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Practical strategies for studying the Bible – 2 Timothy 3:14-17

January 18, 2015

(My notes from a sermon by Dr. R.C. Sproul from the series Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow)

Bible veterans must read the Bible yearly according to Martin Luther
“It’s important for every Christian to read the entire Bible each year to keep the winds of the whole blowing through your mind.” It’s easy to get lost in one portion of the Bible (which I know that I do). The whole context of Scripture is important in our lives. Think of it like a forest in which all the trees are planted. First you isolate certain groves, and then you pick out a particular tree, branches, twigs, leaves and so on.

Many Christians have never read the entire Bible
If we believe it comes from God, why don’t we do it? We fail because we don’t have a plan that’s practical.  Dr. R.C. Sproul says most get to Leviticus and it’s like running into a wall. It’s tedious reading (even though the details point forward to the coming of Christ). But for the person who doesn't understand this, it’s discouraging and most folks drop it at Leviticus and Numbers.

Dr. Sproul suggests having an outline or structure to build knowledge. And it’s also helpful to read each book according to its literary type - historical, prophetic, wisdom or poetry.

This is a recommended reading plan whether you are a veteran or newbie.

Old Testament (OT) – first round
This is a small portion, but it’s the historical overview – an introduction to OT history starting at creation, the patriarchs, the exodus, conquest of Canaan and judges. This is great storytelling that spans through the time Israel was ruled by judges before the kings. After this, plug in the rest to fill out the framework.

Genesis – everything begins with a narrative much like a gripping drama
Exodus – contains great drama.
1 & 2 Samuel

OT- second round
There are 12 Minor Prophets, but with two famous minor prophets Amos and Hosea, we get a taste of prophetic concerns in Israel. After these, move to the Major Prophets and add Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Jeremiah is easiest.

Song of Songs

OT – third round – fill-in with Leviticus, Deuteronomy and the other prophets.

New Testament (NT) – first round

Luke – everyone is familiar with Christmas story. Book is written for Gentiles (us) so we don’t need knowledge of OT - (Luke also wrote Acts)
Acts – continuity of the life of Christ
Ephesians – intro to Paul’s teaching
1 Corinthians – filled with practical issues that arose in the early church
1 Peter – a taste of Peter’s concerns
1 Timothy – pastoral letters
Hebrews – richest book that communicates the person and work of Christ
Romans – is Paul’s ‘Magnum Opus’ – the great theological work to the church

NT – second round - fill-in with the rest

Get practical aids
Commentary – The Reformation Study Bible (a new one will be released spring 2015).
Concordance – lists every time a single word appears anywhere in Scripture.
Listen to the Bible on video or audio – try Max McClain’s recited scripture. Use it during commute. (I’m enjoying this).
Use pen and ink on your Bible (or make notes in your app). Interact with Scripture. Decide what you want memorize.

Read the Bible existentially – this means you become involved in what you’re reading. Don’t just sit back untouched. Get into the shoes of Abraham. How does Jacob feel?  Ask yourself: How does it impact my life today?

Dr. Sproul suggests combining readings each day until complete. His reading schedule is: 1 Psalm each day, 5 chapters OT and 4 chapters NT.

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