Before You Begin

Praying before bible class in Papua New Guinea

Before you begin any study of the Word of God, take a few moments to make sure that you are in fellowship with God, filled with the Holy Spirit.  Comprehension—like everything else in the Christian life—is a gift that can be appropriated only by faith.  The Bible clearly lays out three requirements that must be met before we can expect to understand God's Word.  All three require nothing from us but faith.
 
We must be believers in Jesus Christ (1CO 2:14).
Jesus declared to the leading religious leader of His day that apart from spiritual birth man is blind to the things of God: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit… You must be born again." (JOH 3:6).
 
We must be filled by the Spirit (1CO 2:12).
Only the Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God.  As believers we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but when we sin, we break fellowship with God and cease to function in the power of the Spirit.  When we confess our sins, God is always faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1JO 1:9).  The moment we confess, we are restored to fellowship and are again under the control of the Holy Spirit and, therefore, able to learn.
 
We must approach in faith (HEB 11:6-13).
Only when we approach in humility, with child-like faith, will the Word of God make sense to us (MAT 18:4; HEB 11:3).  Where we find Scripture at odds with our ideas or our desires, we must submit to the authority of the Word.  Intimacy, understanding, and power are reserved for those who are willing to do God's will (JOH 7:17).
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