Refreshing. Inspirational. Life-Impacting. Bible Study.
It’s like a breath of fresh air just swept across my Bible Study world. As one who gravitates towards studies that dig into the historical context of Scripture, the original languages, and the local customs of the time, I tend to prefer studies by (or similar to) Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer. I enjoy digging into the Word—excavating hidden treasures and deep truths—so much so that I may have forgotten how wonderful it is to simply read the Word of God without commentaries, Bible dictionaries, lexicons, and theological resources at my fingertips.
Bible Study for the Soul
His Last Words: What Jesus Taught and Prayed in His Final Hours (John 13-17) by Kim Erickson (Moody Publishers), is a 7-week inductive Bible Study written for small groups, although it is easily adaptable to a personal study. I completed it by myself, and I loved it! Though the book is written with women in mind, I am certain anyone interested in learning more about Jesus—his last days, death, resurrection, and relationships—would benefit from this study.
Each week’s study is bracketed with a brief written introduction by the author (there are no videos) and discussion questions for a small group. (Since I completed the study on my own, I read through them, and answered anything applicable.) There are five days of homework to be completed each week: the first four days center on Scripture reading, reflection, and application, and the fifth day is reserved for review and reflection.
From the author bio on the back cover:
Kim Erickson began following Christ after the death of her three-year-old son from strep throat in 2008. Her growing relationship with the Lord and her Bible saved her from the pit of grief. During this time, she also developed a deep, abiding love for the Word of God. Kim’s love of Scripture led her to develop a website and teaching blog to help other women fall in love with it, too: lovemyword.com. An elementary school teacher turned lawyer, Kim lives in Florida with her husband and son.”
Erickson’s explanation about how God used this tragic event to draw her close to Himself and heal her heart is interwoven throughout the book. She shares tidbits here and there so as not to detract from the study of the Word. Her testimony—though heart-wrenching—is extremely refreshing, exuding a joy and peace that only the Lord could bring.
His Last Words: What Jesus Taught and Prayed in His Final Hours (John 13-17)
Four Days of Bible Study & One Day to Reflect
On the first four days of each week, you begin with Scripture. First, you read through the specified passage (short), and then you reflect upon it one verse at a time specifically looking for what it says about God. Erickson has provided a helpful guide for this part of the study, so you know what to look for during your review.
Following the Scripture study, there are insightful notes and open-ended questions to help you think through the meaning of what you’ve read and how it applies to your life. Each day concludes with a Bible verse and a specific prayer to apply what was learned that day.
On the fifth day of each week, you begin by asking the Lord to “reveal anything you may have missed the first time through the lessons.” I love that. Then, she guides you through a review of that week’s Scripture reflections, applications, and lessons learned. And then, there’s my favorite part of the study: Stillness before the Lord.
Be Quiet. Be Still.
Each week ends with a reminder to be quiet and still. To listen to the Lord. To remember what you’ve learned. To listen to the Holy Spirit. This is a very important part of the study and should not be skipped.
God has been showing me over and over and over again throughout the Prophets that, as His people, we need to slow down, be quiet, pay attention, and listen. We cannot continue living a hectic pace of life with the volume on everything turned up and expect to be able to hear what God is saying! We have to carve out time to be still and know that He is God.
Time for Reflection on the Entire Study
The final week (week 7) of the study is a review. Each day, you revisit one of the previous weeks and reflect on what God has revealed to you through this study. The book ends with suggestions for taking it deeper with goal setting and accountability.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I highly recommend His Last Words. I recommend it for small groups and individuals. I recommend it for women and men. I recommend it for Christ followers and those who aren’t yet sure about this whole Jesus thing. In fact, if you or a friend have not yet put faith in God, this is the study for you!
There Were Not Enough Sources
Now, being the Bible nerd that I am, I have to confess that I was a lot disappointed in the “Notes” page at the end of the book: There were only nine footnotes for the entire study including only six sources (one of which was an English dictionary).
While I loved relying primarily on the Bible for this study, I believe a few more resources would have shed a more light on certain passages. For example, while reflecting on Jesus’ restoration of Peter in John 21, Erickson laments,
We don’t know why Peter was grieved by the third ‘do you love me?'”
Um…yeah, we kinda do know why he was grieved. With a little more research or a more scholarly commentary, the author would have seen that Jesus was using one word for “love” (agape) in His first two questions, while Peter was answering with a completely different word (phileo). The third time Jesus asks Peter “do you love me?” He switches from using His word (agape) to using Peter’s word (phileo). This is what grieved Peter, and a study of the interplay of these two Greek words for “love” adds texture and depth to the interaction between Jesus and Peter, as well as one’s interpretation of the passage. This can easily be overlooked if you’re relying exclusively on an English translation. I’m not trying to underplay the role of the Holy Spirit at all; however, we must keep in mind that the Bible was written in other languages, and the Holy Spirit has enlightened many theologians as they did their own research on the Scripture.
With that said, honestly, I think that this is one of the best Bible studies I’ve done in a really, really long time! I loved it, and I recommend His Last Words with no hesitation whatsoever!
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