What Does Our Family Bible Study Look Like?

Five Questions to help your family grow to love God’s Word together –

In the following Article, you will find five simple questions that I ask to help my family work through a passage of Scripture. When I was a much younger father, I used to be intimidated by the families that did ‘family worship’. I didn’t have the time or the gifting to prepare complete bible studies every single night of the week like I thought these other dad’s were doing. I felt completely inferior and often neglected to do anything in the way of leading my family. Through the years, I have come to see that my family needs me to interact with the Bible WITH them more than they need me to prepare a long message FOR them. These questions were born out of years of walking my children through the Bible and they have become the foundation for our family’s worship. We use them during our times of family worship, while we are in driving in the car, or as we talk about a sermon or message that we have heard together. I have found that they serve as a wonderful springboard for deeper and more fruitful thinking on the passage at hand. 

Question #1 – What stands out to you from this passage? It might be something you didn’t know before or something that made you wonder. The Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). This doesn’t mean that it is magical or mystical. It means that since the One who spoke it is eternal and ever-present, His words are also truly meaningful and His message is always fresh and applicable. The Word has been breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). This means that as we read the Bible, we can hear Him speaking to us. We need to read the Bible in order to hear what He has to say to us now. The Word means what God means, not what we feel like it means (Isaiah 55:11). This means that He intends for us to be able to understand something from what we are reading. The purpose of a daily Bible study is that we would learn more about the Bible. It isn’t possible for us to learn everything there is to know about a passage the first time we read it. When we ask the question: “what stands out to you from this passage?”, what we are trying to do is to come to understand something from the passage that we are reading – a word we aren’t familiar with, a situation that reminds us of things that happen in our lives, or something incredible that makes us go: “WOW! Often it is enough to simply understand something that we didn’t know about the passage before. As we continue to discipline our families in the practice of reading the Bible these things will build upon each other and we will slowly but surely grow to know and understand what God has to say to us!

Question #2 – What other parts of the Bible does this remind us of? Did it remind you of something somewhere else in the Old or New Testament? All Scripture is profitable (2 Timothy3:16). As we read the Bible together, I want my children to learn how to think ‘globally’ about the message of the entire Bible. I ask this question to get them thinking about other parts that we have read together. Be careful of connecting dots that aren’t there to connect. For example, when when we are reading about a ‘door’ in Isaiah 45:2, I am not trying to get my children to think Isaiah is referring to the ‘door’ in John 10 or visa versa. What I would like to see is that my children remembered that in John 10:2 the Bible mentions a door. I am trying to cultivate in their minds the larger story of the Bible. As my children get older I try to help them to think about what these things mean, what they stand for, whether or not there actually is a connection, etc, but for the most part I simply want to increase their familiarity with the whole Bible.

Question #3 – How does this passage remind us about Jesus? This could be something that you want to learn more about or something that you didn’t realize before. The ultimate purpose behind Bible reading with our family is to know Jesus (Luke 24:27; John 5:39)! Every time we read together we need to take time to point our families to Jesus Christ and we need to do it in such a way that it is more than just intellectual knowledge. We need to do our part to help them take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5). What I mean by this is that I want my children to have Jesus Christ in the very front of their thoughts as much as possible. I want to teach them to think about this question at other times in the day. We do not need to force ‘Jesus’ into every passage in the Bible. My intention, here, is to look at the passage and think about how Jesus would’ve thought about this passage. Sometimes the passages are explicitly referring to Jesus Christ but many do not. Remember, my purpose isn’t necessarily to connect Jesus to every passage as I read with my family but to train my children to be thinking about Jesus are we read it together. 

Question #4 – What does this passage teach us about the Gospel? What kinds of things did we read about that help us understand how to be saved or what it means to be saved? How do I see the gospel in this passage? The message of the entire Bible is practically the ‘Gospel’ (Romans 1:1-5). Therefore, everything from the creation to eternity contains in it something of this ‘good news’. When I ask this question, though, I am talking about the specific doctrines that teach us of the Work of Christ on the Cross and His Resurrection. I want my children to be thinking about forgiveness, righteousness, repentance, adoption, justification, love, holiness, redemption, wrath, sin, justice, condemnation, etc as we read the passage. I want my children to have these kinds of topics floating around in their heads as we read AND I want to emphasize these as we talk about the passage for two reasons: First – I want them know the gospel and be saved! Second – I want to train them to think this way so that they are equipped with the tools to share the gospel with others. This is where we get the content for sharing the gospel with others. As we speak about these things in the morning, they often come to mind later on in the day as we interact with our children and with friends, neighbors, and strangers that we meet. In a very convenient way, we don’t have to think very hard to talk about Jesus when we meet someone because we have already prepared some thoughts about Him during our family worship.

Question #5 – What does this passage tell me to do, think, feel, or say? What did we see in the passage that we just read that helps us to understand what God expects us to do in response to His Word? James 1:22 tells us to “be doers of the Word and not hearers only.” There is a real danger in becoming those who know the Word of God but refuse to do anything about it. It is imperative that we train our children to act on the truths that they find in the Bible. One of the worst condemnations that we can read in the Scriptures is found in Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” It is possible to be familiar enough with the Lord to call Him by name and yet still be unknown by Him. I want to train my children that the Bible isn’t simply a story about God. It is a revelation of His will for us and when we obey, we are aligning our lives directly with His. I want to make certain that I am fulfilling Christ’s command to me, by teaching my children to obey Matthew 28:20 – “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Making disciples is so much more than simply transferring information about God. Making disciples is about teaching others to teach others to do what the Lord Jesus Christ commands. Close out your Bible study by listing out several things that the passage you are reading tells you to do, feel, think, or say. Sometimes you will see an explicit command. Other times you will have to consider the things that you see the individuals in the passage doing. 

As we work through this kind of reading plan, our goal is to train our minds to think biblically and evangelistically – and it works! I can’t tell you how many times we have read a passage, even a difficult passage, and the children have pointed out something that I never thought about. The continual practice of using these questions also helps us to apply our minds to be able to interact with other people in normal conversation. It is important to remember that we are only, ever, one sentence away from talking about Jesus. These questions are helpful as we listen to any conversation that we find ourselves in. As we listen to someone talk about their family, what stands out to us? What interests us? What part of the conversation reminds us of something in the Bible? In what way does the direction of the discussion remind us of something about Jesus? Is there any obvious connection with the theme of the Gospel? As we answer these questions, we will find that we are thinking of things that we can speak about in order to point them to the Good News of the Savior of the World!

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