Sometimes the hardest part of reading the Bible is reading the Bible. Often we read the scriptures to try and get something out of it but fail to fully grasp it. For centuries people have come up with methods that help people to walk faithfully with God in reading the Bible. There are many good resources and methods out there, but there is one that sticks out to me. Being taught in the church and again at seminary, a method kept repeating itself. I believe one teacher told me he had gotten it from the group Navigators. The method simply asks, what is the text saying, what does it mean, and how does it call us to respond. More simplistically what does it say, mean, and what do we do. I suggest this method when a person asks me how to read or study the Bible. I believe that this not only encourages a fuller reading of the Bible but empowers others to lead and guide others.
The first step is, "what does the text say." The first step is getting comfortable and familiar with the story. You might even try and place the scripture into the larger narrative of the Bible to help you understand what the text is saying. Ask yourself who is involved? What are the key terms? Words that are difficult can be studied and analyzed. I usually go to blueletterbible.com to look up the meanings and usage of the word through their concordance. Another question to ask is there a theme being presented like salvation, the Exodus story, or God's promises. Think of this step in terms of an observation.
The second step is to ask the question, “what does it mean?” The word meaning implies interpretation. The questions that arise and the message behind the scriptures should be focused on. What is the passage trying to teach the audience that the gospel was written to and for us today? The theology or teachings being presented can also be analyzed and critiqued. The important thing for this step is to ask what is the scripture trying to communicate.
The final step has to do with the application. After discovering what the text is saying and what it is trying to communicate, we have to ask how it affects our lives today. The Word of God provokes transformation and calls people to align themselves with the story and the people of God. The beginning of this step is to ask the question how can we implement the message into our lives? This may be the most important step because it is how we place ourselves in the story. It is where we experience the transformation in our lives as followers of Jesus. It is also the way that if we are to use this in a group setting, the important takeaway point.
These may just be my own thoughts. Not everyone agrees on how best to read and understand the Bible. Yet, if you are looking to read the Bible in new ways that will impact your life. The three-fold method I present to you has transformed my faith. So I happily pass it on to anyone who wants it.
Blessings sisters and brothers.
reposted from March 30, 2016