Melissa has posed an interesting and thought-provoking question in a recent post at her blog: What makes Bible study, Bible study? Though not directly in answer to her question (you can see my answer in the comments on her post), I thought that I would share some of what we hope to accomplish in the Bible study I lead (which is, I hope, Bible study in its truest sense, or such is my passion and desire).
As I prepare for the start of Bible study, I find it useful to cast a vision of what we are trying to accomplish and what we hope to emphasize. In doing so for our current group, I relied on the wisdom found in Women’s Ministry in the Local Church (a must read!!!). Author Susan Hunt lists the following foundational principles for any ministry to and for women and I have adapted them in casting a vision for our little group as well. So, today in this post I will discuss two of the four motivations we’ve adapted from Susan’s list, the other two to be covered in a future post…
FOUNDATIONS FOR BIBLE STUDY
1. The Gospel
It seems so obvious and perhaps a little trite to say that Christ is our reference point but I think it’s critical to emphasize a gospel-centered approach to the study of God’s Word. Yes, even with a study of an Old Testament book. As we study selected Psalms, a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what He accomplished will be our goal. This gospel focus may seem surprising, at least in terms of the Old Testament books like, say, Leviticus or Judges. Yet, Jesus Himself on the road to Emmaus following His resurrection taught His two companions; “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:13-34). The things concerning Jesus in all the Scriptures! Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.” How are we trained in righteousness? Through the gospel! Where do we find the gospel? In all the Scripture.
As Paul reminds the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:1-5),
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
This is of first importance: the gospel. It is of first importance as we in our little group open our Bibles to examine the Psalms. We want to see the gospel. We want to see the things concerning Jesus. We want to remember and marvel over the good news that Jesus Christ saves sinners like ourselves. The gospel, then, is our focus and our motivation as we study God’s Word.
Just a cursory glance at the various book titles in the Christian living section of the book store (not to mention all that purports to be Christian across the internet and television) will confirm: we are surrounded by false teachers teaching a false gospel. We must guard the truth! Let us not be like the women of 2 Tim. 3:6-7,
For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
I am both sobered and terrified by the description of these weak women who are always learning but never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth! How futile and frustrating. I want to walk in the truth and know the truth. How do we do this? How do we arrive at a knowledge of what is true? By the diligent and careful study of God’s Word. His Word is truth (Ps. 119:160, John 17:17). As we seek a deeper knowledge of the Lord through His Word, we will seek the truth and we will be sanctified as we do so, to the praise of His glorious name!
So among our primary objectives as we meet together for Bible study: a gospel-orientation and a wholehearted pursuit of the truth. In my next post I will share two more motivations. Stay tuned!