How to Study Bible Topics that Matter to You
Topical Bible studies are a great way to learn about God, take a biblical stance on current events, overcome a sin or weakness, tackle your personal growth goals with God's help, answer a theological or any other Bible question, need God's wisdom and direction. Take charge of your quiet time and study the Bible topics that really matter to you.
Of course, you can search Amazon for a Bible study guide on just about any topic, but what about opening up the Bible and actually finding answers to questions that are burning in your heart?
Tailor your quiet time to exactly what you want to learn from God's Word right now. Consider these 5 steps to topical Bible studies.
1. Pick a Topic
There are a variety of types of topics to choose from, all which will help your spiritual walk. You can learn more about God, find encouragement during a difficult time, be motivated to overcome sin, or understand current events in light of Scripture.
At times, you may need to narrow down your topic. For example, if you consider a Bible study on grace, you'll find months worth of passages in Scripture on the subject. After all, grace and forgiveness are a central theme in all of Scripture. You can, of course, decide to tackle such a broad topic but you may also decide to focus on God extending grace to the weak or how a person may extend grace to another.
2. Topic Considerations
Before you head over to biblegateway.com and type in your topic to find a few relevant verses, let's do some prep work. These five considerations will set you up for a successful study process.
- Keep the big picture in mind: When we study the Bible by topic, we tend to jump around Scripture and read a few verses here and there. When we do so, we have to remember to read every verse in context and to keep the big-picture storyline of redemption in mind. The Bible tells a story about our journey with God - created in His image, fallen into sin, rescued only through the blood of Christ, and awaiting eternity spent with God. Read every passage in light of this main message.
- Brainstorm your topic: There are many topics relevant to us today that do not directly appear in Scripture. For example, typing "health and fitness" into a Bible search engine won't bring up verses that use these words. However, the Bible does provide input on this subject, for example, as it talks about our body, sickness, healing, and caring for the sick. Brainstorm ways that your topic may appear in Scripture.
- Word brainstorm: Now take your list from step #2 and consider the words that the Bible will use to describe these subtopics, such as care, heal/healing, sick/weak, well, life etc. This list will help you as you start collecting verses.
- Read a Bible dictionary entry: When you are studying broad subjects, theological questions, or Bible characters, a Bible dictionary will come in handy. Many are available for free online. Bible dictionaries will give you a big picture overview as well as a number of Bible references. They will actually help you add on to your word-brainstorm and topic-brainstorm lists.
- Ask key questions: Before you dive into your topic, be very clear on your learning objective. Write down a few key questions you'd like to answer with your topic Bible study. This will help you stay focused and choose verses that truly speak into your life.
It may be tempting to skip straight to finding verses on your subject, but I urge you to do this prep work. It will help you consider your topic from all angles and give you a head start as you move on to step #3.
3. Collect Verses
Woot! We are finally ready to collect Bible references. Search engines like biblegateway.com and biblestudytools.com will help you get started. The latter website also offers a cross-reference section and the commentary Treasures of Scripture Knowledge with will help you find more references. Another great tool is openbible.info/topics.
4. Study Each Passage
Don't just read over your verses. Make sure you study each of them in context and inductively. In addition, write down what you've learned about your subject specifically. I recommend organizing all of this information by the sub-topics you brainstormed during step #2.
5. Summarize Your Results
Go over all of you study notes and summarize what you've learned about each sub-topic as well as your topic as a whole. Go back to your key questions and see if you can answer them based on your Bible study. As a bonus, pick a couple of key verses to memorize.
Study Bible topics that matter to you with the step-by-step tutorial, Think Biblically. You'll find a much more detailed explanation of each study step and lots of examples that will have you excited for your own quiet time.
Tell me, have you ever studied a topic in Scripture? What did you learn? Did you run into any difficulties? Tell me about it in the comment section below.