The Bible is ultimately about God, it presents itself with characters on the page, and it was written to real people in real situations.
The process of Bible study must begin “back then.” We need to look carefully at the text to see what was actually written. And we need to learn diligently what the author intended to communicate.
Then we need to appreciate the intended impact of the text “for today.” That means a careful consideration of the love response that the text should stir in us, as well as the appropriate transformation in how we live our lives.
After studying a passage and seeking to interpret it as well as possible, consider the following facets of a relational responsive heart check:
Since every biblical text is ultimately a revelation of a personal God, ask yourself what this text has revealed about God?
[destacate]We need a careful consideration of the love response that the text should stir in us, as well as the appropriate transformation in how we live our lives[/destacate]
Every biblical text is a revelation of a personal God, so there will always be value in considering what that revelation should stir in your heart as you read it.
The Bible is much more incarnated theological truth than it is written code. That is to say, there are real people on the page. Theological teaching is usually wrapped up in real people, living in real situations.
There is more narrative than any other type of text, which means lots of characters living out their response to God’s word. But every text has a narrative nature to it.
Poetry offers a glimpse into a narratival setting, even if you don’t know the details. Direct communication like speeches and letters were not written in a vacuum.
There was a situation and we are given the glimpse offered by an epistle penned purposefully for the recipients at one moment in their story.
The Bible is ultimately a revelation of God. And that revelation is wrapped up in the people on the page. Be mentored by them. Learn from them. Allow your heart to engage with them as you watch how they responded to God.
The original author of each book wrote with relational intent. He wanted to do more than just transfer information. Each book was written to stir the hearts of the original recipients.
[destacate]Theological teaching is usually wrapped up in real people, living in real situations[/destacate]
The text is ultimately about God, it presents itself with characters on the page, and it was written to real people in real situations.
Ponder the intended impact on their hearts as you consider the impact on yours
The original author of each book could not have known about me, but the divine Author has preserved the Scriptures, superintended the collection of the Scriptures, sovereignly overseen the translation of the Scriptures, and graciously provided the opportunity for me to own the Scriptures.
He has given me if I am his child, a new heart that relishes the goodness of God in Christ.
And so, I should look at the Scriptures to see my God, as well as be mentored by the people on the page, considering the impact for the original recipients, and overtly considering how the text should stir my heart as I read it.
As I study the biblical text and consider how it should be stirring my heart, the result will not just be a Godward response. Yes, there should be wonder, awe, worship, praise, gratitude, devotion, and so on.
But also, a God-stirred heart will be a heart that reflects God’s other-centred heart. How can what I am seeing in the text, which is stirring my heart in response to God’s revelation, be carried to others evangelistically or pastorally?
[destacate]A God-stirred heart will be a heart that reflects God’s other-centred heart [/destacate]
A truly relational response to the Bible will not just be Godward, but it will also spill over to others because we are relational beings.
Perhaps this five-point checklist can be helpful as we seek to more overtly recognize the role of the heart in the Bible study process. Look, learn, love, live.