Spiritual Formation: Bible Study
Method 1: The Inductive Method
Here’s a good article by the publishers of Logos Bible Study Software on how to do an inductive Bible Study. There are three main steps:
Take a look through the article, and keep in mind “The Jesus Lens” — ask what does this passage mean in light of who we know Jesus to be?
Then we can look at it in terms of identity — what does this passage tell me about who God is, and who I am in relation to him?
Finally, ask what can we learn about Godly love? About grace? How am I responding to that message internally? What would my ideal response look like?
Method 2: Take Creative Notes
Source Note: Parts 2-5 have been adapted from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s book “Spiritual Disciplines Handbook,” Part 5, Section 1.
Use symbols that have meaning to you personally, to mark important things. Draw a light bulb to indicate an idea, an exclamation point for some action you want to take; whatever symbols speak to you. Keep a key of those symbols for later reference, like a key on a map.
Method 3: The Investigative Approach
Ask all the W questions — who, what, when, where, why? And of course the H question — how? Pay attention to the details: what would it have been like to be there in the moment? Smells, sights, sounds? How did the people in the story think at the time? What was important to them? How would they perceive “the Lord” in the Old Testament, or Jesus, as we know him in the New Testament?
Finally, once you have the facts, how do you put them together?
Method 4: Looking for Treasure
This approach is all about finding relevance for your own life. What speaks to me in this passage (see also the “Lectio Divina” spiritual formation practice). Am I led to act, respond, or pray in a particular way? What does the passage teach me about how God sees me, or how I could see others? What wisdom do I see in this passage that could help me with my current circumstances?
Method 5: The Disciple
Make note of everything Jesus is saying and doing, with emphasis on how and why. Why is he asking that question? How is he responding to the questions people are him? How could I respond in a way that mirrors his way of living?