A new year brings a fresh start, new opportunities, and different possibilities. You may have made New Year’s resolutions to improve your health, finances, or relationships. Having a desire to deepen your relationship with God is a worthy goal whether we make it in January or anytime of the year. Here are four ways to grow spiritually in 2022 and beyond. And since the Bible plays such a key role in our spiritual growth, all four of the following points relate to it.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, What Does the Bible Say About Trusting God? by Christopher Reese]
#1 – Read Scripture
The printed Word is God’s communication to humankind and, for Christians, is the bedrock for everything we believe about God and everything we do in relation to God. The Bible describes the true nature of reality and establishes the blueprint for how God desires us to live.
The apostle Peter highlights Scripture’s importance for spiritual growth when he writes, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Just as infants receive nourishment from milk that leads to their physical growth, so we receive sustenance from Scripture, leading to our spiritual growth. It then makes sense that we need a regular intake of spiritual milk from the Bible.
The apostle Paul reminded the young pastor Timothy that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible equips us to live the Christlike life God wants us to live.
You may be unsure where to begin reading the Bible. One way to start is to sign up to receive the free Bible Gateway reading plan that’s right for your personal schedule. Scripture passages will be delivered daily directly into your email inbox. Read the entire Bible in a year, or just the New Testament. Receive readings based on the church calendar. Or read through smaller portions of Scripture like the Gospels or Proverbs. Receiving these prepared plans by email every day is one of the easiest ways to get into the beneficial routine of reading Scripture and growing spiritually as a result.
#2 – Meditate on Scripture
Along with reading Scripture, make it your goal to meditate on it as well. Unlike reading news articles or social media posts which we tend to set aside and quickly forget, the Bible is life’s sourcebook to deeply contemplate and remember. Ponder passages and verses. Consider what they tell us about God and ourselves, and the implications of those teachings for living our lives to the fullest. You may find it helpful to keep a journal for this purpose—to record thoughts, comments, questions, or prayers about your daily reading. You can do so electronically with your Bible Gateway free personal account.
Psalm 1 describes the person “whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.” This person experiences great blessing and is “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3). Meditating on Scripture is life-giving.
With a free Bible Gateway account, you can write personal notes on passages that will sync across your devices (like keeping a digital journal), and you can also highlight and bookmark favorite verses.
Another aid to meditating on Scripture is listening to it while you work, drive, do housework, exercise, or get ready to sleep. Often hearing Scripture will result in insights that may not have occurred to you while reading it, and if you both read and listen to the same passage, it will stay with you all the more. Listen to the Bible through the Bible Gateway website, as well as with the free Bible Gateway Audio App.
#3 – Study Scripture
The Bible can be a challenging book to understand. Yes, Scripture’s call to believe in and follow Jesus is broadly understandable, but that same message of salvation has such depth that we can spend our whole lives studying it and still not fully grasp it. Church leader Gregory the Great said centuries ago, “Scripture is like a river . . . broad and deep, shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim.” [Quoted in Patrick Schreiner, The Mission of the Triune God: A Theology of Acts, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner and Brian S. Rosner, New Testament Theology (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022).]
The Bible was written in three foreign languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) by people living in very different times and places than we do. Just as we may travel to a foreign country today and have only a basic grasp of what’s happening around us, the Bible itself is a foreign country, in a sense, and we often need a knowledgeable guide to help us navigate through it. When Philip the Evangelist met the Ethiopian official in Acts 8 who was reading the book of Isaiah, Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I . . . unless someone explains it to me?” We can all relate to this question when it comes to understanding Scripture (Acts 8:31).
This is where tools like study Bibles, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and commentaries shed indispensable light on verses, passages, and the Bible as a whole. An easy way to access all of these resources is with a membership in Bible Gateway Plus. For any verse or collection of verses you want to study, you’ll quickly find explanatory notes, dictionary entries, and other helpful references to guide you in understanding and applying the biblical text.
Accurately grasping the teachings of the Bible will allow you to move beyond the “milk” of introductory ideas to the “solid food” of a deeper, more mature faith (Hebrews 5:13-14).
#4 – Learn from Christian Leaders
Grow spiritually this year by learning from established Christian thinkers and communicators, both past and present. Proverbs exhorts us to “walk with the wise and become wise” (Proverbs 13:20). As we listen to voices of wisdom we can benefit from the hard-won insights of Christian leaders, teachers, and pastors.
Bible Gateway provides numerous free email devotionals and newsletters from renowned authors like C.S. Lewis, Billy Graham, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Charles Spurgeon, John Piper, and others. There are also devotionals for families, couples, men, women, and children. Or, choose our free email Know the Bible Series which provides a foundational introduction to the Bible and its teachings.
Sign up for one or more of these newsletters and receive daily instruction and encouragement from some of the leading voices of the Christian faith.
Whether you’re seeking to make a New Year’s resolution in 2022 or simply to set a new personal goal any time of the year, we encourage you to always make spiritual growth your top priority and to take advantage of the many tools we offer to help you grow in your knowledge and understanding of Scripture.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Angels in Heaven (Frequently Asked Questions) by Christopher Reese]
BIO: Christopher Reese (MDiv, ThM) (@clreese) is a freelance writer and editor-in-chief of The Worldview Bulletin. He is a general editor of the Dictionary of Christianity and Science (Zondervan, 2017) and Three Views on Christianity and Science (Zondervan, 2021). His articles have appeared in Christianity Today and he writes and edits for Christian ministries and publishers.
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