Saturday, January 08, 2011

Thoughts on Bible study

After a long (and necessary...I think) hiatus, I am looking forward to resuming Bible study. Our group will be using Kathleen Nielson's workbook Psalms: Songs Along the Way to facilitate our study (and here's a cool bit of trivia: Kim will be teaching Sunday school using the same study guide!). I've been thumbing through the book in preparation and I found Nielson's thoughts on translations and study helps to be both refreshing and exciting:

These lessons are designed to be completed with only the open Bible in front of you. The point is to grapple with the text, not with what others have said about the text. The goal is to know, increasingly, the joy and reward of digging into the Scriptures, God's breathed-out words which are not only able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus but also profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, so that each of us may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:15-17). (emphasis mine)

Yes, Lord! Let it be! Some may be intimidated by this approach, a concern which Nielson addresses earlier in a section for leaders:

God made us word-creatures, in his image, and he gave us a Word that he wants us to understand more and more, with careful reading and study, and shared counsel and prayer.

Isn't that exciting? The Lord wants us to know and understand His living Word!

And, finally, a concluding exhortation to leaders which is a good word for us all as we apply ourselves to the diligent study of God's Word...

[L]et us not forget to delight together in the Scriptures! We should be serious but not joyless! In fact, we as leaders should model for our groups a growing and satisfying delight in the Word of God--as we notice its beauty, stop to linger over a lovely word or phrase, enjoy the poetry, appreciate the shape of a passge from beginning to end, laugh at a touch of irony or an image that hits home, wonder over a truth that pierces the soul.

May we share and spread the response of Jeremiah, who said:

Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart. (Jer. 15:16)

Yes and amen! Open our eyes, Lord; may we see wonderful things in Your Word!

6 comments:

  1. I was so excited about this, I even went out and bought the three volume commentary by Boice!

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  2. @ Kim: I've been considering it myself...

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  3. We're in the middle of Tim Keller's study of Galatians....lots of reading what other people have said about Galatians. I'm not complaining because it is rich, deep stuff; however, a study that really challenged me to focus and meditate on God's word one phrase at a time sounds very appealing right now. I hope you enjoy your study and blog about it often. I've heard great things about Nielson's studies.

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  4. I want to say that by no means does Nielson intend that no study helps whatsoever be employed in the study of God's Word. Her concern is the sort of dependence on such helps to the exclusion of personal study and understanding. She lists several commentaries she recommends in addition to giving guidelines for their proper use in Bible study.

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  5. Oh Lisa!! You cannot imagine my surprise and delight right now! I know Kathleen, and I've done this study (and many of her others). Her husband used to be one of the pastors at my church and they are both very special. Believe me, she means every word--her primary goal is to study and love God's Word. She is a beautiful, lovely, winsome woman who loves God and His Word so much. I can't wait to read about your journey in the Psalms!

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  6. I'm intentionally striving to read the Bible "all by itself" right now (I wrote a post on it, of course "http://pragmaticcompendium.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/read-the-bible-all-by-myself/")

    I constantly find myself remembering a book I read about a certain topic in the scripture or an author who wrote something about the text I'm studying. I find it very difficult to stop seeking out other books and just process what I'm reading all on my own. I definitely don't get as much personal understanding without at least a commentary.

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