Shortly after I was saved, about 20 years ago, I was introduced to the serious study of God’s Word, and an emphasis on delving into faith in a formal, studious way. This suited my personality, and I became enamored with the formal study of God’s Word.
I started by buying commentaries, theological books, Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and anything that would help me study God’s Word. My passion for formal study led me to Trinity Bible College where I would later complete a Master’s degree in Christian Counseling.
The crowning moment came when I took my first hermeneutics class. My eyes were opened to a world that I didn’t even know existed. The world of how to study God’s Word, and answer these questions (Duvall and Hays, *Grasping God’s Word*):
What did the text mean to the biblical audience?
What are the differences between the biblical audience and us?
What is the theological principle in the text?
How should individual Christians today apply the theological principle in their lives?
The class introduced me to a solid way of studying God’s Word, learning how to interpret meaning and apply it to my life. It also caused me to question the discipleship methods of every church I attended. Why aren’t they teaching this in churches?
The study of God’s Word is similar to the study of other books, and religions. We get into history, word studies, language, and like Duvall and Hays say, we seek to learn the meaning of what the author wrote and apply it to our lives today. We seek to cross the principlizing bridge.
So tell me again, why don’t churches teach this? Why wouldn’t you equip people with the knowledge of how to study God’s Word?
A Country Church
God in His sovereignty has woven my life so that for the moment I am back to where I was. I attend a small country church. God’s Word is preached, is important, and is lived out in the lives of God’s faithful.
This church has managed to stave off modern ways of doing church. They did adopt the beloved projection screens and added modern music, but for the most part they are the same church they have always been. You can still smell the wood paneling in the kitchen. It’s hidden under a thick coat of paint, but it’s smell permeates the building.
Good ole country church. They study God’s Word. They seriously look at God’s Word, read it, talk about it and seek to apply it to their lives. There is a simpleness to their faith and to their study that is refreshing. I have been reminded that you can simply pick up The Book, read it, and let the Holy Spirit do a work in your life.
So what about Hermeneutics? Is that just for the pastor? What about the commentaries, Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and understanding of how effective it is when we know Greek and Latin. How does that world fit into this one?
Crossing the Principlizing Bridge
Perhaps there is a way to combine the simplicity of Jesus faith with the complexness of Paul’s study.
Perhaps there are times when we should simply pick up The Book and read it. We can enter in a time of personal worship, reading God’s Word, praying through it and meditating on it.
Perhaps there are times when we need to enter into serious study of God’s Word. When we seek a thorough understanding of Israel’s history, the original intention of the author, and the differences between the author’s audience and us.
When Paul was saved his personality, temperment and knowledge didn’t go away, they were just conformed to Jesus image. God used Paul’s knowledge and understanding to edify Paul, the church and to weed out those who were trying to destroy the gospel.
Yet, we can sense that even Paul needed to live out the simple and gentle faith of Jesus Christ. That He needed to put down the study books and simply read.
Perhaps there is a place for both. For simple reading and for serious study. We are in this world, dear Christian, as preparation for eternity. Perhaps that knowledge will motivate us to take how we prepare for it more seriously while the trials and suffering of this life will keep us grounded in simple trusting faith and good ole country church reading of God’s Word.
Learning and loving God,