How To Study The Bible Effectively

Long, long ago…

in a Kingdom closer than I imagined, God gave me a passion to know His Word inside out and upside down. He also blessed me with the opportunity to attend one of the finest seminaries in the U.S.—Beeson Divinity School located on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

RDRD Bible Study Author Selfie

Selfie, so you can see what I look like.

After earning a Master of Divinity (MDiv) , early wrinkles, and a caffeine addiction, I began a two-year process of writing a research proposal, applying for a PhD program, and starting the program, only to discover that it fit me like a size 2 pair of jeans, or in other words, not in my best dream. I then applied and was accepted into another PhD program, but having 2 daughters in college, money became an issue.  I prayed for peace about either going in debt to pay for the PhD or telling my daughters they could not eat, but peace did not come–for either.

Unfortunately, I had to withdraw from this program. This devastated me since I had worked so hard to get in and since I needed the PhD to teach at a seminary level.

In all of this academia, I never learned why God takes away some dreams. But whatever the reason, I mustered enough trust to keep in mind the Bible’s main witness about God—He is good.

Attending seminary…

undoubtedly ranks as the highlight of my life. I really enjoy studying, research, writing papers, and yes, learning the original Biblical languages.

While in seminary, I continued to work at a full-time job, a part-time job, and raise two daughters. This situation was good and bad. “Bad” because I was unable to participate in many of the school functions and because studying, reading, etc. consumed all of my free time and a large portion of sleep time. “Good” because I had the unique opportunity to learn at a pace conducive to absorbing and processing the material.

Most students take 4-5 classes each semester, whereas I could take only two. Taking fewer classes turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Taking the time to ingest and digest what is being learned is important in any academic endeavor, and even more so when studying God’s Word.

During the eight years…

(yes, eight, that is not a typo) it took to complete the MDiv, I got into a rhythm of planning out work, research, writing papers, parsing verbs, exam study, and the biggest personal time consumer—reading. I did bits and pieces here and there, wherever I could fit in a little time around work, waiting for soccer practice to end, chauffeuring daughters, waiting in a drive-thru, etc. Once the dentist asked me nicely to put my book down.

Though I did not fully escape some long study hours, the majority of study sessions were in small increments. Doing the work in small increments aided comprehension more than I could have planned or imagined.

Much to my surprise, this incremental approach to study paid off academically. I received an invitation to Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, received the Excellence in Biblical Languages Award, and was awarded the Most Distinguished Student Award which is given to a graduating student based on faculty vote.

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention the primary reason for doing well. I did work hard, but all of it, regardless of the increment of time, involved lots of prayer, lots, lots, of prayer—before, during, and after any academic activity.RDRD Bible Study Merry Go Round

Since I enjoy…

teaching, speaking, and writing, I frequently attend speaking and writing conferences. I have met many wonderful Christian men and women who have a passion to share God’s Word. Many are in full-time ministry, some are just starting out, and others are at various places in-between.

Most of these men and women desire to do more in-depth study of the Bible and/or go to seminary, but their schedules just don’t allow it. If someone has a busy ministry, a full-time job, home school their kids, write, etc., it is unlikely they will have the time to read a 600 page theology book or learn the Greek language.

Rightly Dividing, Rightly Dividing…

to the rescue! Each post will provide a Biblical study or research help that can be read quickly, in fact, faster than the speed of lightning, able to leap tall theology books with one jump. One post may seem miniscule considering the vast ocean named “theological eductation.” But soon 1 post will be 3 posts, 3 posts will be 2 weeks of posts, 2 weeks of posts will be 3 months, and 3 months will be 1 year, etc.

In only a few short minutes a day, or whatever frequency you choose, you will build up quite an arsenal of Biblical study know-how. And the pace will allow you to absorb and process the material. More importantly, you will be able to put some of it into practice right away.

If you, like many people…

that I have taught over the years, have specific questions, please e-mail me and I will try my best to use your question as the topic of a post. If your question involves a controversial subject, i.e. “Will the tribulation last a literal seven years?” I will provide material for you to rightly divide this subject. If your question is “Where do dinosaurs fit in the Bible?” I will answer like any self-respecting scholar: “I don’t know.” God honors these words when they are spoken in truth.

The mission of RDRD Bible Study is to provide Biblical study and research helps, tips, techniques, and tidbits, across multiple theological disciplines that can be read in a short amount of time and put to use right away.

RDRD Bible Study exists to serve you, your ministry, and those to whom God has put in your audience. May our service to God’s people bring glory to God! Amen!?

Workers who are diligent to present ourselves approved to God, who do not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).

In Christ,

Tina Whitfield

p.s. Forgive me for plagiarizing Paul and using the following letter ending. However, I love how it mentions each person of the Trinity. Though we don’t typically think of Paul as being heavy in Trinitarian theology, I believe it is his most overlooked theological emphasis. Watch for it as you read Paul’s letters.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  2 Corinthians 13:14, ESV

RDRD Bible Study Cut Straight to the Point