Evan: Tell us about yourself to our audience?
Dave: Hi everybody at Deep South Reformation! My name is Dave Jenkins, and I’m honored to be with you today. Thank you, Evan, for the kind invitation. I’m happily married to my beautiful wife Sarah, who is also my best friend. We’ve been married fourteen and a half years and live in beautiful Southern Oregon near the county seat of Douglas Country—Roseburg!
I was saved by the grace of God at the age of five and first felt a call to ministry at the age of six. At the age of nineteen, I started Servants of Grace Ministries on August 2, 2000. We began as a small blog that I had started in high school as an email list to encourage my fellow high schoolers. Now twenty-one years later, we are a multi-media ministry with a digital magazine, over three hundred writers all over the world, and have many podcasts and resources. These resources are all aimed at helping the local church and Christians be grounded in the Word of God and serve in the local church.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Religion with an emphasis in biblical studies, a Masters of Arts in Religion with an emphasis in biblical studies, and a Masters of Divinity in Ministry from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.
Evan: What led to you writing this book?
Dave: Over the last twenty years, I’ve had many opportunities to write and speak about the Bible. It’s no small thing to say, but even back then, coming out of high school in 2000 and getting first involved in leading ministries as a college student, I saw biblical illiteracy, which was one reason I started Servants of Grace. It’s safe to say that The Word Explored is the culmination of twenty years of thinking and teaching the Bible in various contexts.
Over those years, I’ve realized that one big thing for Christians is that they may understand how to read the Bible, but they don’t know why they read the Bible or why we do life in the local church. In The Word Explored, I aim to help people discover how to read the Bible and why they read the Bible and do life with fellow Christians in the local church.
The heart of the book aims to help people love the Lord who has given His people a book in the Scriptures. So, I’m aiming at three things to help people: To love the Word, to love His Church, and to love His people. These three things are vital because what they do is help the Christian see that reading the Bible is more than something to check off their daily spiritual to-do list, but something they get to enjoy and delight in because God loves His Word, His people, and His Church. So, I wrote the book to help people discover why we read, study, memorize, meditate, apply the Bible, and why and how we do life with God’s people in the local church.
My hope with the book is that the average Christian up to the mature Christian will find help for their walk with God and discover that God delights in His Word and that His Word is the means that the Spirit uses to help the people of God grow in the grace of God.
Evan: What were some things that shaped you through your study?
Dave: Reading and studying God’s Word myself and ministering to people. I know that sounds simple, but it’s just the truth. The best books are written over many years of studying the topic and then ministering those truths that you’ve learned to other people in the local church. Then you have enough knowledge, and life experience to perhaps Lord-willing write a helpful book that will be helpful to others.
Evan: How do you think that we got here with Biblical Illiteracy?
Dave: In the 1970s through the ’90s (and continuing), you had the seeker-sensitive movement, which was a good movement that focused on evangelism. The problem became that so many people were getting saved in churches that focused on this approach to ministry, but they weren’t discipled. So, people left the church because they didn’t know what they believed and why it was important. Then the Emerging Church happened in the ’90s as a response to the Seeker Sensitive movement. The Emerging Church started as a conversation about making disciples. The problem with the Emerging Church was that that conversation quickly became divorced from God’s Word as they denied essential doctrines that define and give shape to biblical orthodoxy.
I bring those two examples up because of what they show. A desire to reach the lost in evangelism and to disciple Christians are two good things. The problem is that the Seeker Sensitive movement focused on evangelism apart from discipleship and the Emerging Church divorced itself from biblical Christianity.
What both show us in regards to biblical illiteracy is that we are far too often in the Church swinging from one theological trend to another rather than grounding our lives and ministries in God’s Word. God’s Word is the fountain for the Christian life. God uses the Word in the life of the Christian to teach them the truth because God the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian and empowers them to make disciples who make disciples from the Word.
Evan: What troubled you most with the statistics of Biblical Illiteracy?
Dave: They reveal that Christians have very little understanding of the major themes and events of the Bible. When we talk about biblical illiteracy, what we are talking about isn’t knowing all the details of the Bible. That is important also and can take time. What I’m talking about concerning biblical literacy is knowing the major events and themes of the Bible. The statistics show us that people don’t understand creation, salvation, and more or think that the purpose of life is marriage. This shows us that we need to stop being swayed to and fro by everything, but instead, ground our lives in the Word of God and be learners of God’s Word. Every Christian is to be a disciple of God’s Word, so every Christian is to continue to read, study, memorize, meditate, and apply God’s Word so they can be useful to God.
I don’t know a single Christian who doesn’t want to be useful to the Lord. The evangelical world has focused for so long on our witness (what we do with our faith) rather than on character development. Again, this is an example of biblical illiteracy because the New Testament holds in tension our character and witness. Our character and our witness are held in tension in the New Testament, which is why it’s not first our witness, nor is it our character, but our character informs our fuels our witness. We have to get in the Word so the Holy Spirit will use the Word as a sword to help us grow and change to be effective servants of Christ who display the fruits of the Spirit in our lives and ministries.
Evan: You did a helpful job at pointing out the life of the local church. What has encouraged you most in some of the responses to your book from readers?
Dave: Thank you, that means a lot. I’ve been very blessed by the response and deeply encouraged. It’s a scary thing to put a book out into the world and for everyone to be able to read it. That said, I’ve been encouraged by the response and humbled by it. I’m thankful that people are reading it and finding it to be helpful.
In particular, I’ve been encouraged by pastors’ responses who have said that they will get copies for the people in their congregations. That means a lot to me because I wrote this book for the average person in the pew who needs to understand how to read the Bible and do life in the local church and why we read Scripture and do life in the local church.
Evan: Any other thoughts?
Dave: One of the last things I’d say is that I’m aiming to help readers of my book read the Bible 5-10 minutes a day. I’m not looking for you to start at one hour or several hours. I’m advocating 5-10 minutes, whether that’s reading or listening to the Bible. Please get in the Word, discover who God is and what He is like, and His redemptive plan from Genesis to Revelation.
If you get a chance, buy his book! It is a great work. He is a kind brother and a good friend. Dave also appeared on the BAR podcast recently. Take a listen here.
We only get one life and it will soon pass. Only what is done for Christ will last!