Maybe you have noticed it, too. In the sector of evangelicalism that I try to pay most attention to, there is evidence of a growing Bible-revival—a fresh surge of interest in personal Bible study and an increasing appreciation of the utterly unique place of Scripture in the Christian life. As evidence, I offer the recent publication (just a few days apart) of two books: from Crossway, Kevin DeYoung’s Taking God at his Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me; and from Cruciform Press, Peter Krol’s Knowable Word: Helping Ordinary People Learn to Study the Bible.
While I could cite other examples, perhaps the most unique will happen later this week when Desiring God will hold its final National Conference, titled Look at the Book: Reading the Bible for Yourself. Among other things, the conference will focus primarily on a new series of online videos by John Piper in which he will walk viewers step-by-step through a technique he has used for decades to interact directly with Scripture. (If you’re going to the conference, stop into the bookstore to get a look at Knowable Word.)
Nobody planned this unusual confluence of events, and I doubt that the teams that came up with these similar book and conference titles had anyone in common. I’m hoping this is an indication that God is on the move to exalt his Word even higher within the Church. That’s a revival I can get behind 100%.
As a co-founder of Cruciform Press, I wanted to maybe help this revival along a little by sharing with you some information about Knowable Word. Perhaps Exhibit A should be what Jerry Bridges wrote about it: “I look forward to using this book to improve my own Bible study.” But there’s also Tedd Tripp’s Foreword, which is worth reproducing in full, for it begins with an inspiring paean to Scripture and ends by offering several good reasons why you should consider taking a look at Krol’s short but powerful book. So I hope you enjoy the Foreword, and the book. But especially the Book of Books.
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The Bible is a treasure. The infinite God has communicated truth to finite creatures, and he has done so in human language, not celestial. In the Bible we have truth in a fixed form, in words that read the same from day to day. God has revealed all the truth we must understand to live in his world; we are not left to our own devices.
The Bible is objective. We need not derive truth through subjective spiritual impressions. God has revealed truth in an objective form. He has revealed Himself with words; words written down by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit and kept from error as they wrote. (2 Peter 1:20-21).
The Bible is a revelation of absolute truth. The only way finite humans can have absolute truth is by revelation. All human knowledge is subject to constant revision. More study, additional information, and new discoveries must be collated and incorporated to continually reshape what is known. Human knowledge always has a tentative quality. Thus, there is a non-permanence to human knowledge. Not so with the Bible. God has infinite knowledge. He knows all things real, all things possible, and all things potential. Since God has infinite knowledge he can, and has, revealed absolute truth. In the Scripture we have a limited revelation of truth (we don’t know everything that could be known), truth that will always be true (it will never prove false or unreliable), and truth that is sufficient (it is all the truth we will ever need). What a treasure!
Since God used words to give us a book of absolute truth, truth we need to know and understand—what could be more important than understanding this book? Sadly, many Christian people see the Bible as a confusing book shrouded in mystery and requiring some secret insight if it is to be understood. No wonder so few really study it. No wonder it is sometimes read as a religious exercise rather than as the life-giving treasure it truly is.
That’s what Knowable Word is all about. The Word of God is knowable. Christians can learn simple steps that will enable them to understand and inwardly digest the Word of God and be transformed by its truth.
In Knowable Word, Krol introduces and develops three methods for unlocking the meaning of any passage of Scripture. 1) Observation – what does it say? 2) Interpretation – what does it mean? 3) Application – how should I change? Throughout the book Krol opens and expands on this straightforward and memorable method for knowing God’s Word. He tells us what to observe, how to find the right interpretation, and suggests ways in which we must make application. In each of these steps the reader is given an easy-to-remember framework for keeping all the pieces in order.
Knowable Word is valuable because it is field-tested. Peter Krol has been teaching this approach to Bible study for years. He teaches these things to university students as a DiscipleMakers staff and to ordinary people in the pew as an elder in Christ’s church. Each audience, though diverse in life-stage, education, and age, is able to track with this teaching. Krol brings clarity and ease of communication to understanding the Bible. This book possesses the rare quality of being simple without being shallow. It is at once accessible and yet profound and challenging.
I had the joy of seeing Peter teach this material in the church I served as pastor for 29 years. The illustrations used in teaching were from the Proverbs, but the same method was employed—observation, interpretation, and application. In reading this book I was struck with how clearly the methods of understanding the text worked even though the passage under consideration was different.
When Krol taught this method of Bible study to our congregation, people came alive as each step unfolded. They found themselves able to make observations, which they would not have made without these categories, from which to frame their observations. I witnessed their excitement as they made observations that made sense of the text under consideration. I saw the smiles that said, “Hey, I can do this.” The reader of Knowable Word will have the same experience.
The same was true with interpreting. Krol provides neat, accessible ways of asking questions that aid in the process of interpretation. These questions lead to interpretive conclusions. Again the class was abuzz with the excitement of more ideas than could be adequately entertained during the limited class time.
The time spent in observation and interpretation led seamlessly to application for our Sunday school class. The class was given simple, memorable ways of thinking about how Scripture maps on to life. It was practical application that impacted our thinking; what we should think, how we should feel, and what we should do.
Woven through Knowable Word, Krol has placed timely “Your Turn” exercises to enable the reader to practice what is being learned. These exercises take the content of the book out of the theoretical and into the practical.
It is hard to over-estimate the value of this tidy volume. It is clear and uncomplicated. No one will be off-put by this book. It will engage the novice and the serious student of Scripture. It works as a solid read for individuals or as an exciting study for a small group, whether old or young.
Since “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) , it is my prayer that this little volume will be richly blessed by God to the edification of his saints.
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