January 22nd, 2020
If you’re anything like I was three years ago, you probably think watching paint dry might be more exciting than studying the Bible. Studying the Bible might seem like a treacherous task, reserved for the most righteous of scholars, or a social activity for the seniors of your church, so they can eat sandwiches cut into nice triangles on a Wednesday afternoon. The Bible seems about as trendy as a phone book, and like a phone book you might think it looks best on your grandmother’s end table. Besides, any information you might need from it can be googled for, right? The writings of J.K. Rowling are much more enticing, the works of Francis Chan seem more straight forward, and you can read your daily devotional in two minutes on the toilet each morning. So why on earth would you devote your precious time to reading a seemingly oversized, outdated, and cryptic book? Ok, jokes aside, you’re probably not jumping up and down in excitement at the thought of studying the Bible right now. I completely get it, three years ago I wasn’t either. Quite frankly, the Bible just seemed Old Fashioned, something that maybe I would take more interest in with age. But is the Bible actually Old Fashioned? Is there any actual value in studying it? Well for starters, if the Bible seems Old Fashioned, that is because it is in fact, very old in its fashion. As a result, we need to approach it as such. When you’re asked to read the works of Shakespeare in school, it is very unlikely that you understand the text fully in your first reading. And why should you? We all immediately recognize that the works of Shakespeare were written over 400 years ago, in an old form of English, using figures of speech and cultural references that are far removed from our time. So we take the time (willingly or unwillingly) to learn about Shakespearean language, structure, genres and cultural backgrounds in order to understand the significance of what takes place in his plays. Otherwise, a bawcock like yourself art o’er wrought by the cunning of his penmanship. If we immediately recognize the cultural and linguistic challenges of Shakespearean writing for the modern reader, why should we approach the Bible any differently? The most recent books in the Bible predate Shakespeare by 1500 years. It was written in three different languages, by at least 35 different authors, over the span of 1600 years. Many of the books within the Bible overlap, and they are not ordered chronologically. Compared to Shakespeare, the Bible can seem like a daunting, insurmountable task. Where on earth do you begin? Growing up in the church, I figured I had a pretty solid understanding of the Bible. With parents who were in ministry, I probably sat through twice as many sermons and teachings as my peers. If Sunday sermons and ten minute daily devotionals did the trick for everyone else, then surely I was set. However, as I started preparing for ministry, I quickly realized how little I knew. As I encountered people with differing views on the Bible, I could rarely provide more than platitudes. I had all sorts of ideas in my head from sermons I had heard, but I had no idea where the evidence for such arguments came from. Scariest of all, I started to realize that some of the beliefs I held contradicted themselves. Suddenly my minimal-effort understanding of the Bible was no longer sufficient. So naturally, what did I do? I googled my questions. To my surprise, that didn’t help much. It is really easy to find opinions on the internet, but not always as easy to find facts. When I didn’t find satisfactory answers there, I pushed those questions to the side and neglected them. I was sure the answers were out there, but I didn’t feel like putting in the effort to find them. Then I heard about the Chronological School of Biblical Studies (CSBS). At first, I was completely overwhelmed by the concept. Not only was this a nine month course, for a book that I did not find exciting, but it called for over forty hours of study a week. That was far from my idea of a fun time, and far from the level of effort I wanted to put into studying the Bible. Yet I did it. Was it easy? Of course not. For nine months I sat at a desk, worked my butt off and questioned my beliefs on a near-daily basis. Just as I had needed to work to understand the writings of Shakespeare, I needed to work to understand the Bible. Why did I do it? Well, early on I realized that studying the Bible is not something to be made light of. Studying the Bible is a matter of the development of your faith. It is a matter of learning about the living God from his own words, rather than being fed someone else’s interpretations. It is a matter about recognizing the rich history that you are a part of as a follower of Christ and the sacrifices that have been made so that you can be a part of that story. Studying the Bible is a matter of knowing what is true, so you can stand against what is not. Most importantly, studying the Bible is a matter of learning how to fulfill your mandate as a follower of Christ. To learn how to reflect him and build his kingdom in every aspect of your life. With stakes so high, how could studying the Bible not be worth your time and effort? So I’ll ask you; Are you ready to put in the effort and work it takes to understand the Bible? The Chronological School of Biblical Studies is an amazing opportunity to dive deep into the Bible and grow in your understanding of God’s word! I highly encourage you to check it out, or reach out with any questions you might have. However, if you’re not able to make the nine month commitment, there are still plenty of ways that you can enrich your personal study of the Bible! You could attend a local Bible study, or simply increase your time spent reading the Bible. It may seem like a big time commitment at first, but I promise you every moment is worth it.
Check out these links to start studying the historical context of the Bible on your own. + www.thebibleproject.com + www.blueletterbible.com + www.thebibleeffect.com + www.biblegateway.com/resources/knowing-scripture + www.internationalstandardbible.com