This week we are reading the letter to the Galatian church. What we see here as in many of the New Testament letters is a pattern that starts with theological truths that are the foundation of genuine faith and then a transition to practical application. It is similar to other kinds of effective training that gives the key underlying principals and then moves into how to put the principals into practice. This is how I learned to skydive.
Sometimes the theological foundation is dense and not easily or readily understood. That is why a good study Bible is helpful when reading – I use the Quest Study Bible. In Galatians, we encounter a lot of important truths about God, human beings, religious history, legalism, genuine faith and the activity of God’s Holy Spirit. If we aren’t careful we may skim over these without working to really understand and digest them. Here is a way to look at this.
Many of us are concerned about what we eat and as a result, we may select organic foods that don’t have contaminants and chemicals that may be harmful. Going organic takes more time for selection and preparation and often more money but the benefits are seen as worth the effort and cost for our health. Bible study is similar. Wrestling with what the Bible teaches takes time to study and digest. Healthy Bible study requires asking questions, using sources that are reputable and not settling on what is comfortable or convenient. Like the appeal of fast and processed food, we can take the easy way and let popular and charismatic writers guide us but if we aren’t careful we can fall into unhealthy thinking and beliefs that hurt our faith. For instance, The Shack is a popular book about God and faith that has recently come out as a movie. While it has some good elements there are also some ideas presented that are way off base. Examining the ideas presented with what the Bible really teaches will help us recognize the differences.
The Bible should always be the foundation for building our faith and practice and the source we use to evaluate ideas, values, beliefs and philosophies. If we want to have a strong and vital relationship with Jesus this is the way to go.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)