Four Steps of Bible Study


I'm sure most everyone can relate to starting a new job at a new company. Just think about that time. Your eyes are kinda bugged out looking around and observing all the new things. This place is totally different from your last job. You see things that your previous job didn't have. People at this company are doing things that people didn't do at the last company. So, you do your best to go through and observe everything happening.

After you spent some time observing, could be minutes, hours, or days, you start grabbing the reasons for why they operate the way they do. Sometimes people in the company freely offer up reasons and sometimes you ask the questions; in either case, you look for reasons. It's these reasons that help you understand what your seeing better.

In some cases, you discover things that will work at your house and in your life. It may be something with organizing or maybe a tool they use. We may discover new ways to do the same thing we've been doing for a while or find a totally new concept and bring it home from our work. We think of how that concept can work in our house and we apply it.

While some things work, you know that not all things will work. Your home space is only so big so you can't buy a truckload of product at an incredible price and then store it. The big baking ovens just don't fit well in the little space provided for a home range oven.

When studying the Bible we often look at what we are seeing on the surface and then try to apply it to our life. Unfortunately, when we look at things on the surface we try to view the writings of the Bible in the twenty-first century American mindset. It's like trying to take the knowledge and actions of a concrete construction job to that of a secretarial job. Each book of the Bible is a historical account, wisdom writing, hymnal, letters, and prophecies written to a people in a different country, century, culture, and language; addressing their questions and issues. What does this mean for us?

This means God loved those people dearly and the fact that He preserved these writings for us means He loves us dearly as well. But, in order for us to rightly apply this book to our lives, we need to find out what the book was saying to them and then see how that relates to us. This happens in three steps.

1. See what it is saying. Too often we skim over a text as if it's a part of our check off list that we are trying to complete. When we do, we miss keywords and statements or maybe add words that are not there which totally changes the meaning of the text.

2. Find out what it means. We need to ask the Bible questions: who, what, where, when, and why. If we do not find the context of the passage we can make the passage say anything we want it to say.

3. Find the timeless truth. A Biblical truth will be timeless; which means, that truth can be applied to the people of the first century, the fifth century, the fourteenth century, and the twenty-first century. That truth can also be applied in Israel as well as China, India, America, and beyond. If what you find can only apply to a twenty-first America than that is not a Biblical truth.

Once these three steps have been made then we can properly apply the truth of Scripture to our lives. Since the Bible was written to a specific people answering their questions then we understand there is only one interpretation; yet, there are a great number of applications in our lives.