Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On Bible study

I have something of a reputation as a Bible teacher. Nope, it's not any amazing communication skills nor even well organized, thoroughly researched lessons. It is, in fact, little strips of paper.

Yes, with nearly every lesson I teach (or attempt to teach), I pass out little slips of paper with a Scripture reference on it for willing participants to read at various junctures in the lesson. This quirk of mine is so well established that when my friend taught her first night of Bible study, my first "spin off" class, she too had Scriptures on slips of paper, telling the class that "Lisa would be so proud!"

They laughed.

I am indeed.

Once, as I was passing out said pieces of paper, a friend teased me about it, saying something to the effect, "C'mon, Lisa, we believe you!" meaning, of course, that she trusted what I was saying to the class, therefore it was unneccessary to provide all the Biblical support for each and every point I made...

She probably doesn't even remember making the statement, and I know she was totally kidding me about being so fastidious (yes, I can totally take a joke!), but I've remembered it after all these years because 1) it is necessary and 2) you can't trust me in and of myself. My words on their own merit are meaningless and prone to error: serious, flesh inspired, sin contaminated error.

The Word of the Lord, in direct contrast, is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword (Heb. 4:12). His Words grant life and produce faith; mine can kill and destroy far more easily than they can edify and encourage. No wonder James warns of a greater judgment on those called to teach (James 3:1); it is imperative we guard our words, humbly pleading with the Spirit to speak through us (Matt. 10:19-20).

A couple of weeks ago someone asked me, "So, how did the Bible study go today...I mean, the book study?" Though his question is technically correct, as we are in fact using a book to facilitate our study--the book Brokenness by Nancy Leigh Demoss--still his qualification rankled somewhat. It is important and necessary to me to study the Bible.

While I owe a huge debt to the many Bible teachers and authors whose studies have greatly contributed to my sanctification, I see a subtle danger in our current Christian culture--with its plethora of Bible studies and tools and numerous other resources--to find ourselves studying the study rather than studying the Bible. Or, worse yet, being enamored with the Bible teacher over and above the Word he/she teaches, which seems to be particularly tempting given the many video studies currently available, what with their professional production quality and gifted communicators. Do not hear me say it is the fault of the authors, the production team or the video teacher. It is within us, in our flesh, to exchange the truth of God's word for the lesser. And it is precisely because of this tendency within me that I am so careful.

So, as I facilitate our study, I will pass out my slips of paper and I will do all I can to point us to the study of God's Word. I will listen to Nancy Leigh Demoss's wise instruction but I will hold it up to the Truth of Scripture. I will seek after the one thing of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord as I study. I will ask the Lord to grant me a greater hunger for His Word, that it will become as necessary to me as food and water and more precious to than thousands of pieces of gold and silver (Ps. 119:72). May He open our eyes so we may see wonderful things in His Word!

14 comments:

  1. As a Bible study leader myself, I so totally agree with you. It hit me that this was a problem when one time, a few years ago, while "visiting" a bible study, I found myself embarassed that I had actually brought my Bible. Turns out no one that came to this study did, as they were studying a book instead. I realized that I really had nothing to be embarassed about, but it sure made me consider how I lead a study and make it a top priority to actually use and study God's precious Word.
    Thanks for saying what you did today and for reminding us all how important it is to know the Bible and hear what God is saying to us.
    (P.S. I like the slips of paper idea. Can I borrow that?)

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  2. I agree completely. I often get, what I consider to be "Revelations from God" but before I share them with anyone I make sure I have scriptural support. If I can't back it up with scripture, it wasn't really from God.

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  3. Well, since you asked, all went well. We are using Beth Moore's "Esther" and last night was the introduction. I agree with your thoughts here...about studying the study. It can easily become a cruth for our daily nourishment in God's Word. I suppose that it's been a help to me in terms of growing my confidence. That being said, I think we all are capable of understanding God's Word in similar measure with a few study helps to move us along.

    I want to be a better teacher of God's Word; I think my writing is my way of getting my thoughts organized prior to my "voice" in the mix.

    I'm struggling right now with both angles of the equation. Facilitating vs. teaching. Asking God for more, yet still not feeling completely confident in my abilities.

    OK...enough rambling. Thanks for the prod. I needed it. Hope all is well with you.

    peace~elaine

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  4. Hi Lisa! Just wanted to say thanks for stopping by and COMMENTING on my blog today. You are great!

    Love this post. I lead a Bible study group at my church too. I may have to pull out the little slips of paper one of these days. :)

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  5. Wish I could attend your Bible study. :-) Being constantly pointed back to the Word is exactly what we all need.

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  6. At our ladies bible study, we used a book last year and for the first half of this year. I decided that we were too "issues" focused during our study and not scripture focused enough. We are now in the middle of a study on James.

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  7. Amen and amen.

    A few years ago, while leading a Bible study, I noticed a definite change in tone when I had the women read the verses we were discussing when we were together as a group (usually out loud), instead of assuming we all read them in our homework. I think there's just something powerful about God's word being spoken.

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  8. This was so good and so true, Lisa. It is so easy both as teachers and as study participants to get all caught up in the book that is only supposed to facillitate us going into the Word and ignore reading and studying the bible itself. It can become dangerous ground when we dol that. Thanks for the encouragement to get into and study out the Word for ourselves and not just to listen to others teaching it.

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  9. Nothing is as rich as the word, I want to hunger for it...because it points to Him. I too think we need to be careful, His word never returns void.....I love studies that have the word as primary...studies that look to say what the word says and don't support a certain dogma. Thanks for you heart on this Lisa....we do need to be wise!

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  10. Interesting thoughts and points to make. I can see how getting comments like that ("hey, we trust you", etc) COULD allow you to grow complacent to some degree. It's an invitation to not invest in studying the word. I'm glad those comments prompted you to continue striving to uphold the truth of scripture instead of becoming lazy. It would surely be tempting (for me anyway) and therefore important to fight those feelings off!

    Good thoughts.

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  11. Amen. I've seen the same trend and fallen victim to the same tendencies in myself to "study the study" or not be as careful to examine the words a teacher shares. We cannot stress too often the need to hold up any teaching and any teacher's words to the standard of the Word. Something I am still learning to apply and remember in my own life.

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  12. Excellent!! I completely agree with you. And I have to admit that I have, on occasion, become enamored with a study or with an author, perhaps more than I ought. The way they turn a phrase or make me laugh. There's nothing wrong with them being engaging or humorous of course, but the danger for me is if I find myself not content to then study "just" the Bible, but to want that other person to keep making me laugh or keep striking me with their phraseology.

    God's word is full and rich and powerful and sufficient. May it be the place I turn first and always.

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