Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to Study the Bible

The intent of this blog is to help people get into the Word of God. Normally I do that by offering a short devotion on a passage of Scripture. My desire is that this will whet your appetite and entice you to read more of that glorious book for yourself because I know personally how easy it is to let a week go by without taking in God's Word.
This week I want to offer you something different, but something which I sincerely hope will prove helpful. Many Christians have never been taught how to study the Bible. These believers are discouraged and spiritually malnourished when they don't need to be. You don't need a seminary degree to understand the Bible. In His grace, God made sure that normal, everyday adults can read and understand the Bible on their own. Below is a simple Bible study tool pulled together from a number of sources to help everyday people just like you read and study the Bible for themselves.
All you need to do is pick a short passage of Scripture (most Bibles break the Scriptures down into sections for you), read it, and answer the questions. They don't all apply to every passage of Scripture. But some of them will apply to your passage. These questions will highlight important indicators in the passage that will help you draw out the author's main point.
My challenge to you is to walk through this Bible study method right now using Matthew 6:19-21 as your passage of Scripture. I pray that the Lord uses it in your life.
The Inductive Bible Study Method
Step 1: Pray and ask God to help you understand this passage of Scripture.

Step 2: Observation- Read the passage several times and answer these questions? They will help you identify  the author’s main point.
1. What precedes this passage? What follows it? (Context, Context, Context!)
2. Are there any repeated words or phrases? What are they?
3. Does the author make any comparisons?
4. Does the passage reveal a cause and effect relationship?
5. Does the passage have a climax or a major point that it builds to?
6. Does the author use figures of speech like quoting a saying or exaggerating for effect?
7. Is there important phrases like “therefore” or “because of this” that identify a main point?
8. What verbs are used to describe action in the passage?
*Go the Extra Mile!- You won't always have time to do this, but if you really want to understand a passage, answer these questions. Doing so will require either skimming the entire book of the Bible or consulting a study Bible or commentary which has an introduction to the book.
9. Who is the author or speaker?
10. What is the overall message of the book, and how does this passage fit into that message?
11. What historic events surround this book?

12. What type of literature is it? (Historical Narrative, Poetry, Letter, Prophecy, etc…)

Step 3: Interpretation- The Original Audience
1. What is the author’s main point for the original readers of this passage? What did the author want them to do, believe, or know?

Step 4: Generalization- All Believers at All Times
1. How can the author’s main point be written in a single sentence so that it is relevant to all believers at all times? What does the author want all believers to do, believe, or know?

Step 5: Application- Believers Today
1. How does main point apply to believers today? What specifically do believer’s living in your culture and your time need to do, believe, or know in response to this passage?

Step 6: Implementation- Me
1. What must I change in my life personally in response to this passage?
(Ask yourself the questions below to identify potential areas of implementation.)
• Is there a sin I need to avoid?
• Is there an example I should follow or avoid?
• Does God promise me something in this passage?
• Do I need to confess something to God?
• Do I need to thank God for something?
• What do I need to tell someone or do for someone because of this passage?
• In what ways does this passage train me to be more like Christ?

Step 7: Respond in prayer by thanking God for what you learned and asking forgiveness for any sin in your life.

*This Inductive Bible Study method has been taken from Creative Bible Teaching by Lawrence O. Richards and Gary J. Bredfeldt as well as a talk sheet developed by Patrick Hamilton for use in the study of John.

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