Application for Adoration

"Boring Bible studies are an idolatrous abomination." I once found these words falling inadvertantly out of my mouth when speaking to a conference of 120 young preachers, and they have haunted me ever since. "Hey! You're the guy who said..."

But that is what I really think. Here's why: the purpose of a Bible study is to do what the text expects us to do, feel what it expects us to feel and worship how it expects us to worship. The purpose of a Bible study is NEVER to merely understand what it says. Understanding is important, it is a vital and necessary first step towards the goal, but it isn't the goal itself. When understanding becomes the chief or only goal of Bible study then it displaces the real goal which is God being adored among His people. And that is idolatry. Subtle, but idolatry nonetheless.

The surest way to make Bible studies boring is to make them about education for understanding. For head knowledge alone. 99% of the dull Bible studies I hear make this basic error. They are aiming at the wrong goal. A little while ago I sat at the back of a student study led by a worker from a church who KEPT saying over and over something like "to repeat, we see this is what we are meant to understand by looking at v3". Well, yes, but don't leave it there! Sadly he did. We were all bored silly by the end but he went home assuming he had done the job because the necessary information had made its way from his notepad to ours. Sadly I don't think it enflamed many hearts on the way.

One way I think about the purpose and progression of Bible studies is like this:

  • We work at understanding the text...
  • In order to work at applying the text to our lives...
  • In order to adore God in every part of life, thought, word and deed
God is interested in my worship more than my understanding. I seek to understand in order to more fully exalt and exult in the one who reveals himself through the Word. Let's never confuse Bible study with mere education, its much greater than that.