I always like to know a little something about an author before I sit down to open up his or her book. Today, I interview my dear friend and co-worker, Courtney Doctor, about her new Bible study, In View of God’s Mercies: The Gift of the Gospel in Romans.
The book of Romans offers a beautiful and thorough presentation of the gospel. It’s rich with theological insights as it highlights the holiness and mercy of God in response to our sin. Courtney walks us through this sometimes intimidating book of the Bible in a way that makes it accessible to someone who is new to Scripture, insightful for the seasoned Bible reader, and transformational for all. You can purchase her new study today.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am the wife of Craig, mother of four adult children, mother-in-law to two amazing women, and, my very favorite, “CC” to five precious grandchildren.
Craig and I had the unique privilege of attending Covenant Seminary together in St. Louis. We graduated with our Master of Divinity degrees in 2013. Since then, I have written four Bible studies: From Garden to Glory: A Bible Study on the Bible’s Story, Steadfast: A Devotional Bible Study on the Book of James, Remember Your Joy; Salvation Stories in the Old Testament (co-authored with you, Melissa!) and, the latest, In View of God’s Mercies: The Gift of the Gospel in Romans.
I currently serve as the coordinator of women’s initiatives for The Gospel Coalition. I love Jesus, God’s Word, and his people. I also love (to a lesser degree) my goofy dog, Walter, pizza, store-bought birthday cake, and sitting on my porch with good friends.
When did you first start teaching the Bible? What do you enjoy about it?
I didn’t become a Christian until my early twenties, but early in my faith God gave me a hunger for his Word. I was eager to share all I was learning with others. In my late twenties, a pastor asked me to co-teach a Wednesday night class with him. I was terrified, but he did three things that were so helpful: he met with me to make sure I understood the lesson; he gave me the opportunity to teach; and he gave me constructive feedback. To this day, I seek to do the same for younger teachers.
After that, I began teaching women’s Bible study in my local church and speaking at retreats. One of the beautiful things about teaching is how much I learn and grow in the process. Some of my favorite moments are watching women’s excitement as the light bulbs come on, just like they did for me.
Is writing ever difficult for you? What is important to keep in mind when writing a Bible study?
Writing is always difficult for me! Even though I’m an author (only by God’s grace!) I really don’t consider myself a writer. I don’t process my thoughts through journaling and I’m not a trained writer. When I sit down to a blank page, my stomach actually hurts. I wonder how in the world I will ever have enough words to fill that one page in a way that is helpful for others. But God has taken those blank pages and those stomach aches and turned them into something that, I hope, points us back to him.
The first piece of advice I would offer someone wanting to write a Bible study would be this: let your readers see the results of your work, not all the sweat it took to get there. Meaning, we can discover so many fascinating tidbits along the way, and the temptation is to share every one. But we serve our readers best when we prayerfully discern what is the most helpful.
My second piece of advice is to have good friends read your work and give you good input along the way. My dear friend Bunny reads everything I write and offers constructive feedback before I send it anywhere.
What led you to write In View of God’s Mercies: The Gift of the Gospel in Romans?
The book of Romans is considered by many to be the most significant of all Paul’s letters. Many scholars will go so far as to say it is one of the most significant books in the New Testament and maybe even in all of Scripture! And I have long loved Romans. So, when Lifeway presented me with the opportunity to write a Bible study on it, I jumped at it.
My hope for this study is that it will prove to be an accessible tool that helps us all dive into this remarkable book. Because of the richness and depth of what Paul wrote in Romans, it is a vastly important part of Scripture for every believer to study—and it would be my joy and privilege to be part of how you engage with this beautiful book!
What’s the central message you hope readers will take away from this study?
God’s glorious gospel of grace doesn’t just change your eternal future; it changes your present reality. Meaning, God’s salvation isn’t only for the age to come. God saves you now—today. Today you have hope. Today you have peace. Today you are loved. Today the Spirit and the Son pray for you. Today God is working all things for your good and his glory. We look forward to that glorious day when we will see him face-to-face, but he has also drawn near to us through his Son today.
God’s glorious gospel of grace doesn’t just change your eternal future; it changes your present reality.
How has writing this book affected your own life?
His salvation is deeper, wider, higher, stronger, and better than we’ll ever be able to understand.
Studying Romans has caused me to marvel even more at the gospel message. Or maybe more accurately, I have marveled more at the God who gives us the gospel message. His salvation is deeper, wider, higher, stronger, and better than we’ll ever be able to understand. It is marvelous and mysterious, and it caused Paul to burst forth in praise saying, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom 11:33-36). May it have the same effect on all of us.
For a sneak peek, here are some quotes:
If you had an afternoon to do whatever you’d like, where would we find you?
We have a new porch swing that is to be delivered in the next few weeks. It’s the size of an actual twin bed, complete with a mattress and pillows. We are going to hang it under a covered porch, so whether it’s rainy or sunny, hot or cold, I hope that is exactly where you will be able to find me just about any day of the week.
To hear more about this new study, make sure to watch this video of Courtney talking about her heart behind In View of God’s Mercies:
Courtney Doctor is an author, Bible teacher, frequent conference and retreat speaker, and periodic blogger. She received an MDiv from Covenant Theological Seminary in 2013 and is the author of From Garden to Glory: A Bible Study on the Bible’s Story (2016); Steadfast: A Devotional Bible Study on the Book of James (2019); and In View of God’s Mercies: The Gift of the Gospel in Romans (2022). She currently serves as coordinator of women’s initiatives for The Gospel Coalition. Her greatest desire in all of this is to faithfully study, apply, and teach the word of God and help others do the same.
God has blessed Courtney and her husband, Craig, with four wonderful children, two amazing daughters-in-law, five sweet grandchildren—and their much-loved, goofy dog, Walter.