119 verse 105 says ďYour word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.Ē
As expressed in the song below, a Christian should desire to follow the
leadership of Christ. God has provided the Scriptures for us, in its words we
will find the wisdom of God made available to His people. The Bible shows God
working in the lives of man for centuries. During these centuries people faced
many of the same dilemmas that we do today. The Bible will act as our lamp and
map. It gives us direction and allows us to learn from others.
following verse is from Matthew 4:4 ďBut he answered and said, It is written,
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the
mouth of God.Ē (Authorized Version) This is a quote by Jesus from the Old
Testament book of Deuteronomy where the Bible says in Chapter 8 verse 3 ďHe
humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which
neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on
bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.Ē Godís
written Word is the daily bread for our Christian health; it packs the essential
vitamins and minerals for a healthy Christian life.
Study is also interesting and challenging. It is rare that we will approach the
Bible with eagerness and not be rewarded. Group Bible study with your spouse,
roommate, or friends will also cement your relationship. The Bible is a living
Word from God because the Holy Spirit helps us to understand it in a fresh way
each time that we see it.
the Bible is like no other experience in your life. The Bible is a living book.
It will meet you fresh each time you pick it up. God has designed it for us. It
has many aspects. They range from commanding authority, to an expression of His
love for us.
this is chapter twelve of fourteen, if you are reading this you are interested
in what God has to say about your life and hereafter. I hope that you have
enjoyed the time that we have spent together. However, I must tell you that even
on my very best day, my word for you falls very far short of Godís word for
this chapter we will spend some time thinking about, and hopefully practicing,
some of the techniques of Bible study. But remember that the key is not to study
about the Bible, but to study the Bible itself.
start with a few ground rules for effective Bible study.
Accept the Holy Bible as being Godís Word, and having His authority.
Be willing to be changed by the Bible as you read it for understanding.
Interpret the experiences in your life according to the Scripture, rather than
interpret the Scripture according to your life experiences.
Understand that your knowledge and understanding of the Bible are not complete
and will grow as you apply yourself to its study. Be willing to admit that there
are differences of opinion regarding some passages, and do not condemn other
viewpoints unless clearly led to. But lovingly correct when a position or
opinion is in clear opposition to the Bibleís teachings.
Look first to what God is saying to you, for your own application. Act on it.
Each Christian has the right and responsibility to know and interpret the
Scripture for themselves.
Bible is its own best study guide. As you study the Bible look for patterns and
themes. Start out by seeking a true understanding of the commitment that God has
made to us through His Son. This is illustrated throughout the Scripture. Then
look for His personal commitment to you, and then look for the opportunities for
response, service, and maturing growth He has given us.
many of you remember receiving your first love letter? You probably opened it
immediately when you received it. You then sought a quiet place allowing some
privacy and carefully read it. You looked for all of the meaning that you could
find, you then re-read it and picked out those parts that were the most special
to you. In a few minutes you could probably quote the letter word for word!
think how easy Bible study would be if we approached it in the same way. Look
for the immediate opportunity to read Godís word. Seek a quiet private place
to read, a place where you wonít be disturbed. Read the text more than one
time. Pick out the parts that speak personally to your heart and memorize them.
See wasnít that simple? Weíre finished already.
not quite finished. Letís look for a few minutes at how we learn from the
Bible. Most of us attend a church. Many of us attend classes, or small group
discussion type Bible studies. These are all very good and important things to
do. However the point of our discussion today is personal Bible study. Next we
will look at some tools to use in Bible study.
will see that the basic learning tools that we use to understand anything are
useful here as well. How many of you remember the following poem from elementary
taught me all I knew)
names are What and Why and When
How and Where and Who
we study a Bible passage the six servants above will help us understand it.
Three Steps of Bible Study
Step One: Observation
Who. Who is the author of the book? To whom is he writing? Who are the major and
Where. Where do the events occur? Are there any references to towns, cities,
provinces? If so look them up in a Bible atlas or on a map. Many Bibles contain
historical maps just for this purpose. If you are reading a letter, where do the
recipients if the letter live?
When. Are there any references to time, day, month, or year? Are there
references to the timing of other events happening in relation to this event?
What. What actions or events are taking place? What words or ideas are repeated
or are central to the passage. What is the mood (joyous or somber, soft or
stern, intense or peaceful, instructional or informational)?
Why. Does the passage offer any reasons, explanations, statements of purpose?
Why did the Holy Spirit move the author to write these words?
How. How is the passage written? Is is a letter, speech, poem, parable? Does it
use figures of speech (similes, metaphors)? How is it organized (around people,
the questions above to probe the passage that you are studying. Write down your
answers. You will remember the passage and its meaning better if your write down
your observations as you study the passage. Pretend that you are studying for
your driverís license exam, or for another test that is important to you.
you powers of observation to pick up the details of place and person and you
will have a good idea as to what the passage says. Now you will want to know
what the passage says to you.
understand what the Bible is saying to you today, you will often need to
interpret the verses you are studying. Here is another important place to
remember that the Bible is its own best commentary. Remember that interpretation
must be faithful to what the author, not the reader wants to say. The principle
is that Scripture interprets Scripture.
out about the historical context of the book you are studying. Because the Bible
was written in a place and time unfamiliar to us, we must work a little harder
to understand it. However as we learn about the people and places in the context
of the passage it will become both more real and understandable to us. Try to
understand the problems of the people in the passage. Look for clues in the
passage itself as well as in a Bible dictionary and/or almanac.
related passages of Scripture so that you know the people in the passages as
persons rather than names (see also character studies later in this chapter).
identify the type of literature that you are reading. Biblical authors use a
variety of literary forms, (see below).
an extended logical discussion of a subject. Many New Testament epistles and
some of the longer sermons of Jesus fall into this category.
narrative; the author describes and recreates sense of biblical history which
are theologically significant. Genesis, Joshua, and the Gospels are examples.
uses figurative language and parallelism and is emotional in nature. (Psalms)
wise sayings which illustrate practical principles for living. Should not be
confused with commands or promises. (Proverbs and elsewhere)
Jesus used them more than anyone else in Scripture. A parable explains a
spiritual truth using a story or analogy.
literature; books by the four major (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel) and
twelve minor (Hosea, Joel, and Amos through Malachi) prophets. These are
spokesmen for God who announce curses and blessings associated with Godís
covenant with Israel and future events for all who believe in God, (and for some
literature; these passages use heavy amounts of symbolism. Daniel and Revelation
the type of literature that the Bible passage you are reading contains. This
will help in your understanding.
get an overview of the book. Parts of the book take on a fuller meaning in the
light of the whole book. Different books are arranged in different ways. Try to
understand the broad thrust that God is trying to make in the book.
by reading quickly through the book. Next look for major sections. Now look for
subsections. At each step look for connections between sections.
Study the book passage by passage. Remember that the original Bible did not have
chapters, paragraphs, or verses, or even punctuation! The present organization
of the Scripture is useful for finding specific text etc., but remember not to
limit reading to a specific verse, paragraph, or chapter if further reading
would help your understanding.
the subject of each passage. What does the passage say about the subject? What
is the context of the passage? Notice the atmosphere or mood of the passage.
Compare your interpretation with a good Bible commentary. The commentary will
give you additional insights into the passage and its meaning. However try to
understand the passage on your own before you consult a commentary.
ultimate aim of Bible study is not so much to educate but to transform. As we
renew our minds through Bible study, the Holy Spirit gradually transforms us
into the image of Jesus Christ. Almost every book of the Bible was written to
address specific questions and problems, needs, and questions of the people
living at that time. Many of the same issues face us today, however some do not.
It is helpful, when seeking direction in the Bible to look for people with the
same difficulty that we have. Then we can find the best the Bible has to offer
for us on that subject. Get to know the people in the Bible and often we will
to keep in mind when studying the Bible.
Handle with care. Study the Bible with the same care and diligence that you
would study for an important test.
Assume that the writer is being straightforward. Donít look for hidden
meanings, but look for clear teaching.
The King James Version (KJV) is an excellent English version, however it may be
a little difficult for modern Americans to fully understand. We suggest that you
read a contemporary translation of the Bible along with your KJV. Among those
that are very reliable are the New King James Version (NKJV), and New American
Standard Bible (NASB). Many of these versions are offered as Study Bibles. Study
Bibles contain additional outlines, maps, and historical and background
information which many find exceedingly helpful. This is especially true if do
not yet have other resource materials available to you.
Let the material season. Study the material a few days before you need to so
that you may clear up any questions you may have by talking to a friend of
consulting a commentary or reference work.
are three ways (at least) of organizing a Bible study. Each of the methods below
has its own place in your Bible study plans, each has its special strengths. The
three ways are:
The topical Bible study is designed to help you learn all that the Bible has to
say about a particular topic or subject. The strengths of the topical Bible
study are many. One of the strengths of the topical Bible study is that it does
not restrict you to learning about a particular time or person.
well done topical study will teach you about the relationship between God and
man as you see generations of people deal with the subject you have chosen. It
also allows you to identify with a particular person or situation that speak
most directly to you.
goal of your Bible study should be learning about key truths revealed in the
Scripture about your topic. This will point out what you should do regarding the
subject, and help you to teach others about it.
first step is to choose and define the topic well. It should be broad enough to
meet your need but not so widely defined that you become discouraged from a lack
of progress. Carefully choose key words to describe your subject. The goal is to
choose ten or twelve key verses for study, ideally they will be the ten or
twelve best that the Bible has to offer you.
best way to find these verses is by using a concordance. Strongís Exhaustive
Concordance is a most valuable resource as it has every word in the KJV. Many
Bibles have a limited concordance in the back, a study Bible may have a more
complete one. A concordance will tell you where a particular word appears in the
Bible. It is helpful to look up closely related words as well. Other helps to
finding the best verses are the New Topical Text Book (Revell), Harpers Topical
Concordance (Harper and Row), and Naveís Topical Bible (Moody).
is very helpful to choose ten or twelve verses for further study, otherwise you
will get bogged down looking for just one more tidbit of truth. Some Bibles also
have subject indexes and cross references that are helpful to find the best
selection of verses.
a few sheets of paper or a legal pad and do the following.
Write out the topic in a brief paragraph defining the topic, itís much easier
to find the answer if you know what the question is!
Passages Studied. Make a list of your source verses (or passages)
or Outline. On a separate piece of paper briefly summarize each verse, then go
back to your first paper to summarize the summaries.
the Key Verse. Identify the one verse or passage that seems to summarize what
the Bible has to say about your topic.
Illustrations. Find illustrations in the passages, relate the subject to
particular people or events. You may also think of other illustrations relating
to nature, your past experiences, or even clippings from books or poetry.
Problems. Read the Scripture passages again and write down things that puzzle
you. Are there things which you think are hard for you or other Christians to
understand? Choose the verse that best addresses the problem and record it with
Review the other parts of your study and each of the verses. Write a brief
statement of the truth that you have found in the passages that you have
studied. Write down a simple plan of action that will enable you to bring areas
of your life into conformity with the truth you have discovered. Spend time
praying about the problem and asking for Godís help in Jesusí name.
A Book or Passage Study. When studying a passage or book from the Bible the
following steps will help you. They will help you to understand about the
passage, and about what the passage says.
Personalities. Who is the author of the book? To whom is the author writing?
What are the major personalities mentioned? How well do they know and understand
Setting. When was the book written? What is the historical setting? What is the
historical setting of the recipients? What was happening in this part of the
world at the time?
Why was the book written? If there is a problem to correct what was it? What was
the author trying to accomplish?
What is the major emphasis of the book? What are some of the recurring ideas?
What subjects does the book deal with?
Summarize the book or passage in an outline form.
you will need to read the whole passage. Start out by just reading the passage,
you want to be able to see both the trees and the forest so look at the broad
flow first. It is more difficult to see the broad sweep of the passage if you
read it too deeply at first. Try to get a feel of the tone of the passage and
the mood of the author. After you have read the passage a few times briefly
describe the contents on paper. You will find that you will learn and remember
better if you write things down.
the passage verse by verse. Give each verse the time it needs to percolate in
your mind. Think. Write down your observations under four headings (1)
Observations, (2) Questions and Answers, (3) Cross References, and (4) Notes and
have by now done a considerable amount of study and should begin to draw things
together. Frame the passage that you have learned into a theme and conclusions.
At this point you will want to rely most heavily on the care and work you put
into your study, but you may also want to refer to Bible Commentaries and other
always the most important reason for Bible study is personal application. Bible
study without application leads to vanity. Dwight L. Moody said ďThe
Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.Ē
A Character Study. The Bible is alive with personality. It includes the lives of
many people. You may be surprised at how well you can identify with the lives of
the people chronicled in the Bible. Many times they faced similar struggles to
those that we face today.
your character study by choosing a character to study. Choose one who may have
an attribute that you can identify with or whom you would like to be like in
some way. Make a list of the passages that the character appears in.
the passage where the character appears and try to do a biographical sketch. Pay
attention to there growth in their relationship to God. What were the major
events in their life? Who were some of their contemporaries? What was their
major achievement, what influence did they have on people or events?
a summary verse and a key verse that you feel best describes the character. Make
a summary of the passage that you have read.
out what the leading lesson is of their life. Read through the Scripture passage
again as well as the notes from above.
an application for you. One way to do this is to identify common problems or
situations in your characters life. Then look for what God told them, the same
should hold for you.
otherwise noted are from The Holy Bible, New International Version c 1978 by
New York International Bible Society pub by Zondervan Corporation Grand
Rapids MI 49506
by Amy Grant and Michael W Smith c 1983 Bug and Bear Music/Meadowgreen
Music. 54 Music Square East, Suite 305, Nashville TN 37203