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Share it. But most of all, thank you for listening to the Truth Podcast Network. Today, Pastor Russ Andrews will walk us through Scripture to answer these questions. Join us on Finding Purpose, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. For more information and to connect with Russ Andrews and Finding Purpose, you can visit us online at findingpurpose.net or connect with us on Facebook.
Now let's listen to Russ Andrews as he teaches us how to be a Christian without being religious. Well, what I wanted to do tonight, first of all, was just to say hello. So howdy. And this is our 19th year. Many of you guys have been coming since the very beginning, and that's such an exciting thing to look out and see guys that have been coming for 19 years. Some of you are just getting started, and you are in for a treat.
Not me, but just the fact that you're part of this study, and I'm excited for you. But one of the things I wanted to do tonight as we get started, I'm going to just, I want to give sort of an overview, and I want to start kind of where I think Bible studies should start, and that is to give some kind of a reason, build a case for why we study the Bible. Now, the Bible is probably something not unfamiliar to any of you in here, and it's no surprise. There are almost nine out of ten households in America have at least one Bible. Most of them have up to four Bibles. I don't know how many you have, but in terms of print or digital or however you access God's Word, you probably have several copies. But what's interesting about this is, and what's interesting about the Bible studies that we have here in Raleigh, is a lot of them look a lot like this. Certainly on the first night, and probably on the second night, and that's a great thing.
That is so exciting to see how many guys have turned out. One of the things that I've always been a little concerned about, and I say this as part of a large men's study, and I have been for well over 20 years, is that we tend to make very well-educated Christians, but in a lot of cases, we don't see a lot of activated Christians. You understand what I'm saying? So we tend to preach, and we tend to teach, and people absorb, and they learn, and they become very proficient in the Word, but they don't get involved. They don't take, you know, the whole idea behind finding purpose and behind this men's Bible study is that as you learn the Bible, you start to live the Bible, and you go back to your home church, or you go back to your house, or your neighborhood, or your workplace, and you start to share the Bible, and so that is my dream. That is my prayer, really, for this year, that as you read this incredible book, this miraculous work, this, I mean, Romans is so amazing.
It is spectacular. It is the highest of heights in the Bible, and as we read it, you're going to experience rush after rush as truths come to your mind, as the Lord opens your eyes and your heart. Many of you have been walking with the Lord for a number of years, some of you just starting out, but even those that have been looking at God's Word for years and years are going to be amazed at what God will show them during this study. You may have read Romans. You may have studied Romans multiple times, but you know what? You didn't read Romans where you are today. You read Romans where you were when you read it, and your life has changed. You probably have dealt with a lot of different things, and you're reading it with fresh eyes, and so I pray that you have fresh eyes, that you have an open heart, that you're willing to learn, that you're willing to look, and more importantly, I hope that the Lord will continue to work in your life and make it possible for you to understand His Word.
So I'm excited about you being here. Why study the Bible? Why do we study the Bible? Throughout, you know, throughout the New Testament, Jesus kept running into these conflicts with these people called Pharisees, and when you look at John 5 39, it says, he makes a very amazing statement. He says, you search the scriptures. Now, these Pharisees knew their scriptures. They knew their Bible, but he says, you search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, and these are they which testify of me. What Jesus was saying here is that everything in scripture, everything in the Word of God points to Him.
He is the one that the Bible is all about, start to finish, cover to cover, and so as we read this Bible, one of the things that we want to find, one of the reasons that we study the Bible, is that so we might know Jesus Christ, and again, He said all scripture points to Him. In John 17 3, Jesus defines eternal life as knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He sent. So, although the Pharisees were diligently searching, remember, they knew their Bibles.
We would be, we would be amazed at how much of the Bible, they forgot more about the Bible than most of us would ever know, but He tells them that you, you are so diligent in searching the scriptures, and yet you've missed the main point. You have missed the source of eternal life. So, we read the Bible if we want to find the source for eternal life. If you want eternal life, read your Bible, and so that's why we read it.
That's why we study it. We study the Bible because it's God's Word to us. 2 Timothy 3 15, Paul is talking about, he's talking to a young disciple named Timothy, and he says that all scripture, or he says that scripture is able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. So, the primary point, what Paul's saying is that the written Word of God is to lead us as people to a saving knowledge of the truth, to make us wise. So, if you want to be wise, if you want to attain a saving knowledge of the truth, read your Bible. You know, there's a difference too about reading and studying. Just to be clear, we should always be reading our Bible, but we should always be studying our Bible.
Reading the Bible is not the same as studying the Bible. I've heard it compared, or yeah, compared to the idea of crossing a big river, or a big lake rather, and you cross the first time in a motorboat, a speedboat, and you crank it all the way up. It's fun. You're flying from one coastline to the other. You get across the lake. You've seen the beauty of the surface, the trees, the clouds, the beauty of the day.
You've even had a great time just kind of speeding across the lake. That's reading the Bible. Studying the Bible is crossing that same lake in a glass-bottom boat, where you take the time, and you look at what's under. You explore the depths. You see the magnificence of the life under you.
Now, I don't want to take the analogy too far, because I've been on the lakes here in Raleigh, and you can't see the bottom, and they're pretty nasty, but if it was a crystal clear lake, if it was the kind of lake that we're going to see in paradise, then you would see the magnificence and the beauty of all of God's creation. That's what studying the Bible is about. Studying the Bible is like digging for treasure.
It takes time. It's hard work, but if you know that treasure is there, and you know the treasure is here, you'll take that time, and you'll put in the effort, and so that's why we study the Bible. Well, how does it work? So all of this stuff, we know that we can know Jesus. We know that we can know the source, and we can have eternal life. We know that we can know God. We know that we can attain this saving knowledge of the truth.
How does this work? Well, if you continue reading 2 Timothy 3, 16, it might be, if you've got your Bible, turn there if you don't mind. I think it'll be helpful to see all of this in context, and again, while you're turning, let me just tell you what we're looking at here. Paul is talking to a young disciple, his protege, really, Timothy. Paul is actually writing from prison, and he's facing a death sentence, and he's writing to Timothy, and he's trying to encourage Timothy, who is leading a church in Ephesus, and so he's telling him some, he's giving them some nuggets.
These are the gold nuggets. This is the treasure I'm talking about, and one of the things that Paul says here in 2 Timothy 3, 16 is, all Scripture, all of it, is God-breathed. This means that God is speaking his word. God, just like we have to breathe in order to speak, God breathes out his word. He speaks his word, and that's where we get the Bible. Now, the Bible, of course, was written by 40 different people over 15 centuries, and you think, well, now they were writing the Bible. How did God speak it? God moved these men along by the Holy Spirit.
We find that out. Peter writes about that. He says that they were carried by the Spirit, right? So they wrote as the Spirit directed them. It's like this, it's like a sailboat, the wind blowing the sailboat and directing or empowering the sailboat. That's how the authors of the Bible wrote down what is in the Bible.
He used their personality, he used their style, he used their experience, their background to come up with this amazing book. But all of it, every bit of it, is God-breathed. It is all the word of God. And so, as God speaks to us, we know, you know, it's funny, there are a lot of people that say that they don't believe in God and they wouldn't believe in God unless he were to speak to them, the idea that he would part the clouds and a voice would come down and say, I am here, you know, and then they said they would believe him.
Well, the truth of the matter is, you and I have an opportunity to hear God speak every day. All we have to do is open up his word, that Paul said, is God-breathed. This is God's word. As we think about God's word, the author of Psalm 119 goes on and on about God's word, how precious it is, how amazing it is, how awesome it is, how awe-inspiring it is. All of those things that he's saying about it, those are the attributes of God.
And that makes sense, doesn't it? Because it's God's word. It is reflecting his character, his attributes. And so, when we come to God's word, we have an opportunity to know him. And as we approach him through his word, we have that same kind of reverence and awe because he has given us his word.
He speaks to us today. Well, and since God is the author of Scripture, we must accept that the Bible is our supreme authority. So, you know, a lot of folks will wonder what God would have to say about this or that. All of the Bible tells us what we need to know in life. And the Bible has supreme authority, so we don't have to ask anybody else or any other book what the Bible tells us or that we trust in any other book because the Bible is that supreme authority.
It is authoritative. It is because it's God's word, we know that it is perfect and it is powerful and that it transforms lives. Well, not only does God declare that God inspires the Scripture, but he also says that it's profitable.
So look down further and it says that it's profitable for teaching and for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Well, you know, what that means is that as you're reading the Bible, that it changes you. It has an effect on you. As you read and study, like we were talking about, different ways of approaching God's word, but because it's powerful, it has an effect on you.
It changes you. It instructs you and it tells you all you need to know about how to live in this world. It's God's world, after all, and it gives us all the instruction that we need in order to know how to live, and it tells us everything we need to know about our faith. The Bible is also profitable for reproof or rebuke. So the Bible tells us when we go out of bounds, it's kind of like a referee.
So if you're in the field of play, any of you who have ever played sports, football or soccer, when the ball goes out of bounds or you step out of bounds, the referee calls the play dead and tells you you're going the wrong way, and play can't resume until you turn and you come back into the boundary that has been laid out for you. And that's what repentance is. It's turning away from the direction that you're going and turning back towards God, and that is reproof or rebuke has this same effect.
It tells you to stop doing what you're doing, to turn back to God and continue on the right path. Well, it also says that it's useful for correction. Now, correction and rebuke sound kind of the same, but correction here is actually the flip side of the same idea. So rebuke is to tell you you're doing wrong and that you need to turn back. Correction, the idea here is that once you turn back, it helps straighten you out. In fact, the word used for correction is the word to straighten out. Ortho, any of you been to the orthodontist or the orthopedist, you know that it's about straightening something, right?
So this picture is straightening a broken bone or writing something that has tipped over back into its upright position. So this idea is like a child when you tell a child that they've done something wrong, you can't just leave the child, you say, you know, that's wrong, Johnny, and then you just walk away. That does nothing for the child except make them, you know, feel like they're being punished, which they are.
But what you really want to do is then point that child into the direction that they should be going, help to teach them about the behavior that's acceptable. So that's what the Bible does. It points out where we're going wrong, it brings us back into the boundary, into God's standard, and then it tells us how to move forward and be obedient and to have the type of behavior that is acceptable according to God's standard. And then finally, we see that it's profitable for training in righteousness. Well, this idea, this is just the application of truth. And like I said before, one of the problems, I think, with Bible studies in general, and this is a big problem, honestly, is that I don't think that people necessarily need another Bible study, although I think you should be in Bible study, don't get me wrong. The problem is very often people don't do what they're learning. They don't put it into practice.
They don't apply the truth that they're learning. And so this is what training in righteousness means. It's a personal trainer. If you've ever been to a personal trainer, if you've ever seen one on TV, you know that what they do is they teach you the correct form, and they monitor you, and they watch you, and they tell you, yeah, you're doing a great job. Keep it up.
Keep it up. And in this case, the Bible is a personal trainer. It's telling you how to continue your life in righteousness, in righteous behavior, rather. So with that said, you wonder, well, what's the goal of Bible study?
So the Bible is telling me what I shouldn't do. It's telling me what I should do. It's training me for how to do it right.
It sounds like a lot of doing. What is the goal? Is it just to make me a better person? Well, in verse 17, you see that it all of this is for the man of God, so that he may be adequate. Another word there would be complete and equipped for every good work. So there is an end purpose. But again, here's this work idea.
What's going on here? Well, remember, we started this with the idea that it makes us wise unto salvation. So notice the order here. There's salvation first, and then Paul starts talking about how it changes us, how it changes our behavior, and it allows us, or equips us, rather, for the work that God gives us to do. Now, the ultimate goal of the Bible is to make us men of God. The ultimate purpose for you and I is that we glorify God and that we enjoy him forever. And that's what the Bible tells us. Again, cover to cover.
This is the plan. God, his plan, his purpose is to bring glory to himself. So if you follow the line of thought here, that the Bible as we read it, as the Bible as we study it, it makes us wise unto salvation. As we are saved, it starts to work on how we think and how we live. It works in our heart. It changes us. It transforms us. And ultimately, it makes us complete.
Another good word for complete is mature. And again, that's the idea. That's what we're trying to do.
We want to become mature. We want to be more Christ-like. And that's what the Bible is all about. Salvation, first, then it leads to these works that God has prepared for us. And oh, by the way, those works, what is the whole idea behind the works? The works, the idea behind the works is that we would let our light shine before men, and they would what? Glorify God. They would give glory to God. And so our works have this effect of doing what God's wanted all along, that as He equips us, as He immatures us, and He gives us good works to do, as we start to carry out those works, then we bring glory to God. People see that, and they themselves give glory to God. And so that's really kind of the idea.
But again, always remember the order here. First of all, the idea is that we are saved by grace through faith, right? We find that out in Ephesians 2-8.
So that's the first part. Salvation, it's not us. It's not us doing works. The Bible makes us wise unto salvation. We're saved by grace through faith. And then it says in 2-10 that we're equipped for good works. These are the good works that God has given us to do. And so that's important.
That's an important distinction. And as we do it, we then glorify God, and people watching glorify Him as well. So do you want to know God? Do you want to love God? Do you want to glorify God? And do you want to enjoy God forever? Well again, that is the goal of Bible study.
That is the reason we're here. That is the reason why we study our Bible. You know, the Bible blesses people that come to it and study it. It is a living book written by a living God. We see that in in Hebrews 4-12. And what's amazing is that you and I, you and I, you and I, we can come and meet God anytime we open this book.
What a thought. Well why do we study together? Why do we come into a group like this?
Why do we have discussion groups, small groups? You know, your presence here shows that you highly value God's Word. You have come to find out more, and so the reason that you're here, the reason that we gather is to study God's Word. And while personal Bible study, you could just spend time at your house studying Bible study, or the Bible, and you could pray all by yourself.
But why they are essential, they are important in your life, studying the Bible in the context of a small group adds depth to your study. You know, as we share what we are learning through the Bible with one another, we see new insights, we see these, this multifaceted view of God as he presents himself to each person. It also accelerates our spiritual growth. We can come to each other, we can share, you know, the problems that we're having.
We can share problems we're having studying God's Word, or just problems we're having in life. Gives us an opportunity to pray together, pray over each other, pray with one another, to learn about each other, to spend time in fellowship, and this is how we grow. This is so critical to men in particular. Men are some of the most isolationist people that, you know, we could know, right? We want to have our own time.
Give me some alone time. And when we get together, we typically just talk about superficial things like sports or, you know, whatever. But as we get together to study God's Word, we go deep, right?
We rig ourselves for deep running, and we go deep from the time that you come into your discussion group. You're gonna find out things about your men in your group, and you're gonna be amazed at what they're willing to share, but you're gonna find yourself sharing the same thing. Like I said, you're gonna see highs and lows in each other's lives. You're gonna pray for each other, you're gonna be there for each other, you're gonna spend time together. That is what it's all about. It's about relationship. This Bible helps us, it helps to reform our relationship with our God and with each other. That's, that's ultimately, that's where it's all going. We're gonna see perfect relationships on the last day as we are reformed and his kingdom comes to fruition.
So that's the reason that we get together. I can assure you whether you have been studying for years or you're just starting out, that your experience in your small group is going to prove invaluable. Small group study is such an effective method of spiritual growth that Jesus used it all the time with the men who would one day lead his church. I mean, you can remember stories of Jesus that he would preach, and he very often he would use parables, and then once he was done and they walked down the road a bit, he would say, okay guys, huddle up.
Anybody have any questions? And then he would spend time just helping them understand the Word. And again, that's one of the reasons that we come together so we can help each other, where we can hear about it, we can talk about it, we can grow. And so it's helpful for you personally as you grow. It's helpful also as you show other people that you, that this is important to you. People are watching you, your families, your friends, your co-workers. They're wondering, what are they doing? And so it helps other people too. Like I said, they're going to see that there's something really important.
They're going to ask. This is one of the best things you can do in terms, it sets up evangelism opportunities. People are going to want to know what you're doing, why you do it.
It's like, it's just up in the air, ready for you to spike it. So take advantage of that. Colossians 3 16, another reason we do it, let the Word of Christ dwell richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing praises, our Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thanksgiving in your hearts to God. So as we get together, we have this opportunity to let the Word of God dwell within us richly.
What does that mean? That's rich in fellowship and community, but we get to encourage and we challenge one another and we sing with one another. Every time you come in here, you get to preach. You get to give a sermon to the guys that are with you. You get to tell them, man, I think this is the most important thing in life. What an encouragement.
What a challenge. But when you come next to a guy that's struggling with it, you have an opportunity to put your arm around him and say, hey, I see you're struggling. How can I help? How can I pray? And so that is, I think another opportunity. The other reason we study together is so that you can encourage the men in your group, the brothers that as a Christian, when you're called into a family, and I know that not everybody in here perhaps is a Christian yet.
You may not have given your life to Christ, but you're on your way. And the joy of this is that you get to feel, you get to taste what it's like to be in this new family that God has called his people into. And so that's another reason that we do it. Well, why are we studying Romans?
All right, this is the biggie. This is the main reason we're here, of course. You know, in the first century to the present, Christians have struggled. They have struggled mightily to obey lists and to try and behave correctly, right? We're brought up this way, as in our parents at church in particular say, you know, straighten it up and act right.
Do this, not that. It's all about doing. It's all about how you behave. And so that's the pattern that we grow up with. And as Christians, very often we fall back into that pattern. We think there's something I must do in order to gain the pleasure of my Father in heaven. And so Christians struggle with this.
You and I, I'm sure, have struggled. I know I have struggled with this early in my in my Christian life. The Christianity is not religious striving. You know, if anyone understood what it meant to be religious, it was the Apostle Paul. Paul came from a very religious background. He was a devout, law-abiding Pharisee.
We talked about Pharisees. He was a member of the strictest sect of Jews. He was a Hebrew.
He described himself with this, a Hebrew of Hebrews. Every day he tried his hardest to earn God's favor by trying to keep the law perfectly. Being a zealous Jew, he was enraged by the news that there were these Christians in Jerusalem, of all places, that were spreading this word that Jesus, man named Jesus, was the Messiah. And Paul was determined to put a stop to it, to put an end to it. He wanted to put an end to this cult around this person named Jesus of Nazareth. He was so committed to destroying the church that he pursued Christians relentlessly, city by city. In Acts 8, it says that Paul, then called Saul, was like he was ravaging the church, it says, entering house after house, dragging off men and women, and committing them to prison.
This word ravages, it's like it's a picture of a bull ravaging a garden. Paul is ravaging the church. However, one day on his way to Damascus, something amazing happens. Y'all know this story.
I'm sure you've heard this story. Paul is on his way to Damascus to arrest some more of these Christians. But he has this radical conversion when he meets the living and risen Lord, right there on the road. Being a Christian is not about being religious, but about having a dynamic, alive relationship with Jesus Christ. You've been listening to Finding Purpose with Pastor Russ Andrews, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. You can discover more about finding your purpose in life by checking out the resources at findingpurpose.net or connect to Finding Purpose on Facebook. Pastor Russ would also like to extend a special invitation for you to join him and over 300 other local men to study God's Word together every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. Find out more at findingpurpose.net.
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