This is lesson nine in a 12 lesson good news basic Bible study course and focuses on five methods to study the Bible. This Bible follow up material covers the essentials of the Christian faith including Jesus, the Bible, God’s Word, God, assurances, and what God expects of believers after they come to Christ. This study can be used to teach new believers, to brush up on your Bible basics, or to study on your own. The end of each lesson contains a list of questions and Bible references for further study on the topic of that lesson as well as a suggested memory verse. For more lessons in the series, see the links at the bottom of this page. All lessons can be printed, shared, copied, or distributed.
Good News Bible Study – Lesson Nine – Five Methods to Study The Bible
In previous lessons we’ve learned a lot about God’s Word. It is historical. It is accurate. It shows us God’s plan and His principles. It is inspired by God, meaning that it has His authority (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is very practical and very profound. It is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It is the growing believer’s spiritual food (1 Peter 2:2).
Having learned about why the Bible is so important, we are going to discuss how we can understand it and apply it better. There are five basic ways to help us have a strong understanding of God’s Word. Remember that what we put into our mind will affect us, whether it is the music we listen to, the movies we watch, or the magazines we read.
Acts 20:32 says, “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Romans 10:17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” The first way we can get God’s Word into our life is by hearing it. What can we do to hear it? We can go to church and Bible study to listen to teaching on the Word. We can ask questions of our Christian friends. We can listen to sermons online. The most important point is that we continually put ourselves in position to listen to God’s Word being taught. And when we listen, we should listen out of a sincere desire to learn and grow (Ezekiel 33:31-32, John 8:47). Do not let God’s Word go in one ear and out the other!
Revelation 1:3a says, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it.” Reading the Bible is the most basic way to understand it. It is great to listen to other mature Christians, but growing believers must have their own relationship to God and their own personal time to read the Bible for
themselves. Jesus Himself often went off by Himself to pray and commune with God (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, 6:12).
When we read the Bible we need to remember that the goal is not to “get through” a certain number of pages, but to understand more about God and how to serve Him. So it’s important to read carefully and not be absent-minded.
Acts 17:11 says, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Studying goes deeper than simply reading. It is examining the Scriptures with a purpose. It could be studying a specific topic like prayer. Or it could be trying to find an answer to a specific question like “what is God’s will for me in marriage?”
The goal is not rote recitation of facts and figures like we may prepare for exams in school. But one day we will face a heavenly “exam” to see how well we understand the Scripture and most importantly how well we followed it (2 Corinthians 5:10). The benefit is not only in the end result of learning about God or God would have just given us a list of what He wants us to know. But there is great benefit in the process of studying God’s Word (Proverbs 25:2).
Psalms 119:9,11 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word. I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” Memorizing God’s Word is a very important way to overcome temptation. Even Jesus Himself dealt with temptation by reciting God’s Word (Matthew 4:4-10).
There will be many times when we will face temptations or need to make quick decisions, but won’t have a Bible nearby. And even if we have a Bible it is sometimes hard to know where to look for an answer. It is really helpful to memorize verses on a wide variety of topics so that we can have them in our mind and know what God wants us to do in whatever situation we face.
Psalms 1:1-3 says, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the path of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Joshua 1:8). Meditation is the key to all of the other methods. It is similar to an artist admiring a painting or even a guy thinking about how wonderful his girl-friend is. It is when we think over God’s Word to try
to find out what it really means and how we can apply it in our lives. We should make it a habit to meditate on the Scriptures we have learned not only while reading or hearing, but even throughout the day as we go about our daily business.
Interpreting the Bible
2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” The Bible is a very precious gift to us and we need to handle it as a treasure. God didn’t inspire the Bible to mean whatever we want it to. Every passage in the Bible has one and only one meaning. We should strive our very best to find out the meaning that God intended and not put our own idea onto the text. He is the final authority, not us. There are several helpful things to remember as we do that.
We must always interpret our own experience in light of the Bible and not to interpret the Bible in light of our own experience.
Normally the obvious meaning is the correct one. The Bible is generally written in plain, literal language. It is said, “When the common sense makes sense, seek no other sense. To do so is nonsense.”
All Scripture has context, both a historical context and the natural flow of the author’s thoughts. For example, in John 2:4 Jesus uses the title “woman” to address his mother. This sounds impolite to us, but at that time it was a respectful form of address. Also, we have to be careful not to simply pick verses out at random. To understand a verse completely you need to read the verses right before and right after the verse you are studying and understand them in the context of the individual book and the whole Bible.
The Bible also has many different genre/styles. The New Testament contains parables (Luke 15), historical narrative (Acts), teaching (most of the epistles, Romans-Jude), and prophecy (Matthew 24, Revelation). It is very important to take note of the style you are reading. For example, in John 18:25-27 John records Peter’s denial of Christ. John is simply narrating what happened and doesn’t draw any conclusions as to whether this was right or wrong. The principle is to interpret the narrative passages in light of the teaching passages. The Old Testament has the same styles as the New Testament in addition to the wisdom literature (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon), which includes songs, poems, and personal prayers.
The goal of studying God’s word is not personal knowledge, but life change. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22-25) Although there is only one meaning to the text there are countless applications. God wants us to take to heart what we learn in the Bible and change our lives based on what we learn.
If we become anexpert on the Bible, but live without God’s principles in our life we have wastedour time. It’s important to make specific applications so that we can track theprogress we are making. Be a doer! (Matthew 7:24-27)
Just Do it:
1. How to Have a QuietTime. See pages 20-23 of MyDiscipleship Notebook.
2. Determine a minimumamount of time to spend in quiet time each day.
3. Determine a specific timeto begin you quiet time each day.
4. Choose a suitable placewith few distractions to have your quiet time.
5. Decide which book of theNew Testament to begin reading first.
1 TIM. 4:13
2 TIM. 3:16-17
2 TIM. 2:15
1 TIM 4:15
Bible Study Lesson 3: HAND of THE WORD
1. In what way do many church-goers listen to a sermon? (Ezekiel 33:31,32)
2. How should we hear God’s Word? (Ezekiel 3:10)
3. What is the real test of responding correctly to a sermon? (James 1:22)
4. Should we read the Bible as rapidly as possible? How then should we read the Word? (Nehemiah 8:8)
5. Do you have a plan for regular Bible reading? If so what?
6. Match the Scriptures on the left to the genre/style on the right.
John 19:1-22 Prophecy
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Teaching
Ephesians 6:10-17 Parable
Luke 6:46-49 Historical Narrative
7. What attitude should we have towards God’s words? (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
8. What does it mean that God’s word is a “lamp” and a “light”? (Psalms 119:105)
9. Write down an application to do this week from what you have learned in this lesson.
Hebrews 9:27 – Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.