I desperately want to continue to grow closer and closer to my Creator God. Have you ever downloaded podcasts, attended Beth Moore bible studies, or memorized verses to apply to life? I love going through different resources and learning different bible study techniques to improve my love relationship with my God. You too?! Saahweet! Here’s a resource for you!
I can’t even tell you when I got this book but it’s been on my shelf for years. What I do remember is that it is the first book that compelled me to study the Bible on my own outside a group setting. It is the first resource that took me from my Sunday morning church going, Wednesday night small group study christian living to personal, intimate, alone Bible study time. Alone time in the word of God has completely changed my life. And I promise it will do the same for anyone else. Guaranteed.
I love the point that LaHaye makes about people interacting with the Bible on their own. Many women listen to sermons on Sunday mornings, participate in studies, but only occasionally dive into scripture on their own.
Like I said, I’ve experienced God meeting me when I’m studying on my own. I still use other tools like group studies and podcasts to fuel growth but my alone Bible study time is more of a free spirit kind of study. It’s like one on one time with your favorite teacher. The Holy Spirit swells the soul and gives a satisfaction that can’t be described even partially without seeming like a complete radical weirdo. But – I kinda am. And I’m ok with that. 😉
I also appreciate the fact that LaHaye mentions you can get to Heaven without digging through the depths of the Bible. Salvation is a gift from God and God alone, not something we earn by becoming an amazing scholar with impressive bible study skills. The question of Bible study is more a question of remaining a “toddling” Christian or growing mature in your faith relationship. Like we said, always growing. Always learning.
Peace is not automatic.Tim LaHaye
A very good point from LaHaye. He teaches that peace that surpasses understanding comes from knowing the word of God. I can speak firsthand to this mysterious calmness and hope when the situations around me call for worry and anxiety. Do I still have anxiety? Absolutely! But knowing His word and being able to call on scripture when life goes nuts is both soothing and strengthening.
The Three Year Reading Plan
How to Study the Bible for Yourself is the only book I’ve read so far that suggests reading books in a particular order. 1 John then John, Mark, then the epistles of Paul. You’re kind of jumping around! He makes a valid point though – that we are New Testament Christians and the Old Testament was written more to Israel and that age. On the other hand, God has taught wonderful, fulfilling lessons through the stories of Sarah, Rachel, Leah, and many of the women called by God.
Not only does he give book by book instructions but he also has us repeat the same books. As in read 1 John seven times! John and Mark twice as well as the New Testament as a whole twice after reading several other books first. It’s somewhat confusing and I’ve never made it even half way through this plan.
That said, reading 1 John seven times has proven to be beneficial for me. Good thing it’s a short five chapters! It’s not too hard and you don’t get bogged down. Not to mention that its content is fantastic to kick off your reading as it is the explanation of our salvation in Jesus!
Understanding the Basics
A large section of the book is LaHaye breaking down the basics and organization of the Bible. There’s a great illustration (by great I don’t mean pretty. I mean practical) that splits the 66 books into sections such as law, history, poetry, prophets, life of Christ, etc. It makes it easier to learn the table of contents and I can picture the little book shelf in my mind when trying to remember where a certain book is located.
Not only does he give the illustration but he also goes over each “category” and offers a brief description. It’s really helpful to group the books into these sections for learning purposes.
I’ll be honest, I’m not crazy about LaHaye’s label “Spiritual Diary”. But, whatever. It’s a major part of his book so I guess I’ll get over the lame name. He does make good points that keeping a, ahem, study journal keeps us accountable and produces an expectation to hear from God. Having to write something down later keeps the idea at the front of my mind and reminds me to be on the lookout for God’s works in my life. Plus, who doesn’t like to go back through old notes?? LaHaye suggests writing the following down everyday after your reading:
- God’s specific message to you
- A command to keep
- A promise from God
- A timeless principle to keep
- How to apply them to your life
I really like the S.O.A.K. method by Good Morning Girls (rewrite Scripture, Observe what it means, Apply it to your life and Kneel in prayer) but will definitely be reworking LaHaye’s techniques of finding a command, promise, and timeless principle into my current routine. I specifically remember that being beneficial.
Another method that LaHaye works into his book is outlining. This is done after reading a book multiple times and writing in your journal. The outline consists of the author, the original audience, cultural problems of that time period, a central meaning for today, and then a general outline just like we used to do in speech class. Outlining major themes of the book with subpoints.
Cherry Picked Sections
A section of How to Study the Bible for Yourself also has a list of chapters that the author believes are the most important for modern believers to firmly grasp an understanding of. He suggests reading this list of specific chapters several times, then analyze and outline those as well using some of the same questions from when you outlined whole books. He goes on to give lists to study characters, prophecies, the life of Jesus, Psalms, and Proverbs in the same manner. He breaks it all down into very detailed sections and questions.
My favorite story in this book is the one of young Henry Brandt. Shortly after becoming a Christian his pastor taught that there wasn’t a problem in life that couldn’t be answered by the Word of God. Brandt took this to heart and shared the statement with coworkers who then started asking questions about life situations. Being a new Christian, Brandt didn’t have the answers but was dedicated to finding them in the Bible. Hence, subject analysis.
- Brandt would take whatever problem his coworkers asked about and make a list of synonyms/uses of the word.
- Then he’d use a Bible dictionary to define the problem.
- Next he’d find each and every verse in the Bible that discussed this life issue from a concordance. He’d paraphrase each on a yellow notepad.
- He prayed about the teaching and wrote an analysis of God’s word on that particular subject.
Thorough? Yes. Time consuming? Yes. All important? A resounding yes! LaHaye makes several good points to why doing subject analysis is beneficial for your growth in God’s word.
- You’ll know (not think you know) what God says about something.
- It will bring you closer to God and grow your love for Him.
- It will help you grasp what God gives you on a specific subject.
I love a good list of resources!! Chapter 10 in the book gives a good list of resources for Bible studying. Some I have on my shelf (a Bible, a Bible handbook) and some I haven’t heard of until now (The Life of Christ in Stereo). I’ll definitely be stocking up on the resources he suggests for the subject analysis.
Another point LaHaye makes is on the importance of Hermeunetics. Her whatty who? Exactly. He defines it as an accurate system for getting the message that God intended from scripture. He says to, one, take scripture literally, two, keep it in context, three, be alert of idioms, figurative language, etc. Lastly, he says to treat parables differently – as an illustration with one central truth.
A Call to Memorize
Memorizing really isn’t my thing. I feel so scatterbrained most of the time trying to keep up with this hamster wheel of a life that I don’t know how my brain would hold the info. But LaHaye insists that memorizing is the absolute best technique to write scripture on the heart. He even gives several reasons to argue his point. He says that memorizing helps you overcome temptation, silence worry, transform your life, battle secular pressure, discover God’s will, and more. I like how he says you won’t always have time to dig through and research your Bible for an answer when faced with a situation.
He then dives into a strategy for memorizing. It includes writing on index cards, memorizing by topics, learning the references, dating your cards, reading aloud. It’s like a whole college course in regards to scripture memorization. I may try to start doing this. Wanna keep me accountable? 😉
The last 2 chapters of How to Study the Bible for Yourself are about discipling yourself and discipling others. He recounts his previous techniques but adds prayer into the mix which hasn’t been covered thoroughly so far.
The points from these last chapters are very simple yet very astounding for me.
Number one, in discipling ourselves, he gives an acronym tool for our prayer structure. ACTS – begin your prayer with adoration for God. Confess your sins. Give thanksgiving. Supplication is defined as asking God for your needs and others needs. He even suggests keep a list of needs to pray for with room to the side to record when and how God answers those prayers. Pretty cool!
Number two, discipling others starts with a one-on-one relationship. He gives a list of things to do (for the most part his main study methods) but this first step stood out to me. Give me a second on my soap box. We all know what it’s like to be “taught” by some well meaning (or not) Christian who we don’t have a one-on-one relationship with. We feel corrected, criticized and judged and God doesn’t get glory from that. I don’t want to display God like that. It’s my belief that I need to invest time and energy and affection into people with a one-on-one relationship in order to disciple them. Ok, I’m off it.
This book should come with accredited college hours! I feel like I’m working towards a degree reading through it. It’s sooo intense! I haven’t implemented even half of the study techniques Tim LaHaye teaches in How to Study the Bible for Yourself. Even so, it’s greatly benefited me. Here are my main takeaways.
- It spurs me to spend time studying the Word of God on my own.
- It reminds me of the benefits – peace, growth, opportunities to disciple.
- It gives great questions to include in your study journal.
- It inspires me to start working on scripture memorization.
- It provides a fantastic process for subject analysis utilizing the study tools needed for in depth study.
I hope you’ll look into this book further. Maybe even pick up a copy, read through it, take notes, and highlight. If you actually implement all of LaHaye’s study skills, hit me up! I’ll figure out a prize. Fo’ real!
Thanks for reading!