Another article: Bible Study Groups #2
Bible Study, prayer and fellowship are the normal spiritual activities of Christian people.
God’s word is dynamic. It is never spoken by God without achieving his purpose. It is powerful and alive, changing those who hear it. By his word he created the world. It is his word that became flesh and dwelt amongst us. This powerful and dynamic word is the gospel message that is at work in us. Ultimately, we will give account for what we have done, and not done, with God’s word.
Christians study the Bible out of our concern to hear what God is saying to us. For what he said through his prophets and apostles, he is saying to us today.
All of us find the truth of the Bible text that “much study is a weariness of the flesh.” For some of us, who are non-readers, this is particularly difficult. However, it is by carefully reading, marking, learning and inwardly digesting the word of God that we pray God will enable us to “embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life”.
Our education and ease of access to the printed Bible provides unparalleled opportunity to study the scriptures for ourselves. There are many good daily Bible reading programmes available. The staff of the Cathedral would be only too happy to help anybody to start on a programme of regular Bible reading.
Each Sunday we plan and expect to be reading and preaching from the Bible in the Cathedral. To help you to listen and profit from the sermons we are printing a preaching program. Reading the passage before coming to church (even on Sunday over the breakfast table) increases the enjoyment and profit of church attendance enormously.
However, reading and studying the Bible with others in a small group is also a great assistance in listening to God. As we study together – those of us less studious are able to learn from those who find reading and study easier. Each of us is able to tell of how God’s word has impacted our lives. We are able to minister to each other as we seek to live in obedience to God our gracious Father.
Studying the Bible naturally leads to prayer. For as we hear God’s word – his promises and his actions, his warnings and his character – we are moved by his Spirit to pray to him. As we become aware of our shortcomings and failures we are moved to confession and repentance. As we learn of his grace and kindness we are moved to thanksgiving and praise.
Prayer is the natural breath of Christian people. It is the expression of belief, the articulation of faith. There is no time or occasion when it is not appropriate for us to pray to our Father who cares for us. The Bible is a constant source of encouragement to prayer.
Studying the Bible with others is a great stimulation to pray for each other. As we meet together around the word of God, we come to know each other in the light of God’s revelation. And as we grow together under the sound of his word we come to greater thankfulness to God for each other and a greater appreciation of each other’s struggles and need for prayer.
It is this prayerful meeting with each other around the word of God which lies at the heart of the activity of fellowship. This is what we share in common. This is our partnership. We are partners together in the great news of God. We listen to it together. We encourage each other to live on the basis of its promises to us. We pray for each other as we are transformed by the renewal of our minds.
My hope is that all the partners of the Cathedral ministry will not only be studying the Bible for themselves but also be part of a small Bible study group.