Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sept. 17, 2006--The Need for Study

Note: Actual sermon may have varied. Post which follows based on loose outline notes of the pastor.

Text: Proverbs 30:5; Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah 55:11

You know, sometimes, studying can be tough, but we have to do it. I understand why people are put off by the idea of studying anything, much less God's word. I remember once someone told me about talking to an old Air Force pilot, who said, "I've got no use for all that theology stuff, but mind you, Iam a religious man too. I know there's a God. I've felt Him, out alone in the sky at night, the tremendous mystery, and that is why I just don't believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about him. To anyone who has ever met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!"

Now in a sense, I agree with the grizzled old pilot. I think he had real experiences with God in the sky and flying. And when he ruend from that experience to the Christian creeds and works, I think eh really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real; turning from real waves to colored paper. But here is the point. The map is admitteedly only colored paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people ahve found out by sailing the ocean. In that way it has behind it mases of experience just as real as yours. Only, while yours would be an isolated glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a amap. But the map is oging to be ore use than walks on the beach if you want to get to Europe, or Africa.

Study is like that map. Merely learing and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than direct experiences. Doctrines and creeds and testimonies are not God, they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God--experinces compared with which any thrills or pious felings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map. See, study is our map. By reading Scripture, testimonies, comentaries, doctrine adn the sort, we can gain a better picture of where we are and where we want to go. If we just stick with what we know, we might be missing the forest for the trees. And, without a map, often times we just end up spinning our wheels and not getting the full breadth and depth of the relationship we should have with God.

And we need to study now more than ever, because I feel in some senses, we miss our opportunities to interact with God or to give him praise. By studying the Scripture and the doctrines and the commentaries and such, we gain more depth of unerstanding, we see through others eyes, and our eyes might be opened to things that were there, just we didn't see because we were only looking at it through one point of view. Taht is the value of study. IT can help us to enrich our experience, and also to empathize with others, creating better and greater spiritual warriors, and opening our eyes to more praise for the Creator.

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