Reading Ourselves and Hearing Good Teaching: Let's Not Forsake One for the Other
If my last post convinced you to find a couple women and read the Bible together, then wahoo! You’re in for a life-changing season. But here’s a word of caution: I don’t know anyone who has opened a normal Bible and started reading in Genesis and simply read through, finishing it a few months later. The Bible is at once readable and accessible to all people, as well as a complex library of 66 books written over more than a thousand years, and in several literary genres. It’s wise to gather some tools to help a sister out.
My highest recommendation is that you get yourself a study bible. When I was just beginning to grow in my faith as a young adult, my NIV Life Application Study Bible was revolutionary. The introductions to each book, as well as the footnotes on each page, opened my eyes to a multitude of things that would have otherwise stumped me and derailed my reading of the Word. After years in that Bible, I moved on to an NIV Study Bible, which was more academic than life application. Now, I read from the ESV Study Bible and find it robust and helpful. Having access to one of these may make or break your foray into the Word of God.
My second recommendation to you is to get yourself some short, simple books to help you understand what the Bible says. Yes, this is a deviation from just reading the Bible. But listen, the Bible itself says that God “gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherd, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). God Himself has gifted some to be teachers for our edification. It’s to our benefit and blessing to take advantage of the wisdom the Lord has provided to them.
As my husband said this evening, “The church needs teachers, just not rockstar teachers.” We, in women’s ministry, have sought out rockstar teachers more than we’ve sought out the Word ourselves. And we’re now paying for it, as a generation of women follow rockstars headlong into false doctrine. But combining your OWN study with some helpful tools, is a really good approach.
Reading Know What You Believe and Know Why You Believe were immensely helpful to me in my early years as a Christian. Also, How to Read the Bible For all It’s Worth is a great tool. Lastly, I want to plug again Jen Wilkin’s book, Women of the Word. She's a women after my own heart, prizing theological education for all women.
So, dear sisters, while it is indeed true that we “shall not live by bread alone, but by every world that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), it’s also true that the Lord equipped some to teach, so let’s take advantage of their ministry to us.
Happy reading and happy Thanksgiving! I am truly grateful for each reader here.