Annual Bible Study Guide: Opportunities for Breakthroughs in Spiritual Life
By Rev. Wayne Cheung
January 28, 2024
One spiritual legacy of the NPAC family is “Teaching the truth is our basis.” From the weekly worship liturgy to fellowship life, ministries of all kinds, training and equipping, and devotional and prayer, everything is based on the teachings and expectations for the community of believers in the Bible. Since more than a decade ago, the pastoral staff of our church have compiled an “Annual Bible Study Guide” every year. Whether by books or by themes, it is hoped that pastoring through literature will facilitate various congregations to read and study the Bible together in order to build up and grow their spiritual lives, as well as deepen our faith life in the areas of ministry, fellowship, worship and the like.
During the second mission trip when the Apostle Paul passed through Berea, he praised the Berean Jews for receiving the message with great eagerness and examining the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11). This experience showed the importance of solid reading and studies of the Bible. It not only complements attentive listening of sermons but is also pivotal to good understanding and practice of biblical teachings and discernment of right and wrong.
Bible studies should not just be intellectual reasoning of the mind, nor should they be conducted solely for increasing one’s knowledge. We need to clearly set important spiritual goals, namely, to promote spiritual growth and transformation of the faith community so believers will love God more, love others more, and take better care of themselves. In this imperfect world, they can still live out the goodness of God. They will be more compassionate towards others and be able to think of themselves with sober judgment.
To achieve the above goals, the community of believers need to know that Bible studies involve three aspects. First, intellectual exploration. This is basic to the study of any Bible texts. To help believers thoroughly understand the message in the Scriptures and the meaning in the immediate context, pastors concerned will provide relevant historical and cultural background as well as exegetical notes. The warm-up and Q&A sections are also there to make the studies more interactive.
Second, emotional resonance. Our feelings and emotions are an important gift from God. We need to treasure and carefully maintain it because it affects everything we do. When studying the Bible, we should not just let the Scriptures interact with our intellect but also our hearts so the Scriptures speak to our thoughts and feelings. We need to look out for words from God that move us and allow our emotions to interact with the Scriptures.
Third, spiritual nurturing. The word of God is the word of life. It is full and real. It brings wisdom to the foolish, and awakens and deepens our spiritual life so we become more like our gracious Lord. In the process of turning to God, we need to let His Holy Word live in our everyday life and give us more discernment, thus enabling us to break through our personal constraints and magnify Him and build others up.
This year, through studying 1 and 2 Peter, the church intends to help us follow Christ resolutely despite an uncertain future, difficulties, pain and challenges. It is to help us learn from His example and become a true light. It is to help us live out faith, hope and love from our faith in life’s arduous journey.