At New Hope Christian College, our goal is to prepare biblically-minded leaders; these types of leaders don’t just think deeply and critically—they think biblically. It’s an important distinction because there will always be issues that arise that aren’t specifically and plainly laid out in Scripture. Our BI/TH472: Bible Theology Integration course is a study in foundational elements of biblical theology, with an emphasis on understanding the biblical concept of the kingdom of God. It is the capstone course for the Bible/Theology curriculum in which each student conducts a term-long Bible study project on a chosen biblical topic.
At its foundation, this course is designed to equip students to research, articulate, and then apply biblical principles and concepts into their everyday life. It’s important for us to read God’s Word, and as important—to understand it. Jesus emphasized the importance of rightly understanding scripture. In Matthew 22:29 He rebukes the Sadducees with these words, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” In those days, the Sadducees were known as the religious leaders. They studied God’s word daily. They had pericopes and chapters and even entire books of the Bible memorized. However, even though they read, studied, and memorized God’s word, their error was this: they didn’t truly understand it.
I like to call this the difference between a “Holy Headache” and “Holy Heartburn.”
After Jesus was raised from the dead, there’s a curious story of an encounter He had with two of His disciples. It’s recorded in Luke 24:13-35. As two of His disciples were traveling the road to Emmaus, they were discussing and debating various points of scripture and speculating on what it all meant. Jesus joins their traveling party, but they are kept from recognizing Him. What were the disciples discussing? They were talking about Him, Jesus! How they thought He was the prophet who was supposed to redeem and free Israel, but the chief priests and rulers had Him put to death. Then, He was entombed. On the third day, however, His body went missing and some of their friends saw a vision of angels proclaiming Jesus alive. They had no idea what this all meant, and it was giving them one big Holy Headache. “Jesus responds, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25-27).
Jesus took time in His resurrected state to walk a seven-mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus in order to expound and explain to His disciples what the Scriptures meant. Understanding Scripture takes time; but it’s well worth the investment. The same is true for explaining and interpreting Scripture. Jesus exemplified that. After they arrived in Emmaus, the disciples invited Jesus in for a meal, “When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:30-32).
As we begin to understand God’s Word, our Holy Headache becomes a Holy Heartburn. That’s to say that when we’re willing to invest time not just into reading His word, but to also understand it, what was once a curiosity of the mind transforms into a passion of the heart. This is my desire for studying, applying, and teaching God’s word: that the result wouldn’t be a Holy Headache but that it would give Holy Heartburn!