We often talk about the need to go deeper into God’s Word. A few years back, Andrew Sach and Nigel Benyon wrote a helpful little book with the title “Dig Deeper” which was all about the tools we can use to get a better grasp on what God’s Word is saying to us.
The risk with talking about going deeper into God’s Word and deeper into faith is that we can start to see the Bible as having these different layers to be initiated into. Somehow we need to unlock the deeper secrets. This can lead to the following dangers. First of all, we can think in mystical terms, we can become Gnostic in our thinking as we see those hidden depths as being something for an elite to be initiated into and something that can only be accessed by older, mature Christians. Linked to this, proof of depth will be seen in the weird and wonderful surprises people pull from this verse or that passage like a rabbit from the hat. Secondly, depth is often confused with heaviness. Bible studies are designed to sound pseudo-academic. A truly deep Bible study must be one that makes our brains hurt and is boring. Thirdly, the irony is that it excuses what is considered to be a shallow approach There will be some who won’t be able to get so deep into Scripture but that is okay. There will be something in it for them.
Linking all of those dangers together is that we see God’s Word as something passive, something sitting there looking impenetrable waiting for us to find the right way in, the right special tools to crack the hard surface and start digging. Well, actually those tools introduced to us by Sach and Benyon are not secret, special tools. Rather, they are the normal tools for engaging with any text, understanding any communication properly. They are tools not to enable us to break hard surfaces or unlock shut doors in Scripture. They are tools to help us open our own eyes and years so that we can see and hear clearly.
Furthermore, God’s Word is not passive. In Matthew 13:1-8, Jesus tells a story about a farmer who begins sowing seed. Some falls on the path, some on stony ground where the soil is shallow, some amongst thorns and thistles and some on good soil where the seed can put down deep roots and begin to grow. Notice this, the soil represents our lives, so that from one perspective we are the passive ones. If there is a shallowness for example, then it is within me. It is the seed that represents the word of God and that is active, seeking to penetrate the soil, go deep and start to put down roots.
It is not so much that I need to go deep into God’s Word as that I need God’s Word to go deep into my life. To do that, I need to look out for the obstacles that might prevent it putting down roots. Depth is seen in the affect it has. The good news is that this means you can preach, teach, lead a Bible study or come to hear yourself and we are all equal as we gather whether baby Christians or mature. God’s Word can go deep into all of our lives. The tools that enable us to start hearing rightly can be used and then as each of us gets to understand the actual meaning of Scripture, not the different meanings based on how deep we have gone, then God’s Word will start to have its affect. The important thing is to apply it carefully to each of us. A Bible study need not be too heavy for a baby or not yet Christian. A sermon with an evangelistic focus need not be too shallow or of no relevance to the mature believer. We will all be hearing God’s Word together and it will be going deep because that’s what God’s Word does.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)