My day job is writing Bible Study Lessons. I have probably written more Bible Study Lessons than any human, living or dead. I write four lessons a week and have done so for years.
My Bible Study Lessons consist of about 20 questions with answers from well-known authors. If Max Lucado ever mentioned the Text we’re talking about, I will likely find it. I’ll provide a Max Lucado quote for you to use in class.
One of my favorite questions to ask goes like this: what did this word mean before it was a Bible word? Or, what did this word mean before Baptists got hold of it? For example:
- What did the word saved mean before it was a Bible word? We think of saved as having our sins forgiven and having a place secured for us in heaven. But often in Scripture the word saved is just an ordinary word. Jesus invited Peter to walk on the water. He did well until he looked around at the waves. Then, he started to sink. “Lord, save me!” he cried. He wasn’t talking about having his sins forgiven in this context. I don’t even think he was thinking of heaven. He was thinking of not drowning. How does this story inform our understanding of what it means to be saved?
- The word lost is another great example. When we hear the word lost in church, we think of the theological category of lostness. We think of someone whose sins have not been forgiven. We think of someone who is separated from God. But in Luke 15, Jesus discusses three things that were lost—a lost coin, a lost sheep, and a lost son. One thing Jesus is teaching in these parables is what it feels like to lose something, and what it feels like when what was lost is found. Jesus seems to be making a big point of the emotion. In each case, he emphasizes the joy of finding what was lost. We also see the pain and desperation when something that is valuable to us is lost. One lesson is this: we ought to care about the lost, and think about the lost, and be a little bit obsessed about the lost, in the same way we get obsessed when we lose some money or our keys or a kid. My point is this: great insight can be gained by thinking of the word “lost” in its non-theological sense.
- Redeemed. We love to sing the song, “Since I Have Been Redeemed,” and, “Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It,” but do we ever use the word redeemed in everyday life? When I was a child, we used to redeem green stamps. But I am not sure that helps me to understand what redeemed meant in Bible days. Redeemed has come to be a strictly theological word. But, when it was used in the Bible, it was not a theological word. It was just a normal word. And so again, we need to ask, what did this word mean before it became a Bible word? The greatest picture of this is perhaps Hosea who bought back (redeemed) his wife who left him to live a life of adultery. Now there is a word picture of what it means to be redeemed. We left God. We went after other loves. We got ourselves in a mess. And God bought us back at a great price.