One Great Story
Understanding Your Bible
Once, when some of the crowds around Jesus became disenchanted with him and began to leave, Jesus asked his closest followers if they were going to leave as well. Peter, often their spokesman answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68 NIV). To whom, indeed?
Sadly, however, many people have given up on reading the Bible. They believe that reading and studying the Bible is important for their spiritual health and growth, but they just don't seem to be able to get much out of it. Even when they open their Bible, it remains remains a closed book to them.
Understanding Your Bible will teach you how to learn from the Bible on your own. It will not take the place of good Bible teaching you from your church (every Christian needs to belong to a church where the Bible is believed and taught), from books and other Christian ministries. But you must also learn how to understand the Bible for yourself and to evaluate the teaching that you hear and read. Those early believers in Berea (Acts 17:11) even checked on the apostle Paul to make sure that his teaching fit with the Bible!
Of course, it's not just about information--it is about transformation, as the truths of the Bible become embedded deeply in our lives and hearts. Understanding Your Bible will show you how to take concrete steps to incorporate what you are learning from the Bible into your life.
My word . . . will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV)
Understanding Your Bible will introduce you to proven tools and simple skills that will enable you to understand much more of what you read in the Bible. Here's how it works.
First, we need to observe what the Bible actually says. Sometimes we have misimpressions that need to be corrected. More often, there are things in the text that we simply don't see. So, the starting point is simply learning to see. The workshop will help you learn what to look for: significant words, grammatical and literary clues to the author's meaning, the structure of a paragraph or book.
We also need to think about what it all means, to begin to interpret its message. You'll learn the importance of context. You'll learn how and when to use tools like dictionaries, concordances, commentaries and computer software. You'll learn to interpret figurative language and different kinds literature. And you will learn to interpret each passage in the context of the teaching of the whole Bible--something many people fail to do.
Finally, you'll learn how to make sure the Bible's teaching actually makes a difference in your life, to apply its teaching effectively. You'll move from the world of the Bible to the world you live in, identifying principles that apply across time and culture. You'll make specific plans for action (a key step in bringing about change). And you'll find God's grace in every passage, so that you are motivated by gratitude for God's grace instead of guilt and fear as you seek to apply the Bible's teachings to your life.
And, over time, God's Word will produce in you the mind of Christ and a heart for him.
The Understanding Your Bible workshop consists of twelve interactive sessions. Each lasts about 40 minutes. A sample schedule is shown below.
You won't become a great Bible student in a weekend, but you will learn skills you can use for a lifetime. To help you continue to use them, the workshop materials include suggestions for further practice using each of the tools introduced during the workshop. You can practice these with another person, a group, or on your own to continue to develop your skills in Understanding Your Bible.
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