How to Be a Student of the Word
Do you consider yourself a student of God’s Word?
The English word disciple comes from the Greek word mathetes, meaning “disciple, student, follower; a committed learner and follower” (Kohlenberger, NIV Exhaustive Bible Concordance, 1544).
How to Be a Student of the Word
Sometimes we shy away from the word disciple (because it sounds too much like discipline) or the word student (because it sounds too much like school), but our hearts should be drawn to know and understand God’s Word.
“Do good to your servant according to your word, O LORD. Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands.”Psalm 119:65-66, NIV 84
Women in Jesus’ day did not typically go to school or learn under rabbis. They were considered unable to understand the Torah, and so they were taught to take care of the home.
But Jesus countered those cultural traditions. He had many women followers (Luke 8:1-3), and He taught women, considering them capable of learning and understanding His truth (Luke 10:38-42, John 4).
Thirst for Truth
Jesus affirmed women’s thirst for truth and encouraged their role as disciples.
Our roles as wives, mothers, and homemakers do not exclude our role as students of the Word. I love being a wife and mother. I love taking care of our home, providing meals (okay, I don’t really love cooking, but I do enjoy choosing healthy foods for our family), and decorating our space to make it cozy and inviting.
I also enjoyed many years of teaching and working outside the home. But I have really loved the opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet as a student, to listen to His Word being preached, to study the Word for myself, to search out its meaning, and to seek to apply it in my life.
We don’t have to wait for others to spoon-feed us the Bible. And as influencers in our homes, we need to know and understand God’s truth so we can teach our children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
I’ll admit, there are areas of the Bible that are difficult to understand and that can cause confusion. But with a few principles to guide us, we can learn to be students of the Word.
Learn Sound Principles of Interpretation
First, often our problem is not one of misunderstanding, but of failing to apply the clear directives God gives us. When we get confused about something, we can always stop and think of all the truths of God’s Word that are clear, and focus on obedience to them.
“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”1 John 5:3-4
We obey by faith, even when we don’t always understand; so we shouldn’t use lack of understanding as an excuse not to obey what we do know.
Second, we can do word studies, read commentaries, and study cross-references to see what other related verses say about a difficult passage.
Remember to let Scripture interpret Scripture. In other words, we should always compare the passage we are studying to the whole counsel of the Word. God’s Word will never contradict itself, so what we believe a Scripture is saying should be in line with the rest of the Bible.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”2 Timothy 2:15
Third, we can ask our pastor or someone we trust with the Word to guide us in areas of confusion. Remember to hold every opinion up to the whole counsel of the Word. Just because something sounds good doesn’t mean it is correct. Again, it should align with the rest of Scripture.
“If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing.”1 Timothy 6:3-4a
Fourth, we can learn how to interpret the Bible ourselves–something that doesn’t require a seminary degree to do. Some good books are Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word and Fee and Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth.
We can learn how to determine a good translation, how to study Scripture within context, and how to apply what we learn to our daily lives.
Fifth, we can pray and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and understanding of God’s Word. He inspired the Word of God, and He can teach us as we study and apply these principles of sound interpretation. We must be careful, however, that we do not neglect one for the other. We need both the leading of the Spirit and sound interpretation.
“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.”1 Corinthians 2:12
And last, remember there are some things we will not know this side of eternity.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”Isaiah 55:8-9
We can wrestle all day long with some issues, but many of them have been debated for centuries and will continue to be. The important thing is that we are walking with God and seeking to obey Him in the things we do understand.
So, do you consider yourself to be a disciple of Christ? We live in a time in which we as women have great opportunity and resources to be students of the Word. So, what are you waiting for? Get out that Bible, and dig in!
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