Devotional Reading and Bible Study (January 30, 2019)
Dear VICC family,
Recently I was listening to a series of lectures online (isn’t that something you do for fun, too?). It was a series of two lectures followed by a question and answer time, and was entitled, “The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor.” The lectures were given by two men, one a pastor who used to be in academia and one an academic who used to be a pastor, both of whom exhibited a deep love for God’s Word and church throughout the event. There was a lot about the lectures I enjoyed, but what I wanted to share with you came out in the Q&A time at the end.
During the question and answer time, when the two Bible teachers were given the opportunity to share their advice for young ministers and theology students, New Testament scholar Don Carson gave the following advice: “With every fiber of your being, fight the temptation to separate off your devotional reading of the Bible from the rigorous study of the Bible, and vice versa.” What he meant was, don’t turn off your brain when you are having your “quiet time” with God in the Scriptures, and conversely don’t turn off your heart when you are giving yourself to rigorous study of the Scriptures. Our “spiritual” reading of the Bible should be studious and thoughtful, and our “study” of the Bible (say, to prepare a lesson or answer some difficult question for ourselves) should be devout, spiritual, and reverent. In popular parlance, both head and heart should always be engaged wheneverwe open up God’s Word. This was good advice for young people who were preparing themselves for a life of “professional” Bible study, but it’s also good advice for all Christians.
So next time you pick up your Bible to have some quiet time, don’t feel like you need to turn off your brain to hear from God. Pray his blessing over your time, ask God to speak, open up the Book, and study it. If the passage you are reading has a cross-reference to somewhere else in the Bible, go there. Read that. See what the second passage says about the first. Think about it. Pray. Do a word study. Dive in deep. And next time you pick up your Bible to figure something out, to prepare a lesson for Bible study, or to answer a question, don’t forget that the book in your hand, while not a mystical thing to be handled superstitiously, is nevertheless the holy and inspired Word of the Living God.
Think your devotions and pray your studies. And imagine how much more deeply we will all know God when we do.
Your partner on the journey,