Recently, I began a book study with a dear friend of mine from church, and I thought the book that she had in mind was so awesome that it was worth writing about. J The book is entitled Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with both our Hearts and our Minds, and it is written by Jen Wilkin. Honestly, the book has been amazing so far (we’ve only met up for 3 weeks now), but we have added to the challenge by having a discussion leader each week that poses thoughtful questions for our discussion.
What I really like about the book is that it discusses why biblical literacy is important, bad habits we may have that keep us from knowing the Word of God as we ought, and ways we can study more intentionally and effectively. Now, if you’ve been following the posts on CredoCovenant, you could not have missed the last posting of M’Cheyne’s Bible reading plan for the year (but, if you did, you can find it here). I’m not sure how many people are using the plan, or plan on using the plan in 2015, or plan on using a different plan, but I do want to encourage you to make studying the Word of God an intentional endeavor in the new year. Jen Wilkins had this to say from her book:
Biblical literacy is something most of us will never feel comfortable claiming we have achieved during our lifetime…We treasure what we know, but we are troubled by what we do not know. We do our best to cobble together a patchwork knowledge of Scripture, pieced from sermons, studies, and quiet times, but we are often confronted with the gaps and loose seams in the garment of our understanding, particularly when life gets hard…But what can we do to know the Bible better?…
Biblical literacy occurs when a person has access to a Bible in a language she [he] understands and is steadily moving toward knowledge and understanding of the text. If it is true that the character and will of God are proclaimed in Scripture, then any serious attempt to become equipped for the work of discipleship must include a desire to build Biblical literacy. Biblical literacy stitches patchwork knowledge into a seamless garment of understanding…This steady movement does not occur by accident, nor does it always occur intuitively. We may have an earnest desire to build Bible literacy, but left untrained, we may develop habits of engaging the text that at best do nothing to increase literacy and at worst actually work against it. (emphasis mine)
What struck me most in her statement was the fact that Biblical literacy isn’t something you just “happen into”. It’s something that takes work, training, and practice before you become good at it. I mean, it is the way most things work in life. I didn’t start off being a good wife or a good mother, I had to put some work into, get better at it, and I still have a long way to go. What Christian didn’t start off by knowing a few memory verses and some Bible stories about Noah, David and Goliath, and Jonah? So, eventually, we have to grow. We need to mature. We need to move beyond elementary things, and seriously make studying the Word of God a priority in our lives.
Now, this book is aimed at women (excellent holiday gift anyone!?!), but I know any person can benefit from reading the book. However, I know that taking time for Bible study is often difficult with the varying circumstances a lot of women deal with (i.e. husbands, families, children, jobs, hospitality, etc.), but I want to encourage the women out there not to neglect studying your Bibles coming into this new year. In fact, you may want to take advantage of a Bible reading plan to provide you with some guidance and a little motivation to keep on going. But ultimately, I think that the Word of God provides the best motivation. In Titus 2, verses 3-5, women are exhorted here by the Apostle Paul. Right at the end of verse 3, you find the sentence: “They are to teach what is good.” Let’s face it. You can’t teach what you don’t know. That’s a really blunt way of saying it, but it is the truth. You really can’t teach or share with anyone something you do not know. But a more gentle way of saying this can be found in Proverbs 31:26: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” In our pursuit to become an excellent lady, honoring God in all that we say or do, let us not neglect studying His Word. So ladies, I pray that these verses provide you with the best motivation to make serious Bible study a part of your life. I also encourage you to check out Jen Wilkin’s book and maybe meet up with a friend or two to talk through it, and her book is a fairly short read for the month of December so that you can start off right in the upcoming year.
Finally, if I can get your mind going already, here are some questions that my friend and I discussed from our first meeting on this all important topic:
- When you study the Bible from a man-centered perspective, what aspects of God do we miss seeing? What aspects of ourselves do we miss seeing?
- When you study the Bible from a God-centered perspective, what aspects of God do you see more clearly? What aspects of yourself do you see more clearly?
- What does it mean to renew our minds?
- Is the way that a person becomes more spiritual different in the New Testament than in the Old Testament?
- Is the pursuit of doctrinal precision a truly spiritual endeavor? Is it a mark of genuine spirituality? Is it a worthwhile pursuit for the Christian?
- Is it sinful for us to study the Word of God however we want to (i.e. interpreting and understanding things how we want or only studying the things we want)?