Book Review: Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

I received a book as a gift entitled “Women of the Word” by Jen Wilkin. The author is a speaker and writer of women’s Bible studies and brings so much insight into studying the Bible in this book. It made me take a minute to stop and realize what studying the Bible was to me. I asked myself why I was studying the Bible. Was it to satisfy my own conscience? Was it to make myself feel good? Was I reading it looking for verses that spoke to me? Or was I reading it to find out more about who God was?   2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Wilkin said something that was true of me. She says: “I got it backwards, I failed to realize that the Bible is a book about God. The Bible is a book that clearly reveals who God is on every page…or perhaps I really did know that the Bible was a book about God, but I didn’t realize that I wasn’t reading it as if it were. I approached my study time asking the wrong questions. I read the Bible asking ‘Who am I’ and ‘What should I do?’ We must read the Bible with our ears trained on hearing God’s declaration of himself.”

Wilkin begins the book talking about her own life and experience, telling about her growing passion for studying the Bible. She then goes on to explain how she began to turn her study time in a different direction: rather than asking herself what the Bible could do for her, she asked herself “what am I learning about God in my study, since this book is about Him?”  She also explains how before she had often let her heart lead her in her study. I think a lot of modern Christianity today asks, “How is this making me feel?” instead of “What am I learning about God and my walk with Him?” But remember, we cannot love what our minds do not know; we first have to have the knowledge. Psalm 119: 125 “I am thy servant, give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.”

Wilkin explains that the book’s purpose is “to teach you not merely a doctrine, concept, or story line, but a study method that will allow you to open up the Bible on your own. It intends to challenge you to think and to grow, using tools accessible to all of us, whether we hold a high school diploma or a seminary degree, whether we have minutes or hours to give to it each day.”

After talking about her failures and changes in study, Wilkin talks about a desire for Bible literacy.  Bible literacy is “when a person has access to a Bible in a language they understand and is steadily moving toward knowledge and understanding of the text.” She lists a few different approaches of studying the Bible, explaining what they are, and the problems she has with them. She then begins to give her readers a different guide for studying the Bible, talking about the “Five P’s” of study. Here she teaches her readers to study with Purpose, Perspective, Patience, Process, and Prayer.  She goes through each one of these in great detail, giving a what, how, and why for each. This takes up most of the book and is a simple way of going about studying the Bible, which brings forth valuable findings.

I loved how throughout her book Wilkin shows her great love for God and because of that love, her love for His Word. She says quite a few times how she loves the Bible because it teaches her about God.  The way she speaks of and describes the Bible proves her words to be true. I also found that I really liked the way she told her readers that our minds should be trained before our hearts so that we can understand before letting our emotions take over our study.

As part of the objective audience for this book, being a woman, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it for women, but I know that men could find it beneficial as well. She is a very good writer, easy to understand and uses great examples and Scripture to back up her points. As always we must read with great discretion, especially when it comes to books that are popular mainstream by Christian publishers, but I wholeheartedly think that this is a great book to read and to help start a foundation for studying God’s Word.  She simply states a humble way of studying the Bible and I have found it to be very helpful in my own personal study time.

Lisa Heystek

Book quotations taken from: Wilkin, Jen. Women of the Word, Crossway 2014.

 

 

Knowledge

Our world prides itself on knowledge. There are people who study every conceivable topic from what celebrities wear and eat, to how many stars are in the sky, and so on. Every one of us has specialized knowledge and interest in a particular subject. For some it’s geography. For others it’s chemistry, biology or sports trivia. The most important kind of knowledge, however, has nothing to do with anything on this earth, but is spiritual in nature. Our society today is sadly lacking in this kind of wisdom. We see this with the increased acceptance of abortion, homosexuality, divorce, and drug and alcohol abuse, as well as the bad behavior of politicians and celebrities of various kinds. The church world too seems to ignore spiritual, moral knowledge, as was evident already in the Old Testament. “Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land…My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:1,6). How did this lack of spiritual knowledge show itself? Hosea 4:2 talks about the “swearing, lying, and killing” that went on in the land of Israel, but it was more than that. Parents weren’t bringing their children to the temple to worship God. These children, in turn, showed no interest of spiritual things and knew more about the surrounding nations and the rituals of their idol gods than they did about the worship of Jehovah. Because of this He has was going to “forget their children”, that is, He was not going to save them, because they like their parents weren’t walking in His ways and laws. There were those in Hosea’s day who didn’t read and study what was available of God’s word then. What about us? Do we know more about what Justin Bieber is doing with his life, and what he believes, or are we more aware of what God’s law requires of us? Do we know all the latest hockey or basketball scores, but have trouble quoting the ten commandments? If spiritual things are not a priority, we should make whatever changes we need to so that we can study these things. Being “destroyed for lack of knowledge” is an awful thing. How do we prevent this from happening to us? First of all, we attend church faithfully. Going to church and hearing solid preaching is like having breakfast in the morning. It gets our day and week off to a good spiritual start and fills us with God’s word. Secondly, we attend a Bible study geared for people our age. Although preaching is the chief means of grace, a Bible study allows us to think of God’s word in different and biblical ways that we have never thought of before. It allows us to learn from each other. Thirdly, reading good, theologically sound books and magazines helps us expand our knowledge of church history and doctrine. Finally, having personal devotions is another asset for us spiritually. Although it is good for us to gather with our families around the supper table, praying and reading God’s word by ourselves allows to think through what we are being told in the Bible. All of these are means that God uses to help us grow in such an understanding of His word that we can “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). By doing this it will also help us when we encounter groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Seventh-Day Adventists that go door to door trying convert people and leading them down a spiritually wrong path. When we “feed on His word” as the hymn “Take time to be Holy” puts it, then we will be blessed of God and not be destroyed for lack of knowledge, and be kept alive spiritually because of His knowledge in our hearts.
Kevin Rau

Walking through the Stages of Life: the Adult Years (3)

Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

Upon the older generation is set a heavy responsibility.  Inevitably, a mature father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother has more knowledge than a child or teenager.  But knowledge can be dangerous, as Spurgeon indicates.  Knowledge does nothing, unless it is applied rightly.  We have towering knowledge – about this world, about spiritual matters, about human nature, and practically every other subject under the sun.  This is simply what the experience of life brings.

How are we applying this knowledge?  Our young children are watching. Young children copy what their parents do – dad angrily swears when he stubs his toe, and the child will repeat that curse word for months.  One young couple related to me an argument they had one day, and how their toddler instantly sensed the tension, stopped playing with his/her toys, and looked at dad and mom with concern.  Young children are watching.

How are we applying this knowledge?  Our teenagers are watching.  No, they do not show it during the teenage years.  But it seems to me that teenagers are just as much a “sponge” as a young child.  Likely, when they become mature adults, they will conduct themselves according to the models they had growing up.  The way we deal with discipline, the manner in which we act in a frustrating moment, our work ethic, our dealings in marriage – all of it.  Our teenagers are watching.

Adults, we are at a stage of life in which we have much knowledge.  Are we applying it rightly, with God’s Word as our standard?

And young people, look to your parents, teachers, ministers, and elders – they do have much wisdom, and we should observe them in order to pattern ourselves after their godly example.  This is what we find, at least in part, in Ephesians 6:1: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”  Obey them, why?  Part of the reason is that they are wise, and we must learn from them.  God sets the older generation over us so that they might teach us.  The aged women, living holy lives, teach the young women good things (Titus 2:3).  Implied, too, is that the aged men teach the younger men these good things (Titus 2:1).  Let’s take heed to this instruction!

Young people, are you watching?

RB