With rain pattering on the roof of the mini-van, I opened my tiny New Testament to the book of I Peter and dove in. I’ve learned that if I wait for perfect conditions to begin anything, I’ll never get started, and the first step to a study with Jen Wilkin is: open your Bible and read. When studying a short book like I Peter, it’s possible to read the whole thing in a sitting, and that’s the first order of business each week of this nine-week study. Therefore, in tackling I Peter: A Living Hope in Christ with Jen Wilkin, the foundation is laid for studying the Bible by . . . studying the Bible. That means no commentaries and no study notes — at least not until after homework is done. However, cross-references, dictionaries, other translations of the Bible are fair game, and the process of working through this study will provide ample opportunity to learn how to use most effectively those aids in study.
When I read Women of the Word, Jen Wilkin’s first book, I was riveted by her firm belief that studying the Bible is a means of training our minds to love God. That means I’m not looking for tiny tweetable truths about me. That step of self-discovery follows on the heels of a deep pondering of this question: “What does the Bible say about God?” Could this be what Paul was talking about when he told his readers to be “transformed by the renewing of your minds?” (Romans 12:2)
Reading in context and reading repetitively are key. Diving into a study of the Bible without considering the who and the where and the why is like receiving a letter, tearing it open, reading part of it and ignoring the return address on the envelope. Jen’s teaching via video provides some of this background — reading and re-reading provides the rest. Five-days-per-week study questions over a period of nine weeks allow for a slow and thoughtful digestion of the truth served up in Peter’s first letter. As one of Jesus’ inner circle and the leader of the early church’s outreach to the Jewish world, his words about our living hope in Christ ring true, for hopelessness is not an option for those who are promised an inheritance, undefiled and unfading! (I Peter 1:4) In Jen’s words:
“We have that which will endure. All the rest can fall away, and we lose nothing.”
Major themes covered in Peter’s letter are our identity in Christ, showing honor to others, and Christ-like conduct, thinking, and humility. Jen Wilkin’s study is an invitation to read deeply on these themes, to engage in open-ended pondering, and to sit in the place of unknowing before rushing into a ready-made answer.
This book was provided by LifeWay through the B&H Bloggers program in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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