This past Sunday we kicked off our new sermon series, “Clarity in a Culture of Confusion.” The bottom line of what we learned from Genesis 1:1-3 is that Jesus is the word of God who gives us clarity through the words of God. And so, in the midst of confusion, what we need is to dig deeper into the Bible and learn how to study it. Not just for information, but for relationship with Christ and so that we can share Christ with others.
If you would like to learn more about how we can know that the Bible has been accurately preserved over time I’d recommend the following resources:
If you’d like to grow in studying scripture, below is the process that I would recommend.
We get the most out of study when we plan what we will study. Randomly picking passages, or just doing short devotionals, will not yield the same gems as focused study. Pick a book of the bible and work your way through it verse by verse. If you don’t know where to start, I’d recommend starting in the book of Matthew.
Also, pick a time of day when you will study. Try to carve out at least 15 minutes and guard that time. Don’t let others things crowd it out. Don’t try to multitask and get others things done. Just sit down with you, your bible, maybe a pen and spend some time with God.
Studying scripture is not something that we can do by ourselves. We need to have humility and ask for God’s help to understand what He is saying.
Ask God to:
Make your heart whole devotedly to what you read.
Open your eyes to see the beauty Jesus and the glories of the gospel.
Use what you read to help you grow in godliness for the glory of God.
The first step of study is to simply read the passage a few times to get an idea of the content, context and flow. Consider highlighting particular sections that stand out so that you can come back to them later.
Observation is what lays the foundation for study.
“What are you observing? Everything. Your goal is not to determine what is and is not significant. Everything is significant. Observation is kind of like panning for gold. Your goal is to dig up as much as possible and allow the later processes to sift the gold.”- Geoff Ashley
1. Note key words, repeated words, repeated phrase and trace the general flow of thought.
2. List 2-3 overarching themes you see in the passage.
3. List at least two observations per verse. The more the merrier.
4. Write down questions to think through in the step of interpretation.
Your observations should give you interesting and challenging questions about the text. The step of interpretation allows you to sift through the various observations in order to provide answers.
...accomplishing the action?
...the action taking place?
WHAT IS THE...
...meaning of this word?
...significance of this phrase?
...implication of this statement?
WHY DID THE AUTHOR...
...choose this word?
...include this phrase?
...use this command?
...connect these ideas?
...not say ____?
1. Consider the context. What came before this passage
2. Look up key words.
3. Check out cross-references to see how this passage relates to others.
4. Don’t stop until you have considered how this passage fits into the overarching redemptive plan of God – the gospel. How does this passage relate to the person and work of Christ?
5. Make sure to discuss insights and questions with your spouse and/or godly Christian friends. The best study happens in community.
We aren’t studying for information, but transformation. Bible study is incomplete until you have thought through how to apply the particular passage to your life. Some passages will be more readily applicable than others, but all Scripture is useful and helpful (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
List out a number of potential applications. To get started, here are a few questions to consider:
Is there an example for you to follow?
Is there a sin to repent of and/or avoid?
Is there a promise to trust?
Is there a prayer to repeat?
Is there a command to obey?
Is there a condition to meet?
Is there a verse to memorize?
Is there an erroneous view exposed?
What else is the Lord pressing upon you?
Choose one or two particular applications and prayerfully consider how you might pursue greater faithfulness in them. Be specific about what you will do (or not do) and whom you will ask (in addition to the Lord) to help you.
If you’d like to dig deeper into learning how to study the bible better, I’d encourage these resources:
Also, this is why we do small groups, so that we can learn God’s word together and help each other apply it to our lives. If you haven’t checked out a small group yet, I would encourage you to do so. You can find more info by clicking on the Ministries tab.
Praying you have a great week studying God’s word and hearing his voice through the pages of scripture!