We published our first work by Val Adams, and we are very excited for you to read it. This week we are featuring the introduction to her book on the blog. We hope you enjoy it! You can purchase her book, Finding Your Purpose, on our website here.
“Several years ago, after teaching a Bible Study, I had a lady ask me, ‘You really believe God’s Word works, don’t you?’ I emphatically said, ‘Absolutely! I believe it with all my heart!’ Since that time I have often thought of this phrase ‘God’s Word works’ and what it means. What it means, simply, is that when things are broken and need fixing, God’s Word is the answer. Yet, so many of us don’t always go to God’s Word first when we are struggling with life’s challenges. We might read a book, talk to a friend or pastor, or seek other ways to ‘fix’ our problem, but God’s Word contains all we need, and if we apply it to our lives, it always works!
Despite this incredible reality, many people don’t make studying God’s word a regular habit in their life. There are multiple reasons for this, but I believe part of the problem is that people lack confidence in their ability to understand it. This is what led me to begin writing Bible studies. I wanted to help regular, ordinary people realize that they don’t need a seminary degree to understand the Bible. In fact, consider this, the Bible was written for ordinary people, about ordinary people, by ordinary people. God chose to work through ordinary people to fulfill his purposes, and although God is the author of the Bible, he used ordinary people who were moved by his Holy Spirit to write down his message. No doubt about it, learning to study God’s Word is for ordinary people!
While some people feel that the word of God is too hard to understand, and they get lost in the language, the cultural references or the difficult concepts, the truth is that God’s word is accessible to everyone! The key to understanding lies in recognizing the role of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit there will be no genuine interpretation. The apostle Paul explains this reality in his letter to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 2:9-12: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit, and his Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God’s deep secrets. No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And God has actually given us his Spirit (not the world’s spirit) so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.’
He goes on to explain that those who are not Christians, can not understand because they do not have the Spirit:
1 Corinthians 2:13-14: ‘When we tell you this, we do not use words of human wisdom. We speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means.’
So, according to Paul, understanding scripture is possible for all believers because we have the Holy Spirit living in us. Therefore, this is where we must start with Biblical interpretation.
If you have not given your life to Christ, the Bible will remain unintelligible to you, but more tragically than that, without a relationship with Christ, you are missing out on eternal life and this is an unfathomable mistake. Before you begin delving into God’s word, you need to be in a right relationship with Christ. If this is not where you are, take some time to talk to someone about how you can have a personal relationship with God. Romans 10:9- 10 tells us “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. (NLT) Don’t wait another day to become a follower of Jesus! It will be the best decision you will ever make!
Once your relationship with Christ is settled, the Bible should become more than just a ‘book’ to you. In fact, you should see it more like a love letter from your Father in heaven who has gone to great lengths to make himself known. Come to the Bible with a desire to know the God “who gave himself for” you (Titus 2:14). And, since God’s character is infused from beginning to end, Bible study will give you the opportunity to truly get to know him!
Here are a few simple tips for you as you begin to study:
- Context: The context is the background of the passage. In other words, look at what is happening in the time period the passage was originally written. Identify the writer and his specific angle, and discern who the original audience was. Use the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why). Knowing these things will provide a richer, clearer understanding of the text. The most important aspect of context is to notice how God was working in this time period, with these people. In other words, what do you learn about God’s character through the interactions in this passage? The bottom line is that understanding context is essential for effective application.
- Connections: To make a personal connection to a passage from the Old Testament or New Testament, you can take what you have discovered about the original intent and God’s character and make application to your life. I call these truth takeaways. For instance, after reading about God providing manna to the Israelites, you can say, “if God provided for , I can trust him to be my provider.” So a story from the Old Testament can give us truth for today because God never changes. Malachai 3:6 says, “For I the Lord do not change…” In Hebrews, the writer states it this way: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” His truth for the Israelites or 1st century disciples applies to us today!
So, when you boil it all down, studying the Bible is pretty simple; we just need to do it. My hope is that you will use this study to help you develop a habit of digging into this powerful book where you will find help, hope, healing and ultimately, a deeper relationship with the God who desperately wants you to know how much he loves you!”
You can read more about the author, Val Adams, on her website here.