Reading the Bible is necessarily different from reading a novel. The purpose of reading the Bible is to engage with the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures to shape and mold our lives after the image of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. How, then, should we go about engaging the scriptures?
Let me suggest the “7 Question Method of Bible Study.” After reading a story or chapter of Scripture leave yourself some time to reflect on these 7 questions. When reading Scripture never use more than half the time you have allotted to this study in the actual reading of the Scripture. Use the remaining time for reflection. Reflect on what? I am glad you asked.
First, reflect on what you learned in this passage about God, yourself, and others. What is the character of God that you discovered in this passage? Where do you see yourself in this story? Do you identify with any of the characters? What did you learn about relationships in this story? This kind of reflection will have the effect of making the Scriptures come alive for you and will inevitably suggest some things you might want to do differently in your life.
Second, write down the events in this Scripture and how do they relate to God’s overall plan of redemption that we see demonstrated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The Bible is one story God’s Story, and this process will help you envision it more completely. It will grow your appreciation for the enormity of God’s plan and work in our midst. The context of any story is critical.
Third, try summarizing what you have read into one sentence. Go for the heart of the message. What is God trying to tell you in one bite that you can remember throughout the day.
Fourth, reflect on how this story points to Jesus or challenges you to be like Him? The center point of all Scripture is Jesus Christ. The Old Testament points to His coming and why He came. The Gospels proclaim Him, and the book of Acts and the letters call us to live out His life in us. This question is the question of application. In the light of this Word from God, “What, then, should I do?”
Throughout the teaching and preaching of Jesus, there is always the direct or implied challenge, “What, then, will you do?” The Scriptures are not just for us to read! But, they are for us to act upon them! Read the Jesus parable of the wise and foolish builders (Luke 6:46-49.)
Fifth, what did you discover in your reading of the Scripture today that just shouts share me? The Word of God was meant to be shared. They are life. And life is to be shared, not just kept to ourselves. Who should you share this insight or truth with today? Probably your family at a minimum, but also friends, a co-worker, or someone you just met, but the connection is made, and the Word is right for the situation! By the way when that happens, it is not coincidence; it is the work of the Holy Spirit! It is like when you hear a good story or a good joke, and you are just looking for the right person or the right moment to share it! What is the Good Word that you have found that just shouts – Share me?
Sixth, what questions or issues does this passage of Scripture raise for you? Make note of the issue. Who should you ask about the concern? A family member, a pastor, a trusted friend, your life group, or your band? This is just the opposite of question #5, which is tell. #6 is ask! Don’t bottle up your questions or doubts—ask, explore, reflect. You may come across the answer in the next day’s reading, but you will miss the answer, if you have not reflected on the question!
Seventh question, what do you want to praise God for as a result of reading this passage? The Scripture tells us God’s Story. It is a Story of wonder that paints the heights of glory and the depths of God’s Love for us. You cannot read this book without saying, “Thank You, God!” To neglect that word of thanks is to let your heart grow cold out of sheer indifference. Give expression to your praise, and it will bring the warmth of joy to your heart and put a smile on your face.
Well, those are the 7 questions; they are available in a handy bookmark for you at the church. If you apply these questions as you read the Word of God, I will guarantee you that the Bible will come alive in a new way for your life. Give it a try daily for a month. Give it 30 minutes a day—15 minutes for reading the Word and 15 minutes for reflecting on the Word. Make note of your feelings through the process. At the end of 30 days, there will be a sense of growth, a sense of connectedness to God that will be deeper than before. That will increase the joy in your heart! Try it!
Rev. John K. Wortinger