A friend shared her experience with me about spending time in God’s Word.
She was saved at the age of four during Vacation Bible School. Though she later went to Bible college and attended good Bible believing churches where she was told that she should be spending personal time in God’s Word, she could never get herself to consistently study the Bible on her own until she was in her 40’s.
What made the difference?
Her motivation changed. Before she was driven by guilt of what she ought to do and wanting to be like other people she considered to be spiritual. When she finally grasped that it was more about getting to know her heavenly Father, a passion began to grow within her for God’s Word. The more that relationship developed, the more she WANTED to study the Bible.
Lessons We Can Learn About Adults Getting into the Word.
The experience of my friend teaches us at least two lessons:
- Spiritual maturity does not necessarily correlate with physical age or even the length of time one has been saved.
My friend trusted in Jesus for her salvation when she was four years old. It wasn’t until she was a middle-aged adult that she so much wanted to get to know God and nurture her relationship with Him that she began to consistently study His Word. The more she got into the Word, the greater her love for God grew. The stronger that relationship became, the deeper she would get into the Word. The more time she spent in the meat of God’s Word, the more she grew into a Christ-like believer.
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:13-14)
- No matter how old a person is, or how long they have been saved, it is never too late to begin. But, that’s the key — they must begin.
My friend was in her forties when she began. Twenty years later she is still daily communing with God in His Word. Why? — Because SHE BEGAN the journey.
I had another senior adult friend who kept saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I would tell her that number one, she was not a dog but rather a person created in the image of God to be able relate with Him on a personal level. And, number two, she had the Holy Spirit within her to enable her to learn new disciplines. One’s age and long established patterns should not hold a person back from beginning.
Bible Teachers can Help Their Adult Students WANT TO get into the Word
Help them get to know the author of the Bible so their thirst to know Him even better grows. (Phil. 3:7-12)
Because they are adults who are supposed to have longer attention spans than children, you might be tempted to think teaching them is about getting as much content in as you can. If you don’t make it about getting to know the God behind the truths, you will do little to whet their appetite for getting better acquainted with Him on their own.
Help them value the authority and usefulness of the Bible so they see the pragmatic benefit of getting into the Word. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
Adults are not an authority to themselves. Their life experiences do not qualify them to know more than the Almighty God. His ways are always higher and better (Isa. 55:9) and will provide the guidance they need to navigate through life (Ps. 119:105). If they don’t accept this reality, they will not sense the need to learn from His Word.
Help them rid themselves of their excuses so they can tap into the motivation and power needed to consistently get into the Word. (2 Cor. 10:5)
Adults can get stuck in their ways. They can be resistant to change. They have learned the art of making excuses. If they don’t begin the journey of getting to know God better through His Word, they will miss out on so much of the good God has for them.
Once they let go of their excuses, you can meet them where they are and help them begin small, always remembering to emphasize the above two points. Help them find a way of studying the Word that fits them so they at least start the process of getting to know God. As their passion for Him grows, they will be more willing to be stretched to approach the Word in ways that take them even further.