Whom do you think would be the best fit for creating a Bible study curriculum? A pastor? A Sunday school teacher? A theologian?
While any of these individuals could do an excellent job providing valuable lessons on the Scriptures, what if you could get your Bible study straight from the top New Testament professors in the nation? Not only would they have the scholarly expertise and zeal for God’s Word and how to accurately read it, but they’d also have years, even decades of practice in teaching and educating. An expert and a teacher in one bundle: talk about a powerful combination of skills!
This is why we’re so excited to bring you another installment of our Deeper Connections DVD Bible Studies, taught by the country’s best Bible professors from Talbot School of Theology, Wheaton, Asbury, and more: The Forgiveness of Jesus 6-Session DVD Bible Study!
These top Bible professors have sharpened their minds reading biblical texts in their original languages, studying Jewish history and culture, and even visited the Holy Land where all of this took place! They’ve spent thousands of hours fielding the most common and complex questions on theology, Scripture, interpretation, historical context and more. They know how to show students how to approach parables, the miraculous, the wisdom of Proverbs… and how to encourage their pupils to search out presence of God.
At Rose, we sat down with the author of one of our bestselling DVD Bible study series, Dr. Matt Williams, professor at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.
Q&A with the author of The Forgiveness of Jesus DVD Bible Study:
1. Who is the intended audience of your videos?
Until recently, Bible scholars primarily wrote for other Bible scholars, rather than for the church. In creating these Bible studies, I wanted to deliver Bible scholars’ knowledge directly to the church in a creative and understandable way. So, my audience is those in the church who want to better understand the Bible and discover how to apply it to our own lives today. The series is taught by six engaging Bible scholars in visually creative ways that reflect the intentions of the text. For example, “Jesus Accepts Sinners” is taught in a high school cafeteria and “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” is taught in a canyon (similar terrain to Israel). I have successfully used these studies with Junior High students all the way up to adults in their 80s.
2. What gave you inspiration to do these videos?
The idea for these videos came from a student who came to me to ask what the best Bible study was. As I looked at about a dozen Bible studies, I learned that most of them do not study the Bible in-depth, and were written by people who were not trained in the Bible. I decided that afternoon to begin work on a new series of Bible studies, written by Bible teachers who could communicate deep Bible truths with applications that are easily understandable.
3. With the theme being forgiveness, how did you choose the biblical story for each video?
I tried to find a variety of biblical passages that best showed the compassion of Jesus towards individuals who struggle with various issues: greed, physical problems, relational issues, etc. As a result, we see Jesus’ compassionate love and forgiveness modeled for all sorts of problems that we have today.
4. How did you think of the historical insights?
For biblical scholars, the historical insights come as a result of years of studying the first century context. Most of what we teach in these studies is well known to Bible scholars; we are just sharing the fruit of our studies directly with the church. It is these historical insights that give added depth to the biblical stories, and create the “Ah, ha!” moments of excitement.
5. What made you decide to pick the theme of the videos to be forgiveness?
Surprisingly, I think that one of the biggest issues that my college students struggle with is accepting God’s forgiveness. Even though most of them grew up in the church, they think either that they need to earn God’s forgiveness or that they are “too bad” to be forgiven. Even those who feel like they are forgiven still struggle with ongoing guilt and shame. I want to teach Jesus’s examples of forgiveness to show that the Jesus who forgives a prodigal son, blind man, and even Peter—who denied Jesus three times during his crucifixion—joyfully forgives us today when we turn to him.
6. Do these videos only teach forgiveness, or are there other lessons to draw from them? If so, what are they?
These videos not only teach Jesus’s wonderful forgiveness, but also a few other important themes. For example, sometimes those who physical illnesses think that perhaps they are sick because of God’s punishment. Jesus’ healing of the man born blind shows us that this is not the case. Others feel that relational issues with other humans also means that God does not care for them. Jesus’ calling of Matthew, who was a hated tax collector, shows us that God loves, accepts, and forgives in a way that is very different than typical human experience.
7. What will be the greatest benefit for someone to watch these videos?
My hope is that those who use the Forgiveness of Jesus Bible studies will know the true and deeper meaning of Jesus’s examples of compassionate forgiveness. Many of us struggle with sin and shame, so knowing how Jesus forgave when he walked on earth helps us to accept this forgiveness in our own lives today. Correct knowledge of the Bible leads us closer to our Lord.
In terms of feelings, it is my prayer that we will feel closer to Jesus and more in love with him as a result of these studies. I hope that we feel how utterly good Jesus is—in his coming to earth to teach, live, die, and then resurrect from the dead—and how it’s all for our benefit. He came to give us eternal life: a life that is filled of purpose, joy, peace, forgiveness, and hope in these uncertain days.
8. What made you decide to add in teaching sessions in Israel to the beginning of each video?
The introductions from Israel help us to grasp the historical background quickly and add to the understanding of the biblical text. To see that these are not make-believe stories, but real, true, historical accounts makes a big difference. Jesus really did walk on this earth, and we can look at the locations where he healed and forgave. These biblical stories are historically true, and this same Jesus meets us today with this same forgiveness!
Thanks for reading through the interview, and we hope you enjoyed it! For a free session of the Parable of the Prodigal Son from the Forgiveness of Jesus DVD that you can share with your Bible study group or congregation, click here!