Recently, I was asked how to get deeper into God’s Word. The inquiry came after a service where I started a sermon series on Jonah. The person was underwhelmed by the basic Sunday school storyline that had frequently been given and was made thirsty for God’s truth through a fuller look at this familiar narrative.
The same feeling, no doubt, dwells within many believers. Most teaching and preaching remains abstract, where the practical application is basically to pray about something during the altar call and leave it there. The problem is that God’s truth is very applicable to everyday life. Don’t get me wrong; nothing replaces prayer anywhere or prayer at an altar. Still, the spirit of our age is calling for greater application. More teeth on our prayers and Christian faith. People are dissatisfied with only heart knowledge and a little head knowledge. They want to experience things with their hands. Head, heart, and hands are what makes the whole person.
This reason is why Bible study is so important. Proper heart and hand knowledge is required for there to be holy, God-pleasing, and practical applications made. To increase our ability to study Scripture, I will look at a well-received three-step approach: observation, interpretation, and application.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” -2 Timothy 2:15
The first task is a serious reading of the Bible. If the majority of our daily journey through God’s Word is the “daily bread” or the “verse of the day” from YouVersion, then you are not reading enough. Any decent Bible study should have at least a committed hour or more day. A significant portion of that is dedicated to reading At the beginning it is to become acquainted with Scripture. Then it moves toward asking questions and simple observations about passages we read, and it helps to jot them down as we go. From here we move toward…
This part of the Bible study process that is skipped or skewed. Typically, one commentary is looked at, or pastor’s opinion is sought, and a person feels adequately informed. Even scarier, is some are satisfied with their own interpretation of a Scripture without any outside consultation. Second Peter 1:20 states that, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” Theological principles and Bible teachings are done in a community. Why? Accountability, accuracy, and authenticity. So, to make interpretation of a passage, the student of God’s Word has to join themselves to the larger Christian community and seek out the guidance of several commentaries, listen to sermons from different preachers, and the direction of mature believers before coming to any conclusion about what a passage might mean.
After the closest interpretation of a passage to the original meaning is found, Bible study moves into making a practical application. It is not enough to have our hearts moved, and our heads filled if our hands don’t do the work. The theological principles and abstract concepts of a verse or passage become reality. The S.P.E.C.K.S. acrostic is helpful here in making the practical application.
- S – Is there a sin to avoid?
- P – Is there a promise to keep?
- E – Is there an example to follow?
- C – Is there a command to obey?
- K – Is there a knowledge about God?
- S – Is this a Scripture to memorize?