It is important to study and learn because God has revealed Himself to his people in general revelation (creation) and special revelation (the Bible). He gave us a book, one that is not meant to sit on a shelf, but to be read, searched, studied, and understood. But most important, it is to be lived out. We can learn methods and technicalities of getting at the meaning and application of scripture, and we should, but if the truths are not lived out we haven’t done much. However, we commit to interpreting the Bible rightly because there is profit from a careful study of the Scriptures. These truths were conveyed in four instructional sessions presented at the April 1st Bible workshop:
- Who Controls the Meaning?
- Levels of Meaning
- The Role of the Holy Spirit
Keep in mind that there is vast difference between knowing how to live out a biblical text and actually living out that text. – Duvall and Hays
Are there times you come to the Bible with a casual or indifferent attitude? Or do you come to God’s word with delight and expectation? While at the workshop, we considered heart posture and our relationship with Hebrews 4:12-16. If we expect Bible study to be effective, our approach should be one in humility, with prayer, hard work, patience and persistence. The topics of humility, prayer, hard work, patience and persistence were the content of four additional lessons presented at the workshop by Ginger, Kristen, Jennifer Ulrich, and Jennifer Pipes. As we approach our routine Bible study, we should remember that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. - Heb. 4:12-16
The pattern we have followed for the workshops as an interpretive journey is one I credit to Dr. Scott Duvall and Daniel Hays and is taken from their textbook Grasping God’s Word. Why is it important that we get Bible interpretation right? I believe our interpretation of the Bible begins from the moment we read the first word. Here are my recommended titles that will aid the learner’s Bible reading, Bible study, and Bible interpretation.
- Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding & Living God’s Word by George Guthrie
- Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible by Howard Hendricks
- How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Fee and Stuart
- How to Study Your Bible by Kay Arthur
- How to Study Your Bible by John MacArthur
- How to Study the Bible: Bible Study Made Easy by Rose Publishing
- 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible by Robert L. Plummer
- Grasping God’s Word by Duvall and Hays
- Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul
- Journey Into God’s Word: Your Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible by Duval and Hays
- Principles of Biblical Interpretation by Louis Berkhof
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. - 2 Tim 3:16-17
We cannot properly honor and serve God unless we have knowledge of His will. We can only gain that knowledge through diligent Bible study. Would you be so bold as to ask God to test your heart and attitudes in regard to Bible reading, study, and interpretation efforts? It’s critical that we come to the Word with humility: Openness to study, openness to God, and openness to change. We maintain a right relationship with God through confession of sin and His work in conforming us to the image of Christ (1John 1:9).
It is not the book that is to be altered: our hearts want altering. – Charles Spurgeon
Note: The last workshop in this series will be August 5th.