When we come to the end of one year and stand on the precipice of the next, we all tend to take a moment to reflect on the previous year and to visualize the coming year. We go over what we think was “good” and “bad” from the past year and what we want to change for the next year. It is when we make resolutions and set new goals, typically focused on self-improvement. We plan to eat better, to exercise more, to forgive more and worry less. It may even include ways to improve on a hobby – become a better golfer, learn how to write better, learn a new craft, or just finish that home project.
All of those can be really wonderful things to focus on, but in the words of Charles Spurgeon, the most important thing we can do with our time in this new year is to learn about God. On January 7 in 1855, Spurgeon said, “It has been said that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.”
For the Christian, the most important thing for us to study is God. If you believe that this God created you and all things in this world, that He stepped out of the throne room of Heaven to come down to earth (as we just celebrated for Christmas) with the express purpose of dying on the cross for your sin, and you believe that our lives here are to be lived in gratitude and obedience to this God, then this God should be what you study most.
So what can we do in this new year of 2020 to fulfill our great call to study the Godhead?
1. Make time for the things that are important
We know we should spend more time with God because it is the most important thing. Yet we find ourselves so “busy” that we don’t even have time to pray, much less read the Bible. But as my dad has always said, “People make time for what they want to do.” And that is so true. When you really want to do something, you find the time to do it.
Granted, we all struggle with this. Being a homeschooling mom of two young boys, there are days where there are several things I “wanted” to do that I didn’t have time for. It happens sometimes. But on those days that are filled with school and projects and practices and obligations – yet laundry, dishes, and cooking still have to get done, you still carve out time for what is most important to you. You will make adjustments in your routine to squeeze them in.
Are you doing that to make time for studying about God?
More importantly, are you being intentional enough that your routine includes time to study about God?
There will be those days that are extra insanely busy that disrupt all of our routine, but those should be the exception, not the rule. So think about what is in your routine that may be occasionally disrupted. That everyday routine must include a portion of time to spend studying about the Godhead. After all, that should be our most important pursuit.
2. Learning about God is how you grow
There’s a children’s song that summarizes this point. “Read your Bible and pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” It states it so simply. Spend time with God and you’ll grow in Him. Don’t spend time with God and you won’t grow in Him.
We start to become more like the things that we spend the most time with. If you’re a parent, you see this effect on your children when you look at their friends. The kind of people they spend all their time with will be the kind of person they start to become (this is why it is SO important to choose your friends wisely – for children AND adults).
This can work to our detriment if we are spending time with people who don’t value God. That is the admonition given in Psalm 1: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord.” It says that we would do well to not hang with people who make a mockery of what you believe about God. This might be a change you need to make for the new year as well.
On the other hand, if we are spending our time with God and learning about God, we grow to be more like Him. God desires for us to walk in fellowship with Him which means we must spend time with Him.
3. Pray that God gives you the desire to study His word
Not finding time to study about God is one area where many people struggle. However, I think the problem runs one step deeper. Sadly, I think for many people there is an apathy about learning about God.
People spend all kinds of timing reading articles about their favorite hobby, researching the best new car to buy, studying how to improve their backswing, mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds. But when it comes time to study God’s word, folks just don’t want to.
They find studying the Bible, learning sound doctrine, or researching apologetics to be a boring waste of time. It boggles my mind that people would devote so much time and effort to studying things that don’t matter in the scheme of eternity and then neglect the study of the very God who created you – and who created all things.
People are apathetic about learning about the God who gives the very breath that they take and the God whom they will stand before when He chooses to take that breath away. If you want to reject God and do you own thing, then that is your choice to reject Him. But to say that you believe God died on the cross for you yet you are apathetic about studying His word? That is illogical. That is why Spurgeon saw such importance in the believer devoting time to studying the Godhead. Every philosophy, science, and thought should be on learning about God, especially for those who call God Father.
If you fall into this category, begin praying that God will change your heart. Pray that God will give you the desire to value the most important things. Satan is good at giving us plenty of distractions to draw us away from knowing God. That is his very goal. Satan doesn’t need you to worship him, he just needs you to not be worshiping God. So he fills up our minds, our time, and our calendars with frivolous things to keep you from spending time with God. Pray that God will help you overcome those temptations and distractions.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says,
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Pray with this scripture that God will help you to lay aside every weight and sin that is drawing you away from His presence. Then take practical steps to make that happen. Make a change in your routine to replace the time you spend on those distractions with time you spend with God.
-- Turn off the TV earlier in the evening to read the Bible.
-- Instead of spending 30 minutes on social media, read a book on theology and doctrine.
-- Get up 30 minutes earlier to read a blog on apologetics.
-- Replace your music in the car with a sermon podcast.
These are small ways to make changes to refocus your mind and your heart on the things of God. And you’ll find that the more you do this, the desires of your heart will change to desire those moments with God.
4. Studying the Godhead includes apologetics.
I know this last point may seem controversial inside the church. For some reason the word “apologetics” has a weird connotation among many pastors and church leaders. Because of that, many lay people in the congregation don’t even know the correct definition of this word. To many, they think “apologetics” means to debate and argue with your atheist opponent until you beat them into submission. This could not be further from the truth.
“Apoologetics” simply means to use logic and reasoning to defend a religious position. You can see the early church using apologetics throughout the book of Acts as they “reasoning” from the Scriptures to bring people to Jesus. Stephen, the first martyr, was described as “disputing” with the Freedmen and “they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke” (Acts 6:10).
Therefore, part of the proper study of the Godhead is not just Bible and doctrine but the evidence that shows us that these things are true. This is necessary for not just strengthening our faith but for encouraging those far from faith to understand why we believe the things we believe.
It is just like Jesus did with John the Baptist in Matthew 11. John sent his disciples to ask again if Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Instead of telling John to “just have faith” or to pray more or to not question such things, Jesus pointed to the evidence. He said, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” He told John to look at the apologetics, the logic and reasoning for believing that He is the Son of God.
This is what the study of apologetics allows believers to do when unbelievers ask why we believe in a God whom we cannot see. We point to the design in the cell, the order in the cosmos, the Moral Law written on our hearts, the historical evidence of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. These are the things that increase our faith and give us confidence that Christianity is truth. Then tell them what God has done in your life personally. These are the things that show others we have faith as defined in Hebrews 11:1 – being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Make the right improvements for 2020.
As you make a list of goals and resolutions for the new year, remember the most important things is to know God more this year than you did last year. I pray that you make the goals and changes for 2020 that will not only have an eternal impact for you, but for those around you as well.