Reading the Bible One to One
Psalm 119:9-11 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
ESM encourages everyone to read God’s word everyday. Bible reading is an important part of our daily life. The reality is, even mature Christians may struggle with a regular Bible reading habit.
Reading the Bible One to One (or 121) may help us in developing a Bible reading life style. As we are called to encourage one another and build one another up, 121 provides a good platform that the mature Christians may help the young ones in understanding the Bible. It also provides an opportunity to build relationship with one another.
To benefit from reading God’s word together, you should keep the followings in mind:
(1) It is not an ESM program; it is not compulsory for everyone to join. However, we do encourage a Bible reading lifestyle.
(2) You should only read the Bible with someone: (a) of your same gender; (b) someone you trust.
(3) It is common sense to choose a bright and safe environment to read the Bible together.
Before you start:
(1) Pray. It is important that you start with prayers. If you are mature Christians, ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit, whether you would like to help non-Christians to understand the gospel through Bible reading; or you want to help young Christians to grow in faith; or you may want someone to help you to develop a Bible reading lifestyle; pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
(2) Invite. It requires some boldness. Remember that 121 is purely Bible reading together. It is not about you being a leader or Bible teacher; it is not dating (you should only invite people of your gender). It is about your heart — to pursuit Jesus and to understand the gospel through reading the Bible with another person.
(3) Plan. It is wise to set a reading plan. For example: reading the Gospel of Mark, one chapter a week for 16 weeks; plus the first meeting for introduction and the last meeting for a debriefing; that would be a total of 18 weeks.
What to do:
(1) Praying and reading. Pray for the illumination of the Holy Spirit in understanding God’s word. It is good to pray and read aloud, but it is not always practical. It is wise to use our common sense.
(2) Sharing. You may kill a 121 by monopolising sharing. There are various tools to help us in this area. In David Helm’s book (One to One Bible Reading), the author suggests 2 simple frameworks for Bible reading: 1. The Swedish method. 2. The COMA method.
You may also use a 4 Fs method. After reading a chapter, you may ask: (1) Facts: what happened? Who, what, where, when, how? (2) Feeling: e.g. how do you feel if you were the blind man? (3) Findings: what do I know more about myself and God? (4) Future: knowing all these about God and myself, what am I going to do?
(3) Application and pray. It is wise to set some “do-able” application. E.g. pray for my family before I eat my breakfast. Do not say, “I want to be a missionary.” Instead, “I’ll talk to a staff at the Bible College about my future possibility in preparing myself to be a missionary.” Write down the application at the end of the meeting, so that you may check each others’ applications in the next meeting. And finally, pray for each others’ application.
(1) The easy way is to turn up each time unprepared; and you get what you pay for. To maximises our time together, it is worth studying the passage first and preparing some questions for discussion.
(2) Tools are very important. E.g. Study Bibles, commentaries, Bible maps, Bible Dictionaries, Concordances, and so on; but please use it with caution. Bible scholars are humans and we can be biased by our subjectivity and theological perspective. Furthermore, do not randomly internet search a passage unless it is some reliable source, e.g. desiringgod.org
(3) Your heart and attitude is the most important. The Bible can be a very difficult book. But a humble heart and a serving attitude is all God wants when you read the Bible. It is not about what you know about the Bible, it is all about the glory of God being shown through his word. In a group of two, if you believe that you are more mature and knowledgeable of the Bible, be prepared to serve; but if you believe that you are young and ignorance, remember what Paul says to Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Time 4:12)
ESV Study Bible
NIV Study Bible
NIV Application Commentary Series
Bible Speaks Today Series
New Bible Commentary (IVP)
Bible Study Books:
Life Change Series (Navpress)
John Stott Bible Study (IVP)
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology. IVP.
David Helm, One to One Bible Reading. Matthias Media.