Theme: Living in the Book: Comprehensive and Devotional Bible Study
This week’s lessons stress the necessity of obedience if one is truly a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Luke 6:46-49
Yesterday we mentioned what systematic Bible study is. We now need to see how one does it. Certain procedures should be followed during study. First, the book itself should be read through carefully as many as four or five times, perhaps one of these times aloud. Each time something new will strike you.
Second, divide the book into its chief sections, just as we divide modern books into chapters (not necessarily the same chapters as in our Bibles), sub-sections, and paragraphs. At this stage the object should be to see which verses belong together, what subjects are covered, and what the sequence of subjects is.
Third, these sections should be related to one another. Which are the main sections or subjects? Which are introductory? Which make applications? At this stage one should be developing an outline of the Book and should be able to answer such questions as: What does this book say? To whom was it written? Why was it written?
Fourth, proceed to a detailed study of the sections. What is the main subject of each? What is said in it? Why is it said? To whom is it said? What are the conclusions that follow from it? It is helpful in this study to watch the small connecting words like but, because, then, and, since, and therefore.
Last, you can study key words. Begin by looking at other passages in the same book in which the word occurs. You can find these by your own reading or by using a concordance in which verses containing a given word are listed. Simple concordances are in the backs of many Bibles.
3. Study the Bible comprehensively (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Alongside study of one book or section of the Bible, there should be an attempt to become acquainted with the Bible as a whole. This means reading it comprehensively. True, many parts of the Bible will not appeal to us at first. This is natural. But if we never make an attempt to become acquainted with them, we limit our growth and may even warp our understanding. Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16, my emphasis). Jesus will speak to you and tell you what to do, and not only in the red-ink portions of those Bibles that indicate His own words in that fashion.
4. Study the Bible devotionally (Psalm 119:11). There is a danger when we speak of daily, systematic, and comprehensive study of the Bible of encouraging a person to think that such study is therefore mechanical and can be pursued in much the same manner as one would study a secular text in a university. That is not the case. In other books we study to become wise. In reading the Bible we study to know God, hear His voice, and be changed by Him as we grow in holiness.
And there is this too. If we really want the Bible to become a part of us so that, by this means, the mind of Christ, which is expressed in the Bible, becomes our mind at least in part, then we must memorize important sections of Scripture. Our educational system does little to stress memorization today. But those who were educated a generation ago will testify that what they memorized then, whether simple verse or more complex passages from Shakespeare or another distinguished writer, have remained with them and have thereby become a part of what they are. That is what we need as Christians. We need to allow the Word of God to become a part of us. To have that happen we must work to memorize it.
I have a friend who has an extremely busy schedule and who is under great pressures in his job. Nevertheless, he faithfully spends twenty minutes a day in uninterrupted Bible study, and in addition to that spends whatever time is necessary to memorize one verse each day. He has memorized a verse each day for five years, and he testifies that this is the single most important factor in his discipleship and spiritual growth.
Review the five steps to studying the Bible systematically.
What are two other ways we need to study the Bible? What does each one mean?
Why is it necessary to study the Bible devotionally?
Key Point: In other books we study to become wise. In reading the Bible we study to know God, hear His voice, and be changed by Him as we grow in holiness.