By: Amy Hornbuckle
There is a lot of fear about becoming legalistic with our quiet time. We warn against elevating knowledge and pursuing the facts about God, instead of pursuing Him. But at what point does that fear become disobedience?
Jen Wilkin recently said, “We should be concerned that we’re more fearful of arrogance than we are of ignorance.”
My first year as a believer I walked in the world of “Christian” women who pursued the life I was eager to escape. As I battled the shame and questions from that life, their leadership and witness disoriented me. I felt as though I was stuck somewhere between salvation and living that out, nowhere to turn, not sure who to trust. During that time the Lord protected me and now it’s easy to see the work He had done in my heart.
My confusion led to believing untrue things about God and not truly understanding the gospel. I often think about the people I may have led astray or negatively impacted due to my misunderstandings and misinterpretations. I praise God for being in control over that! But there’s a truth here that has shaped my faithful walk from the moment I was finally discipled: there are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).
Being on Guard
Paul’s ministry was saturated with speaking out against false teaching and ignorance of the gospel.
1. Romans was written specifically to teach the truths of grace to a people who hadn’t had apostolic instruction.
2. The first letter to the Corinthian church was specifically written to correct behavior that stemmed from wrong belief.
3. The second letter to the Corinthian church was necessary for Paul to confront false teachers.
4. Galatians was written to speak against the Jewish false teachers who were preaching a justification by works instead of faith.
5. Ephesians was a massive encouragement and reminder for the church as they battled false teachers preaching extra-biblical rules.
Scripture warns us against false teaching, again and again. We must be on guard; protecting our heart and mind from consuming a wrong gospel message.
Grow in Grace and Knowledge
To be sure, God doesn’t expect us to have all the answers. What he desires is our relationship with Him. But that relationship demands a right worship and obedience. Just like we know our friend’s deepest fears, strengths, shame, and joys, we know Him.
He has gifted us with complete access to Him through the Spirit and the Bible. We have the privilege to delight in the details of our God and understand all that he has done. Why, then, do we treat the Bible as a legalistic task instead of a tool for intimate relationship?
2 Peter 3:18 commands us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
Grace is not only the means by which we are saved but also the means by which we are preserved. This assures us that grace covers everything; including our pursuit of knowledge.
As followers of Christ, then, we can be sure that our disciplines, when sought after humbly, never run out of grace. We do not have to present a resume to Jesus, we do not read the Bible to check it off the list, we do not attend church to be a “good Christian.” God knows our heart. He desires our devotion; not a time, amount, or day.
So, under the promise of grace how do we pursue knowledge? How do we avoid the fear of legalistic Bible study? The antidote to a vain pursuit of knowledge is not avoiding it but praying through it.
Marshall Segal said it like this:
“Prayer is conscious, personal communication with the God of the universe. A better question than “How’s your prayer life?” might be, “Have you been enjoying conscious communication with God — over His word, in your daily needs, throughout your day?” Has your relationship with Him been real — not a box to check, not just a hurried place for help, not a vague abstract idea hovering over your head and life? Has your faith been tying you to Him in your heart? Have you been leaning on Him, and not yourself?”
We cannot do anything of true value without God; which means we can’t do anything without prayer.
If our Bible study and pursuit of knowing Him is saturated with prayer, how could it be legalistic? We cannot genuinely commune with the Lord and simultaneously elevate our work. Prayer is too personal; too intimate; too vulnerable.
Praying through your Pen
As we sit down for our quiet time let us know the grace that covers us. The Savior that knows us, the knowledge before us, and the growth He requires of us.
We read the Bible for no other reason than desperately wanting to know and love our God like He knows and loves us. As we pick up our pens, highlighters, pencils, journals, papers, or whatever else it is that we use, let it be saturated with prayer. As we make our notes and draw our arrows let every stroke be a part of the communion with the Author. Knowing Him, hearing Him, and abiding in Him are the reasons we approach the gift of His word.
Amy grew up in St. Louis, Missouri but now lives in Florida with her husband of 9 months. She is a proud dog mamma, and loves taking long walk in the midst of God’s creation. She works as a Children’s ministry director, operations manager, and Women’s ministry and discipleship. Her true passion is to equip women of faith through both writing and speaking.