Twitter might be a gigantic time waste to some but it changed my life. Several years ago I responded to a tweet from Brandon Barker who was on staff at The Village Church. He had asked if there were any men looking to be discipled. I quickly shot Brandon a reply and a few weeks later met Matt Hummel. Over the next year and a half Matt would fundamentally transform how I studied God's word.
I knew daily bible reading was important and sought to make it a daily habit but wasn't always sure what to do when I opened my bible. I needed direction and help in going deeper in God's word, and Matt was who the Lord used to help me do so.
Each Monday we would gather around Matt's kitchen table to discuss what we read, the things that stood out and to learn a ton of new skills. Today I want to share a few of the tools I learned regarding studying the bible. I hope you find them as helpful as I did and that they help you swim deeper this year.
- Read the book all the way through several times.
- Put together a broad outline of the book.
- Study the background of the book. Think authorship, audience and purpose.
- Observe the text. Ask yourself, "What do I see?"
- Underline all verbs
- Circle key words or phrases
- Highlight repeated words or phrases
- Box connecting words
- List primary themes
- Make at least two observations about what you're seeing in each verse
- Ask interpretive questions
- Interpret the text.
- Use the context
- Compare multiple translations
- Look up keywords
- Study cross references
- Look up background information
- Tackle tough questions step by step
- List all the options
- List pros and cons for each option
- Choose the most likely option
- Decide on your certainty level
That year spent gathered around Matt's table is one I look back on with great fondness and am so grateful I had the opportunity to do. I learned a great deal as a result and can barely scratch the surface on the difference this approach to studying the bible has had in my life.
If you are looking to go deeper in God's word in 2016, I hope you apply these five steps to your study and that they serve as real game changers for you.
For additional resources I can not commend the bible study tools and resources produced by Grace Bible Church in College Station, TX strongly enough. They provide great instruction on how to develop the above skills.