I was recently asked, “Why do you go to Bible Study every week? As an ordained pastor, don’t you already have the Bible figured out?” I guess the simple answer is, “Because I don’t have the Bible figured out!” and I might even be so bold as to suggest it’s a good idea to beware of the person who thinks he or she has the Bible figured out.
Just when I think I have the Bible figured out, God surprises me. Through the Holy Spirit I learn something new. In Romans 1:16, Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” The word Paul uses for “power” is “dunamus,” a Greek word that is the root of our words “dynamite” and “dynamic.” The gospel is always the good news of God’s grace and love revealed to us through Jesus Christ, but it is dynamic in that the Holy Spirit adapts that good news to our circumstances. God recognizes I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago and reveals the truths I need today in ways I might not have understood in the past. For me Bible study is one of the places that dynamic is at work.
Of course, I can study the Bible in my apartment, but if I do that, I miss the community of believers whom the Holy Spirit uses to bring to my attention things I might otherwise miss. If I go to Bible study to share my wisdom, I need to be ready to listen to the wisdom of those around me because they can be tools of the Holy Spirit as well as I can. I’ve been at Bible studies where as soon as a pastor speaks, those who claim to be “only lay persons” keep quiet. That’s not true at First Lutheran and I appreciate it.
Some credit for my interest in continuing Bible study belongs to Dr. P.W.H. Frederick, long time professor of Biblical Theology at Central Lutheran Theological Seminary. At the time I was in seminary, I saw Dr. Frederick as a “really old man”- about 3 years younger than I am now. He had dedicated his life to the study of the Bible, but one day he arrived at the Seminary as excited as a kid with a new toy. He could hardly wait to tell anyone who would listen about a new idea he discovered in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I was impressed. Even though I will never be the Bible scholar Dr. Frederick was, I hope God will show me teachings in the Bible that are new to me as long as I live.
(Join a Bible study and discussion group at First Lutheran any time! Weekly Bible studies are held Tuesdays from 5:45-6:45 pm and 10:45 am-Noon on Wednesdays. There is also a monthly women’s Bible study group on the third Thursday at 10:30 am.)
At First Lutheran, we are a community of disciples of Jesus Christ working for the transformation of the world. Throughout our history, we have remained committed to drawing on our Lutheran (ELCA) tradition of using meaningful worship, content-rich learning and warm hospitality to care well for our congregation, the surrounding community and the world.