I have taught the Bible in the private Christian school setting for the past two years. During this time, I have been reminded of the difficulties of not just teaching but teaching the Bible. What I mean by that is something I needed to work through myself, particularly in my college days.
I remember beginning my bachelor’s degree in Christian Studies and being made aware of an area of thinking, speaking, and writing that I never knew existed. I was routinely being tested upon topics of the Bible and my knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. So I studied in order to receive a good grade on whatever assignment was given. However, a subtle shift began to take place in my mind as I began to realize what was happening. I was studying for a passing grade.
It took some time in order to make the shift in my mind from studying for a grade, which was something I had done since high school (sort of), to studying for my calling. Of course I wanted to do well, but I began to realize that simply memorizing paradigms for a test is not appropriate. I was studying the Bible in order to be an approved workman who would be able to correctly divide the Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15), not just to pass a test.
As I began to teach I noticed what plagued me also plagues my students. When a Scripture memory is assigned or they have to read a significant portion of Scripture, I have noticed their tendency to complete the task, receive their passing grade, and move on to the next assignment. Truth be told, I still need to fight this tendency in my doctoral studies even now.
My encouragement to you is that if you are presently in your Bible college or seminary education, do not study for a passing grade. Remember now why you are studying God’s word. You are studying so that you might preach, teach, evangelize, and spread the fame of God’s name throughout the ends of the earth. One day you will be held accountable for the words that you have spoken (Matt 12:36) and more so since you will be teaching God’s word (Jas 3:1), so study with that as the end goal. Study to show yourself approved not unto man but unto God.