I vividly remember preparing for my very first sermon after I had graduated from Seminary. I parsed the Greek verbs from the passage; I applied all the hermeneutic principles learned from the Bible classes I had taken. I listed all the interpretations of words on one side of a sheet of paper and listed all the possible meaning on the other side of the column. Then I applied the last step I was taught to address the practical life application of the passage – to answer the question how does this make a difference in my life today? I then preached the sermon and received many positive comments about how meaningful the message was. That first sermon was preached some 33 years ago.
I now realize, I was asking scholarship questions that very few people in the pews were asking. Now, after preaching hundreds of sermons and after a few vocational changes, I study the Bible to draw nearer to Jesus Christ as I no longer have an audience to inspire through preaching.
Barrett in his article Evangelicalism and the Modern Study of Scripture is concerned that current modern biblical scholarship may be diminishing the Bible’s unique position as “God’s authoritative, clear, and relevant revelation (Barrett, 2013).” Some of the excellent questions he poses are: “What does it mean to apply Scripture to one’s own life and the life of the church? What are the boundaries for properly doing this? How are bygone hermeneutical approaches, such as patristic readings, to be judged? Should we imitate the way the New Testament authors read the Old Testament? How do we know that our hermeneutical procedures are correct?”
My answer to his questions is simple – use whatever study methods that work to deepen your relationship with Jesus. I have grown in my understanding that simple is best and complex confuses.
When I was young, I completed the Navigator and Campus Crusade for Christ fill in the blank Bible studies. I was good at getting the right answers and filling in the blank words correctly. I thoroughly enjoyed studying the Bible in Seminary as I am a natural learner. I have led hundreds Bible studies using many methods for others.
But what works for me now with a very busy schedule caused by work and my own decisions is Bible reading and journaling. I currently get up in the morning with a cup of coffee and read a daily devotional by Billy Graham as well as read through the Chronological NIV Bible in a Year program. A question I try to reflect on daily in my journaling is “What is God teaching me today, this week or this year?” I go through this routine 3 to 5 times a week when I make time and am not traveling early in the morning.
I used to think, that when I reached this age in life, I would have plenty of time to study the Bible like I did in Seminary. I was mistaken. Now, I need the spiritual nourishment from daily Bible study to make it through a very hectic life schedule. What works for you?
Barrett, Rob. Evangelicalism and the Modern Study of Scripture. July 1, 2013. http://www.respectfulconversation.net (accessed December 3, 2013).