“Seriously?” You may be wondering . “Yes, seriously” is my response to you. I choose not to take a study bible to church. And while that may be puzzling to some, I feel that my reasoning is sound. Furthermore, I find that I am able to retain far more of the sermon than I am if I take my study bible. “How’s that?” You may ask. Well, read on and I’ll attempt to explain my reasons.
The first and most ridiculous reason I choose not to take a study bible to church is due to its size. Wow! Have you seen some of the sizes of those?! Though one of my study bibles is a bit thinner than the other, it is also a hardback. The one I consider to be my primary is about three feet thick and weighs nearly four hundred pounds! Not really, a bit of exaggeration here (no, really). There is a lot of thought that goes into producing a study bible that is that thick and heavy – many hours of notes, introductions, illustrations, word meanings, and maps. Indeed, it is heavy with the prose of many biblical experts, and their insights are very helpful. And though I love my study bibles and use them often, I just find them too big and clunky to use in church, unless I plan to literally use it as a weapon. I am convinced, however; that this is not really how you are supposed to use the “sword of the Spirit.” ( Ephesians 6:17)
The main reason I choose not to take a study bible to church is the meat and potatoes of today’s post. I prefer to listen to the whole sermon. Yes. That’s it. I want to hear every point that our pastor is trying to convey, and I have found that I can’t do that if I am constantly following a trail of cross-referenced verses or biblical commentary. My mind will not allow me to continue hearing the preacher speak while it also immerses itself in the thoughts of those previously mentioned “biblical experts.” Trust me, I get it. We should be eager to “ search the scriptures” and verify that what is being presented is biblical. I do that. It’s just that I do it in a way whereby I jot down notes until I get home, and THEN I refer to my study bible for additional meaning and clarification. By doing this, I am more fully able to hear the pastor’s complete sermon and all of its applications. I find that I do not spend precious moments (while he is preaching) flipping pages and chasing other thoughts. That is of no benefit to me and it can be distracting to others.
In summary, I choose to use a bible that will allow me room to jot down thoughts or references in the margin. Sometimes I use a note pad for this purpose, but whichever method I use, my mind is totally engaged in what the pastor is saying for the entirety of the sermon. And then afterwards, I can spend additional time searching the scriptures and developing a fuller understanding.
How about you? Does this logic resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
*Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. – Acts 17:11 NIV
*12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. – Ephesians 6:12-20 NIV