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Entries in Bible Study (114)


Pondering Proverbs

I was reading Proverbs 8 this morning.  I have never really studied it in depth, and it is rich beyond description. Well, all of Scripture is rich beyond description, but seeing new truths that we've not noticed before is exciting.

I was reflecting on v. 10-11:

Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you omay desire cannot compare with her.

There is a song that refers to those two verses.  There is a chorus using those words:

Lord, you are more precious than silver
Lord, you are more costly than gold
Lord, you are more beautiful than diamomds
And nothing I desire compares with you

That picture of jewels is one we see quite a lot in Scripture.  Jewels are a sign that someone has wealth.  Even in our culture, having expensive jewels demonstrates our wealth.  I'm always amused/bemused at the fascination we have when the Academy Awards come on television, and people watch it just to see what expensive, glamorous attire and jewels the women are wearing.  We like to see beautiful jewels.

And of course, all of those jewels mean nothing before a holy God.  He doesn't care if we're wearing expensive jewels, and expensive jewels are temporal.  They can be lost or stolen.  We are told in Proverbs that wisdom is more precious than silver or gold.  Later on in the chapter, especially vv. 22-31, we see more about where this wisdom is embodied.  We know that we should prize the Lord above jewels.

But there are many kinds of "jewels."  Jewels can be in the form of the intangible, too.  The things we value and live to protect can come in other forms.  We can value our reputation, power, authority, and intellectual ability.  We can value the important people we know more than the One who died for us.  We all have hearts that are so willing to turn just about anything into an idol.

When we are offered jewels or instruction, which one will we take?  One has an immediate gratification and the other is an eternal reward and blessing.  Wisdom doesn't come to us unless we seek it, but it is worth the effort.


The Ouch Factor

In my ongoing study of Proverbs, I read this today:

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion. (18:2)

For someone like me, who spoke early as a child, have always held strong opinions, and was accused of "wording" people to death, this gave me cause for squirm.

It was a good kind of squirm.



History of Redemption

In Graeme Goldsworthy's book Gospel and Kingdom, we learn that the Old Testament is the history of redemption.  The key to the Old Testament is not the part that Israel plays, but the part that God plays as his plan of redemption is unveiled.

There are three features of the history of redemption:

  1. It is progressive.
  2. It is incomplete without the New Testament.
  3. It is to be interpreted. 

The interpretation of the history of redemption begins with the New Testament and drives us back to the Old Testament:

The New Testament establishes for us that the Old Testament involves promise and hope of a goal which is fulfilled in Christ.  It thus directs us to take account of 'the dynamic', the living process and movement, of the Old Testament which leads us on to the Christ of the Gospels.  Because the New Testament declares the Old Testament to be incomplete without Christ we must understand the Old Testament in the light of its goal which is Christ.  Jesus is indispensable to a true understanding of the Old Testament as well as the New.

I found this really helpful.  It is as if we work backwards from New to the Old. 


Caution in the "character study" approach

I started reading a book which was recommended at the Gospel Coalition website in a post Kathleen Nielson wrote.  It's called The Goldsworthy Triology, and contains three volumes, Gospel and Kingdom, Gospel and Wisdom, and The Gospel in Revelation.  The content of the book revolves around the question of the unity of the whole Bible.

In the chapter "Bridging the Gap," a caution is issued with regard to the "character study" approach used in teaching the Old Testament narratives.  We are all familiar with Sunday school curriculum which centres around a figure, such as David or Moses.  Goldsworthy notes:

The danger in the 'character study' approach is that it so easily leads to the use of the Old Testament characters and events as mere illustrations of the New Testament truths, while at the same time giving the appearance of being a correct exposition of the meaning of the Word of God.  But if the real substance is drawn from the New Testament, and it alone, we may well ask what is the point of applying ourselves to the Old Testament; why we may not just as well use non-biblical material to illustrate the New Testament.  To make this criticism is not to deny the value of Old Testament narrative in illustrating New Testament principles; but we should not assume that such an approach uncovers the primary meaning of the text.

I actually have been in sermons where the New Testament principles were demonstrated by use of non-biblical sources; from novels or television shows or movies.

When it comes to teaching children, it is so easy to fall back on a "dare to be a Daniel" theme. I guess we just have to be careful how we present these stories, so that the students don't see them as mere object lessons, but as part of something bigger.


I liked this

In her book Bible Study:  Following the Way of the Word, Kathleen Nielson points out principles for Bible study:

  1. The Bible is God speaking.
  2. The Bible is powerful.
  3. The Bible is understandable.
  4. The Bible is a literary work.
  5. The Bible is one story.

With these principles in mind, she indicates what is distinctive about this approach:

The distinctive of this approach is that it begins with the Bible itself and what it asks of us, rather than what we need and would like to "get out of" Bible study.  Many bible study groups these days start with some sort of poll, seeking to know what the people in the group desire from the study, and then the study is designed or chosen according to that poll.  It is indeed important to recall that what every human being needs most fundamentally is to hear God's voice - to take in the food of his Word, which is a more basic need even than daily bread. 

This has characterized too many of the studies I have attended.  Those studies were not the ones with the lasting impressions. The ones with the lasting impressions were Word centred, and sought to reveal more about God through His word.

I sometimes wonder if what people want out of Bible study -- and I am thinking of women, especially -- is a kind of counselling.  Women attend Bible studies to help them with issues and problems.  I don't think that ought to be a goal in a group Bible study.  There is a place for biblical counselling, but it is not within the group Bible study venue.  Looking for therapy in a Bible study is probably not the best goal to have.  If our goal is therapy, we will try to bend and shape the Scriptures to answer our questions rather than taking Scripture for what it is.