The Journey: Bible Study

In my last Journey post we looked at Bible reading as a prayerful way to explore God’s Word in our journey of personal discipleship.  Today, let’s take a quick look at Bible study.Please recall that our thesis for this journey of self-examination is that we can only share with others from the overflow of our own relationship with our Lord, thus we examine our spiritual practices to determine our levels of growth.  While our discussion of Bible reading was headed in a spiritual and prayerful reading of Scripture, we now look at the more conventional study as a discipline of learning.929 112-LR

Most new Christians have much to learn about the Bible, and quite honestly this is a quest in itself that few of us will complete fully in this lifetime.  As a result, it is particularly important for a “younger” Christian.  Since we are to share our faith with others, doesn’t it make sense that we should have a good working understanding of the Bible?

Having a good working understanding of the Bible is not the same thing as being an academic expert; in fact the academic approach is not at all necessary to a good understanding, for it can easily become bogged down with details and lose sight of the prize that is in Christ.  So, how do we get started?

First and foremost, we need to be planted in a solid, growing and vibrant church family, one that has multiple opportunities for learning, growing and understanding.  A Bible study is extremely important, particularly if it is a small relational group environment that helps us to develop relationships with other more mature Christians who can mentor our development as disciples.  If your church has a Sunday school, you should be in it.  If your church has other studies available, you need to attend.  I have so often been amazed when people tell me that they don’t know the Bible well enough to share their faith, and yet attend nothing that can help their knowledge and understanding increase!

We should also read good books or even blog posts that can help us to gain a greater understanding of God’s Word.  Of course, we should also be careful to ensure that what we are reading is getting the message right, and this is where a mentor is so useful.  This blog has many posts (including this post) that can be helpful in this area.

Finally, taking time each day to carefully read God’s Word is a habit that all of us need to develop.  If you don’t know where to start, read over your pastor’s sermon text during the week.  Here’s an idea:  Take his text, and if it is quite long, divide it up into smaller chunks and carefully read one each day.  If it is shorter, then carefully read the entire text each day through the week.  Jot down notes of any questions that come to mind and ask your pastor those questions. To gain even better understanding of those texts, make it your goal by the end of each week to be able to tell the story of that text as though it was a story in your own life, using your own words to describe what is going on.  Think about what happens when you read a book or watch a movie or television program that you really enjoy.  You tell your friends about it.  You don’t need to memorize anything, you just tell the story.

What would happen to the amount of Bible knowledge that you have if you approached Bible study in the same way?  By making the narrative of the text become your own stories that you can tell to your friends, you will gain more knowledge of the Scripture more quickly than you ever imagined possible.

Simple, effective, and oh by the way, it’s also the way Jesus taught His disciples.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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20 Responses to The Journey: Bible Study

  1. nrichmyleads says:

    I suppose it all depends on how Bible based your pastor’s sermons are, in the church I was raised in, there were some weeks the pastor referenced a verse and some he did not, when we got a new pastor the first big change he made was to add a scripture reading that was sometimes four verses long. Only at Christmas and Easter was it longer, If I was going to counsel a new Christian on where to start, I would first inquire how much of a reader he was, some one who reads a lot, I would suggest they read a chapter a day in Acts and in the church epistles and like you suggest above to write down any questions that might appear to him. To a less avid reader but one that still reads a lot make it a chapter a week. To the reading challenged perhaps a verse a day, but still emphasizing the church epistles as this is the part of the Bible written directly to him or her. After they make it through Acts once go back and start the Gospels, while continuing to read the church Epistles, after they make it through the church epistles twice suggest Proverbs a chapter a day and Psalms. After they get that far there are some reading the whole bible in a year programs that might prove to be interesting. If they don’t read at all an audio copy of the word might be in order and /or purpose a reading buddy that they could get in touch with on a daily basis. This person could double as a prayer partner. the main emphasis at first would to be starting the habit, and practicing the habit of reading and praying every day. I might make sure they start with some one else as I might find it hard to share only a smidgen each time we got together. And I would not want to overwhelm them. Then after they have been at it awhile recommend my blog. I try to be thorough and tend to be a bit longer than some might want me to be, but the subject or at least a facet of it is covered by the time I stop. Selah.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Quite so. I would only add that if a person couldn’t get started with their pastor’s sermon text, because there wasn’t teaching from the Bible, that they might want to find a different church!

      • nrichmyleads says:

        I could not agree more but that’s where the comfort zone with a traditional church becomes a barrier to some. There are too many out there that when asked “do you want to learn about what the Bible says?” reply I go to church as if their attendance at the corner building was what was asked. Being a Christian is a one on one relationship with our heavenly Father that so many think that all the heavy lifting to maintain the relationship falls on the ministers shoulders to maintain for them. I joined this congregation when I got saved and so I go here once or twice a week and that fulfills my end of the bargain doesn’t it? I do not believe that it does. II Ti 2 :15 is almost never taught in some denominations and when it is taught it is referenced as being addressed to church leaders so that people do not get out of their comfort zone of “that is not my job” attitude of the Freddie Prinze character Chico fame or am I dating myself with that reference. What I am saying here is although it might not be the case in your church, it has been my experience that people are instructed to attend services more than they are instructed to dig into their own personal study to confirm for themselves that what is taught is what it says and thus miss out on one of the great joys of living in a time where the Word is so readily available to get to know. I have witnessed to people who have been church members for years that have personally read only from the old testament and the four gospels (MMLJ). This misses the new Covenant realities entirely. This is the only reason I can think of that would lead people like Pat Boone, who was very active with evangelist Billy Graham, after over a decade of being a Christian sought to become a follower of the Hebrew faith because they had a closer relationship with God? What? How can you get closer than God in Christ in you? I think he must have missed the new Covenant teaching of Romans through Thessalonians. There are many other examples but that one stuck with me because I had a lot of respect for both men as people on the front lines of moving the gospel message, yet it seems Pat missed it. He spent too much time in the old testament section of the Bible and not enough in the New to think that those who were God’s chosen people had a closer relationship to God than being a member of God’s family. But then the Judeans that remained zealous for the law had that same problem, holding the old Covenant in higher regard than the new Covenant that was available, thus refusing to enter in to the new Covenant with it’s better results. Selah.

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  4. I am finishing writing a book, Practical Guide to Bible Study. I went over it with my pastor a couple weeks ago, and one of the things he suggested I emphasize was studying what the pastor or teacher has been in. This helps build unity in the church, as well as allows you to be like the Bereans and make sure their teaching lines up with the truth of God’s Word.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Wise counsel for sure!

    • I am thankful for your reference to the Bereans for this is one area where many do not understand what a person is talking about because it is such a short section in the Book of Acts. I used to do a series that I called the Berean Study Series years ago that eventually developed into a group of exhortations on a Christians Walk.

      Too many today like to think they are like the Bereans, but it is with the motive of FINDING wrong. The Bereans searched the Scripture to make sure that what Paul was teaching was ACCORDING to Scripture so that they themselves would be accountable. Oh how we need to get back to that mindset. Brother Don, whether referencing the Bereans directly is saying exactly that same thing. We have to be accountable for what we accept from others as truth!

      Great comments, and I was blessed by them!!

  5. a gray says:

    In Wayne’s journal entry for 29 June 1944 (http://waynes-journal.com/2014/06/28/june-29-1944/) he writes of going to bed after his Bible lesson. He frequently refers to his Bible lesson. With his frequent references to a Bible lesson, it appears to me that he is following an organized program of Bible study. My question is this: During World War II, were there special Bible study programs prepared for those serving overseas in combat zones?

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  7. Hi! Just wondering, what if the text we’re reading is not a story, but its like a way to live your life? How do you still tell others like it’s your own?

  8. Brother Don, a beautiful way to introduce personal study into the Word of God. From experience I have to add that if the mentor is more concerned about retaining his authority or “status” a person might consider a different mentor. Sadly, there are those that are “jealously guarded” of what they have learned and sometimes become concerned that the student might “surpass” the teacher. A mentor must have a firm understanding himself of the Word but have the soft-heartedness to want to see those the Holy Spirit has brought for them to disciple, to actually be able to develop habits that will allow them to be self-sufficient in their walk with the Lord.

    I have been blessed with a couple of mentors (both Pastors) that were more concerned with my development than their status. I have been involved over the decades with many varied and different denominations and ministries and too many leaders are concerned about someone becoming more “popular” than themselves. I have not just learned how to be of service to others, but my Lord has also showed me how NOT to be lording it over others!

    • Don Merritt says:

      I have the notion that what would make a teacher, or a maker of disciples great in the Kingdom, is that his students, those whom he has mentored, surpass him as a teacher and maker of disciples, for isn’t that how the first becomes the last, and the last becomes first? 🙂

      Some, however, see this differently…

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