discipline.

For the study to be effective and beneficial there needs to be some sense of priority that guides the study. Constantly the main concern in study must be the Truth, and the secondary focus must be to listen to the Community of the Truth. The believer must study Scripture and listen to the cumulative voice of the Church.

In both the primary and secondary focus, the most desirable personal characteristic is a teachable spirit—to be taught, one must be teachable. An absence of teachableness is an indication of pride and egotism; it indicates an exalted view of one’s position that is arrogant and dangerous, of which the Pharisees are the best example. A strident defense of their position prohibited them from grasping the Truth, which was right in front of them.

Truth is the primary focus, meaning the Bible is to be studied. The believer is a student, a student for life, of the Scriptures (see: Theology and the Bible). Proper study includes reading the text until the mind begins to think the thoughts of the text. The text is to be personalized, made a part of the person’s thinking so much so that the person comes to think and reflect on all matters in Biblical categories. A casual reading will not saturate the mind with the thoughts of God; one must be disciplined to spend the time necessary for the Word of God not only to take root but to grow larger and larger in the intellectual and moral life. Development of a Christian worldview is not the result of a weekend retreat.

 The mind is set on itself; it knows only the horizontal plane, thinking and interpreting reality in terms of self. Because of this inward and earthly perspective, its discernment is fatally flawed. An increase of mental acuity and intellectual prowess is not the solution. Capacity for intellectual accomplishment and intelligence quotients are meaningless, for they do not guarantee the ability to interpret life correctly. Modest education or advanced education does not improve the possibility of the mind having a proper perspective.

Attainments in academia are no substitute for a subdued mind, one that has become captivated by Truth (see: Truth). The mind must be taught; it must be reprogrammed; it is in need of transformation, a renewing (Rom. 12:1-2). And that can only be accomplished by an invasion of Truth that lifts the viewpoint from the horizontal plane to the vertical plane, from humanism to Theism, from man to God. What is at stake is the perspective by which one views all of the created order: Is it one of individual autonomy, or is it Divine Sovereignty?

Accompanying the reading of the Scriptures is a study of the context, a consideration of the etymology and meaning of words, an awareness of the perspective from which the author wrote his book, an understanding of the times from the standpoint of history, knowing the culture of the people, having a knowledge of the environment and geography of the land, a familiarity with the types of speech used in writing the text, and other related topics. All of this involves the use of dictionaries, lexicons, commentaries, encyclopedias, and individual books on specific topics that aid in an understanding of the meaning of the text (see: Principles of Hermeneutics).

The Community created by the Truth is the secondary focus of study, meaning the affirmation of other believers must be considered. It is vital to know what other believers have believed, for the theological pursuit is the pursuit of the Community, the Community of the committed. It is possible to learn from believers who have gone before.

Today’s questions of doctrine and heresy are not new; they have been asked before, and the Church throughout its history has dealt with these issues. The Church has been careful to define doctrine and expose heresy, so a believer is impoverished if he neglects the accumulated teaching and interpretation of the Church. He is probably condemned to repeat old heresies, giving them a modern presentation. Tradition is not infallible, but it is also neither flawed to the point that it should not be consulted.

In reading Scripture and in perusing the writings of the Church, be open to the possibility that you will find Truth when you are least expecting it (see: Foundations; Significance of Truth; and The Starting Point). Even a renewed mind has not yet achieved infallibility.

The study of Truth
ultimately leads to knowing the God of Truth,
not just facts about Him that are true,
but an encounter with Him who is true.

To know Truth is to know God:
and this is the motivation and goal of study.

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