The Bible speaks of God’s unchangeable truths and they are crucial for the salvation of all humankind and Christian living. For this very reason, we should spend time in studying God’s Word.
Many Christians have Bible knowledge but do not experience God. One important thing is that, Bible study should not just boil down to the attainment of biblical truths and principles. As Christians, we should also apply the learned truths into our daily living as means to experience the validity and power of God’s truths, so that we can be transformed in our Christian character. Also, we should not be the sole beneficiaries but should bless the people around us.
Because of this, the “iEXP Bible Study Method” is developed. “iEXP” (I experience) is an experiential Bible study method which involves four steps. The first step is “i”, which stands for eye, the initial phase is to observe. The second phase is to expound the Bible text. The third stage is to exercise the truths, that is, the application of biblical truths in everyday life. Finally, the last step is the proclamation of biblical principles. It is an act of testifying the truths to others, as means to edify nonbelievers and believers alike.
As for those who study the Bible, they have to pay extra effort in order to understand God’s will, and one of the simplest and effective methods is to eye or observe. The Bereans“examined”the Scriptures day after day(Acts 17:10-11, HCSB),so that they could understand biblical truths. “Examined”is searching or examining carefully. The first step of iEXP Bible Study Method is “i” (which stands for eye”).
- “Genre”. By using our eyes, we eye the biblical text carefully. The Bible is written in various genres, such as law, narrative, poetry, wisdom literature and epistles. As the emphasis and the focus of poetry, narrative, prophecy and letter are different, thus the ways to understand and interpret are not the same.
- “Occasion”. As we study the text, we should pay attention to the facts about time.
- “Location”. We should pay attention to the location mentioned in the text, as it might give us clues to cause and effect.
- “Character”. What are the main characters in the passage?
- “Action”. What have the main characters said and done? These are the information we should observe.
The Apostle Paul urged his young coworker Timothy to handle the word of truth correctly (2 Tim. 2:15), that is, to interpret the Bible with caution. The second step of iEXP Bible Study Method is to “Expound”.
- “Context”. The original Bible is written in Hebrew and Greek. Concerning interpreting the Scriptures, a preacher humorously said, “Regardless of whether you know the original text or not, the most important thing is the context.” A verse can be tied to the whole chapter and the entire book, or even the whole Bible, therefore we should not ignore the context in interpretation.
- “Comparison”. Some verses are very difficult to understand, but we can find clues from the other books of the Bible before making reasonable inferences and giving explanations. Since the sixty-six books of the Bible are linked together, thus Scripture interpret Scripture is very important.
- “Commentary”. Some Bible scholars have spent their entire life studying the original text and the Bible. When interpreting the Bible, we must refer to the commentaries of scholars who believe in the Bible, so that we can explain the Bible more accurately.
The greatest commandment in the Bible is to love the Lord wholeheartedly and to love humankind (Mark 12:29-31). This is what Christians should exercise on earth. The third step of iEXP Bible Study Method is to“Exercise”, that is, to exercise godliness. Applying the biblical truths to our daily living is the ultimate goal of Bible study.
- Experience God. After understanding God’s will, Bible readers or Bible students should experience God in their daily lives, so that they could deepen their relationship with the Lord.
- Interpersonal Relationships. Through Bible study, we come to know human problems and weaknesses, and we should beware of committing the same mistakes like the Bible characters. Owing to human weaknesses, we inevitably hurt others, intentionally or unintentionally; therefore, we must practice mutual forgiveness. In terms of interpersonal relationships, we should edify and care for one another selflessly, in accordance with the biblical teachings.
- Personal belief. After each Bible study, nonbelievers could apply the biblical truths to their lives in order to experience whether these truths are true or not. Moreover, they could experience that God is true and alive. Consequently, they would accept God’s saving grace. As for Christians, these truths would encourage them to devote themselves to God once again. Also, these Bible principles would further develop their character. Last but not least, these truths could also be the cornerstone and the principle of their service.
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to nonbelievers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to nonbelieving friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
Video in English:
Video in Chinese: