Twice a year I coach a small group for a Cru class in Bible Study Methods. Last month I was one of 31 coaches leading online groups. It was a joy to guide five new Cru staff members in learning skills to help them dig into scripture and let it change their lives.
We studied the book of Ephesians, a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a group of churches in and around the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). We read the entire letter in two Bible versions and wrote our own outlines of the main thoughts. Then we looked at how it relates to the rest of the Bible and learned about the recipients and their culture. (You can find information like this in a Bible commentary or a study Bible.)
Next, we focused on Ephesians 2:11-22, then 4:1-6, and finally 5:15-21. We went into quite a bit of detail in each phase of our study, but we summarized it all by answering the following five questions.
- What was the author saying to the original audience? What were the most important ideas Paul was communicating to the Christians in Ephesus? (We call this the “Author’s Big Idea.”)
- What is God saying in this passage? What does it teach about God, people, and the gospel that is true not just for the original audience, but in any place at any time? (We call this the “Theological Big Idea.”)
- What does this passage reveal about human nature that requires the grace of God? How does it expose our sin or show the suffering we experience because we live in a fallen world? (We call this our “Fallen Condition.”)
- What does the passage reveal about the God who redeems? How does it point to God and the grace He provides to deal with that sin or suffering? (We call this the “Redemptive Solution.”)
- How will I respond to the realities I have discovered in the passage? What specific steps of faith is God inviting me to take in light of what I have learned? (We call this the “Response/Application.”)
Even though we used these questions during hours of in-depth study, they’re also useful in a 15-minute devotional time. I hope you’ll find them helpful in guiding your own interaction with God’s word.
- For the 160+ new Cru staff members who took the course as they use these skills in their own personal study and in helping others understand and apply the Bible;
- For me to put these same skills into practice, spend consistent time in God’s word and in prayer, and allow God to transform me through it.
Thank you so much for your partnership in this ministry!