The following is an article written by Joanne Beckley. Her husband preaches in South Africa and she finds herself frequently teaching the ladies there. She meets great challenges. Not only the language barrier and the cultural differences but the near complete lack of Bible knowledge. In this article she presents a precise method of Bible study that I found inspiring — I hope you will too.
Personal Bible Study by Joanne Beckley
I have been asked to speak for a large group of ladies, ladies who have very little knowledge how to study. It was a challenge to distill the many suggestions and procedures we have all heard of and many we have personally tried. I would appreciate any suggestions that might help my ladies.
PERSONAL BIBLE STUDY
The Bible is a revelation of God’s will. God has spoken; there can be no changes made. God chose what he wants us to understand and expects us to understand him. The Bible is from heaven and we must obey.
The more we spend time in His word, the more we delight in it and it becomes our counsellor. We will build a strong trust in God. We will discover the more time we spend in study, the more we want to know our Father and how we can please Him.
Study helps us to understand Him better, and thus helps us to develop our prayers, asking that the false way be removed. Study will help us to develop new and better goals in our study and in our life, a new determination. Through our studies God will enlarge our hearts.
The biblical process:
(This is demonstrated on paper as a staircase going UPWARD, beginning with “Read the Bible”)
➔ God enlarges our hearts.
➔ new goals on the “faithful way”
➔ words becomes our counsellor
➔ not forget what we learn
➔ delight in the Word
➔Read the Bible
When I sit down at the kitchen table to study my Bible, the time I have set aside is one-on-one between me and my Bible. I want to be careful to let the Bible determine what I believe, what I teach and what I practice. After I have done my very best, only then should I find out what others think concerning what I have studied. I don’t want others to tell me what to believe, Romans 10:17.
I begin my study of the Bible by assembling 1) Bible, 2) paper, 3) pen, 4) dictionary. I will look for all the facts and let them speak for themselves. When I find agreement between two verses, then whatever I find later must agree with the first two truths. Jesus reasoned in the same way, Luke 24:25-27.
1. First, I decide where I am going to read and study. A good place to begin my study is the book Genesis. The very word Genesis means beginning, a very good place to start! Reading and studying the Scriptures is the foundation of learning who God is, what he expects from me, his creature, and the consequences if I do not obey Him, Acts 17:11. From there I would go to the gospel of Mark and the book of Acts, learning how God completed his plan to save me. This will create in me a determination to apply what I learn, James 1:25.
2. The book of Genesis is written like one would tell a story, so I will read one chapter and then I read it again.
3. I use paper and pen to firmly fix the main events in my mind.
a. Event title (my “hook”)
c. Places and people
d. List of steps in the event
e. Lessons I learned
4. I study in the same order that the events happened so that I won’t get confused.
5. I use a map to find any locations that are mentioned.
6. I make sure I know when these events took place by looking at my Bible timeline.
Poetry and prophesy
7. As I study these books I will notice how the author uses a word. Words change meaning as time goes by, so I need to concentrate on how the author uses the word.
8. I also make sure to identify whether any word is a figure of speech (Amos 4:1).
New Testament Letters
9. When I want to study a book that is not about events, such as Paul’s letters, I will understand that I am reading someone else’s mail, but that Jesus also wants me to read it.
10. I begin my study in the same way, but instead of just reading one chapter and then reading it again, I will first read the whole letter.
11. I need to understand who is writing the letter, who he is talking to, and what does he mainly wants us to understand. I write these main points down.
12. THEN I go back and begin with chapter one and read only a few verses. I look for the simplest, most obvious meaning of the passage. I ask, does this meaning fit into what the writer wrote before or afterwards? Do I understand his main point? Does what I understand agree with other writers of the Bible? I write the main points on paper.
13. Then I read the verses again and write the details to help me understand the writer’s reasoning.
14. If I think of verses in another place in the Bible that talk about the subject, I also record these.
15. If my conclusion disagrees with another verse in the Bible that is more clear, I will cross out my own false conclusion.
16. I keep my main goal in mind–to know what I ought to believe, teach and practice.
17. I try very hard not to make definite conclusions about a subject until I have gathered all the verses about the subject (Luke 24:27).
18. I make sure I understand the context of each verse I find so I do not misuse the verse. (Context: how it fits in the whole)
Procedure of study- MY HOUR OF STUDY
(Draw a circle and cut into wedges, label and number wedges. Stack wedges, beginning with #1. When completed, add #2 to the circle. Continue until the circle is completed. If you complete #11 before hour is up, go back to #8 and continue to the end.)
Decision – Acts 17:11; James 1:25
Purpose – to know what I ought to believe, do, and teach
1. Assemble Bible, paper, pen, dictionary
2. Pray for guidance
3. Read chapter
4. Define unknown words
5. Find places on a map, locate time on timeline
6. Read chapter again
7. Write down main point(s) of chapter
8. Read small section of the chapter
9. Write down main point of small section
10. Look for details of main point
11. Write down lesson(s) learned
12. Pray with thanksgiving
(I tried this out on one of my present classes and we had some light bulb moments of excitement. Yes!!)
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