There have been lots of tools I’ve used to disciple men over the years (books, articles, doctrinal studies, etc.) and some have been better or more effective than others. One downfall of books and articles is that many times they’re weak on Bible reading and discussion. Where else do we come to understand who God is, who we are and what we’re to do in response to what God has done? Answer: the Bible. For that reason I started a Bible-reading group.
This past Tuesday morning I met with four men from our church to start reading the Bible together. We’re going to meet for an hour each Tuesday morning for the next 10 weeks. We’ll be reading through 1 Peter, taking 1/2 chapter/week. David Helm in his book One to One Bible Reading: a simply guide for every Christian gives four tangible benefits for reading the Bible with another individual(s).
- Salvation – the Book of James says that the word of God “is able to save your soul.” And apart from God’s Word we would not know anything about Jesus (why He came, what He did, etc.).
- Sanctification – Christians are called to encourage one another and build one another up. Reading the Bible together can be a great tool to teach, encourage, admonish and stir up a person’s affections for Jesus.
- Training – reading the Bible together can be a tool to train other men and women up in the Scriptures as you’ll undoubtedly discuss various doctrines and the application that flows from those doctrines.
- Relationship – the personal nature of reading and discussing the Bible together will hopefully and prayerfully bring about stronger relationships.
Here’s a partial of a review of Helm’s book that will give you a good feel for what this book is all about. For the full review go here.
David Helm subtitles his little book “a simple guide for every Christian”—and does he ever deliver on that promise. Helm has crafted a helpful guide that could be picked up and understood by virtually anyone, from the person first encountering the Christian faith to seasoned believers.
There are two sections in this brief book. The first exhorts readers to study the Scriptures with someone else. Helm believes that people are changed when they read the Bible together. Studying the Bible with someone else will strengthen your relationship with that other person, give you fresh insight into the Scripture, and hold you accountable to be in the Word.
The second section is Hermeneutics 101. Helm helps guide Bible readers with a basic explanation of how to engage the various genres and what sorts of questions to ask about the text. He starts with a simple method, encouraging beginning readers to mark the passage with light bulbs, question marks, and arrows. He then presents another simple method that forms the basic framework for in-depth studies, encouraging readers to engage the context, make observations, comprehend the text’s meaning, and then apply the text to one’s life.
Helm describes two methods for reading the Bible: (1) the Swedish method and (2) the C.O.M.A. method. Here’s a brief summary of both approaches:
- Each person reads over the passage on their own and looks for three things: A light bulb – something that stands out or strikes the reader. A question mark – anything that is hard to understand or something you want to ask a question about. An arrow – anything that applies to the reader’s life
- Each person should write down at least one thing (and no more than three) under each category
- Then each person shares his or her light bulbs, questions marks and arrows
- Then pray together about what you’ve discussed and learned
- Context: What sort of writing is this? Are there any clues about the circumstances under which it was written? What has happened so far?
- Observation: What is the main point or points? Are there any key words? What words or ideas are repeated?
- Meaning: How does this text relate to other parts of the book? How does the passage relate to Jesus? What does this teach us about God? How could we sum up the meaning of this text in our own words?
- Application: How does this passage challenge (or confirm) my understanding? Is there some attitude I need to change?How does this passage call on me to change the way I live?
If you’re searching for a way to know the Scriptures better, I wholeheartedly recommend the above approaches. Happy reading!