Thursday, October 8, 2020

Gospel-Centred Life in the Bible Study Guides

New Growth Press have been publishing a series of bible study guides under the banner The Gospel-Centred Life in the Bible

I have recently worked through three: Titus, Ephesians and Revelation. It’s worth noting I did this myself as part of my own personal bible reading, rather than in a group setting. But it’s easy to see how they could work for two or more people. 

Each book has a similar format, with each lesson containing: 
  • Big Idea - the summary of the main point 
  • Bible conversation - a chance to read the passage and then talk about it 
  • Article - a main teaching section of the lesson, written by the author 
  • Discussion - a few questions to help you interact with the article 
  • Exercise - some things to consider yourself and then to discuss as you apply the teaching to your own life 
  • Wrap up and prayer 
It is expected that each lesson would take about an hour, although groups that have extensive discussion would go for longer.

There are a few leaders notes provided at the back of each book, but these are by no means exhaustive, rather just a prompt.

The strengths of these studies are the articles and exercises. The articles point the group to the key points of the passage and the exercises really direct individuals to consider how it applies to them. They are gospel focussed bringing the reader back to God’s grace, how the gospel speaks from the passage, and then makes it personal as you consider your response. I found many of these very helpful as well as challenging. As the Revelation study says:
“Like the other resources in this series, this study is gospel-centered. This means the study begins with an assumption that you have a daily need for the gospel. You have fears and insecurities and sins that the saving work of Jesus addresses, and by looking to the gospel you grow in love for Jesus and, in turn, a desire to love others and take the gospel out to them. With this in mind, the group will be a place to be open about sins and struggles with the goal of growing in Christ, gaining confidence as you see how he saves you in every way from that sin.”
The weakness in these studies is the lack of exegesis or even pointing toward learning good exegesis. There is very little time spent in the actual text and nutting out what it means. There are two problems with this, one theoretical and one actual. The theoretical problem is that you are reliant on the author’s exegesis and interpretation as you move through the study. I say theoretical in this instance, because I felt the authors did a good job of explaining the text in most cases. Of course, that may not always be the case. My real and actual problem was that it does not teach the reader how to exegete the bible for themselves: how to consider the context of a passage, the flow of a passage, what the author intended, and how it links to other parts of scripture. Therefore, I think the format has a weakness in not spending more time in the actual text. 

So, these are useful gospel-centred studies that will encourage people to apply God’s word to their lives, but a bit light on teaching people how to read the bible for themselves.

These ebooks were provided by New Growth Press in exchange for an honest review. 

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