Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Bible Study Tips
Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Our church believes that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. It is a perfect handbook He has written for us to live godly lives in this present age. It is full of warnings, promises, hope and encouragement. The gospel coats all of scripture--we are sinners, separated from God, in need of a flawless, all powerful Savior to pay the perfect penalty for our sin. Jesus did this, and we have eternal life and forgiveness of sin when we repent of our sinful lives and trust in Christ's work for us on the cross.
Knowing the Bible is so important, why would I not consider it a priority to be in it every day?
More than blogging, reading gossip magazines, catching up on my favorite TV show, the Bible will satisfy and equip me for life. I need to make Bible study a priority. Not only should I be reading through the Bible, but I should be STUDYING it and meditating on what I am reading--absorb it in thought and learn from it/apply it.
I know that beginning to practically start a consistent Bible study each day can be overwhelming. Where do I start? How do I know what it is saying?
My pastor teaches a great acronymn that helps: TAN. TAN stands for "then, always and now." Take any verse or short excerpt from scripture, and you can apply it to TAN. He recommends you start with a non-narrative, such as the Pauline epistles. I Peter or Thessalonians are great books for starting this practice. Try taking only a verse or two each day and going through the entire book over time! That is completely doable!
First, look at the verse IN CONTEXT. Read the verses and chapter around it to see what exactly the verse is saying and addressing. The opening notes on the book of the Bible will be helpful. A good study Bible is essential for this step. You can see if this geographical area or church was struggling with suffering, division, or another trial. After you look at all this, you can write about what the author/verses were saying to the audience THEN.
The A stands for Always. Now, what eternal truths can we learn from the passage? You will take any Biblical truths that are throughout the Bible and are present in this passage. These are truths that would apply at the time the book was written, apply now to you, and will apply always to Christians on earth.
The N stands for Now. This is the application stage. Looking at the eternal truth, how can you apply this into your life today? Make your goal measurable and specific--not vague and unattainable.
Let's practice. I Thessalonians 4:13-14 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (esv)
T: The then is that many lost people in that society did not believe in an afterlife. Paul did not want the Thessalonian church to be "ignorant" in this area. People were dying for their faith and suffering for following the teachings of Christ. Others taught of the end of existence and the hopelessness of death. Paul was reminding the Thessalonian church that Christ promised to return, and those Christians who have died are with God already (in spirit) and will come again with Christ when He returns. Their physical bodies will be resurrected when Christ returns, and they will then have new glorified bodies in Heaven. He wanted to encourage and remind the Thessalonians of the truths of scripture in light of the false teaching around them.
A: The always is that Christians have eternal life in Christ. (Christ died for our sin, conquered death and rose again. Though we may physically face death, we are immediately with God in spirit when we die, and we will , upon Christ's return, receive a glorified body (like Christ received upon his resurrection) that is perfect and not corrupt.) We are sad when Christians die and leave our immediate presence, but we have the hope and promise of Heaven, which keeps us from despair and hopeless grief.
N: The now will be what you want to apply in your life. Here are examples: "Mary's Christian mother just died. I will write her a note today and write down these verses to encourage her." OR "I will write a prayer of Thanksgiving to God for the gift of eternal life and the hope of Heaven." OR "I will share the gospel with my unbelieving neighbor this week. I want him or her to know that death does not need to be a hopeless ending when one is in Christ."
I hope this post gives you encouragement in your Bible study. I know a lot of us are off from ministry and organized Bible studies for summer break. Summer is a great time to try this method in your own personal study. Leave a comment if you have any questions or if you try this and want to share successes or struggles. It gets easier and easier as you practice this. Don't give up! It is worth the effort and personal discipline!