“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

What do construction and warfare have in common?

Well, relative to our topic today, they both require specialized tools. Those tools are sometimes rudimentary but often more complex. For example, you could go into a battle or physical conflict of some kind with just a rock or a sharpened stick, and maybe you’d be able to defend yourself with those. However, if you were going to go into battle as part of a national military, you would be looking at quite a range of weaponry – from assault rifles to incendiary devices to armoured tanks.

The same is true of construction work. To build a house, you could get away with a saw of some kind, a hammer and nails, a screwdriver and screws, but that house would take a very long time to build. Modern carpentry, plumbing, and electrical equipment have become far more complex and the number of potential tools is mind boggling.

When it comes to facets we want to consider in developing as a disciple of Jesus, the final one we are going to look at is the tools we can keep in our belt. We will be considering practical tools – from highlighters to reference materials . But we will primarily be looking at our most important tool set and those are not visible to the physical eye.

Stock the Tool Box!

First, let’s look at the practical. What are some helpful tools we can have in our belt that will equip us for day-to-day discipleship? These are all my personal recommendations for things I have found to be excellent for Bible study and Bible journalling. (On  a side note, many of these will be added to the Walk Worthy Shop in the near future!)

#1: No-bleed highlighters are an absolute must-have for your tool belt. Gel or wax highlighters are a great option for the thin paper you find in traditionally styled Bibles. They won’t bleed through the pages, and it’s easy to find vibrant and varied colours.

#2: Pencil crayons. Embrace your inner child! Pencil crayons are excellent for more detailed colour coding. The variety of the colour options gives lots of room for a number of categories, and are also useful for hand lettering and illustrating on the pages. These work best for journalling or illustration Bibles with thicker paper.

#3: Notebooks, notebooks, notebooks. You can never, ever have enough notebooks, in my humble opinion. Find a notebook (or a dozen) that allows you room to dig deep, to unwrap those passages, and search for all the answers. You won’t figure it all out, all the studying we could do in our lifetime will hardly scratch the surface, but stock your study library with notebooks that bear the fruits of your search.

#4: Pens, felt tip or gel. Felt tip pens are my preference as they don’t smudge unless you get them wet, they work great to do hand lettering, and the colours remain vibrant. However, they will at the least show through the pages even if they don’t bleed. To avoid this, gel pens that won’t smudge are a fantastic option. Vibrant colours, lack of bleed through, and smooth writing are all strong pros in favour of this style of pen.

#5: Reference materials. This category could take up a post all of its own, and someday I will create a detailed list of excellent reference materials. But for our purposes today, I am going to give you an overview of the types of resources you should keep an eye out for.
Pro tip – Start with your Bible app (eSword, Blue Letter Bible, etc.) where you can often find free resources in the public domain or digital resources you can easily keep on hand.

  • Concordance: Many study Bibles have at least a rudimentary concordance or concordance features. A concordance is an index of words used in the Bible and the primary verses where the word is found. These are a staple for word studies (click here to read up on this method of Bible study).
    {i.e. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong}
  • Study Bible: A good study Bible will have a number of features, possibly including overviews of each book, index of terms, index of biblical topics, concordance of terms, index of key events, overview of individuals from Scripture, index of biblical topics, and more. Keep in mind that notes in a study Bible may have erroneous doctrinal foundations or may come from a perspective with which you would not be in agreement. They were written by a person with biases of their own.
    {i.e. Rock of Ages Study Bible, Scofield Study Bible, Cambridge Study Bible}
  • Bible guide: These types of reference books are a great way to get general and specific information on the books of the Bible, the human writers, and their audiences. 
    {i.e. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible by Dr. Harold L. Willmington}
  • Cultural overviews of the Bible world: Materials like this help you to remove the glasses of presupposition we all wear so that we can see past our own cultural norms to what life actually looked like for the people to whom the Bible was written.
    {i.e. The Cultural World of the Bible: An Illustrated Guide to Manners and Customs by Victor Harold Matthews}

Why do we study God’s Word?

What is the purpose? What motivates us to take the time and put in the effort? What do we hope to accomplish as we assemble our toolbox and why does it matter?

It can be easy to forget the significance of the time we spend in our Bibles because, here in the West, it’s so easy to get your hands on a Bible. As the adage says, “Familiarity breeds contempt”. In a nation where we experience little to no persecution, we often fail to see the full value of the freedom to own and study the very words of the God Who made the universe.

We aren’t just reading to learn facts or to help us be nicer people or to keep up with what other Christians are doing or to make our lives easier. We study God’s Word because it is through His Word and by His Spirit that we become more like Christ. Paul teaches us that, “…we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) The more we observe the glory of the Lord, the more like Him we become.

In James we are taught that if we read God’s Word but we don’t act on what we see and allow it to transform us, it’s like we’re looking in a mirror without making necessary adjustments. When we get ready for the day, we check our face and hair in the mirror. What good would it do if we shrugged off what we saw and didn’t do anything about it? We’d be walking around with bedhead and toothpaste on our chin all day (James 1:23-24).

We are transformed at the moment we come to know Jesus as our Saviour, but that’s only the beginning. It’s the start of a work that lasts all of our lives called sanctification. The day we get to be just like Jesus isn’t until we see Him face to face, at the end of our lives, and then “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 3:2; read also Hebrews 12:2 and Philippians 1:6.) Until then, the Holy Spirit in us guides us into truth through the Scriptures – not some truth, or the truth we agree with, or the parts of the truth we like the best, but the whole, unadulterated truth (John 16:13). It is through this truth that we are made free, never taken as a prisoner of sin again. (John 8:31-32)

Next week, we will open this topic up further and see what other tools we need to go deeper into the Truth. Tools that can’t be bought at a bookstore or found in your church library. These are what we need to be equipped spiritually so we can grow spiritually. Without them, it won’t matter how many no-bleed highlighters, notebooks, and felt tip pens you have in your study stash. So, set your alarm for the next release and let’s keep digging!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>