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The Sword Method of Bible Study, Part 2

In a previous post, we discussed a simple and transferable method of Bible study called the “Sword Method.” When we use this method on a passage of Scripture, the “outputs” are several insights about the nature of God and people, as well as some indications about how a person might live. These outputs are beneficial, but they’re often too general or abstract to be actionable. In order for our study process to be most effective, we have to go a step or two further.

Training for Trainers (T4T), a pioneering disciple-making effort, suggests that application of the Bible breaks down into two categories: following Jesus and fishing for men. This implies that when we come to a passage of Scripture, we’re ultimately trying to figure out what the Spirit is leading us to put into practice, and what God wants us to share with others from the passage.

If this is the case, then the first order of business after we use the Sword Method to distill points from Scripture is to figure out how these points lead into some actionable way to follow Jesus. Perhaps the most straightforward path is to ask two questions that Tim Keller suggests:*

  1. How would this (one of these points, principles, insights about God, etc.) change my life if I took it seriously — if this truth were fully alive and effective in my inward being?
  2. Why might God be showing this to me now? What is going on in my life that He would be bringing this to my attention?

By answering one or both of these questions we should be able to arrive at some actionable item that is specific enough that we can tell whether or not we end up obeying it. You’ll know you’re on the right track when you get to something like, “Ask for Sue’s forgiveness,” or “Pray this evening about the situation with my son’s soccer coach,” or “Do the dishes two days this week.” Most of us aren’t used to moving from biblical truth to specific action so tangibly, but the process can be quite helpful.

Two final thoughts: first, make sure that you are prayerful during this process. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to understand the significance of a biblical passage for our lives (see 1 Corinthians 2), so we want to be attentive to His leading as we study and apply the Scripture. Having a prayerful spirit during our study will help greatly in this. Second, once you’ve figured out what God wants you to do about a passage you’re studying, consider who you might tell about what you’ve learned (either a believer or a non-believer).

Why not use what you’ve learned in this post and the prior post on the Sword Method to investigate and apply a passage of Scripture? Email us and tell us know how it went!

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* From Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (New York: Dutton, 2014), 253.

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2 Responses

  1. Beth Farner says:

    This is very usable and will help me organize my thoughts as I read. Thanks!

    • Beau Stanley says:

      Glad to hear this, Beth! I’ve found this method also works in study with others. May God use it in your life and ministry.

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