It’s kind of freaking me out how good the Bible is. My co-worker ended this semester by really challenging our team to dig more deeply* into a book of the Bible. To this end, I’m studying the book of Philippians. There are two things that seem to happen pretty consistently every day in my study of this book:
Thing 1: About 20-30 minutes in, I sigh loudly sit back in my chair and pout about how I can’t get anything deep out of the Bible. This then usually triggers a memory about the Holy Spirit and how He ‘allegedly’ enables me to esteem the things of God (like His words) and actually understand and treasure them in my heart. So I pray and somehow (thanks HS) dig again with renewed vigor, eager to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty with the prepositions, verbs, nouns and odd mixture of letters that make my God known to me.
Thing 2: I stumble across something that seems very pertinent and impactful in my life and usually begin clapping or dancing (literally) with excitement before the pouting sets in again as I begin to doubt whether or not I just made something up that really isn’t right at all.
It’s great. i love God’s Word. A LOT right now. Which is a big fat answer to prayer. Taking the time to dig deeply and ask questions and not give up and memorize and meditate is certainly fruitful.
During the last week of my Defending our Hope class this semester, we had a guest speaker do a Q&A. It was amazing. I was convicted and challenged about how much I stand on conclusions deduced from principles instead of the words of God. I don’t want to stand on the words of my past teachers, or my pastor, or my elders. I want to stand on the words of God. I want to know God’s word so deeply that I am not defending the theology of my church, but the theology of my God.
At the end of the lesson, I asked our speaker to give one last word of encouragement to our class. He said that the most important thing any of us can do with our time on earth is to know God. There is no pursuit of money, character, success that is more valuable than knowing who God is: what He likes, what He desires, what He hates, what makes Him angry.
Our speaker said that nothing matters as much as knowing God as He really is. We do not get to define or describe God. He is not shaped by our perceptions of Him. He is not spoken into being by our thoughts or words – instead, we are spoken into being by His words.
I want to know Him. He’s real. He sits here with me now in this coffee shop and is as present as the guy sitting at the table to my left.
So I dig deeply. And I beg the Spirit to give me the grace to sit still for more than 20 seconds to dig into who my God is; to hear from Him; to be challenged and encouraged and loved by Him through these pages. It’s sad. I can sit still for a 24 tv marathon for hours on end. (Once I did 13 hours in one sitting). How is it that a hero like Jack Bauer can capture my heart more easily then the Messiah? How can a fictitious man become more compelling than Emmanuel (God with us)?
Oh, my sweet Jesus. You surely know how little I value You. You alone know how little I truly long to know You. Please, by your great grace continue to change my heart. Spirit- give me the gift of desiring You above all. Let me be a woman who stands on Your word. Let me be a woman who is shaped by what You say about me; by what You say about You.
Even in this, even in Bible study- Your Gospel becomes my only hope. I am not able. I am more entertained by tv then drawn to You. But I praise You that through the Cross You paid for that obscene idolatry. I thank You that Your resurrection bought for me a new heart that can be formed by You to long for the things above.
“Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”
“Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God”
*This is what I mean by ‘dig deeply’: I’m imitating/adapting John Piper’s Bible study technique presented in ‘mining God’s word’. It’s swell. For anyone who is interested, here’s my cheat sheet:
PART ONE – BACKGROUND:
- Read the entire book in one sitting several times
- Make a list of everything you learn about author and recipients
- Make a list of everything you learn about occasion (why did the author write)
- Make a list of everything going on with the relationship between author and recipients
- Identify the purpose of the letter (what did he hope to accomplish)
- Create an outline for the text (making division based on when the authors intent changes)
After all background is done, do observations and interpretations for each of the divisions in your outline.
- Create a sentence flow
- Record your observations
- Discern the main point
- List relevant questions
- Check cross references
- Paraphrase the logic and seek out logical relationships in the text
- Examine a particular word
- Compare translations
- Theme investigation
- Identify the authors intent
- What does this teach you about God (Jesus)
- Receive the application in comparable situations
- When no comparable situation seek out the enduring principle
- Look for the means and motivations of obedience
- Test against scripture/tradition and teaching