the life of the exegete


It's raining outside this morning. I'm sitting at my desk, warmly lit by a small IKEA lamp, smelling the aroma of vanilla coffee permeating pages of my Bible and some of my favorite books. 

As I was pondering another passage of Scripture, I began wondering… Why am I doing this? What causes me to keep spending time in the Bible?  

And this wondering caused me to wander wider… Why do I encourage others to do this? Why is it that I want my ministry students at school to learn these habits? Why should I expect a youth pastor, for instance, to be regularly exegeting the Bible?

Constant study of God's Word, I believe, emerges out of an inner conviction for God and an inner motivation for evangelism and mission. A true student of God's word is driven by a desire to personally know God and to passionately share God with others. This is the reason why so many students enter into a lifelong process of learning how to study the Bible.

Unfortunately, however, some ministry students (and also some pastors and some professors) forget this. At times, the reading of Scripture, begins to feel repititious… it loses it's spark… it becomes tedius and time consuming. Ironically, many 'pastors' stop studying because they have so much 'ministry' to accomplish. As a result the Bible is left on the shelf or on the floor of the car or in the closed app on their phones. 

So, this morning in the rain, I've recommitted three reasons that are keeping me convicted and motivated to keep pressing my nose to the study of Scripture:

1) Somebody must! – Too many people are not reading the Bible. My heart is broken over the neglect of Scripture in the daily lives of most everyone in our society (including those in full-time ministry). If the Bible truly is God's Word, if it truly is the basis of our understanding and embrace of life and eternity, then somebody (at least!!!!) should be devouring what it says so that it can be communicated in such a way that others will want to also align their lives with God.

2) Ministry without Scripture is not ministry! A car without a motor is not truly a car. It is a metal bucket with wheels, seats and buttons… and it's not taking anyone anywhere. So ministry without Scripture at the heart is not truly ministry. 

3) I want to! – Ultimately, if I truly love God as I claim to do, then I will want to be reading His Word; to know everything I can about Him; to explore the depths of His Spirit.

This rainy day repositions my mind back to my years studying at Regent College in Vancouver. I spent countless hours in the drippy weather pouring over Greek and Hebrew and Paul's letters and the miracles in Matthew. I remember the book of Philippians, in particular, because of a passionate class with Gordon Fee. So, as I sat studying the Bible this morning, I opened up one of Gordon Fee's books. This may be too long of a quote for an effective blog, but I trust you might just take the time to study it:

"The aim of exegesis: to produce in our lives and the lives of others true Spirituality, in which God's people live in fellowship with the eternal and living God, and thus in keeping with God's own purposes in the world. But in order to do that effectively, true 'Spirituality' must precede exegesis as well as flow from it… Thus, I regularly tell students: Have the touch of God on your life… If those who teach and preach God's Word, which preaching must be based on solid exegesis of the text, do not themselves yearn for God, live constantly in God's presence, hunger and thirst after God – then how can they possibly bring off the ultimate goal of exegesis… Indeed, I don't much care what you call it – this touch of God on your life – but have it. Because without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, all else is mere exercise – mere beating the air."

– Gordon Fee, Listening to the Spirit in the Text, Eerdmans/Regent College, 2000, pp 6-7

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