Lesson 8: How to Study the Bible
1. For students to understand how they can effectively study the Bible
2. To give ample opportunity to practice proper study methods
3. For students to develop the habit of regular Bible study
Habits, Quiet Time, Word of God
Students should now be familiar with all of the books of the Bible. Additionally, they have been given an opportunity to memorize them in order. Continue to pratice and make an extra big deal out of being able to recite them correctly. Have simple prizes ready for everyone. Encourage and congratulate them for their hard work.
OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)
GROUP BUILDING (5 minutes)
Take a few minutes and greet at least three other persons in the room. Share with them your favorite Old and New Testament books of the Bible. Explain why those are your favorite. Take special note of anyone with the same favorites.
GETTING STARTED (10 minutes)
To begin today’s study, have the students take the same quiz as the beginning of the lesson series. Encourage them to do the best they can.
• Who did better this time than the first time? (Congratulate them on their hard work and progress.)
After our marathon trip through the Bible, we want to do one last lesson focusing on how to study the Bible. Once you know the basics of the Scriptures, it’s important to keep going, keep learning, and keep discovering things about Jesus you didn’t know before.
• What are some ways we can study the Bible? (Let the students share different ideas to start them thinking.)
DIGGING IN (30 minutes)
Today, we are going to cover three major actions to inlcude when studying the Bible. Then, we’re going to practice them together. The three actions are Pray, Read, and Ask.
Action 1: Pray
1. Why do you think it’s important that we pray before we read the Bible? (Studying the Bible is more like us and God on either end of a walkie-talkie than it is God on a mega phone. Before we even turn a single page of the Scriptures, we should pray to God.)
2. For what sorts of things should we pray? (For wisdom to see what He wants us to see, thank Him that we have His words in the first place, etc.)
Make prayer a part of your habit when it comes to Bible reading. There might be times when you really need guidance. Pray that God will provide it through His Word. You might be really busy, and you just need refreshment and quiet time. In this case, pray that you find it. Alternatively, just thank God that you have His Word available to read in the first place. All of this is appropriate.
Action 2: Read
1. What do you think is the best way to read the Bible? (Allow for answers.)
2. Have any of you read the entire Bible yet? (Have a show of hands.)
When we read the Bible, we need to read it for all it’s worth. Some people think that reading a verse or two is enough, or that just opening the Bible and starting to read is a good way to study. It may be better than nothing, but it’s not the best way to study. Let’s test that theory.
Open your Bibles to Matthew 18:20. Whoever gets there first read the verse.
3. What does that verse mean? (Allow for answers.)
4. How do you know it means that? (Again, allow for answers.)
Most people quote that text as meaning that if Christians are together, then God is there with them. While that’s true, that’s not what this verse is talking about.
Instead, this text is talking about confronting people who sin. The essence of what Jesus is saying is, if a few of you gather to confront someone, and you are doing it in the way I’ve told you, you are doing it with my authority too. I’m there with you.
So you see, taking one verse and picking it out of the ones around it can distort the meaning of the text. This is called reading a verse out of context. An easier way of putting that is by saying we need to be able to understand where the author is coming from to get the full meaning of each verse.
Optional Activity (5 minutes)
What Does it Make? (Object Talk)
When you read scripture you need to read it with the big picture in mind. It’s not always possible to pick out just one chapter or just one verse and think you can understand what it means any more than you can tell what a puzzle is supposed to be by only looking at one piece.
I encourage you to read what you read a few times. Sometimes when we read something we don’t quite understand it the first time. There are some complicated things in Scripture that deserve a closer look. I encourage you to read things at least two to three times. If you are going to read a chapter, read it twice before moving on. Especially pay attention to things that don’t quite make sense, and then go back and read those again.
Action 3: Ask
When reading the Bible, you need to ask some questions of yourself. Here are two you should always ask as you’re reading:
• What does this passage mean? Always keep in mind the context of the passage.
• What does this passage mean to me? (Life Application)
Chances are, there are going to be things you don’t understand. The Bible is filled with difficult and baffling questions.
Examples of Bible-baffling Questions:
• Who did Cain marry?
When you discover things about the Bible that you don’t understand, it’s important that you seek the answers.
1. How can you go about getting answers to baffling questions or help with undertanding the meaning of difficult passages? (Ask a youth pastor or another person you can trust to help you understand, discuss with small groups, read other books or study notes.)
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Above all, ask God to give you the wisdom to understand His Word.
MAKING IT REAL (10 minutes)
Everyone turn to the book of James. Remember where that is? We’re going to try this study method together. First, let’s pray and ask God to help us hear His voice. (Have someone pray for your group.)
Alright, let’s read together James 2:1-4. (Pick someone to read.)
• What should we do now? (Hopefully they’ll say, “read it again.” Go ahead and do so.)
We’ve prayed, we’ve read, now let’s ask some questions.
• What doesn’t make sense to you? Anything you don’t understand? (Talk through any issues they might have.)
• What would this passage have meant to its original reader, the reader to whom James wrote?
• How does this passage apply to your life?
Good job. You’ve just studied the Bible! Was that easy or hard?
(If you have time, repeat this exercise with some other passages. Try Matthew 5:1-12, Genesis 3, or any other passage.)
The Bible is not just words, but God's words at your fingertips. The basic things that we’ve talked about the past few weeks will enable you to hear from the God of the universe, the very One who created us and died for our sins. Not to study it more deeply means not knowing who that God is. I want us all to commit to studying the Bible regularly. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed our trip through the Bible.