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4 L's of Text-Driven Bible Study: Learn From God


This article is part three of a four-part series covering the 4 L's of Text-Driven Bible Study.


We have finally made it to the article that you have been waiting for on how to study your Bible. Before we look at the particulars of Bible study, let’s rehearse what has been discussed over the last two weeks. The first “L” in doing text-driven Bible study is “Look.” For God wants us to begin our study of His Word by “Looking up to Him” through prayer. We need to ask God for His help. The second “L” in doing text-driven Bible study is “Listen.” The listening step in the process takes the most patience. Because too often we can read quickly and miss what God wants to say to us through His Word. We listen to God by reading through the passage several times, in various ways.


After completing the first two steps, you are ready to begin step 3 of the (4) L’s of Text-Driven Bible Study. The third step is to “Learn from God.” There are four aspects of the learning process that we need to discuss: 1) The Humility of Learning, 2) The Observations of Learning, 3) The God Question, and 4) The Man Question.


The Humility of Learning

Your study of the Bible will fail to accomplish the sanctification that God intends unless you have humility. The characteristic of humility is vital to how you study the Bible. We have all met the person who we would classify as the “know-it-all.” This individual has never heard a question he did not know the answer to or has ever been in a room where he did not think of himself to be the most important person. Being a “know-it-all” individual reveals a concerning measure of pride.


Do not think for a moment that acquiring knowledge and being knowledgeable about various areas of God’s universe is in some way antithetical to being a Christian. The exact opposite is true. Scripture certainly calls upon Christians to acquire knowledge (Prov. 1:7). The antithesis of knowledge is pride. Pride stifles one’s ability to have knowledge as God intended.


Let me explain what I mean. Think for a moment about this question, “What is the goal of knowledge?” If you were to ask the humanist, he would say, “The goal of knowledge is for human beings to be smart.” If you were to ask the hedonist, he would say, “The goal of knowledge is to find out what I like and do not like so that I can have more pleasure.” If we asked the pragmatist, “What is the goal of knowledge?” The pragmatist would respond, “The goal of knowledge is to be efficient at accomplishing one’s goals.”


Did you notice a similarity between the humanist, hedonist, and pragmatist? The similarity was that the goal of knowledge centered upon self. While you may have never classified yourself in those terms before, you have certainly fallen victim to this style of thinking. How so? Well, for one, think about the goal of education. The education system is concerned with providing knowledge to a student for the purpose of that student being successful later in life. Is not this why you want your child to go to school and get good grades so that they can be successful? Here is another example. Why do you want to study the Bible? Is it so that you can improve your situation? Is it so that you will be blessed? Are you doing a Bible study so that you just have more head-knowledge and information?


Hear me carefully. There is nothing wrong with success. There is nothing wrong with getting good grades in school or acquiring knowledge as an adult. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting God to bless you or having more knowledge of Him. However, we have to look at what Scripture teaches to understand the goal of knowledge.


The goal of knowledge is given to us in Proverbs 1:7 which says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” The Bible teaches us that knowledge begins with fearing the Lord. Simply put, fearing the Lord is what occurs when we humble ourselves in recognition of God’s authority, truth, and existence. One could say that the goal of knowledge is the glory of God. The goal of learning is so that we can reflect the splendor of God. We acquire facts and learn information so that God is exalted and glorified.


Let me give you a sure way to know if you are gaining knowledge. If what you are learning is leading you to think more about yourself, then you have not acquired knowledge. However, if what you are learning leads you to magnify God and become dependent upon Him, then you have begun to acquire knowledge. Always keep in mind that knowledge leads to humility and humility is needed for knowledge.

The Observations of Learning

Having prepared our hearts to shun pride so that we can learn properly, the time has come to begin making observations from the Bible. These observations will serve as the markers for what you will learn in your Bible study. I suggest that you set a goal of making a minimum of ten observations.


You might be wondering what is classified as an observation. I have made a list of items that will help you make observations from a biblical passage:

  • Identify any names that are mentioned in the passage

  • Identify any places/locations that are mentioned in the passage

  • Make a list of words that you do not know or understand

  • Write down any repeated words that are used in the passage

  • Make a note of any action words (verbs) that are used in the passage

  • Write down any questions that come to your mind about the passage

Once you have made your minimum of ten observations, you need to acquire information about your observations. For instance, if your passage mentions the city of Babylon, take a moment to find an article online about the ancient city of Babylon. Another example would be to go back to the list of words that you did not know and look them up in a dictionary. Finally, of the questions that you wrote down about the passage, try to use the cross-references in the passage to answer them. If you are unable to answer the questions that you wrote down, then call your pastor and ask him to help you.


Do not get discouraged if you struggle with making ten observations. In time, you will be making more observations than you ever thought possible. Also, do not get discouraged if you do not find answers to your questions. Remember, your Bible study is meant to encourage you to glorify God. Being thankful for what you have learned is much better than being discouraged.


The God Question

All of Scripture is God’s revelation of Himself to us. He has made Himself known to us through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, when we read Scripture we are being taught by God about His nature and character. It is really remarkable to think that through our Bible study, we are learning about the infinite, almighty God who loves each of His children.


There are three broad categories that will help us consider more deeply the nature of God: 1) Authority/Lordship, 2) Power, and 3) Love/Covenant. As you can imagine, some biblical passages will speak to each of these categories. However, for our purposes, you are going to try and focus on just one of the three for your Bible study. Let’s discuss each of these categories so that you can properly identify the passage.


Authority/Lordship

The first category is “Authority/Lordship.” As stated previously, there is none greater or higher than God. He is the supreme of all things. Therefore, by virtue of His nature, He has all authority. For instance, the authority of God is demonstrated through His giving of the Law in Exodus 20. No one else inherently has the authority to adjudicate a moral law to all humanity. Therefore, in studying the 10 Commandments, you are learning about God’s authoritative nature.


Tied very closely to God’s authority is the fact that He is Lord. His lordship is demonstrated throughout the Bible through how mankind responds to His actions. For instance, Romans 13 teaches that every Christian is to be subject to governing authorities (13:1). We also learn in that passage that every civil authority in government has been placed there by God. Therefore, because God is the highest governing authority, He assigns who He desires to be in charge of a nation of people. By virtue of God’s lordship, we learn how government functions.


Power

The second category is power. When talking about the power of God, the term that is used often is omnipotence. This word means “all-powerful.” For God has all power. There is none who is more powerful than God. The power of God is explained in Scripture through miraculous events. Most notable would be the way in which God created the universe. For all the world was created by the power of His speech. No person can do what God did in Genesis 1.


God stepped out from behind the curtain of nowhere to step on the stage of nothing and speak the world into existence.

Other passages displaying His power would include those where He parts the sea (Exodus 14), turns water into wine (John 2), feeds the five thousand (Mark 6), and so many other miracles could be mentioned.


Love/Covenant

The Bible does not just present God as having authority and power. God shows Himself to be benevolent, kind, loving, and a promise-keeper. When we encounter those biblical passages that show God’s interaction with His people, whether that be through saving them, delivering them, or forgiving them, we are learning about God’s love. The psalmist at many times is calling out for God’s love. The epistles of Paul and Peter show the outworking of God’s love in the life of a Christian. Therefore, it is important to note in your Bible study those instances in which God’s love is critical to the importance of the passage.


Once you have correctly identified which category the passage belongs to as it pertains to God’s nature and character, you should be able to answer this one question, “What does the passage teach me about God?” Your answer to this question should be a one-sentence response. Try to be clear and concise. Your ability to write a clear response will help you to remember the passage so that you can reference it at other times in your life.

  • Example: The following passages teach that God is loving through what is said in verse ____.


The Man Question

God revealed Himself to us. There is no book that has ever or will ever be written that will better explain human nature than Scripture. The Bible is God’s revelation to us. He has made Himself known and He has taught us who we are in His revelation. You might be wondering, why does God need to teach us who we are? Are we not capable of understanding our own selves? Before answering this question, let’s look to see what Scripture says about the topic. Here are some passages concerning what God says about our nature and character:

  • Jeremiah 17:9 - “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

  • Romans 3:23 - “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

  • Ephesians 2:3 - “And like all others, we were by nature children of wrath.”

  • Romans 3:10 - “There is none righteous, not even one.”

Scripture is clear, humanity is desperately flawed. Because of our sinful nature, our judgment concerning ourselves is flawed. We are even warned in Romans 12:3, “to not think too highly of ourselves.” Therefore, because of our flawed understanding of self, we need an objective revelation that will tell us the truth about our nature. Scripture is the objective revelation that tells us the truth. The Bible teaches us three things about our nature: 1) Our need for Justification, 2) Our progress of Sanctification, and 3) Our destination in Glorification.


Our Need for Justification

At times, the Bible will present humanity's need to be made right with God. We call the process of being made right with God, justification. The story of Scripture is essentially about how God sent His Son to provide a means of justification for all human beings who believe by faith. Therefore, as you read your Bible and encounter those passages that express man’s sinfulness, you see the need man has for God.


Our Progress in Sanctification

Also, the Bible explains that after justification–man is right with God–he is then to progress in Christlikeness (i.e. sanctification). Biblical passages in the Old Testament where God is correcting His people are examples of sanctification passages. In the New Testament, Paul’s letters to the churches are examples of sanctification. He is writing to edify the church towards Christlikeness.


Our Destination of Glorification

The hope of every Christian is the glorification we receive when standing face to face with Jesus. The Bible provides eschatological hope to the believer. Identifying these passages as such are means of encouragement for living in this present world. An example of this section can be found in 1 Thessalonians, where Paul is encouraging the believers to think about the Second Coming of Jesus (4:13-18).


Having correctly identified which category your passage is dealing with concerning humanity, you are now ready to ask the question, “What does this passage teach me about mankind?” Just like previously with the question about God, your answer should be one clear sentence that gives specific reference to the passage you are studying.

  • Example: Man’s need for justification is demonstrated through this biblical passage by showing how hateful the Pharisees were with trying to trap Jesus in verse ____.


Conclusion

Learning from God is not for the faint at heart. It takes time and work to have confidence that you have interpreted a biblical passage rightly. However, through looking up to God and asking for help, and listening to God through reading the passage multiple times, you are ready to learn from God and what He wants to teach you about Himself and mankind. If you undertake this process with humility, then you will find yourself encouraged and edified as God’s Word equips you.




For more information regarding the third L of Text-Driven Bible Study, Learn From God, listen to the Text-Driven Podcast episode from September 18, 2023.





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