DISCIPLESHIP FUNDAMENTALS THE BIG 10
Fundamental #4 – How to Study the Bible (or more specifically, “How to use an NIV Study Bible” to study the Bible)
WHY DOES SOMEONE NEED TO LEARN HOW TO USE A STUDY BIBLE?
1) Gives them the ability to answer their own questions
2) Gives them the ability to answer the questions of others
3) Gives them the ability to teach others how to answer the questions of yet others
Goal in parenting and discipleship is to work oneself out of a job. Learning how to use a study bible assists an individual reaching this goal
Additionally, it empowers your disciples; empowering them to find answers themselves to their own questions and to the questions of others (makes young believers less dependent on older believers)
If I give you a fish, you eat today
If I teach you how to fish, you eat for a lifetime
If I teach you how to teach others how to fish, everyone eats forever!
WHY USE THE NIV STUDY BIBLE IN PARTICULAR TO LEARN HOW TO USE A STUDY BIBLE?
1) Cross reference system is easy to understand and teach to others
2) No mistakes in the cross reference system
4) Editors not dogmatic in communicating doctrinal positions on disputable points (they present all sides of issues where there is opportunity to “agree to disagree” within the Body of Christ – ie spiritual gifts issues)
* agree to disagree – disagree, but not be disagreeable
5) NIV Study Bible can be used as a resource for a lifetime (this study bible will not be outdated and is very thorough for a “lay-person”)
6) BOTTOM LINE – an average person can use the NIV Study Bible to determine, understand and communicate basic doctrines
WHY IS THERE THE NEED TO LEARN HOW TO USE A STUDY BIBLE?
Competence (covered at length in the last weeks) – The Bible says that we are to do our best to correctly handle the word of truth
VERSE SUPPORTS REGARDING LEARNING HOW TO USE A STUDY BIBLE TO ASSIST IN STUDYING THE BIBLE
2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
John 5:39-40 – You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me
Acts 17:11 – Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Acts 18:24 – Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures
KEY POINT WHEN STUDYING THE BIBLE (regarding interpreting it)
LET THE BIBLE INTERPRET THE BIBLE
It does not matter what “our” opinion is. What matters is what God says about a particular subject and what He clearly states or implies
As we look for answers, there seems to be a variety of opinions on what the Bible is saying. As Christians, we are instructed to ask God what He thinks before we form opinions or take action. We must realize that if we just take other people’s interpretation of the scriptures without seeking out our own answers from God through the Bible, we are missing a great opportunity to grow in our knowledge of the scriptures and to grow closer to God as we study His Word. Additionally, we are also missing an opportunity to have the Holy Spirit teach us directly through the Word of God (John 14:16, 17 and 26, John 16:13-15)
John 14:16-17 – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.
John 14:26 – But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 16:13-15 – But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
HOW TO TEACH “HOW TO USE A STUDY BIBLE”
1) discipling/teaching in-person is by far the most desired means of teaching someone how to use a study bible, because learning most thoroughly occurs “face to face”
2) I would use my handout on “How to use a Study Bible” and use a method called, “Verse Pooling”
3) If we want to know what God has to say about a certain topic or question, we need only to look to the scriptures for our answers. We do this by using a method called “Verse Pooling”. Verse Pooling is compiling a series of verses/texts to determine the meaning of a particular scripture passage or doctrinal position or to answer a question, much like a lawyer who is building a case in order to prove a point
4) The person who is Verse Pooling compiles a list or applicable verses on a subject and then reads every applicable compiled verse one after another.
5) When finished, the person asks themself, “What does the Bible itself say about what I am studying?” (based on the quantity and quality of the verses themselves).
6) The answer you determine will give you a very clear of the heart of God on a matter…not your opinion or someone else’s opinion.
7) We may not like what we find. However, we will know what God has to say about a matter, and how much he has to say about a matter.
GENERALIZATION FOR LETTING THE BIBLE INTERPRET THE BIBLE
* The following method of Bible interpretation is not an exact science but is helpful as a general rule of interpretation (I call it“The Little vs Much” Principle of Interpretation)
Four Points of Interpretation
1) If issue little or none in Old Testament and little in New Testament = little deal to us (have an opinion on the doctrine, but don’t be dogmatic)
2) If issue much in Old and little or none in New – mattered much in Old, not so necessary or necessary at all in new (ie. sacrificing of animals) = little deal to us
3) If issue little or none in Old and much in New (ie. spiritual gifts) = big deal to us
4) If issue much in Old and much in New (ie. doctrine of the significance of the blood, humility, loving God) = big deal to us
VERSE POOLING assists an individual in learning what God says on a particular issue and also helps determine the degree of priority that God places on that issue or question, based on how much he addresses the issue and how strongly he addresses it
* STICKING POINT – how do we determine in Verse Pooling whether something is to be taken literally or figuratively?
What if God says 98 times that something is white, and 2 times that the same thing is blue. What color is it? And why would God chose to say at all that it is ever blue, if it is really white?
ANSWER – give contrast or provide emphasis (example – Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple”.)
Does God really want us to hate our father, mother, wife and our children?
Of course not! Then why would he say it in the first place? To show us the contract between our love for God and our love for others………..though we are to love others………even our enemies
TOOLS WITHIN THE NIV STUDY BIBLE TO BE USED TO VERSE POOL
A) INSIDE OF THE TEXT
TEXT – The actual scriptural passages
STUDY NOTES (which I often refer to as the “commentary) – They are found at the bottom of the page directly under the text. This section comments on the scriptural text to assist in the understanding of the passage. These study notes provide information to supplement that found in the NIV text notes. This area describes historical and textual contexts and demonstrates how one passage sheds light on another passage
TEXT NOTES – they are found at the bottom right hand column and are indicated by raised, bold-faced letters following the words or phrases they explain. They examine things such as the meanings of Hebrew and Greek terms along with Old Testament quotations
CROSS REFERENCE SYSTEM – System used for verse pool exploration. The cross references normally appears in the center column. When necessary, they continue at the bottom of the right hand column of the text right after the Text Notes (when center column space is limited).
The cross-reference system resembles a series of interlocking chains with many links. At the end of a word or phrase in the text you will see reference letter(s). These will be the small, raised, lightly italicized letters at the end of the word. They are your starting points to link with the center column.
THE “S” (short for “see”) – Head or organizing link in a chain of verses within the cross reference system
PARALLEL PASSAGES (noted with a “pp”) – They are listed below the subject headings within the text when two or more passages of scripture are nearly identical or deal with the same event
B) OUTSIDE OF THE TEXT
INDEX TO SUBJECTS – Contains references to key biblical information and important topics
INDEX TO NOTES – Pinpoints other references to persons, places, events and topics mentioned in the study notes
CONCORDANCE – Found in the back of the bible, this area contains a list of verses where specific words of interest can be located and then the respective verses in which the word is located can referenced within the text
REGARDING THE ACTUAL TASK OF “VERSE POOLING”
When verse pooling, there are two places wherein “pools” of verses can be generated:
1) WITHIN THE TEXT – you already have a verse to start your“pool” with (something you want to study, are studying or ran across randomly)
2) OUTSIDE THE TEXT – you have no verse itself to begin the pool (you need to generate “leads” from outside the text…to find a verse or subject)
OPTIONAL PLACES TO GO TO GENERATE LEADS
WITHIN THE TEXT
1) Cross Reference Section (center column between the actual Bible texts)
2) Study Notes Section (which I call the commentary section), which is below the Bible text on every page
OUTSIDE OF THE TEXT
1) Concordance (back of bible, after “Indexes” to “Notes”and “Subjects”)
2) Index to Subjects (back of bible, before concordance/just before “notes”)
3) Index to Notes (back of bible, before concordance/just after “subjects”)
POTENTIAL PROBLEMS WHEN VERSE POOLING
As you begin verse pooling and studying God’s Word, we have discovered a few, common “sticking points” that you need to be aware of along with their solutions.
1) You are not able to discern if the verse is applicable to your verse pool.
ANSWER – Look at the complete context of the verse or passage (do not add a verse to your pool unless it addresses specifically the subject you are studying)
2) You keep finding unrelated verses to your question or area of study when pooling
ANSWER – When cross-referencing a verse, be cautious of which verses you add to the general “pool” stay within reference letter(s).
3) You are forming quick opinions on verses by reading the study notes (or other commentaries) first before building your own verse pool to see what god says on a particular matter
ANSWER – See what God has to say through verse pooling before reading the Study Note section (or other commentaries), as they are other people’s opinions (even if Holy Spirit directed opinions). Guard against bypassing your own opportunity to have the Holy Spirit teach you directly through the Word of God
OTHER TOOLS WITHIN THE NIV STUDY BIBLE TO ASSIST IN INTERPRETATION (though unrelated to verse pooling, they may assist in the interpretation process)
1) INTRODUCTION TO THE INDIVIDUAL BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
Found at the beginning of the Book and usually reports on a book’s title, author, date of writing along with the book’s background and purpose and much more.
2) SECTIONAL HEADINGS
Found within the text, either at the start of a chapter or at the beginning of a passage that state what the particular section will detail __________
REMINDERS AND PRACTICAL POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN TEACHING“HOW TO USE A STUDY BIBLE” (using the NIV Study Bible)
1) Early on in the discipleship process, teach folks how to use a study bible so that whenever a question comes up, they can study the question themselves and determine an answer/response
2) Teaching disciples how to use a study bible can take as little as one hour when done in-person
3) When someone else (other than your disciples) has a question who does not know how to use a study bible, have your disciples find the answer for them from the bible themselves, rather than you finding it for them (empower them – builds their confidence in their ability to study the Bible)
4) After teaching your disciples(s) how to use a study bible one week, give them a homework assignment for the next week to give them a chance to practice what they have learned and to study a doctrine or answer a pre-determined question. Then, in the following weeks meeting have your disciples teach the discipleship group (or you) what they found out (have them build a pool, read the verse pool en masse (in a single sitting) and then tell the group what they determined regarding the doctrine – ex. Have them study the “A” in AWCFROGROL (Admit – the doctrine of the Depravity of Man)
5) A possible homework assignment after teaching your disciples how to use a study Bible – have your disciples study one of the 10 AWCFROGROL verses and teach the group one of the primary and foundational doctrines associated with those 10 verses
Verse pool “A” – admit (depravity of man) – pool from Romans 3:23
RESPONSE – All people are sinners and are separated from God due to their sin
Verse pool “W” – wages – pool from Romans 6:23
RESPONSE – The result of our sinful condition is separation from God both here on earth (broken fellowship) and for eternity (hell)
* AWCFROGROL is what we first read, what we first memorize, how we first learn how to use a study bible, what we use to give a gospel presentation and finally gives the format in how to do what is called “the prayer of salvation”(prayer to lead someone into a relationship with Jesus)
EXAMPLE OF WHAT WOULD BE A FIRST WEEKS COMPLETE HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT AFTER TEACHING THE INITIAL CLASS ON “HOW TO USE A STUDY BIBLE”
1) Verse pool AWCFROGROL “key words”
2) Spend a pre-determined amount of minutes per/day/week (“Use It or Lose It” Principle – verse pooling is synergistic)
3) Review the NIV study bible “guts” and acquaint yourself with the
a) Introduction (VERY important – 3 pages at the beginning of the Bible)
b) Text (review all potential verse pool avenues of study and features)
c) Back of the bible (post-text) – acquaint yourself with the two indexes (Subjects and Notes) and Concordance