Who is the Subject of Your Bible Study?
If that Christian book on your nightstand or if your women’s bible study points you back to you, then may I please encourage you to put it down and give it some thought?
Based on the shelves at the local Christian bookstore, best-selling lists, and what is conveyed in Christian pop-culture, most women’s ministry tools point women right back to themselves. T-shirts, books covers, and filtered photos proclaim our beauty and self-sufficiency. We’re told to look within for our worth and power and destiny.
This message permeates the world around us, so it’s hard to see and hard to resist. We have been raised to believe that we can do anything and be anyone. We’ve been saturated in the message of self—be whoever you want to be, try hard, run fast, make it happen, you can do it! And this message is found throughout much of the writings and teachings promoted to women in the church today. I often wonder if women in Christian leadership even know that it’s there?
This message, when contrasted with the message of the bible, is laid bare for what is is: a false gospel. God’s word calls us to run our race, “looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). The Lord calls us to look at Him, not ourselves. Because, He - HE - is the author and perfecter of our faith. We don’t conjure up our faith and we are not the source it, He is. We don’t perfect our faith and we are not the source of our growth, He is.
Scripture is clear that our faith, our lives, our calling are all good gifts from God Himself. Paul reminded the Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing: it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
I find that I naturally drift towards self-sufficiency. I have to realign myself daily to the truth that my life and my faith are gifts of God, not my own doing. As Paul said, I did not work hard for my faith, it was a gift. And I did not strain to create the good works, or the calling God has for me—God prepared those. The Lord Himself is the giver of my faith and my calling.
And that is such good news. What freedom there is, is in looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith! When we buy into the world’s message that our lives are our own and we must be the source of our faith and good works, we will find ourselves exhausted and in failure. You and I both know what it feels like to be self-dependent to the point of exhaustion. You and I both know that we are sinners and unreliable sources of power. You and I both know that gazing at ourselves eventually gets sickening.
The Father says that before the world was even formed, He adopted us (Ephesians 1:4). He provides the power and strength for our faith through the Spirit (Ephesians 3:6). He says that we who hope in Christ are for the “praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12). It’s all about Him—He saved us, He empowers us, we live for His glory! This is good news because His love and power and glory will never run out. He will never disappoint.
If that Christian book on your nightstand or if your women’s bible study points you back to you, please put it down. The message of self found throughout the culture and even in the church will fail us. It is a false gospel. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and rejoice that He is the author and perfecter of our faith—not ourselves!
Author’s Note: I first published this article on my blog 20 months ago, in February 2017. But it seems more important now than ever, so I’m publishing it again. Also, my upcoming book addresses this topic in full and I cannot wait to share it with you. It will be published by Crossway in January 2020, Lord willing. Stay tuned for details and in the meantime, let’s you and me stay rooted in Jesus, not ourselves—that’s where true happiness may be found.