Topical Bible study gives in-depth access to God’s wisdom for our daily lives. This article gives you a quick and fun 7 step process to get started today with topical Bible study.
To live victoriously as a Christian it is essential for us to know, understand and apply the wisdom of God to every aspect of our lives. Think about any area in your life where you need to really know the mind of God. Go deeply into studying what God’s word says about that area by using the steps below.
Step 1 Prepare for Your Topical Bible Study
- Try and go to a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
- Give yourself time to do this properly. I would say a half day at least. Take breaks if you need to, and if you can be in a beautiful inspiring place while you study, do that.
- Start getting clear on the question or topic you are seeking God’s wisdom for.
- Pray and ask God to lead you to scriptures. Also, pray for His Holy Spirit to open your understanding.
- Let go of any presuppositions you may have about what you already know. Be open to God giving you a fresh revelation as you do this topical Bible study.
- Get a notebook to start writing down what you learn. Highlighters can be helpful too. If you have a large Bible and concordance or commentary, get them ready. Online tools can make topical Bible study much easier. You can access a list of free online tools for Bible study in this linked previous article on online Bible study tools and apps. That article covers online bible study tools and apps that have topical guides, commentaries, and different bible versions all in one spot.
Consider these additional resources if you use hard copy or Kindle:
- a) Concordance (e.g. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, New International Bible Concordance);
- b) Bible dictionary (e.g. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary: New and Enhanced Edition ,The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary );
- c) Hebrew/Greek Bible (The Zondervan Greek and English Interlinear New Testament (NASB/NIV), Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament);
- d) English dictionary;
- e) Commentary (e.g. Eerdman’s Commentary on the Bible, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible (Super Value Series), New International Bible Commentary);
- f) Bible versions for comparison (e.g. Holy Bible: New Living Translation, Amplified Holy Bible, Large Print, Hardcover: Captures the Full Meaning Behind the Original Greek and Hebrew, The Holy Bible: New International Version, NASB Giant Print Reference Bible (Black Genuine Leather), The Message Deluxe Gift Bible: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Imitation Leather)
- g) Topical study guides available by specific themes from Christian publishers like Zondervan, Lifeway, and NavPress.
STEP 2 Refine Your Topic for Study
- Write out the question you would like an answer to at the end of the topical Bible study.
- Include the specific topic in your notes.
- Make sure to also write out any subtopics related to your specific topic that will help you as you begin to go deeper on the topic.
STEP 3 Review and Write
- Get a list of all scripture references that relate to your topic in the Bible. Look them up in various versions, and begin writing what you learn. Also, include any additional learning by looking the scriptures up in books that give you Hebrew or Greek original meaning (see c above).
- Then look at commentaries to get additional information and perspectives.
- See what the Bible dictionaries and regular dictionaries add to your understanding.
- Delve into the concordances and write out what you learn from these.
- Then look at 1-2 topical study guides that relate to what you are studying (a previous article on online bible study tools has several sources of free topical study guides).
- Write out notes on any key themes or poignant points you are learning.
- Lastly, write out actionable steps you can take to make this truth more evident in your daily life.
STEP 4 Look for the Message that God is Drawing Your Attention to the Most
- When you finish step 3, go back and highlight any core themes or points that really speak to you.
- Take your time doing this. Do not rush through.
STEP 5 Write Out 3-5 Key Truths to Meditate On
- Looking at your notes, pull out the top 3-5 truths that really speak to you from your study.
- Put them on cards and start meditating on them. When I say meditate, I mean reading them aloud or to yourself silently. Do it slowly and really ponder them.
- Some people find writing scriptures out helps them to go deeper—-so you can try that too.
- Others who are creative love to draw images that represent the truth that they just learned. While they draw, they are meditating on the truth of what they have learned. If you are creative, try this technique.
- Find one way that works best for you to spend some extra time digesting the Truth of what you have learned such that the word goes deeper into your heart.
STEP 6 Listen to a Worship Song that Consolidates what You Have Learned (and Sing and/or Dance Along!)
- Search for a worship song by your favorite artist that speaks to what you have just learned. Listen and sing along. Dancing along is allowed too!
STEP 7 Consolidate and Apply What You Have Learned
- Go back to your action steps from above. Write out 3 things you will do differently based on what you have learned.
- Hold yourself to account by assessing at the end of each day whether you are living that truth out.
- If not, consider asking a Godly friend to help you by holding you accountable.
- It takes most people at least 21 days for new habits to set in, so hold yourself to account for at least that length of time. Check how you are doing daily for 21 days. If you struggle, go back and review your study notes.
This short article gives seven steps to get started with topical Bible study. It provides resource recommendations that will help you go deeper in a topical Bible study. The wisdom of God is available to believers for any area of life. We can access it by plunging into the truth of God’s word in focussed study.
Let Me Know
Have you ever done a topical Bible study? What topic? What worked well for you? Please leave me a comment below.
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