From the Editor:
I have attended BSF and CBS (Community Bible Study, a very similar Bible study) for many, many years.
The main reason I have for going to a Bible study outside my church is the fact that these two organizations have thoughtfully and carefully formalized the content of certain books of the Bible into 9 months of deep reading, thought, and discipline of study and rich fellowship. I have not found that anywhere else, and I would not have applied myself that extensively if I studied alone.
Keep in mind what I just said – “studied” – this is not the same as reading your Bible, or looking up certain passages, or reading a book of the Bible for a month, or “reading through the Bible in one year”.
This is very different: it is an intense study of a particular book of the Bible.
When I started BSF about 12 years ago, the “Welcome” class for new members explained their format, policies, and requirements. They recommended that before doing the daily study, first you PRAY, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you through the reading and your answers to the questions.
In answering the questions, they discourage the use of commentaries, pastors’ sermons, books, etc., because they want it to be nothing but the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and you! They don’t want you to just write down somebody else’s comments.
When we read other peoples’ writings, insights, and teachings we are getting their ‘digested’ spiritual food. The goal of BSF and CBS is for it to be YOUR realization, through the Holy Spirit, of the words of God. You can use commentaries after you have done the homework, if you like.
They also guide you through the verses with 4 pages of notes and a lecture every week. You are able to read for yourself verse by verse, whether or not their exegesis and application are aligned with the word of God.
I had never opened a Bible before I started BSF. In my first year, it took me a while before I was able to answer any of the questions! In all these years of study, I have heard only a few things to which I was opposed. The majority of the members are women like myself who want to deeply study God’s Word and who are discerning about false or incorrect teachings.
Yes – many ‘goats’ and wrong beliefs have inundated our churches, Bible studies, the Christian community, as also happened in the early church. But, who is to know if God drew someone to attend your church for His purpose – so that they would hear truth spoken and be turned from their wrong thinking and beliefs?
I remember when I was a ‘baby’ Christian, having recently been born again, and I was in the first huge flush of love for God and Jesus, my Savior. I was very ignorant of what was in the Bible. Kind words of explanation from mature Christians helped me grow whenever I had an incomplete or erroneous understanding of God’s divine Truth. Just imagine if I had not been able to be part of a church because I believed (wrongly) that Mary, Jesus’ mother, was born without sin, or any of the other dogmas I had been brought up with. Who would have spoken kindly to me, if it had not been for the women at BSF or at my non-denominational church?
As I said previously, BSF is not without faults:
I have cringed at answers with no biblical basis given by members in my small group, but have tried, very gently, to correct a false or misleading answer. (How do I know an erroneous point of view? I refer them to the verses we are studying and repeat it to them)
I am not partial to the NIV, yet, that is the version of the very first Bible I ever read. (The NIV does not steer me wrong and I believe when your spirit is born again, and you truly follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit will prompt you regarding false doctrines – after all, 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God… [not just KJV])
The Teaching Leader in my women’s group last year explained about different Bible versions and to stay away from paraphrase versions, spec. The Message bible.
I can only speak about my own experience and I will tell you that I have gained knowledge, truth, faith, and greater love for the divine Trinity by attending BSF/CBS. I have also become very familiar with God’s people from the Old and New Testaments in a way I would not have without these Bible studies.
I don’t go there to find what’s wrong with what they do and how they do it. I go there to familiarize myself with the Word of God and to gain knowledge of the history of humanity from God’s perspective. His handbook for mankind is the most necessary document that exists.
This year, beginning in September, the BSF study is the book of Revelation. As I look forward to the class, I expect that there will be differing points of view regarding timelines, etc., but I also know that some differences are not of a salvific nature. It’s the unredemptive beliefs that we need to stand up against.