What About Bible Study?
Bill Brown, Carmichael Baptist Church
Lesson Text: II Timothy 2:15; Proverbs 2:1-5
Lesson Objective: To help you understand the importance of Bible study and to provide you with the necessary tools to make your study of the Bible more profitable.
Introduction: In Proverbs 2:1-5, you find that wisdom and knowledge are promised to those who; Receive God’s word, Retain God’s word, Respect God’s word, Yield to God’s word, Make request of God’s word, Require God’s word, Research God’s word, and then Retrace God’s word. David learned early on that God’s word is something to be hidden in the heart for preservation against sin. David knew his strength would come from God through His wonderful word. Both David and Jeremiah treated God’s word as food for the soul.
As Christians we cannot survive without a steady diet of God’s word. When we are young Christians we are to desire the sincere milk of the word of God (I Peter 2:2) that we may be able to grow by it. As we grow older, or mature, in the Lord we are to feed upon the meat of God’s word, the deeper things of the Lord. We are to grow upon the first principals we learn as Christians. God has provided us with a means by which we can learn and grow. We have already learned about the local church God has provided for our benefit. We can serve, worship, and learn in the body God places us within. While we need the order and organization of the assembly we also need to understand we can learn and study for ourselves. We should be like those noble Bereans who „received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Within this lesson you are going to be provided with some tools to help you learn and study from God’s word. You are going to learn how to dig for the hidden treasures within the pages of God’s eternal truth. As you proceed through this lesson you need to remember that study plans are not a substitution for the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that will guide us into all truth, for He is the Spirit of truth. It is God who reveals truth to the spiritually discerned. It is God who reveals truth through the study of His word. One last quick point before we begin a look at Bible study methods. Allow the Bible to speak for itself and lay aside your preconceived opinions and ideas. Approach this book with the ultimate in reverence and with a willingness to obey what God reveals.
The Inductive Method
This method can be used to study a paragraph or portion of a book of the Bible but may be used to it’s fullest in the study of an entire book. Whatever the portion of interests it is preferable to read the book, or portion, through several times before beginning a serious study. Once it has been read through jot down the main divisions, as you believe them to be and then after rereading assign sub-points to these main points. In the study of an entire book it is best to use the paragraphs as your main unit of study. Once the outline has been established begin your detailed study using your outline to look at each main point and it’s sub-points. Learn to ask questions using Who? What? When? Where? Why? And How? You can ask why the people mentioned are there. What is their connection to the main character or characters. Note the geographical locations and time elements, they are included for a reason. As much as is possible, place yourself at the scene and look, feel, and hear as much as you can. Keep the context of the portion of scripture intact. Compare scripture with scripture.
In this method we are not attempting to interpret, apply, or devotionalize, that will come later in other methods. This method is to outline the basic facts you find within your portion of study or book. The inductive method is one of the most detailed methods of study and is impossible to give a detailed example in this lesson. Once you have made your outline you can begin a further investigation by asking a variety of questions concerning each main heading and it’s sub-points. You can chart your findings and suggest topics, people, places, doctrines, or words to trace throughout your outline.
The Devotional Method
This particular method involves a spirit of study more than a technique of study. As one writer put it; „It is the spirit of eagerness which seeks the mind of God; it is the spirit of humility which listens readily to the voice of God; it is the spirit of adventure which pursues earnestly the will of God; it is the spirit of adoration which rests in the presence of God.” As much as we should desire to have this type of spirit we also need organization and order to help us avoid reaching an incorrect hypothesis, or unproved theories. This method involves the application of God’s word to our personal life that we might be victorious and present to others a more effective witness. It is taking our text verse of II Timothy 2:15 to heart. The purpose of this method is not to spend so much time on intensive investigation, but on how we might improve our spiritual life by discovering the claims, instructions, and promises of God’s word upon the believer. We can study words, verses, paragraphs, chapters, books, and characters using this method. In each of the methods presented you need to learn how to ask questions.
In the study of words we want to emphasize the spiritual message they convey more than the technical means by which they are employed. We might ask how this word is used in the Bible? What definition may be gleaned by means of its use in various Biblical contexts? What did it mean to those who used it? What does it reveal of God, man, sin, etc.? How can I relate it to the strengthening of my own spiritual life? If we were to take wisdom as a word for study we might ask the following questions; what is the source of wisdom? What is the basis of its communication or imparting? And what is the purpose of its conferral?
In the study of verses we want to be sure we examine the divisions of the verses involved. The divisions of verses are man made for ease in finding portions of scripture. Many times verses embody incomplete thoughts and sentences. This is not the case all the time but you need to examine the context in which you find your verse to be examined. It may be helpful to first outline the paragraph or chapter in which your verse is located. There are many people who have fallen prey to false doctrines by failing to look at what comes before and after a verse. Each verse may demand a different approach but the following questions may be a helpful start. Consider the verbs in a given verse; note their tense, voice, mood, message, subject, and object. Ask who authored the passage and how it fits into the over-all message or how it contributes to it. Record your findings and keep a notebook for future use. If possible memorize the verse you have selected. As you meditate upon it during the day or evening you may find details come to light that you have never seen before. Personalize what you discover where it is applicable.
The Analytical Method
This method is an analysis, or detailed study, or a book in order to ascertain it’s message in all its distinct parts. With this method you seek to study paragraph by paragraph with determination to discover the principal sentences and to note the grouping around them or subordinate sentences and clauses. The aim is to discover the main theme or principal teaching. If this is not done someone can often be distracted by a subordinate clause and gain an inaccurate impression as to the prominent subject or main theme.
Use the paragraph as your main unit of study. Rewrite the text by placing the main statements on the left side of a paper while indenting all subordinate clauses and phrases. This will help you to further analyze the portion of scripture under observation. Remember to employ Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? Once you have found the main statements and subordinate clauses you can move on to establish an outline. Once the analysis and outline have been completed you can move on to making observations of the text. Be curious, don’t worry about you abilities or procedures at this point. You goal is to study a book in detail to understand all of the parts, not just the message in general.
The Biographical Method
With this method you will find a good concordance to be most helpful. There is a concordance located in the back pages of your Bible, but most of these are incomplete in their listings of all words found with the pages of the Bible. It would be a great addition to anyone’s personal library to purchase an unabridged concordance to aid you in your studies.
Chose a character for your study. Find all of the passages that refer to the character selected and jot down the significant contribution of each. You can do this by going through a single book, and finding out what that book reveals about the character, or follow them throughout the entire Bible. Once you have found your passages and made notes about what they reveal, organize your material into an outline of your own choosing. You may choose to limit your study to a single book or portion of scripture to discover something about an individuals character or qualities in a given situation. It also may help to first divide an individuals life by some major climatic points which can serve as dividing lines. Moses’ life, for instance, could easily be divided into three main divisions. He spent forty years in Egypt, forty years in the wilderness, and forty years as deliverer of Israel. Joseph may be studied by events rather than times. We could divide his life into three parts; His early life and rejection, his servitude and imprisonment, and then his exaltation and reconciliation with his family. The benefits from a study of this type are plentiful.
Remember that your sufficiency does not lie in the mastery of the mechanics of Bible study. Apart from Christ we can do nothing. The real teacher is the Holy Spirit who takes the truth from God’s word and reveals it to us. These methods are not the only type that can be employed and we must bear in mind that no method is to be relied upon apart from the Spirit of God. Our suggestion is for you to make a sound investment in a good K.J.V. study Bible, an unabridged concordance, and a complete Webster’s Dictionary. With these three tools you will be ready to begin a journey of a lifetime.
1. Why is it important for you to learn how to study the Bible for yourself?
2. Why do you think the Bible is mentioned as spiritual food?
3. Along with the methods you can use, what is the most essential element of Bible study with which you can not do without?
4. What are the six most important questions you can employ in your studies?
5. Are all methods after the same goal?
6. If so what goal is that? If not why not?
What About Bible Study? Bill Brown, Carmichael Baptist Church Carmichael, California Lesson Text: II Timothy 2:15; Proverbs 2:1-5