Friday, September 30, 2011


"What do I need to do to grow as a Christian?" This is a commonly asked question by sincere followers of Christ. And the response? Often is something to the effect of "read your bible and pray." On the surface this sounds like a solid answer. After all, who could go wrong with reading their bible or praying. Interestingly though, how many times does the bible actually tell us to "read" it...? We're hard pressed to find any reference that instructs us to do so (at least in the context of what "read" means to a western mindset). On the contrary, Scripture encourages us to study, reflect and deeply meditate.

Exploring Scripture through Study is more of an art form than a science. Scripture is simply amazing!

The Puritan writers said that, “the Bible is so shallow that babes cannot drown, yet, so deep that even the most asute of theologians cannot touch the bottom, yet.

The rabbis spoke of the text being like a gem with seventy faces, and each time you turn the gem, the light refracts differently, giving you a reflection you haven’t seen before. And so they would turn the text again and again because they kept seeing things they missed the time before.

The following are a few ways practice the exploration of study.
  • Pray, asking God to teach you.
  • Discover the context - this is very important to accurate interpretation.
  • Look for the obvious - facts about people, places, events.  Often these will be repeated making them easy to see.  This provides a framework for the text.
  • Be objective - let scripture speak for itself. Don't try to make it say what you've always thought it said.  Ask God to make His truth obvious to you and then adjust your life accordingly.
  • Read asking questions of the text.
Approach the Scripture as a detective looking for clues to a mystery.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”
-Proverbs 25:2

Here are some questions to consider when studying Scripture:
  • Who wrote it?
  • Who did he write it to?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • What are the main events?
  • What is the meaning of the message?
  • What are these people like?
  • What is his purpose in saying this?
  • When was it written?
  • When did this event happen?
  • When will this take place?
  • When did he do or say this?
  • Where was this done?
  • Where was this written?
  • Where will it happen?
  • Why was this written (Why did God want me to know this?)
  • Why did the author say so much, or so little about this?
  • Why should they do such and such?
  • How did it happen?
  • How did they do it?
  • How do I do that?
Record your answer in a notebook. 

You will be amazed at how much you learn that you did not realize was there.

It may also be helpful if you use a Bible that you are willing to mark in.

I often photo copy a passage I'm studying on a 11 x 17 sheet of paper and use the margin to take notes, connect thoughts and ask questions...

I also find it helpful to create a Word .doc. I copy/paste the text at hand and as I study out the words/phrase/passage, I enter in findings, questions, insights, etc underneath the verse in the document.
  • Identify key words.
Marking key words consistently throughout the text will help you quickly identify common themes.

A couple of resources for growing in the practice of studying Scripture:

to be continued...

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