I use the Logos Bible Software in my daily study time and for the last several days I’ve been using a course of study from John Piper called the “Look at the Book Labs”. Each day, Piper examines a passage of Scripture and you get to follow along as he studies the Word. The cool feature, however, is that each study has a video. Viewers get to see the passage of Scripture in question (in other words, they get to look at the book) while Piper annotates and marks up the passage during his study. All the while, Piper is commentating and guiding viewers through the study. The end results are great.
In my studies, I try to follow a particular pattern:
- Observation: here is where I ask questions of the text. Who, what, when, why, and where type of questions.
- Interpretation: In this step, I bring in multiple translations, commentaries, dictionaries and other extra-biblical sources to help me understand words or phrases that aren’t immediately understood.
- Application: In this step, I ask myself how the passage I am studying applies to my life. Is there a call to action? Is there a change being asked of me? This is where I determine my response to what I’ve read.
I say all of this because Piper’s studies offer wonderful examples of the first two steps. I really enjoy watching as he guides me through his observation and interpretation. It is very insightful to see what mental processes Piper goes through as he approaches the text. Too often, Christians are tempted to skip observation and interpretation in favor of application, however, Piper’s studies certainly demonstrate how important it is to ask the right questions and take the time to observe and interpret. I am learning from his example.
At the end of each study, Piper also offers additional resources and sermons from his library that apply to the passage in question. I’ve been using his study as a launching point (each one takes 10 to 15 minutes) for my own studies and have tried going deeper into the text. Using these studies, a person can go as deep as they want. Piper’s goal is to teach people how to feed themselves … and I think these labs work wonderfully.
I checked today and these labs are all available on Piper’s website for free at http://www.desiringgod.org/labs. I highly recommend them.