Back on April 7th I wrote about the need for us all to prioritize mastering, and being mastered by, the Bible. Winston commented and asked for my suggestions on this. I’ll share my thinking briefly here. I’d encourage you to read the earlier post again to refresh your memory and stir the motivation – it is here.
My approach is to split personal Bible study into two halves. These two halves are best explained as a foundation and brick wall approach:
Half 1 = Foundation – The foundation is to be reading through the whole Bible. My strong encouragement is to keep reading through the whole Bible, at a fairly persistent pace. Allow the big story to wash through you. Don’t get caught up in details, or in trying to remember every interesting fact you find. Don’t try to pronounce every long name. Just keep moving. Like pouring water through a sieve, the goal is not to retain, but to be cleaned and to get a big picture awareness of the Bible God has given to us.
Half 2 = Brick Wall – With the other half of the time available I suggest getting your teeth into study. By default I would suggest a book-by-book approach. God didn’t give us a topical index, or a collection of proof texts; He gave us a collection of books. So pick a Bible book and study it. Use whatever skill and resources you have. Begin with inductive study of the book, constantly moving between analysis of the details and synthesis of the whole. If you have original language skill, use it. If you have quality commentaries, eventually consult them. Make it your goal to master and be mastered by the book you are studying. After a few weeks of this you will find that your motivation for that book wanes and you feel like you are coming to finish point in your study. I like to be able to explain my way through a book, section by section, without looking at the text. Perhaps you would choose another way to define the finish line. Then move to another book you want to study. Periodically you can do a topical study, or a character study, or a theological study, or whatever, but default back to book by book.
Tomorrow I will share my underlying thinking that helps to make sense of this approach.