Seeking to Know God
We seek to understand our lives through His Word, not define the Word by our lives.
An Online Bible Study
The goal of this Bible Study is to become prayerful and thoughtful readers of the Bible who grow
more in love with God and His Word.
I often studied the Bible and felt as though there must be more to the Word than what I was discovering. I questioned if there was something I was missing, something that could help me understand what God wanted to say to me through this ancient book. Have you ever felt that way and asked yourself...
How is any of this is appropriate to my 21st-century life?
I think that's where our difficulties begin, however. We are asking the wrong question - at least initially. Rather than first asking how this ancient book is appropriate to our modern life, we should first ask...What did the book mean to the original readers? What did it mean "back then?"
Let me explain...
Determining what the text meant to the original readers is a process called interpretation. That should always be our first intention when studying the Bible. The most significant issue with making an application of Scripture (applying a passage to our lives today) that has not been properly interpreted (understanding what the author originally meant) is that I, the reader, become the focus of the text.
Scripture is God's revelation of Himself. Even the commands of Scripture tell us something about the character of our God. We should always be looking for what God is revealing of Himself through His Word, not what it says about us. That's why our Bible Studies begin with Interpretation - or exegesis - which leads to application.
We don't want to bring our message to God's revelation;
we want to bring the revelation of God
to our lives.
When we study God's Word, we are seeking to bring out the original message of Scripture and not looking to put in our own modern message. Interpretation (or "Exegesis"), literally, is to "lead out." Scripture ought to lead to the author's meaning. Eisegesis, literally, is to "lead into." Eisegesis, the opposite of proper interpretation, is when we lead our own message into Scripture. If I read the story of David and Goliath and I say, "to me, this Scripture is about how to defeat my enemies," or if you've ever wondered which one of the characters of the Good Samaritan might be you, we have failed to fully understand the reason the Holy Spirit moved the author to write. Why? Because the primary message of Scripture is not subjective. Scripture cannot mean one thing to me and another thing to someone else. Remember, the writers of Scripture were not writing about us; they were writing the story of Jesus, God incarnate.
Simply put, proper application of Scripture to our modern lives develops only from an appropriate interpretation of the ancient Word first.
But isn't Scripture supposed to speak to me and to my life?
Absolutely, however, the Bible isn't a story about us; it's a story about Jesus. Therefore, we need to read the Bible looking for him and then ask God to help us understand our lives through His Word, not define the Word by our lives. That's why our first step is Interpretation/Exegesis, where we explore the Bible and learn to see it the way God led men to write it. THEN we move to Application because then we can apply the proper meaning to our lives. And Bible study is never complete until we have become doers of the Word, not just hearers.
The proper steps take a little time as well as an engaged mind and a willing heart. But by reading the Bible as a letter from God about God, we will come to know Him better and be changed by Him, becoming more the person He desired that moment He first thought of us and becoming more useful vessels for His Kingdom. Everything we learn about God will speak to you and your life because He's the Creator of that life. Watch and see!
"If we want to feel a deeper love for God, we must learn to see Him more clearly for who He is. If we want to feel deeply about God, we must learn to think deeply about God." Jen Wilkin, Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both our Hearts and our Minds
"The idea of applying biblical principles is often misunderstood. It's not simply a process of hear, believe, apply—as if one we're putting on a new doctrine like a borrowed overcoat. Two steps are missing between believe and apply: explore and discover. To explore a biblical principle means studying Scripture to understand what the surrounding context is, what the principle means for us, and what it reveals about God."
Ch. Stanley In Touch Ministries
A Little Bit About Me.
Hey Y'all. I'm Deborah - just a Southern girl from Atlanta, Ga. I've lived in Austin, Texas for a few years now. Before that, I lived in Miami, Florida for five years. When we moved there, I must say it was not the beach I would have chosen, but I was thrilled to be living at the ocean. I thought I would spend my days walking along the shoreline, improving my tan, and collecting seashells. However, it didn't take long before that lifestyle (Every. Single. Day.) bored me. I knew there was something more I could accomplish with my life. What that "something" was, I did not know, but I set out to discover it. So, at age 57, I returned to school to pursue a Master's degree in Christian Studies. Was it hard: Lord, yes. Was it fulfilling? More than I ever imagined it could be. What I learned only encouraged me to study God's Word more and more. I'm glad you are considering studying with me.
Is this Bible Study right for You?
The New Testament records a conversation between Jesus and a teacher of the Law. The Jewish teacher asked Jesus to tell him the greatest commandment. Jesus quoted the Shema (Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deut 6:4-5.) Considered by some the highest prayer in Judaism, the Shema affirms God's singularity and His sovereignty. Mark tells us, however, that Jesus didn't quote the Shema exactly. Instead, he replied, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment" (12:30). It appears that Jesus added the phrase "with all your mind."
We know that the "heart" in Scripture does not refer to the organ that pumps blood through the body; it refers to the person's center. Therefore, it doesn't seem logical that Jesus' addition of "mind" was merely meant to refer to another organ (brain). Instead, it seems Jesus is reiterating that the Shema refers to total devotion - that to worship God rightly and love Him properly, every part of us should be devoted to Him. When we love God in the way He commands, it is not merely a matter of emotion - not only a heart matter. The love God commands insists on heart and mind, body and soul; God commands that we love Him with every aspect of our being. That, Scripture tells us, is the most important commandment.
I say that to point out that studying Scripture in a way that directs us to look at grammar or form outlines or note verb tenses is not belittling the emotional aspect of interacting with God through His Word. Jesus taught us that engaging our mind reveals a level of devotion to God that also affords Him worship.
I recognize that you are visiting this website because you have a desire to study God's Word. Possibly you have reached a point in your journey of faith that mere milk or spoon-fed words no longer satisfy. That means you are ready to dig into the Word. You are ready to begin training yourself in the Word. Training takes effort, but we know how rewarding effort can be!