What does your time in God’s Word look like? Are you just looking for something to grab your attention? Are you simply searching for some new tidbit or fact that you didn’t know before? Do you roam from passage to passage hoping that the next one will be just what you need? Do you study the Bible or just flip through it like a magazine? I’m guilty of each of these, and perhaps you are as well, but as Christians, we should be archaeologists of the Bible, excavating the depths of its content to find the treasure in each text! With that goal in mind, our pastor has worked up a simple plan for studying any passage in the Bible. He actually got the idea from Dr. Wayne Mack, but he beefed it up a bit for more widespread use. You may recognize some of the content, but this study plan has an added element of transformation at the end that keeps it from being overly academic. I’ve included the plan below, but you can also get the pdf here: SMAC Bible Study.
S.M.A.C. the Bible
This simple bible study plan is designed to help us learn the basics of how to study the bible in a way that brings about real change. The basic principles of bible study are as follows: Observation (what does the text Say), Interpretation (what does the text Mean), Application (how does this truth Apply to my life?), and finally Transformation (how is God calling me to Change?) Here’s how it works. Take a short Scripture (e.g. Gal. 5:22-23 or James 1:22-25) and work it through the following four steps. It may be helpful to stretch the study out over a three or four day period.
S: What does this passage say? Write out the text in your notebook, noting differences in various translations and giving attention to key words. Read the text in context (preferably the entire book in which it is contained) to get the big picture. Memorize the text. Write ten different observations of the text. Write two more from verses in the previous context, and two from the subsequent context. You may want to work on this for a couple days.
M: What does this passage mean? Read text in context again. (Define words – see cross-references.) Succinctly, write the interpretation. Is there a doctrine (teaching) to know? A reproof (a sin to avoid)? A correction (command to obey)? Instruction in righteousness (practical steps in how to put off the old nature and put on the new nature, Eph. 4:17-32)? Or any combination of these categories (2 Tim. 3:16)?
A: How does this text apply? Read text in context again. Review notes from S & M. How does this passage apply to me? What specific things can I do to apply this truth to my life (What element of false worship or obstacle to pure worship do I need to leave behind? How does my thinking need to change? What aspects of righteousness do I need to pursue in order to be more like Jesus?)?
C: How is God calling you to change? Write down what you are going to do, with whom you are going to do it, for whom you are going to do it and when you will start.
Prayer: Finally, write a short prayer asking God to accomplish in your life what the passage demands.