Working in the Vineyard of Scripture: How to Read the Bible with Purpose and Intent

“The Scriptures are our vineyard in which we should all work.”  –Martin Luther   As Martin Luther made the transition from student to teacher after years of formal training in the arts, sciences, and theology, he adopted what was then a “new” way of learning — ad fontes. A bright and shiny star during the…

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Deborah Haddix

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“The Scriptures are our vineyard in which we should all work.”  –Martin Luther


As Martin Luther made the transition from student to teacher after years of formal training in the arts, sciences, and theology, he adopted what was then a “new” way of learning — ad fontes.

A bright and shiny star during the Reformation period, ad fontes meaning “to the sources” turned the discipline of study on its head.

For Martin Luther, the student, studying theology and the Bible had meant studying what OTHERS had to say about theology and the Bible.  ad fontes took Luther straight to the SOURCE where he read Peter and Paul, the prophets, and the life of Jesus – for himself.

That was the 1500’s.  “How is this relevant to 2016?” you might ask.

In answer to that question, I am reminded of a conversation with a close friend.  An avid reader, she confessed that she recently noticed herself quickly glancing over supporting Scriptures when reading through a book.  Convicted, she reflected that she probably skimmed over the Scripture because of her familiarity with it, but realized that what she was actually doing in that act was giving more attention to man’s word than God’s Word.  Reflecting upon my own reading life, yes, I am guilty of the same.

In 2016, we have access to more resources that Martin Luther could have ever imagined.  The number of Christian books by solid theologians alone can stagger the mind.  Add to that podcasts, YouTube, blogs, and websites, and the mind is totally blown!

And, yes, in 2016 most of us have been taught about using primary sources, but in our technological, hurry-up world abundantly filled with excellent resources, how many of us get lured into spending more time hearing and studying what OTHERS have to say about theology and the Bible than studying it for ourselves?

That leads me to another conversation I recently had with a local church ministry leader.  During our time together she shared a huge, common problem she was becoming more and more aware of — people not knowing HOW to study the Bible on their own.  It seems that with the abundance of physical books, resources, and formal Bible studies compounded by the ease of accessing digital materials, many people have come to rely upon others to expound and explain Scripture to them.

Whether we find ourselves skimming over Scripture because of its familiarity, spending more time reading Christian books than the Bible, or lulled into the ease and speed of digital materials to the expense of our own Bible reading time, perhaps it’s time to add some ad fontes to our lives.

Going directly “to the source” does not have to be complicated.  Here are three ideas for getting started:
  1. Slow down. Read less.  Meditate more.
  2. Write things down. Writing helps with clarity.
  3. Incorporate other disciplines. Pray as you read, journal as you read, discuss what you read with a “soul” friend.


Specifically, how do we slow down, write things down, and incorporate other disciplines?
  • Color Code the passage
  • Write it out
  • Memorize it
  • Pray it
  • Journal it
  • Sing it
  • Reflect upon it
  • Preach it to yourself
  • Post it around your home

Jesus, our ultimate Example, spent large amounts of time interacting deeply with Scripture in a variety of ways.  He read, studied, memorized, meditated upon, and prayed the words of God.  He went straight to the SOURCE.  God’s Word was Jesus’ guide and His life’s nourishment.


Maybe it’s time for a little personal work in the VINEYARD OF SCRIPTURE.


For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.        –Hebrews 4:12

ad fontes – “to the source!”


  • THE SOURCE of truth and our unerring guide,
  • THE method for God speaking to us today (through His Spirit),
  • THE revelation of who God is and who we are,
  • our comfort, encouragement, nourishment, and strength.
Digging Deeper: Engaging with the Word of God ONLINE GROUP EXPERIENCE will begin this coming Monday, October 10, 2016.

Whether you need to learn how to read the Bible with PURPOSE and INTENT for the very first time, want to spend more time digging into THE SOURCE, or desire to freshen up your study time, Digging Deeper will inspire you to work in the vineyard of Scripture.

Sign up today and join us for the ONLINE GROUP.  This Facebook Group option provides a wonderful opportunity for learning in community.  Ask questions, share discoveries, and receive feedback and encouragement — all while meeting new friends.  The ONLINE OPTION is also “time-bound” which might be a benefit to those who struggle with getting things done.

The next Digging Deeper ONLINE GROUP begins MONDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2016 and runs through Monday, November 21, 2016.  The cost for participation in the Online Group is $20.00.

For more information on either offering of Digging Deeper: Engaging with the Word of God click here.

ad fontes – “to the source!”

I’m much more focused on the verse when I’m practicing these lessons. It’s completely changed how I study The Word and my relationship with The Lord.  This whole study has transformed the way I view scripture!    — Catherine Marie



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About the Author

Deborah Haddix

I am a child of God, wife, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, niece, and friend who loves nothing better than spending time with those I love.

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