asking questions helps us learn more than if we never asked

it is that time of year for “resolution” making. that’s not a bad thing, it can often be helpful.  but the best resolutions are the ones that we think through, plan out, and prepare ourselves for. when we take these steps, we are more likely to even attempt to keep the resolution, not to mention being more likely to stick with it.

a great resolution that every christian should make would be to purposefully  increase our bible intake. too often we rely on sermons, devotionals, books, and articles (even blogs) , the result of other people’s bible study, to be our main source of bible input. while it is certainly right and good to hear good (biblical) preaching and teaching and to read good (biblical) writing, we should all be spending time reading our bibles ourselves, and not just “reading”, as if to say having our eyes pass over the words is good enough. we should ask questions as we read so as to better understand and apply what we have just read- that is, we should *study* our bibles.

here are some questions to ask as you study god’s word: (courtesy of the blazing center)

1.    Who is the author of the passage?

2.    Who were the recipients?

3.    What is the historical background of the passage?

4.    What is the outline/structure of the passage?

5.    Are any words repeated? Any significance to the repetition?

6.    Are there any unusual words in the passage that call for more exploration?

7.    How does the passage fit into the surrounding paragraph? Chapter? Book?

8.    Why did the author place the passage here and not somewhere else?

9.    In one sentence, what is the main point of the passage?

10.  How would the original audience have been affected by the passage?

11.  How does this passage connect to the overall storyline of the Bible?

12.  How does this passage reveal Jesus as savior?

13.  How does God want this passage to function in my life?

14.  What kind of response does this passage call for?

now obviously, you may not know these answer to all of these questions without some help. i would recommend that you have a good study bible. now i know there are a million out there, and some get so specific as to be nonsensical “the christian kentucky basketball fan study bible” and the like. we would probably do well to stay away from study bibles that are promoting a “theme”. there are several good study bibles out there, but by far the one i recommend and give away the most is the esv study bible. this study bible is an award winner and has received acclaim unlike any other bible study resource in recent memory.

In March 2009, the ESV Study Bible became the first Bible ever to win the Christian Book of the Year Award by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA). Selling out as soon as it reached bookstores, it also took the prize for best Bible.
mary fairchild

if i could give one to every christian i know, i would...

the range of scholarship and resources contained in the esvsb is unmatched by any other that i am aware of. an added bonus is that when you purchase one, you also receive access to the entire study bible (notes, maps, articles, illustrations, etc. ) online. this access is helpful beyond words, especially if you are a pastor, sunday school teacher, small group leader, or just do a lot of work on the computer.

now, esv commercial aside (by the way, no one asked me to endorse it, much less paid me to. i recommend it here because i recommend it and use it daily) asking the above questions as you study a passage will unlock the passage for you. if you have ever wondered “ok, i read this…now what?”  then start  asking the questions as you study. even if you (or your study bible) are not able to answer every question, you will better understand the passage just by having asked them.

may the lord make us, his people, a people who don’t just own bibles, and a people who don’t just look at the words- but a people who study and drink deeply of his word- even when it is hard.

(by the way, if the title of this post tweaked your interest, i encourage you to read the chicago statement of biblical inerrancy for a wonderful explanation of why we can trust that our bibles are the inspired and inerrant word of god)