Geoffrey Grogan writes :
“1. Its Purpose
On October 1st 2011 I plan to launch a free on-line course, entitled, “Getting more deeply into your Bible.” This is because of a deep and increasing concern I have had for many years that most Christians now do very little Bible study. They may read a few verses during their devotions; if so this is good; but they hardly ever, if ever, read a Bible book through, let alone study it in detail.
There is much emphasis on Christian experience in many churches and this is important, but Christian experience must be grounded in and nurtured by the Bible to be authentic and healthy. Many churches would be shocked if accused of sidelining the Bible, but this is happening very extensively, even in evangelical churches – and evangelicals are supposed to be Bible people! To give just one example, there has been a massive decline in public Bible reading from the pulpit, often with very little Scripture even presented by Powerpoint. Christians may be spending much time in prayerful study of the Bible in their own homes, but statistical surveys are anything but reassuring in this respect. A friend recently made the startling but shrewd observation to me that while liberals have largely turned their backs on the Bible, many evangelicals are gradually drifting away from it. It made me think – and makes me pray.
What is happening? There are several causes, but a major factor has been an increasing stress on experience. This is by no means to be seen as negative, for each of us needs a genuine, deep and growing Christian experience, and even extensive Bible knowledge is no substitute for this. The trouble is that “Christian experience”, like “spirituality”, can be a somewhat slippery expression. Christian experience needs to be created, stimulated, channeled, and moreover critiqued by Scripture truth. Experiences genuinely created by the Holy Spirit cannot conflict with Scripture, which was given under the inspiration of that same Spirit.
This course has just one purpose: to get Christians to take the Bible much more seriously, and to do so at the practical level. A stranger once told a minister he wanted to join his church. The minister asked why. “Because I am told you stand on the Word of God,” the man replied. “Oh no,” said the minister. “You have been misinformed. We don`t stand on the Word of God; we stand under it.” Here is the difference between mere theory and actual practice.
Shakespeare, by one estimate, coined about seventeen hundred English words, some of which are very useful and are constantly employed today. Others have done some coining, and C. H. Spurgeon, perhaps the greatest preacher of the Victorian era, produced a valuable word that has yet to find its way into most English dictionaries. My spell-check can`t stand it! He said of John Bunyan, his favourite writer (the author of Pilgrim`s Progress), “His whole being was saturated with Scripture. Prick him anywhere and you will find that his blood is bibline.”
It`s a good word, and I want to encourage you to progress the bibline nature of your blood.
Can you get it through a blood transfusion? In physical terms, transfusions are a gift to you from another person`s body. In the spiritual realm, regular transfusions can help, and you will get them whenever you hear a good biblical sermon or read a book with good biblical content. But you can`t live on transfusions alone. You must get your own digestive system working.
In this course, after the first two studies, which are introductory, there are various suggestions for Bible study, some of which will be new to most readers, especially in the second half of the course. My hope and prayer is that some of these, because of their freshness, will show you some new and interesting, even fascinating, ways into the Book of Books. Because it is a course, you will find it moving gradually from the fairly simple to the less simple, although I hope to make every study readable, especially if you have read and thought about the studies that preceded it. In other words, it is meant to be nourishing, not indigestible.
You see, Bible study, if undertaken in a humble and teachable spirit with a desire to know the Lord better, should give us a deeper awareness of the spiritual resources He uses to transform us more and more in character into the image of Christ. His purpose is never simply to increase our understanding of His truth (although such a course should do this), but to so change us that our practical daily lives may bring glory to Him who has redeemed us at such great cost to Himself.
Get into the Bible and let the Bible get into you. Your decision to do so could be truly life-transforming, but also, lest even this should seem a self-centred goal, you will be doing what God in his Word tells you to do: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16).
2. Its Method
The aim of this course is not to do your Bible study for you, but to encourage you to do it yourself. It will of course give you quite a few examples, which are studies in themselves, and I hope these will be a blessing to you, but they are meant as encouragements to do the same sort of thing yourself, and to show you the way to do this. The studies will not all be the same length, but each will run to several thousand words. New ones will become available on this web-site on the 1st and 15th of each month and there are to be 26 in all, so that the course will last just over a year.
Each study is meant to be complete in itself, although it will take for granted that you have done those that go before it in the course. I will however be suggesting some good reading for you after a while, books of good scholarship clearly expressed that should enrich your study if you take time to read them. They are not essential reading for the course but you would benefit very much from reading them. You might even want to buy some of them, to build up a small library of really useful books.
I will be making reference to two in particular, because they cover a lot of ground and do so very helpfully. They are as follows:
Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to read the Bible for all its Worth (3rd Edition), Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.
Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to read the Bible Book by Book: a Guided Tour, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.
When I quote the Bible, I will normally do so from the New International Version. This is not because it is perfect, but because it is the modern version most widely used today, particularly among the people who are most likely to do this course. A revision of it has been issued recently but the original version is still on sale and it is the version most people have, so I will be employing it. You might therefore find it best to use this when doing the studies.
This course is completely free. Not only so, but you can use it without fear that I will be accusing you of breach of copyright. It would however be a courtesy to me to indicate your source if you do so, particularly as this may encourage others to do the course.
I am most grateful to my son, John, who has set up and is monitoring the web site for me.”
Note by John Grogan (04/09/2011).
It was my father’s wish that his online course should continue. At the time of his death, he had finished or nearly completed 13 studies, which I am hopeful can be published on the same timeline he mentions above.
Many thanks to Rev Iain Macaulay (Queens Park Baptist Church) for helping with the proof-reading and corrections of the course content. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to notify of any errors in the text.
Additional note by John Grogan (16/04/2012).
All 13 studies have now been published, so the course is now complete.