Part Two of Two
What the Pathways method covers would be familiar to any pastor who has gone through seminary. The language is simplified, however, so that those without a seminary education can grasp it easily. It covers such things as:
• Take time to carefully read the passage in its entirety.
• Reflect on every question that comes to mind as you read the passage.
• Even if you think you know what a verse means, assume you don’t. Read it in context and see if your assumptions still hold up. Often much-quoted verses mean something quite different in context than they seem to on their own.
• Realize you are coming to the Bible with biases. These can be cultural, denominational, or personality-driven. Keep those in mind when you assume you know what a passage means.
• Don’t add to or take away from what a passage is saying. Face it in all of its discomfort and let it do its work in you.
• Pay attention to how one verse is linked to another. This is extremely important in being able to understand what a passage means.
• Observe the structure and grasp the message flow. This way you will see how the passage is put together and how one section informs another.
• Learn to recognize the salvation story in whatever passage you are reading. When you look for it, it’s remarkable how often you see it.
• After all these steps, write a one-sentence statement that you believe is the main intent of the passage. What did the writer want you to most understand?
• Finally, take time to ponder what the application to your life may be, as this is the whole point of Bible study. Most of us have been taught that application should be an action, but most often it’s a change in thinking or a change in what we love.
As a side note, my husband also trains U.S. pastors in this method so they can take mission trips overseas to help teach indigenous pastors how to study the Bible. These American pastors often remark how they’d gotten away from these principles as they prepared for their sermons, and now they’re applying this method of carefully studying the Bible in their own sermon preparation. So, if you begin teaching this in your church, you may be surprised how transformational it can be for the entire congregation.
Taking time to study the Bible carefully does something internally that all the sermons, videos, and podcasts can never do: It allows the Holy Spirit, the author of the book, to take his own words and use them to reach into the deep places of your life that only he knows about, to dig out the roots of sin, and to replace them with the seeds of life. And that’s something every man, and woman, needs.
JoHannah Reardon writes devotionals that stick to the principles discussed in this article. Her family devotional, Proverbs for Kids, provides a platform for families to study the Book of Proverbs together, and look for her upcoming book, No More Fear, that focuses on the nature of God. Both can be found at www.johannahreardon.com.
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