The perfect day would end with the perfect roast. I had all the ingredients- the veggies, the olive oil, the roaster, and the roast itself. My out-of-town wife was coming home and I wanted to impress her with how everything was running smoothly in her absence. I only made one mistake. Although I had turned the oven to 350 degrees, I forgot to stick the roast in the oven before heading back to work. It remained in the refrigerator. When I returned home expecting the aroma of a slow-cooked masterpiece I realized that the process we call supper was derailed by one simple step and you just don’t throw a roast in the microwave for 10 minutes. Roast takes time and process
Likewise, expositing scripture takes time. Here are five steps in expositing scripture that I’d challenge you to remember and utilize.
Step 1: Pray. All scripture reading, studying and application must begin with prayer. Ask God for fresh eyes and relevant insight and that God will transform you through the process of preparation. Bible study is meaningless if it doesn’t change us. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge puffs up. (1 Corinthians 8:1) Knowledge plus transformation and love builds up.
Step 2: Read the scripture with fresh eyes. Every time we read the Bible it breathes new insight into our lives. So even in passages that we’ve read scores of times, approach the reading with expectancy. Keep a pen handy to record your insights.
Step 3: Ask the basic questions: Who what, when why and how. The book of Acts is the perfect example for this. For example, If we have no idea of who Paul was, what culture he existed, or how he changed, we will have a limited scope and the narrative becomes one-dimensional.
Step 4: Explore. We have more tools to study scripture than we ever have had in the history of the church. Be sure to read the ETB commentary but you can take advantage of commentaries, websites, blogs, dictionaries, translations and versions, videos and a plethora of other sources. Warning: With a multitude of sources available these days, you are sure to run into a vast amount of rubbish! Vet the sources first.
Step 5: Journal and apply. Whether you use an empty book, a notebook, a private blog, or a word document. Journal the process and the implications to your life and community. What is God teaching you through the study of His Word? This is the rewarding aspect of Bible study: through it epiphany, growth, insight and change occurs. You’ll want to journal it. Celebrate it. And when the opportunity appears, share it.
These five steps aren’t rocket science but rather a touchstone and reminder of the basic steps you’ll want to practice. Remember to start with prayer or else you’ll have the same feeling I had when I stared at that plastic wrapped roast in the meat drawer of my refrigerator.