Bible Study needs your Head & Heart

by Adam Dodds
23rd January 2024

As a Pentecostal, I know God is a God of breakthrough, and we have a Holy Spirit theology of breakthrough. Later in my Christian life I came across the language of formation – spiritual formation. This seems very different to breakthrough-language, and it is. Do these two relate to each other? If yes, how?

The Word makes it clear. Jesus teaches that the kingdom of God can be experienced suddenly, through a healing, deliverance, or miracle. Jesus also taught that the kingdom is like the growing of yeast or a mustard seed. It is slow, methodical, undramatic, and imperceptible. Yet over time, the change is powerful, undeniable, and lasting.

From studying the Word, and studying theology, I found language for this. One Pentecostal scholar spoke of the growing of God’s kingdom and the inbreaking of God’s kingdom. One speaks to breakthrough, the other to formation. Both are potent. Both are transformational. And both are complementary.

Studying the Bible, and theology, clarifies in my head how things relate to each other in the Christian life.

Studying the Bible, and studying theology, is like marinating your mind in truth. It expands the pool that you heart then learns to swim in. Biblical truth, by itself, won’t transform a person.

Biblical truth needs to be embraced to do its powerful work. That is why we need to read the Bible with the Holy Spirit, so we can live it out. We need the original Inspirer of the Word to reveal truth to our hearts so we can keep in step with Him.

A significant breakthrough happened in my life recently.

For years I’ve thought of what I do as a Pastor as working for God. Sometimes I thought I had to perform for God. I had the mindset of an employee. If I’m honest with myself, I sometimes felt resentful toward the God I worked for. It was foolish because it was untrue.

I knew that Jesus said no longer do I call you slaves, but I call you friends (John 15:15). Paul says we are God’s fellow-workers or co-labourers (2 Cor. 6:1). I knew that truth in my mind. But a couple of months ago it dropped to my heart; it became heart knowledge. Since then, I’ve started to retrain how I think. My head knowledge of biblical truth is increasingly becoming heart knowledge that sets me free.

The breakthrough – the initial revelation – has triggered a formation process – transforming my mind. Together, they are setting me free.