Why should anyone read Dig Deeper?
This 147 page brief covers 16 ‘tools’ to help the diligent and desirous Bible reader understand and digest what they soak up from God’s Word. It is not enough to spend minutes with an open Bible and mark a box off the Christian to-do list or add another day to your streak on the Bible App. The authors correctly note that if we merely pull verses out of their context, or skim through Divinely-inspired content, we can use (ie. abuse) the Bible to say anything we want. But the Scriptures are not our word to us, but God’s Word to His people. We want to take seriously what He has spoken for He is the Author of Life and He is Truth. Our ways and thoughts are not His, and He ranks gloriously and ever above us. He, the Creator. We, His workmanship. Let us listen carefully, and winsomely, to our God and King. As we open the Scriptures let us truly turn and tune our ears and hearts to the words of our Majestic Maker and Savior, the Triune God who reigns eternally. We must truly exalt His name and His word above all things.
How did I land a copy & why am I recommending Dig Deeper?
A dear brother and sister, missionaries along the South Sudan border, placed this book in my hands over dinner not too long ago; I am glad they did. It has been a helpful reminder in many ways, as it recaps a variety of ‘tools’ I have searched for high and low, or stumbled upon unknowingly (by God’s gracious and kind providence). If you will allow one of my clunky illustrations: my ‘toolbox’ for understanding God’s Word has come together slowly over many years, from various passer-on-ers in a variety of places and denominations and seasons. It’s as though I have been gathering my socket set, screw driver set, hammers, various pliers, etc. from yard sales and flea markets. All the tools work, but they in no way fit altogether in a nice set. I kind of like it that way (obtaining a mechanics toolbox sounds great), but at the same time, I wish I had something clean, organized, and orderly to start out with. Dig Deeper is that starter kit: a concise, helpful, and I believe, truly God-honoring work that will help you think deeply and apply what you learn.
What do you like about the introduction?
This book kicks through the front door discussing how postmodern thought has infiltrated the Church and impacted our Bible reading. We settle in our study for statements like, “it’s all a matter of interpretation,” as though the Author (and the various human authors filled by the Spirit) had no specific intentionality behind writing. This is wrong. We cannot just say, “well, this means…..to me,” while another person says the exact opposite, and then move on as though all is well. And often times, this is what we do in our silent, individual Bible study, if we have one. Instead, we must search the Scriptures like the Bereans.
We must be students of the Word as the disciples were in the dusty tracks of Jesus for those 3 years, and then thereafter continued in the Way. Until we devote ourselves to the Word, we are allowing our greatest and deepest beliefs, our very faith and future, to rest on what we have heard second-hand. I love that this book, in the way of the Reformation, invites believers to open the Text and seek the Spirit prayerfully and personally, though not individualizing this journey. Let us draw near to God through the Word of Truth which He has placed in our hands. Let me tell you, as I write from northern Uganda—you and I have such a gift, and we (at least, I) undervalue it unbelievably, paying more attention to our phones, the trends of the times, our bank accounts and possessions, social media, and so forth.
I have found this line from the introduction true in my life, as a result of understanding the Bible more (though so slowly): “The truth actually changes you. Get this: it doesn’t just inform you of things, it does things in you.” I trust you will find the same. Even writing this post has made me want to grow more deeply in the Word today. May this be the longing of our hearts, flowing from overwhelming love of Christ.
What kind of tools are discussed?
After the first chapter discusses what the Bible is and how we should approach it, the next 16 (very short) chapters give various tools to assist you as you dig deep in the Word. I remember when I was first learning about authorial intent (what did the author want to convey) as I studied to discuss things with my small group when I was in high school. I remember my friend and first discipler, teaching a handful of us guys how to examine the context, and also zoom out to view the local context in light of all of Scripture. These are both highlighted in Dig Deeper.
I think the short chapter on Linking Words will help make sense of some of those long verses that seem like (or are) run-on sentences, filled with passion and Truth. They are jam-packed full of goodness, and the linking words can help us greatly in understanding. Learning to see the structure of a writing, while knowing the genre, noticing the repetition (even when it is not word for word), can help us come away from a passage with more awareness and right application than a quick morning skim or verse of the day—though both are better than nothing by giving us something to meditate on, they can also lead to misuse in application.
The Bible Time Line Tool helps us to look at things that may seem at odds with each other, coming from the Old and New Testament. We must keep everything in perspective with relation to the cross of Christ. There is another section that discusses chiastic structure. Weird word right? I remember the first time I heard the word chiasm; it was at a picnic table in the mountains, talking with my friend Jackson Morse. It showed emphasis on different parts of various chapters and shorter passages than I had ever realized and my eyes were opened a little more to the intricacies of God’s Word. It brought sheer delight. I am forever grateful to have learned about these, and that Dig Deeper discusses parallelism and emphasis with clarity.
The Quotation Tool is another big help. Who do we desire to emulate from Scripture? When are we learning what to follow, and when are we learning to avoid other paths at all costs, through the examples of men and women and nations in Scripture? This is something we all need to observe. I love this simple quote from the Copycat chapter: “The better we know our Bibles, the better we will be guarded from drawing wrong conclusions from what we read.” The same is true regarding what we discuss in conversations with lost people or well-intending but wrongly-directed believers, and also how we filter and comprehend the words we hear preached. This chapter handles well the differences between what are prescriptive (normative) passages of Scripture as opposed to those that are merely descriptive.
I hope what has been shared spurs you to study.
If any or all of this sounds like gibberish to you, it’s all the more reason I encourage you to pick up this small book. I read through the 2010 Crossway edition, and I loved the end of chapter activities. I encourage you to actually do them, where you might normally skip over a section like this as a meaningless insert for other more holy people. These activities will help you, I promise. I loved the one in the Vocabulary chapter particularly, and think that defining terms is a lost art in our society. Giving definition is nearly counted as a dark art in a world that declares, “to each his own,” at every level, and defies structure or form of any kind.
I love you guys. If you take time to read the book, please post your thoughts on the book and this review in the comments below. I hope the review was helpful. If you have questions or would like to discuss, please reach out. We love to pass on books we enjoy; I was grateful to pass this one along to 2 people we love dearly. Share this review and you might land our 3rd giveaway copy. Much love in Christ, Greg Helms.