When a Christian first accepts Jesus into our lives we often experience a great emotional high, a feeling that a great burden has been lifted or that all our stress has been relieved. Then afterwards, as with most things, the new feelings wear off and we can find ourselves a little down, in search of that feeling again without finding it. Sometimes this can make us depressed to the point where we feel we are no longer growing in our faith, that we are some how stuck in a rut, and not moving any closer to GOD or have even moved away from GOD.
What most of us do not realize is that for a Christian to continue to grow in their faith it is necessary to study and learn GOD’s word in the Holy Bible, with each new realization about our relationship with GOD and our place and purpose in creation we can once again reach those emotional highs and that feeling of being closer to GOD.
Unfortunately, most all of us have problems with accepting new information when it comes to our faith. This is true for any Christian, in any denomination, nobody has all the truth.
When most of us get stuck in these ruts the problem is something that we ourselves are rarely able to see, mainly because the problem that causes us to be stuck has been with us our entire lives.
When we are toddlers and able to go to church, we are at this time first taught the beginnings of what will become our main belief system and the doctrines we will believe in later in life. Our parents, pastors, friends and others teach us things from a very young age that gets deeply instilled in us the older we get. This is a totally natural process, because as young children we are born with the instinct to put all our trust in our parents and other people of authority in our lives.
But one thing we have to remember is that Satan is also aware of this process and he has been here for thousands of years. Satan is fully aware of how powerful a system this is for passing along false information from one generation to the next, and he also is fully aware that if he can get error introduced into our belief systems at a very young age, then the older we get without having those errors corrected the less likely we will be to get the correct information.
In essence, what Satan actually does is to put in motion a system from our very births that will stunt our growth as Christians later in life. Most of the information taught to us as small children and then further re-enforced throughout our lives well into adulthood is often riddled with biblical inaccuracies. As we study the bible we begin to see numerous contradictions with what we have been taught and with no one to adequately correct these contradictions we can sink into a depression about our beliefs and feel we are not moving closer to GOD or that it’s just impossible to fully understand the Bible, which can be confusing and depressing.
Fortunately, it’s also not true.
Something most Christians cannot see is that many of us reach a certain level of biblical understanding and then just stop learning as we feel we know everything we can be taught. But this limited information can cause confusion and a doubting of our faith over time for some people. The problem comes from the fact that out of instinct whenever someone tries to teach us something new, or we are presented with new information from some other source than we are used to we instinctually compare the new information to what we have been taught in the past by pastors, parents, teachers or others and do not correctly compare the new information directly to what is written in the bible as we should. By instinct we put or faith in our traditions and past teachings instead of the Bible. Without us even realizing it our authority in life is not GOD, Jesus or the Holy Bible, but instead the interpretation of the Bible that others may have. This is very dangerous as our faith then becomes not bible based but based on the personal opinions, desires, biases and past teachings of other fallible and imperfect human beings and not on the direct word of GOD.
Here are some quick tips on learning new information from the bible and therefore helping ourselves to grow closer to GOD as Christians.
- CONTEXT! CONTEXT! CONTEXT! We must make sure that if someone is showing us a verse in an attempt to teach us something or prove something out of the bible, they are using that verse in context. There are so many verses in the bible that can be used out of context to prove false doctrine. Satan loves this. Sometimes you have to read the entire chapter to get the verse in context. One example would be that most Christians are not aware that there are actually two separate sets of laws in the bible. “The Ceremonial Law” and the “Ten Commandments”. When determining which law a verse is referring to look at the context within which it is used. When talking about the Ceremonial Law the bible will discuss issues such as sacrifices, circumcision, new moons, the seven festival Sabbath days, the Law of Moses, and the temple ceremonies. The Ten Commandments only have one Sabbath day and does not contain any of these other issues. Many verses are taught to unsuspecting Christians as having to do with the Ten Commandments, when they really have to do with the Ceremonial Law and vice versa. The Ceremonial Law ended at the cross (
- Don’t immediately reject new ideas without thorough study. Many Christians completely base their faith on doctrine that is first taught to them. But consider this: Imagine you are feeling fine, in perfect health, and you have an appointment for a checkup with a doctor you have never met before. During your appointment your doctor tells you that there is something seriously wrong with your heart and you will need a transplant. None of us would just accept on faith that this information was correct without wanting a second opinion, after all, we feel just fine. So if we wouldn’t base our life on information we are first told, why do we base our eternal life on what we are first told? Investigate everything, your eternal well being and that of your family may depend on it. Even investigate those things you have accepted to be the total and complete truth, make sure the bible does in fact support those beliefs and you haven’t been given false information or just fed teachings based on tradition instead of biblical fact. Don’t hang onto something just because it was the first thing you ever heard. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and many other people are taught totally different beliefs systems from the moment they are born. They are not taught the truth from birth. Don’t just assume that you have been taught the truth about Christianity. Find out for yourself. Read and study the Bible.
- Study the bible to wipe out contradictions. Never base doctrine on a single verse. The bible is written in a really unique way that most people don’t realize or understand. It’s called “Hebrew Parallelism”, which is simply writing something in one place in the bible in one way, and then in other place writing about the same thing in a slightly different way or from a slightly different point of view. It’s done this way on purpose. The bible is written so that if you gather all the verses on a single subject or point of interest, and then study them in such a way as to eliminate all the contradictions, what you will be left with is the single right answer. It takes time and study, but it really will answer more questions than the current “the Lord works in mysterious ways” answer we get most of the time. We can understand the bible. After all, the last chapter is called “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, not “The Hidden Hard to Understand Secrets of Jesus Christ”.
- Don’t put all your trust in a pastor. Pastors are like computers, bad data in results in bad data out. I am not trying to bad mouth our pastors, but they are just human and susceptible to making mistakes like any other human being. Also, since a pastor’s livelihood relies on what he teaches pastors can be some of the most reluctant people to learn new information and teach it out of fear of making their congregations angry and losing members, therefore jeopardizing their livelihoods. They are more likely to get stuck in a rut than anyone.
- If something can’t be supported directly out of the bible WITHOUT contradicting other bible verses don’t believe it. Continue to study until you wipe out the contradictions and arrive at the literal truth.
- Study the bible literally as much as possible. There is some symbolism in the bible, mainly when it comes to bible prophecy, but most everything else in the bible can be taken literally, regardless of what people may tell you to the contrary.
- Never PICK and CHOOSE your way through the bible. This is one of the most horrendous bible study practices that exist, and almost all Christians do it. We concentrate and accept those verses we like, and ignore anything we don’t like. But the bible does not give us that option. “And Jesus answered him, saying, it is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Luke 4:4). Jesus simply does not give us the option to do this; we must accept every word of GOD, which would include ALL the words in the Ten Commandments including the words “seventh day” and “Sabbath” for example.
- Most importantly USE WHAT YOU LEARN!
At one time in my life I personally experience what could best be called as a “falling out” with GOD due to the fact that I found so many contradictions in the Bible with what I had been taught growing up. I finally decided that the word of GOD must be perfect, so what I had been taught must be flawed. This led me to begin a bible study to find out the truth about everything I could in GOD’s word. I realized early that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to my understanding of the Bible would be my own personal pride as I had seen it interfere with the learning of so many others. I simply didn’t want to be wrong and I knew this would keep me from experiencing anything new within GOD’s Holy Word. I learned that GOD hates pride, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13). GOD hates pride because it is worse than any drug or alcohol at blinding men and stopping up their ears. If you want to grow with GOD, you must shed your pride. I myself would begin my bible studies with this prayer…
“Dear GOD, Father in heaven, help me to understand your word in only the way you meant for your word to be understood. Help me to understand everything within your Holy Bible only as you meant it to be understood, without the opinions, biases, pre-teachings or traditions of any other human being or myself. Help me most of all to shed my pride so that I can accept whatever you have to teach me with an open mind and an open heart. Reduce me to a blank slate, break me down and build me up again as you and only you would have me to be. Amen.”
I was shocked and amazed at the revelations GOD put before me. At all the biblical inaccuracies HE corrected for me right before my very eyes, at showing me all those that were misleading me and steering me away from them. The truth is a powerful and life changing thing. So much is being hidden from modern Christians, they are not even told the full life that is awaiting for them in heaven, instead they are taught they will sit around in a big circle singing forever, or playing harps, but GOD has so much more than that planned for us, and the Bible reveals it all, if we would only just open up to it.
Bottom line, if you want to grow as a Christian, be open and learn!
-ken elliott July 2010