It is increasingly common to see a distaste for intellectual study of the scriptures. The study I have in mind is one where people analyze with a sharp eye the purpose and relation each word has to one another until every connection is analyzed within the scope of the entirety of the scripture. I can understand the distaste people have given the nature we have seen this sort of study happen in seminaries and other studious elders. They come across as dry and uninterested in God. We have seen scholars that have no ounce of humility, love, joy, or prayerfulness. Then, we see gentlemen who have no education and they will speak beautiful words of encouragement, laden with spirit-filled love and light. At that point, so many are ready to just cast out any scriptural education.
But I’d like to make a plea. Please don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. The study of scripture with a hawk eye of thoroughness does not have to be heartless. It does not have to be absent of prayerfulness or receptiveness to the Spirit. Careful academic study of the scripture is of the Spirit, and if it does not result in sanctification or doxology, it is not careful study at all—it is careful mutilation of truth.
I had spent the latter part of my pastorate teaching my people how to do exegesis. So you know what I was heading into, 65% of my people were functionally ineligible to read. By Adler and Mortimer’s standards, most were not able to read above an elementary level. Knowing that, one would expect to see excitement in the room when a lesson on proper exegesis began. But it did. They blew up with fervor for the scripture! In fact, they began to store scripture in their heart without even trying—it was simply by learning how to read it. Now that is incredible.
Allow me to show you how great this is. For those who have made a habit of studying the scriptures in this academic and doxological fashion, they feel like their favorite preacher is Jesus. Is Jesus your favorite preacher? Once you begin to study in this way, no preacher will satisfy your souls appetite, only Jesus when it is just you and him in the study. You’re completely quiet and he is the only one speaking. There is no intimacy like it.
For those who’d say Piper, Vines, Driscoll, or Graham is their favorite preacher, it is likely because they answer the question too fast or they’ve never tasted the voice of God in the study before. This is an instance where the “Sunday school answer” really is the right one.