Friday, March 7, 2008

Bible Study and Journaling

Once on the White Horse Inn, the hosts said that someone should make a list of quotes from Charles Finney's Systematic Theology (which is really merely a Systematic Ethics). The reason? People aren't going to read the whole thing, but they need to know what it contains, so they know that Finney was a heretic. Not everyone has time to listen to everything, so, while I encourage everyone to listen to the White Horse Inn, I am assuming that the hosts won't mind my passing on some nuggets I've learned from listening to their programs.

Since I became a Christian in 1999, I have had several people tell me how important it is to do daily Bible study and to journal. Their reason was so that I could grow closer to God. I always felt deficient, because I couldn't get into journaling. I didn't really understand the concept of Bible study. And I haven't even managed a schedule for reading the Bible every day. It was one of the things that made me think that maybe I really wasn't a Christian—at least not a very good one.

Over time, I have learned more about the Bible, including that it has a defined meaning rather than a "what-does-that-mean-to-you" interpretation. Did you know that journaling and even daily Bible study are not commanded in the Bible? Yet, people who encourage their practice often neglect direct commands that are in the Bible, including honoring their parents, caring for widows and orphans, regular worship with other believers, and even the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations.

I'm not saying that journaling or daily Bible study is a bad thing. What is important is why we are doing them. Bible study and even journaling should not be about what it does for you, but what you are able to do as a result of the knowledge you gain through it. Bible study, for instance, can help you follow Jesus' command to go and make disciples of all nations.

One form of Bible study they recommend is to study the scripture that your pastor is preaching on. If you know the week before what he will be preaching on the following week, spend time during the week reading the scripture, and maybe even a commentary or two about the passage. If you don't know ahead of time, spend the week following the sermon doing this kind of in-depth study.

Other great works to read include (and they're a lot easier to read than you might expect!):

  • Calvin's Institutes
  • Luther's Small Catechism
  • The Heidelberg Catechism
  • Westminster's Shorter Catechism

Each of these works gives the scriptural basis for each part. Read those passages, too, and you'll be well on your way to "knowing what you believe and why you believe it" (a paraphrase of the White Horse Inn slogan). Then, you'll be ready to fulfill the Great Commission!

Lisa G.

1 comment:

Rhea said...

I visited a church in Louisville called "Sojourn" and they had a sort of "call and response" using part of the Heidelberg Catechism. I had never heard of it before. It was a kinda cool church...I would call it "culturally liberal" but "theologically conservative" (and very Calvinistic, I might add). I was kinda expecting a "weak" sermon titled something like "The 3 Leadership Secrets" with only a few verses, but instead, 90-95% of the sermon was straight preaching of the word, and then explaining it. The rest was antedotes or jokes, but really, they helped explain the passages of Scripture. Anyway...I wouldn't call myself a Calvinist, but I can't argue with someone who preaches the Word like that :-)