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3. Love:

"Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)

Another reason to study the Bible is to love God with "all your mind." It's easy to miss this reason because we can do all the right external things without loving God. He points this out in his letter to the Ephesian church by first listing all the right things they were doing and then saying in Revelation 2:2-5, "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen..."

Studying the Bible out of love for God becomes natural for the Christian when we realize how JESUS CHRIST is the CENTRAL THEME of the Bible. Jesus Christ is the bridegroom of the church (the one spiritual body of all true Christians), and heaven will begin with an event called the "marriage supper of the Lamb" mentioned in Revelation 19:9. It is natural for Christians to learn as much as they can about Christ through the Bible just like it is natural for a bride to learn as much as possible about her bridegroom. When you study the Bible with the attitude of love for God, the Bible is transformed into a personal love letter from God.

The Apostle Paul summarized the centrality of Christ while standing before King Agrippa during his trial. Acts 26:22-23 records his words: "Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come -- that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles."

In John 5:39 Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.

I have found that the more I love God with my mind by studying the Bible, the more I learn about His love for me -- about the depth of my sin, about how much He has forgiven me, about how much it cost for Him to pay for my sins, about the future He has planned -- and this knowledge of His love is inspiration to love Him more.

J.C. Ryle, in his book Holiness, published in 1879, wrote the following narrative about loving God:

'Man,' said a thoughtless, ungodly English traveller, to a North American Indiuan convert, 'Man, what is the reason that you make so much of Christ, and talk so much about Him? What has this Christ done for you, that you should make so much ado about Him?' The converted Indian did not answer him in words. He gathered together some dry leaves and moss and made a ring with them on the gound. He picked up a live worm and put it in the middle of the ring. He struck a light and set the moss and leaves on fire. The flame soon rose, and the heat scorched the worm. It writhed in agony, and after trying in vain to escape on every side, curled itself up in the middle, as if about to die in despair. At that moment the Indian reached forth his hand, took up the worm gently and placed it on his bosom. 'Stranger,' he said to the Englishman, 'do you see that worm? I was that perishing creature. I was dying in my sins, hopeless, helpless and on the brink of eternal fire. It was Jesus Christ who put forth the arm of His power. It was Jesus Christ who delivered me with the hand of His grace, and plucked me from everlasting burnings. It was Jesus Christ who placed me, a poor sinful worm, near the heart of His love. Stranger, that is the reason why I talk of Jesus Christ, and make much of Him. I am not ashamed of it, because I love Him. If we know anything of love to Christ, may we have the mind of this North American Indian! May we never think that we can love Christ too well, live to Him too thoroughly, confess Him too boldly, lay ourselves out for Him too heartily! Of all the things that will surprise us in the resurrection morning, this I believe will surprise us most, that we did not love Christ more before we died. (Holiness, J.C. Ryle)

What caused the indian in this story to passionately love God? He loved God because he had experienced and understood God's love for him.

"We love Him because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

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