The Most Essential Filing Cabinet in the World!

I think of good Bible teaching as building a reference system.  The Bible is studied systematically and in its entirety from the cradle to the grave.  It forms a filing cabinet of all the scenarios that God deals with and the truth God gives us for each situation we could ever encounter.  We learn to pull the right text for the right challenge in life.

Now, how extensive is your filing cabinet?  Have you built an understanding of each book and why it is there for you?  Do you make one small file of 1 Corinthians 13 or Romans 8 fit all of life’s trials?  If someone came to you and was putting belief in angels before God, which passages would you turn to?

The problem is that people are biblically illiterate.  They do not know much of the Bible anymore and try to misapply verses where they don’t fit, just to make it through.  Each section of the Bible was given to us for a different reason.  There are thousands of principles to be drawn from the text that transcend time. 

Also, the Bible is a unified whole.  The cabinet makes more sense the more complete it is.  Just using one file on its own doesn’t make sense unless it is placed alongside other files.  For example, standing for ‘truth in the face of adversity’ needs to be matched with ‘unity in the face of adversity’.  It seems that many in North America have their standing for truth file in place, but they don’t have their unity file.

What are you going to do to develop your filing cabinet?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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9 Responses to The Most Essential Filing Cabinet in the World!

  1. Why bother building a filing system for an outmoded book?  Why don’t Christians actually read the Bible?  Aren’t they afraid that it’s full of contradictions like everyone says?  Or is it just too hard for them to read?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lewis Knudson. I believe he graduated from Moody last year.
    I think what you’re saying is true. Expanding our knowledge of the bible expands our understanding of God and life. However, a filing cabinent seems to me to be something that would only be used for reference. Biblibal knowledge is as active of a thing as the bible. I think it’s more like a backpack of supplies that you might use while you’re hiking, that the more tools (supplies) (knowledge) you have the smoother the trip flows and the more you appreciate the journey.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I do not make it to your spot here that often, but when I do, I ask myself why I don’t make it a habit! Your ideas, your posts, are incredible! They make soooo much sense…very thought provoking! Thanks for every one of them.
    Have a great day!

  4. JesusFreak8 says:

    I really really like that, thank the Lord our filing cabinets never get full :). I also wanted to say that I really love your class. I actually look forward to it and wish it was more often then twice a week. I have been growing to know the Lord since I was about 5 but I was never in my life taught to study the bible. I absolutely love the book we are reading and this class is just what I hoped it would be and more. I can not wait to learn more from you. Thank you so much for making the class so interesting and allowing God to use you in this way.

  5. rookie1987 says:

    I can go along with your filing cabinet example for Bible knowledge. I do admit that there are other things that work such as a backpack which would fit better to some people but as an example it is workable. The thing is that I don’t think that everyone uses a filing cabinet. I would say that all have a filing system. Much like a student or professor has all of these papers and books stacked everyone on their desk and scattered througout the room is sadly how a lot of people are. A filing cabinet would be a vast improvement for their “system” since they take the information and it is scattered here and there and lost many times beneath mountains of other information. The filing cabinet would have just the Bible put into it but with a room of scattered papers and books all over the room you also will find wrappers and spills and many other things. This helps to represent how the information we do have about the Bible is a lot of times tainted by other things. The filing cabinet works but I see a lot more people having a messy room since a filing cabinet is too organized, and they would have had to have training on how to use it. Sadly most people don’t know how to study the Bible just as most don’t seem to know how to use a filing cabinet.  
    The danger in pulling the right text is that a lot of people force texts to fit what they want it to say for certain situations. The thing is that the original text already had a situation which it was applied for and used. Most times we don’t find the exact wording that we are looking for or hopeing for with some tough issues in life. When this happens we tend to pull out a pencil and depending on what we want either darken that gray to black or erase it to white.
    I will admit that I just like everyone else will always be adding to whatever system I have for the mental knowledge I have of the Bible. The Bible needs to be united as a whole because to not do so takes it out of its context. If you just had to book of Joshua sure it is a complete book, but it sure does raise a lot of questions as to the type of God that Israel follows. I mean without the context of the rest of the books of the Bible you could call him the Great Exterminator. There is nothing in the Bible that does not build on the rest of the book or is held up by the rest of the book. It truely is an amazing book the Bible because of the intricate links that thread throughout its pages. As to the passage I would turn to in regard to angels authority being taken over God. The verse that pops into my mind right off the top of my head or the file my brain accesses is Rev. 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Probably not exactly what many would think of but it does show that God is the first and final authority.
    Salt and Light

  6. The things that have helped me greatly in my hunt for Biblical literacy are notebooks. Since my memory span is approximately equal to that of a brick, I need to write things down. For example, I took a 1-year intensive Bible class and kept all of my notebooks, where each book (or chunk of books) are neatly placed in order. After that year, I began to view the Bible as ONE book, instead of 66 books. Also, I have a “topical tidbit” binder where I put papers that have to do with a specific Biblical topic in alphabetical order so I can find it easily. Other than that, constant training in the Word is the only way for me to stay fresh. If I am consistant enough, I begin to recall different passages that would speak to a given situation. It’s like learning a language; Once immersed into a culture and language, you eventually pick up on what means what, and how people think as a whole. If considerable time is spent away from the language/culture, things may move to the back of your mind (or slip out entirely).Asa

  7. Elijah1313 says:

    How sad it is that people are unaware of what the Bible says. I mean, it is not only the people who do not believe! In fact, it seems that in a lot of cases, people who do not believe know more about the Bible than those who call themselves followers of it! I think we need to step up a Christians and really do the hard labour of studying and searching through the vast ocean of knowledge we have in the Bible! It is our duty to be ready with an answer, but how many are? We are warriors walking around in commoners clothes acting like there is not a raging war carrying on all around us. Great point, very thought provoking.

  8. “What are you going to do to develop your filing cabinet?”My bible filing cabinet is not nearly as extensive that I want it to be. I would have problems if someone came to me on a specific topic to be able to quote exact bible verses if I didn’t have my bible in hand. I grew up in a Christian home but we never did any kind of devotions together as a family and there was never an emphasize put on memorizing the scripture. I came to Moody from a secular college because I knew that even though I could go into ministry without a bible degree like I had been helping out my whole life, I needed to go to a college where I would be supported, pushed, and challenged with ideas that I had never thought of before. One of these ideas is to memorize scripture. Even in youth group there was never much emphasize put on memorizing the word. It was actually put on having your quiet times because most of my youth group seemed to be having trouble with consistency in this area of their spiritual walk. I think that largest thing that I lacked and a lot churches in all areas of ministry lack is a sense of accountability to one another. I know that in most situations leaders can’t be accountable to everyone in their group especially if it is a very large group, but if they can get the members of there group to get into two’s or three and set up accountability partners to check with each other weekly, push each other to grow in their faith, and to actually get together weekly to talk about where they need help, prayer, and what God is doing in their lives I think that Christians would grow a lot more in their walks with Christ. I think then the church as a whole would know God’s word better when other people hold each other accountable for not just reading it but memorizing it as well. I never knew what each book was about until I was held accountable to read each one. Now I am learning to memorize the bible as a whole, learn how each book individually how it fits in/relates to life. After I get a better grip on the bible and all the stories, I will working to memorize an entire book. Right now I need to still get the overall big picture, little pictures of each book, and memorize key scriptures on all topics related to life. I am excited and feel challenged for the first time in my life to actually grow and learn more than I do now.I really like when you said “Also, the Bible is a unified whole. The cabinet makes more sense the more complete it is. Just using one file on its own doesn’t make sense unless it is placed alongside other files. For example, standing for ‘truth in the face of adversity’ needs to be matched with ‘unity in the face of adversity’. It seems that many in North America have their standing for truth file in place, but they don’t have their unity file.” This really hit home for me and I am working on doing this in my own walk. Thanks for this challenging and thoughtful e-mail.

  9. Thefroo says:

    Yeah I guess I never really thought of it that way. I know that we have been taught to know the bible but to stand in adversity by ourselves won’t really do anything unless God really takes charge in that experience. However, the bible does say that a chord of three strands is not easily broken and when 3 meet together God will be there also. So why do we try to take the world on by ourselves? I don’t really know the answer. My filing cabnet is actually found in my bible. I write notes down in the margin and everytime I look at the bible I like to look at the areas where I underlined or wrote something. But I have always looked at the bible as 66 books instead of one book. I guess thats the way I was brought up. I need to really start looking at the bible as one. Look for the similarities of the new and old testament. The prophecy and the fulfillment. Good point Worrall.Gods fool,Justin

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