Before I entered seminary, I took over a Tuesday luncheon Bible study from a man who had taught for many years. I really felt called to do it and I started by teaching the book of Genesis – the beginning of the Scripture. I really loved teaching and several friends of mine convinced me that I should consider attending seminary. That was the beginning of a real love affair with the Bible.
That Bible study I “took over” almost 20 years ago is still going on, in our home on Thursday evenings. Within a month 0r two we will have studied the New Testament in its entirety, verse by verse, along with approximately half of the Old Testament. In fact, I am editing this post tonight after we finished studying the book of Colossians earlier this evening.
I also spent nearly 10 years in seminary studying Hebrew, Greek, Trinitarianism, Soteriology (salvation doctrine), many other facets of theology and general courses on running a church as well as practical guides to ministry initiatives. What I found as a result of all this study is that the real gems of theology don’t normally occur in the formal classroom work. Rather, these nuggets, as I call them, happen in the cracks – the conversations that we had discussing various verses and applications of the Bible to our lives.
Most of the conversations started out as regular classroom discussions and then, somewhere in the midst of everything, somebody made a point or mumbled something that lead to some divine enlightenment about a particular verse. These were the most joyful moments in all my years of school – realizing that something we have read countless times is connected to something else, usually through some obscure observation.
It may be a geographical nugget or even something about the clothes someone is wearing. Of course, I like to pass these things on to others and one of the benchmarks of my teaching has become the introduction of “nuggets” into my lessons. For example, Adam was formed out of the dust of the ground, filled with the breath of God and placed in the Garden of Eden, but wasn’t necessarily created there. Or did you realize that the serpent was cursed, Eve would have pain in childbirth and the ground was cursed, but not Adam himself?
Or how about every time Joseph changed clothes, his fortunes were about to change? Or whenever people went east in Genesis, they moved closer to sin? Or that God’s interactions with Adam and Eve take place in a garden and at the end of Revelation, we end up in a garden with God? All of these are examples of biblical nuggets – things we tend to glance over because we have read the verses so many times. In fact, we kind of glaze over when we come to passages that we have read countless times.
The same thing tends to be true about the various genealogies. The New Testament starts out in Matthew with a history of the line of Joseph; then we find another lineage in Luke, but this one is Mary’s family. Both Joseph and Mary can trace their respective lines back to King David!
Joseph’s line starts from Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, but Mary’s line goes all the way back to Adam, showing that Jesus was the Son of God. These are some of the really neat things that we can learn when we really concentrate on the specific words of the Scripture.
Our verse for tonight highlights the importance of studying and learning about God’s word. The apostle, Paul, wrote a letter to the church at Colosse outlining the problems that were arising from the Essenes, a group of self proclaimed super-apostles who thought they knew more than the pastors of the churches in the region. Paul admonishes the church to be on the lookout for those who taught contrary to what the believers had been taught by the emissaries of Paul and the other apostles who walked with Jesus. Paul reminds them, in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
My encouragement tonight is that we are still to focus on the words of Christ and realize that we are emissaries of God. Christ alone is sufficient for us. My prayer is that we will all be on the lookout for biblical nuggets. The Scripture is full of them and they can help us lead others to an eternal life in heaven by accepting the free gift of salvation. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…