How To Study The Bible
Three simple steps to successfully studying the Bible on your own. An age-old and time-tested method that will make you look as smart as your pastor.
Let's face it. Many of us find the idea of personal Bible study daunting! Especially if we haven't done it before. Don't you have to be a trained theologian to study scripture effectively? Nope! The truth is that while there are truths that we will never fully grasp because God is so amazingly great, His word is understandable for all of us, especially if we take the time to study it on a regular basis. So, what is the secret to studying the Bible on our own?
Three Simple Steps To Bible Study:
Three primary questions should be asked about any passage we are studying.
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One: Observation – What does the passage say?
This step may seem straightforward, but that isn't always true. Many of us bring our own theological biases to our reading of Scripture because we have been told what our theological grid ought to be. All of our "grids" are deficient in some way, so it's essential to allow the text to speak for itself. Just ask the question, "What does it say?"
Two: Interpretation – What does the passage mean?
This step involves discerning the author's main thought or idea behind what he is writing. So, you want to pay attention to the five C's here: What was the context of the passage; are there cross-references where the Bible talks about the same issue (scripture interprets scripture); what was the cultural context in that day; what is your conclusion as to what the passage means and if necessary consult a commentary where you have additional questions. While that may sound complicated, it isn't, and most of the time the meaning will be evident quickly.
Three: Application – What am I going to do about what the passage means and says?
This step is where first-time readers begin rather than end. They love to know the truths of Scripture, but they don't relish applying those truths that are inconvenient. But Scripture study without personal application is a waste of time and does not honor God. The good news is that God always blesses any effort we make to bring our lives into conformity with His Word. And His Holy Spirit will help us make that a reality if we are committed to the simple principle of taking God at His word and following His commands and teaching.
There are few more exciting things than to discover God to understand His plan for our lives and to see His character become our character. The book of Proverbs describes the process as being like a miner who searches for silver and gold and finds it after hard work. Every nugget in their search is a reward, and every nugget of truth discovered in Scripture is our reward as it is applied and lived out.
As you engage in your mining of God's word, keep a journal and jot down your discoveries. Then pray over those discoveries that God would help you apply the truths you found to your life.
Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.