Day 1439 – The Goals of Bible Study – Meditation Monday
Welcome to Day 1439 of our Wisdom-Trek, and thank you for joining me.
This is Guthrie Chamberlain, Your Guide to Wisdom
The Goals of Bible Study – Meditation Monday
Wisdom - the final frontier to true knowledge. Welcome to Wisdom-Trek! Where our mission is to create a legacy of wisdom, to seek out discernment and insights, to boldly grow where few have chosen to grow before. Hello, my friend, I am Guthrie Chamberlain, your captain on our journey to increase Wisdom and Create a Living Legacy. Thank you for joining us today as we explore wisdom on our 2nd millennium of podcasts. This is Day 1439 of our Trek, and it is time for Meditation Monday. Taking time to relax, refocus, and reprioritize our lives is crucial in order to create a living legacy. For you, it may just be time alone for quiet reflection. You may utilize structured meditation practices. In my life, Meditation includes reading and reflecting on God’s Word and in prayer. It is a time to renew my mind, refocus on what is most important, and making sure that I am nurturing my soul, mind, and body. As you come along with me on our trek each Meditation Monday, it is my hope and prayer that you, too, will experience a time for reflection and renewing of your mind.
We are continuing a new series this week on Meditation Monday, which will focus on Mastering Bible Study through a series of brief insights from Hebrew Scholar, Dr. Michael S. Heiser. Our first few insights will focus on study habits to build a strong foundation. Today let us meditate on:
The Goal of Bible Study
· Insight Five: Insist on Being a Slave to the Text – Let it be Your Master
Dr. Heiser has been in academia for almost thirty years, both as a graduate student and a professor. He has spent time in both Christian and secular institutions. His Christian experience taught him the fundamentally important lesson of having a high view of Scripture. Treat it as God’s Word. Dr. Heiser’s secular years taught him a lesson just as valuable, and one that he didn't find consistently in a Christian context: be a slave to the text.
In his secular experience, being a slave to the text meant that you shouldn't bring prior commitments to the biblical text you’re studying. Theological ideas about how the text came about or how it might be understood to achieve a theological outcome should be left behind. The text is all that matters. Theological commitments are irrelevant and, in fact, impediments to understanding.
This is, of course, what one would expect in a secular institution. They aren’t seminaries. However, there’s a bit of a flaw in this understanding. Objectivity is a myth. No one can jettison all preconceptions about something, no matter what the context. The secular scholar has presupposition of his or her own that crouch in the mind, ready to influence interpretation. We all should be aware of that, so take that part with a grain of salt. But don’t lose the lesson here. The text is all that matters, so we must let the text take us wherever it leads.
Ironically, despite the pervading belief in inspiration, I don’t see this principle consistently practiced in Christian academia. True, any given seminary has, and needs to have, certain theological commitments, but those theological commitments should not be the basis of judging scholarship or handing out grades. Rather, professors should be forthright. They should have well- informed exegetical arguments for their positions (presumably those of the school) but should be honest with the text. They should admit that, given other interpretations about the Hebrew or Greek grammar and word usage here and there, the conclusions drawn from a passage could be different. To hide those possibilities or manipulate the text to your “obvious” conclusions is dishonest.
So it should be with personal Bible study. The text is what is inspired, and nothing else. Loyalty to God's Word means letting it be your master. By definition, your interpretation or belief cannot be biblical if it does not derive from the text.
· Insight Six: The Goal of Bible Study Should Not Be a Spiritual Buzz
Every earnest believer wants their study of Scripture to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. I’m not suggesting it should be expected or will always happen, but productive and meaningful Bible study should move you emotionally from time to time.
I realize that the last sentence is contrary to what many of you have been taught or perhaps read. What do I mean “from time to time?’ Shouldn't we always be emotionally touched by Bible study? My answer is that if you’re doing Bible study to feel a particular way, or get some spiritual high, your Bible study is self-focused. To be blunt, that's the antithesis of Bible study.
Bible study is not about you. It's about gaining knowledge of God and his plan through the means he gave you for that end: the Bible. This doesn't mean that we don't learn about God in any other way. Yet God prompted people to write long ago so that those of us living today would know certain things about him, his plan for humanity, Jesus Christ, and how to be in the right relationship to him through Jesus. Nowhere are we taught in the Bible to “search the Scriptures to feel a certain way.”
The perspective of Bible study against which I'm arguing has, to my mind, reduced the role of the Spirit to tingling our emotions. As a result of that outlook, weak-minded believers are tossed about by the elasticity of their feelings and circumstances, and fall easy prey to clever articulations of bad theology—even within the church.Real Bible study ought to produce careful thinkers about truth. As we expose ourselves to Scripture and submit to what it teaches us on its own terms, the Spirit will illumine our minds and use that understanding to move us emotionally, whether that be to a profound sense of peace, satisfaction, guilt, or repentance.
Too often we read or study Scripture with an unconscious demand: “Lord, I'm reading this now, give me that feeling I really need to get through my day.” Bible study is not a narcotic. You can't have a true sense of knowing God—and the emotional impact that brings—without the discipline of being in the Word of God. God knows what you need. He will honor your loyalty.
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
That is a wrap for today’s Meditation, next week; we will continue our trek on Meditation Monday as we take time to reflect on what is most important in creating our living legacy. On tomorrow’s trek, we will explore another wisdom quote. This 3-minute wisdom supplement will assist you in becoming healthy, wealthy, and wise each day. Thank you for joining me on this trek called life. Encourage your friends and family to join us and then come along tomorrow for another day of ‘Wisdom-Trek, Creating a Legacy.’ If you would like to listen to any of the past 1438 daily treks or read the daily journal, they are available at Wisdom-Trek.com. I encourage you to subscribe to Wisdom-Trek on your favorite podcast player so that each day will be downloaded to you automatically.
Thank you for allowing me to be your guide, mentor, and most importantly, I am your friend as I serve you through this Wisdom-Trek podcast and journal.
As we take this Trek of life together, let us always:
Live Abundantly (Fully)
Lend to others Generously
Lead with Integrity
Leave a Living Legacy Each Day
I am Guthrie Chamberlain….reminding you to ’Keep Moving Forward,’ ‘Enjoy your Journey,’ and ‘Create a Great Day…Everyday’! See you tomorrow!