Consider these words from Paul:
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”
– Romans 1:1-6
In the same way that our purpose as Christians is not to only ‘believe in God’ but to ‘believe God’ (James 2:18-19), we also have a specific purpose for reading the scriptures: to know and live them ourselves, but also to teach them to others.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…”
– Colossians 3:16
Let that sink in for a moment, because it took me a long time to come to this simple truth: We should read the Bible not only for our good, but for teaching others. How many times have you picked up your Bible and felt uninspired to read? Have you looked at a passage and said to yourself, “I’ve already read this 1,000 times, I don’t have much desire to read this again.”? Well, I’ve been there…at least until I learned about Discovery Bible Study.
What I love most is its simplicity, which allows for an easily reproducible process which is important for people who aren’t ‘natural’ teachers or those who are new to the Bible. It also can be used by anybody, among any group, regardless of age or background. There is no ‘leader’ in the sense that one person dominates the discussion, but the leader is God’s Spirit, which teaches through the entire group.
“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
– Matthew 18:20
So I want to share this process in order for you to take it, apply it, and allow the Holy Spirit to change the way you read the Holy Scriptures.
There are 3 primary steps along with personal experiences and suggestions depending on the situation in which it’s used.
Step 1: Read the text together.
One thing our church group did to add to this experience was to read the different translations we each had. That would sometimes add to our understanding of certain terms and serve as a method to gain opinions and angles outside of our group. If you are studying with someone that speaks English as a 2nd language, it might be good to have them read it aloud in their native language as well.
Step 2: Rewrite the text in your own words.
(In the original format, you would write the text down and then rewrite the text in your own words. Depending on time and the level of communication, you may decide to skip the first writing section.)
Bloom’s Taxonomy includes the learning levels of:
By rewriting the text in your own words, you are engaging nearly all levels of learning that you otherwise wouldn’t in a traditional study. It’s crazy that a simple rewrite would do that, but it works. In addition to rewriting the text, you could also note anything that “jumped out” at you (we refer to them as “ah-ha’s”). Another function of this step is to prepare and structure your thoughts that you will later share.
Step 3: Commit an “I Will” statement based on the text.
This is the most transforming element to this method. It is a commitment to God, yourself, and to your group to do whatever you feel you are being called to do through the text.
Look at this example:
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
– Proverbs 27:17
In my own use, I divide these statements into two categories:
“I will be more accountable to my friends or church group.”
“I will look for opportunities to ‘sharpen’ my friends this week.”
“I will meet with my friend on Wednesday this week to hold an accountability meeting.”
“I will send a text to my church group 3 times this week reminding them of our lesson.”
The “I will” statement is tangible and brings accountability to your group. It is a real advantage of a small group study or house church over a large congregation.
2 Corinthians 13:5 says: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” The “I will” statement is a great tool for gauging many different aspects of your relationship with God, whether it be your focus or your commitment to what you’ve studied. Personally, I enjoy the challenge accountability brings and it has helped me to read scripture with a new perspective.
If you are studying with someone who is new to the Bible or the faith, this is a great time to encourage them to share what they have learned with someone else. DBS is a tool to make disciples, who then make disciples. It is key to the design and concept of this study method that you always keep the Holy Spirit and God’s Word as the authority. As it will take time for those who you study with to grasp their role, it will also take time for you as a teacher/mentor to fully understand your role a facilitator and not the authority.
And on that note, let me close with some thoughts from Jesus regarding the Spirit and the importance of obedience:
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you…Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
“Now I am going to him who sent me…It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine a making it know to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”
– John 14:15-26; 16:5-15