How did you do during the ice storm this week? We made a trip to the grocery store just before it came. Christ says that we don’t just need physical food to live, but we need the word of God also. It doesn’t seem to take much work to eat a little ‘snack’ of the word on a wall calendar or in a mobile app. But how do we prepare a meal? How do we feed ourselves?
This week in the Galatians inductive bible study group we began to practice the skill of ‘eating’ an entire chapter of the word of God. A chapter is a great size because it is not so small that we miss the context or the flow of the discussion. But it is also not so big that it is too difficult. We’re using the book How to Study Your Bible (printed in English and Spanish) as our training guide. Contact Jonathan if you want a copy.
Observation, Interpretation, Application
These are the 3 steps to the inductive Bible study method. They are not so mysterious since God chose to reveal Himself using grammar, history, and culture. And so these same principles are how we learn about many things. The details in the skill we were developing today fall primarily in the category of Observation…
How to make observations in a chapter…
- Remember to pray. Can any of us claim to be a perfect interpreter of anything? Is truth always easy to understand or apply? Why not begin by asking the One who gave us His word to help us understand and apply it?
- Keep the context in mind. The context of the chapter is the book. If you have time to read it, that will give you even more insight into how God’s truth applies to your life and the lives of those you love.
- Does the text answer any of the 6 basic questions? (who, when, where, what, why, how). Put on your detective clothes and develop a questioning mindset.
- Look for and mark key words and phrases (in this passage / chapter). Key words and key phrases and statements will stand out in different ways. For example…
- the repetition of the word or its synonyms
- unusual placement in the sentence
- the flow of logic in the passage
- List what you learned about each word. Next take some of the key words and phrases and make a list of everything you learn from the passage
- Look for contrasts, comparisons, terms of conclusion, and expressions of time
- Contrasting words and phrases, such as: but, however, nevertheless, etc.
- Comparisons, such as: like and as
- Expressions of time, such as: then, after this, until, when, etc.
- Terms of conclusion and result, such as: for, therefore, so that, etc.
- If it is a historical or biographical book, do some extra checking to learn about the time and place and situation (you may have to look outside the chapter for this).
- Check chapter theme with the rest of the book. Hopefully, you have had time to read the book in its entirety. Check how the chapter theme you are developing fits with the book as a whole.
- Develop memorable paragraph themes
- From the whole to the parts
- Let the paragraph talk, then make a book outline
(from chapter 3 in How to Study Your Bible)
One of the easiest mistakes to make is in the next step: Interpretation. Whenever we start using language that is not taken exactly from the text of scripture we begin to interpret. Sometimes we are accurate, but sometimes we make logical conclusions that are based on faulty assumptions. So it’s not bad to begin to interpret, but we need to be clear in our notes whether we have a scriptural basis in that passage for our conclusions.
We want more than head knowledge, so here are some questions to help you apply a passage…
- What do I learn about God here?
- Does this passage point to Christ in some way?
- How do the realities of God’s character impact my life today?
- Is there a sin to confess?
- Is there a promise to trust?
We have changed the schedule so that we are now alternating with the “Our Faith” study group. In our schedule here you can see some of the topics that each chapter will address…
- Feb 9: Topic: “how do I pick the right gospel?”(intro to the inductive study book; and Galatians 1:1-24 practice and discussion. Homework: Galatians 2)
- Feb 23: Topic: “the gospel doesn’t impact my day to day life, does it?”(Galatians 2 discussion. Homework: Galatians 3)
- Mar 9: Topic: “the rules in the bible tell me how to please God, right?”(Galatians 3 discussion. Homework: Galatians 4)
- Mar 23: Topic: “how can I know if there are idols in my life?” (Galatians 4 discussion. Homework: Galatians 5)
- Apr 6: “what is real spiritual freedom like?” (Galatians 5 discussion. Homework: Galatians 6)
- (tentative) Apr 27: [Topic: TBD] (Chapter 6 discussion)