There are so many Bible study methods out today. Why do we need another one?
God created all of us differently, meaning we all analyze, process, and learn information according to how our brain works and more than likely, it will be different from our spouse, our friends, or even our favorite Bible study teacher.
I have done my fair share of Bible study methods in the 13 years of being a follower of Christ. Some were well structured, but the hermanuetics were off. Some had solid interpretation, but the structure was lacking. Some were really confusing and took more time teaching the method as opposed to simply opening up the Bible and reading, observing and discerning what is most important. It does not take a scholar to do these 3 things, read, observe, and discern, and it should not take a complicated method in order to learn what the Bible has to tell us. In ancient Israel, as well as during the early NT church, Bible books were read out loud in a church community, often taking up hours of the day. No one was circling verbs, phrases or differentiating between the infinitive or the indicative of certain commands, expectations or directives.
When I pursued my undergraduate degree in English, I had to read, analyze, and dissect a plethora of literature from across the globe, which, by the way, is when I grew to love 17th and 18th century British Lit. It’s quite fascinating to see, through literature, how the enlightenment period effected what people wrote. Yes…it’s rare for a Mexican woman to love historical literature but that’s the fruit of being forced to read so much of it. Appreciation for the various uses of language grew. I honestly wish we still used the word “vex” to denote irritation or anger.
I loved going to my literature classes and discussing with my classmates and professors the material we read. Our discussions were thorough and thought-provoking as we intentionally and collectively looked for clues as to the author’s intent or purpose in writing a particular piece. I began to realize that a simple reading comprehension method works wonders when reading any kind of material, as long as the right questions were asked. We can ask 20 questions that do not provide much insight or they keep us on the surface of Bible understanding, or we can ask 2 or 3 questions that get us to think deeply about what we are reading.
As Christians, our goal should be to think deeply about God’s Word and in order to do this, we need to ask the RIGHT QUESTIONS, and sometimes that takes an approach that encompasses the totality of what we read, not simply pulling out a verse or two as Bible bandaids.
I just started sharing on this blog a women’s Bible study on Genesis 3 that I wrote last year. I have only published part 1 as of today but before I truly get going, I thought it would be a good idea to offer a resource that can be printed out and used after reading certain passages. It’s 2 pages that can be printed front and back.
It’s called the R.O.D. Bible Study Method, which is an acronym for read, observe, discern.
Here is a breakdown and explanation of each component on the worksheet.
At the very top, there is a space to write book, chapter, verses, and genre.
Notice I did not say “verse”, meaning singular but rather verses, for plural, many, more than one. I will never advocate using particular verses to be used as band-aids for life or hard circumstances. I have come across women, more often than not, who use scripture verses as quick fix quotes, often to show how much they know their Bibles, how great of a memorizer they are or simply to apply them like a temporary band-aid that is meant to help for the moment. God’s Word should never be used as a band-aid or for superficial self-glorification purposes. God’s Word, rightly known, understood and applied, is major heart surgery and through a process called progressive sanctification which includes reading and studying our Bibles, it’s also meant for a brain transplant as the Holy Spirit renews our mind day by day.
This simply means a particular style or category of literature. Literature is simply defined as written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit (Oxford Dictionary). God chose to reveal himself to us through the written word. He is the Author and Creator of language and creativity and we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the various ways that God used language. Understanding the various forms of a particular genre can help us better appreciate each writer’s contribution and personal style, which was inspired by the Holy Spirit in the writing of God’s Word. It’s important, I would even say crucial, to know the genre of the book and chapter we are reading. If we know something falls under law or history, we can easily discern what and how to apply what we read to our minds. In order to rightly apply what we read, knowing the genre helps. Not knowing genre oftentimes leads to misapplication, misunderstanding and superficial eisegesis of scripture, things we want to stay away from. If my kiddos can learn the various genres, I am confident that any woman who wants to understand God’s Word better can learn them too.
Here are 8 main genres:
Law – Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy
History – Genesis, Exodus (first half), Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, 1st and 2nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Jonah
Wisdom – Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes
Poetry – Psalms, Song of Solomon, Lamentations
Prophecy – Isaiah through Malachi (includes major and minor prophets), Revelation
*these books are prone to be used faulty, imposing interpretation based on preconceived ideas that make sense personally and emotionally
Gospel– Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts
Letters– the 21 letters in the NT written to the early church bodies or to certain individuals in various cities across the Roman empire.
Apocalyptic Literature – Daniel, Revelation
It’s important to note that it’s not uncommon to find various genres in a single book so it would be a good idea to just write the overarching genre on your notes.
After reading the passage, it’s wise to take a step back and write down a few things.
Who are the key characters in the passage?
What is happening in the passage among the characters?
Where and when is this happening?
Why is this happening? This means look for any cause and effect scenarios.
example – Satan is tempting Eve (cause), Eve disobeys God (effect)
Looking for cause and effect scenarios is really helpful for the next section.
Discern simply means to distinguish, recognize, and identify through sifting and separating information to come to a conclusion. It’s not magic or mysterious. Discerning is a skill that one learns through gleaning as much information as one can. I have had too many conversations with Christians that say they don’t really understand what discernment means or how to go about the act of discernment. Those that can discern well pay attention to everything, which includes tone of words, body language, words spoken, context, as well as, who, what, when, where and why.
To discern what we read in scripture means we read verses through the lens of book, chapter, and the totality of all of scripture. Sometimes this means, even before we open our mouths to utter our opinion on a particular verse, we have considered immediate context as well as an indirect framework that incorporates genre, circumstance, and the who, what, when, where and why. The only way this can happen is if we listen to, read, and study our Bibles intentionally.
To begin the process of discernment we must ask the most important question first.
1) What does the passage tell me about God’s character, meaning what can we discern concerning what God values or what God hates?
As we learn about God’s character through his interactions with his people throughout the historical Bible timeline, we will better understand God. When we better understand God, we better understand scripture.
2) Is there a practical application? It’s important to note that not everything we read in scripture has a practical day to day modern application. The Bible is not about us, but it’s definitely FOR US.
The Bible is about God and holy redemption through his son, Christ Jesus. The characters we learn about in the OT and NT were not written down so we can be a modern version of David, Ruth, Esther, or Paul. Let’s let those characters be who they are and lets’ learn about their God through his dealings with them so that we can better worship, adore, and trust their God as OUR God.
3) What is an appropriate heart response to the passage we read?
There may not always be a practical application to discern, but there will always be a heart response.
Finally, at the bottom of the worksheet, there is room to write out extra notes or keyword prayer cues. Keyword prayer cues are simply words that come to mind as we read, observe, and discern.
For example, if we are reading the account of Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve are receiving rebuke in the form of curses from their Creator, we can write down as a keyword
Grace, in that God, did not kill Adam and Eve on the spot for their disobedience.
Then when we pray in our private times, we can use these keywords to trigger the direction of our prayers.
That’s it. Easy peasy.
To receive a copy of the R.O.D. Bible Study Notes worksheet, fill out the form below and I will send you a PDF file of the worksheet for you to use. It will definitely come in handy as we move forward and dissect the rest of Genesis 3.
Buy a pretty binder to keep all your notes in for future reference…..because who can have too many pretty binders?