Let’s begin with a definition. I define method in Bible study with three statements. First of all, Method is “methodicalness.” That is, it involves taking certain steps in a certain order to guarantee a certain result. Not just any steps; not just any order; not just any result.

The result governs everything. What is the product of methodical Bible study? What are you after? All along I’ve been saying that personal Bible study has a very specific aim—namely, life-change.

So, then, how will you get there? What process will lead to that result? I propose a three-step approach that will guarantee life change—three crucial steps carried out in a particular order.

Bible Study step #1: Observation

In this step, you ask and answer the question, What do I see? The moment you come to the Scriptures you ask, What are the facts? You assume the role of a biblical detective, looking for clues. No detail is trivial. This leads to the second step.

Bible Study step #2: Interpretation

Here you ask and answer the question, What does it mean? Your central quest is for meaning. Unfortunately, too much Bible study begins with interpretation, and furthermore, it usually ends there. But I’m going to show you that it does not begin there. Before you understand, you have to learn to see. Nor does it end there, because the third step is …

Bible Study step #3: Application

Here you ask and answer the question, How does it work? Not, Does it work? People say they’re going to make the Bible “relevant.” But if the Bible is not already relevant, nothing you or I do will help. The Bible is relevant because it is revealed. It’s always a return to reality. And for those who read it and heed it, it changes their lives.

Hendricks, H. G., & Hendricks, W. D. (2007). Living by the Book: The art and science of reading the Bible (39–40). Chicago: Moody Publishers.