So now that you have the big picture, how do you bring the Bible’s epic story into focus for your day-to-day life with Jesus? How do you move past names you can’t pronounce and places you’ve never been to engage with every word in the Bible in a way that equips you with wisdom and strengthens your faith?
The more you relate to the Bible as one large story of salvation rather than isolated passages of wisdom, the more powerful God’s Word will become in your life. So, rather than jumping around choosing passages at random, consider making a plan. You could set out to read through the Bible in a year or two—maybe using a chronological plan. Work your way through the Gospels or read Acts, adding Paul’s letters where they fit in the timeline. Whether you use an app, or work from a paper copy, set an intention.
Throughout this study, we’re going to go into more detail about each book and section of the Bible, and we want to give you some guidance when it comes to studying Scripture too. On days four and five of every week, you will have the chance to put the study process into practice. There are lots of different ways to study the Bible, but we want to give you one method that can be extremely helpful: inductive study. Here are some steps to take:
Start with Prayer
Whether you have ten minutes or an hour to sit with God’s Word, always start with prayer. It can be something as simple as, “Lord, here I am. Show me something about you today; show me something about myself today. Give me eyes to see where I am falling short. Give me a heart to receive your truth. Transform me and help me to engage the world around me.”
Observe: What Does it Say?
Because the Bible was written by particular people at a particular time, its message becomes much more powerful and relevant when we understand the framework. To thoroughly observe the text, we will focus on several different aspects of it. First, we ask:
What is discussed throughout the chapter?
What is happening in the text?
What type of instructions does the author note?
When does or when will the event take place? Past, present, or future?
Where did the event take place?
Where does this passage fall in the story of the book you’re reading? The whole story of the Bible?
Interpret: What Does it Mean?
While observation helps us look at what the text is saying, interpretation helps us understand the meaning of the text. Approach the Bible with humility. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us interpret Scripture, so pray for a teachable heart, and open eyes to see what’s true. As we seek to accurately interpret the Scriptures, we should reflect on several key components: context, themes, contradictions, and teaching.
- Is your interpretation of the text consistent with the main point or intent of the book?
- Does your interpretation math other Scriptures that discuss a similar topic?
- Are you taking into account the cultural and historical context of this passage?
Apply: What Does it Say?
Like everything we learn, the power is in the practice. As we read in James 1:22, we want to be doers of the Word and not just hearers. By “doing” the Word of God, we become more like Jesus, which is our ultimate goal as his followers. The application of Scripture opens the door for God to work in our lives. As we attempt to apply the Scriptures to our lives, let us remember to seek out the teaching of each passage, to examine our hearts and lives for anything contradictory to God’s Word, and to ask the Lord what he is trying to teach us through each passage.