HAMPSTEAD — Each week, eight women gather to deepen their understanding of the Bible.
"We study line by line to find out what it means and how to apply it to our lives," said Gay Magee, group leader. "The point is to learn how to study the Bible yourself, and when you get into the Word enough, the Lord will reveal to you what it means."
The class, which meets from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays at Hampstead Baptist Church, has been studying the book of 2 Timothy since Feb. 27.
The 13-week study of the four-chapter book -- one of 24 adult Bible studies provided by Precepts Ministries, an interdenominational group in Chattanooga, Tenn. -- will conclude at the end of May, said Magee.
Other studies in the Precepts series investigate a biblical book or study passages on topics such as marriage with a workbook and a weekly hour-long video lecture by Kay Arthur, founder of theministry, said Magee.
Each varies in length depending on the topic and carries a five-hour per week homework load, said Magee. Another, less-demanding class available from the ministry, known as an "In and Out" class, has one to three hours of homework per week.
"Some people don't want to make that kind of commitment, but God expects usto, and rewards us for our study," she said. "After I've put the time in, I feel the Lord has time to speak to me about whatever the passage (I'm studying) says."
Class member Lee Brammer agreed the homework is demanding, but feels she has benefited from it.
"It's beenwonderful just knowing how to interpret the Bible correctly and not take it out of context; how to think of the historical setting and what group was being written to and why," she said.
"It's more involved than what I could discipline myself to do on my own."
Each class begins with prayer, Christian music on tape and a discussion of the week's homework.
Members then watch the video lecture covering the same biblical passages as the week's homework, Magee said. However, individual study still is required.
"You don't go to class and get an answer to your homework," she said. "A lot of the (workbook) questions ask you to read a passage, read it again and then tell how the Lord has spoken to you about it.
"What you learn is between you and the Lord."
As group leader, Magee guides the women in accomplishing a goal each week.
For example, the goal for one class was tounderstand 2 Timothy 2:11-13, in which Paul explains to Timothy the responsibilities and rewards of being a Christian, she said.
"There are three different (accepted) views, especially of the first line," Magee said. "When we discussed it, we all had different views."
The instructional video then explained the three views, pointing to how the Bible -- originally written in Greek -- used the same word forGod in four different books and meant different things, Magee said.
"Then (Arthur) gave us what she believes and gave us a biblical reason why," Magee said. "We were left to come to our own conclusion for what it means."
However, such diverse opinions on a passage are not always possible, she said.
"Usually, when you look up the (original) Greek words and find their meaning, you know what it means," Magee said.
Pupils also use Bible dictionaries and commentaries in their study, said Magee.
Brammer said study of Timothy has helped her understand the Bible characters.
"Just from studying 2 Timothy, it has made me appreciate what the Apostle Paul went through for our sakes and the church," she said. "It makes me more willing to do the little bit of sacrifice I do."
Magee said it was difficult to put into words what the study of Romans meant to her.
"I died on thecross with Jesus through that study and now I can understand the pain he went through, the grace that he has and what it means," she said. "I understand the sacrifice he made, and he made it just for me."
Information on a course on Colossians begininng in September: 239-4594 or 374-9908.