For many people, growth in Christ is primarily growth in knowledge of Bible facts and doctrines. Maybe you love digging deep in the Bible, unpacking original meaning, listening to sermon podcasts, and reading books. And I’m right there with you; I love knowledge.
But the point of the Bible is not to fill your head with knowledge. The point is to fill your heart with wonder.
All Bible study should end in worship. And worship isn’t just the 20 to 30 minutes of singing you do every weekend during your church service. It’s how you respond to God, how eagerly you obey him, and how much you treasure him.
The fact that Paul ends Romans 9–11 in an explosion of worship illustrates for us that the purpose of Bible study is not just to expand our spiritual understanding but also to set our hearts on fire with passion. Romans 9–11 contains some of the most difficult and deep doctrine in all of Scripture. Yet when Paul concludes, he inherently pivots from theology to doxology:
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
– Romans 11:33–36 CSB
Maybe your interest in Christianity is less about knowledge and is more about practicality: You want to know how God can help you have a better marriage, a more stable family, or a more fulfilling career. So you love the sermons where your pastor tells you practically how the Bible should change your life.
There is nothing wrong with that; the Bible is full of wise counsel on ordering your life. But the Bible is not primarily a book of spiritual best practices. It’s a book that leads you to wonder. The stories in the Bible aren’t there to give you heroes to emulate but a Savior to adore.
The stories in the Bible aren’t there to give you heroes to emulate but a Savior to adore.
Nearly 75 years ago, a British pastor named D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones commented that in his day, Christians were arguing whether it was more important that sermons be packed with doctrine or that they were readily accessible with application. (Apparently, the more things change, the more they stay the same.)
Lloyd-Jones said the purpose of a sermon is neither information nor application. A lecturer aims for the first. A motivational speaker aims for the second. But sermons aren’t meant to leave us with a page full of notes or a page full of action steps. Bible sermons are meant to leave us worshipping.
In every sermon, there should come a time when the pen goes down and the eyes go up, when you stop saying, “Oh, my God, look at what I have to do for you” and you start saying, “Oh, my God, look at what you’ve done for me!”
That vision alone will change your life more than any list of practical applications.
That’s why Lloyd-Jones said, “I spend half my time telling Christians to study doctrine and the other half telling them doctrine is not enough.”
Worship is the point.