Improving your biblical literacy

Owning a Bible does not make you biblically literate. Nor does simply reading it and acquiring a number of random facts. You need to study, and to do so in such a way that your knowledge has an impact on the way you live.

Helping believers improve their biblical literacy was the aim of a recent-ish conference. Below are bare-bones notes and embedded audio from three plenary sessions with David Platt.

1. Reading the Bible as Story

Why do we have the Bible? Answer: To reveal who God is and how God redeems His people for His kingdom. The two key words are: revelation and redemption.

In a kingdom, you have a people ruled by the king, a place where the people live and a purpose for the kingdom. The story of the Bible is of God bringing His people into His place for His purpose.

We want to:

  • See the overarching story of the chronicle of redemption
  • Experience the story—we’re a part of it. The God of the Bible is our God.
  • Tell the story

2. Teaching the Bible as Scripture

How do we teach the word so that those who hear it understand and worship, as happened in Nehemiah 8?

David Platt’s definition:

Teaching is expository exaltation for purposeful application.

Expository exaltation

The central purpose of God’s word is to make His glory known (Exodus 14:4; Deuteronomy 4:5-7; Joshua 5-6; Ezekiel 36:22; Psalm 23:3). Therefore, the passion of those who teach the Bible is to make God’s glory known.

Purposeful application

What people need is to be transformed into the image of Christ. They don’t need practical tips. The Bible doesn’t answer every question we may have (e.g. UFOs), nor does it speak to every circumstance we face (e.g. living with teens).

Application should be:

  • Biblical
  • Contextual (a person living in urban USA would have a different application from one living in rural India)
  • Incarnational (from the inside-out)

3. Obeying the Bible as servants

Note what  Matthew 28:18-20 says: to teach people to obey what Christ commanded, not to teach people what Christ commanded. The goal is transformation, not information.

How do we teach the Bible for radical obedience?

  1. We need to saturate our hearts with the gospel.
  2. We need to fill our minds with truth
  3. Trust the text.
  4. Call people to action
  5. Shepherd the body with care