Dispensations Timeline

Back when we were students at New Tribes Bible Institute, one of our assignments was to make a “Dispensations” Timeline. It was so beneficial to see how God has communicated to mankind throughout our history on earth, and drawing it out helped me grasp the big picture context of biblical history that we were learning from our Hermeneutics II class. Take a look!

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Do you find timelines or using colored pencils, etc., are helpful as you study God’s Word? Share in the comments below!

Dispensations Timeline

Simeon Trust Womens Workshop

11070905_909341659126586_7401526372395485124_nThis past weekend I had the joy and privilege to attend one of Simeon Trust’s Women’s Workshops on the biblical exposition of Titus. It’s been 6 years since I attended hermeneutics and pastoral epistles classes at NTBI, so I was a little nervous being a part of small group of women (all older than me) when I found out we would each be presenting on two passages from Titus! Did I mention my small group leader was Kathleen Nielson? *gulp* My church’s women’s ministries just went through her two study guides on Joshua and Nehemiah.

10924770_10153051167023409_180929408373644096_nI understood how important rightly handling the Word of God is, though, so I knew that attending a biblical exposition workshop would be so beneficial, no matter how uncomfortable I’d feel, and especially considering how we will be involved in teaching and translating the Word of God in an unreached people group! These are things we constantly need to be reminding ourselves of and re-learning!

I don’t want to give away everything that Simeon taught us during the workshop, I suggest that you go check out their website where you can view, download, and listen to their “Principles of Exposition“. What I loved about these principles, is that they were “bite-sized” expositional teachings that you can so easily pass on and teach to women (and men). The drawings that go along with each principle were great visuals and tools to help you remember what you’re looking for when you study a text. They are a lot more practical than pulling out the hermeneutic textbook from off the shelf!

poe-travelingthroughthecrossOne of their principles, “Traveling Through the Cross”, was such a great reminder! They encouraged us to find the gospel in the text we are studying – whether it is Genesis or Titus. This doesn’t mean to spiritualize or moralize the text, but to ask “Where is this text in relation to the cross?” “Does this passage speak about or relate to Christ or the gospel?”

In the end, my favourite time ended up being the small group sessions, and I was so sad how quickly the weekend had gone by! We spent somewhere around 5 hours together sharing our expositions, responding to, critiquing, and uplifting one another.  I was so thankful for Kathleen’s gracious comments and pointers!

Take away

This weekend was so helpful, as I was reminded of so many things I had forgotten from Bible school, but I didn’t leave satisfied. I want to devote more time to refreshing my knowledge of grammar and structure, re-read my notes from NTBI classes, practice biblical exposition in my personal Bible study or through taking one of the Simeon Trust courses. I’m also looking forward to developing Bible study curriculum for women and teaching women how to study the Bible on their own. Someday I would love to pursue a MA in Biblical Exposition or Exegesis, though I’m not sure how that would work out as a mom and living in a remote region of the world! Any online MA courses out there?

In the words of my ol’ Bible school teachers, “Context is king.” “Don’t your conform God’s Word to your thinking, but conform your thinking to God’s Word!” And Colleen McFadden’s great reminder, “Where did we find that in the text?”

Have you attended a Simeon Trust Workshop? If so, what did you think? What did you take away?

3 Levels of Bible Study: Intense Study

This was a paper given to us by our Hermeneutics and Ecclesiology teacher, Chris McMaster, near the end of our senior semester at New Tribes Bible Institute back in 2010. He gave it as a tool to help guide us in studying on our own after Bible school, and we’ve kept this handout with us since then! Here is the first (and most intensive) level of Bible study that he shared with us.


#1 Intense Study

Goal – In depth and obective study of the Word of God. This is the most objective way for us as interpreters to faithfully study the Word and be able to confidently evaluate what others are saying about they text.

Text – Pick anything and go for it.

Process – Here you want to use every tool you have been given to study a text as in-depth as you can. This type of study assumes you are attempting to be as objective as possible and not dependent upon commentators to give you the answers. The basics of this approach are as follows:

  • Historical/Cultural Context – In this step you are trying to find out everything you can about the setting of the book you are studying. Who is the audience? Who is the author and why is he writing? Are there any key issues going on with the audience or author that helps us understand what the content of the book might be aimed toward? Introductions to commentaries and surveys are good for this kind of research. In this section you can also identify any cultural elements in this specific passage you are studying. These may include rituals, social life, material culture, political issues, worldview, etc. Books focused on backgrounds and history behind the Old and New Testaments are most helpful for this type of study.
  • Literary Context – In this step your main goal is to get a good grasp of the content of the book the passage you are studying is found in. The best place to start is unnamedreading the book over and over. Read it until you begin to see what the book is all about and how the author has laid out the information in the book. If you do this step well you are able to explain where the book begins, ends, and how everything in between is connected or important to the overall content of the letter/book. You can visualize your finding by making a book chart and an outline of the book. In the end make sure you can answer this question – How does your passage fit into the book as a whole?
  • Observation – How you do this step is largely dependent upon the type of literature you are studying. If you are studying Genesis you will be studying stories and need to make observations based upon how a story works and communicates meaning to the audience. If you are studying poetry you will need to identify parallelism and figurative language, etc. If you are studying an epistle you will need to observe grammar and syntax. You will need to iScreen Shot 2015-05-12 at 1.01.35 PMdentify the main clauses, modifying clauses, verbs, prepositional phrases, adverbs, adjectives, and how it all relates to communicate the authors point and so on. The goal is to see as many details as you can, not to explain what they mean. In this step you will also be doing word studies on any key or non-routine words. A term chart is a helpful tool for organizing your observations.
  • Interpretation – In this step your goal is to take all the details you found in the observation phase and explain how the author was using that information to communicate meaning to the audience in their historical context. A term chart can help you take all the details and ask good interpretive questions that make you think about the meaning. Asking good questions about the details is the key to effective interpretation. Once you have thought through what all the details were saying to the audience, you can take all you have found and put the meaning of the text in your own words. What you have done is conclude what the text mean to the original audience. The next step is to compare your work with that of others. Good commentaries come in very helpful here. Read what others have said about the passage you are studying. Did you miss anything important? Do you need to adjust your findings or go back and look into something? Don’t assume the commentator is always correct. Any interpretation must be in line with context and the text itself. Don’t let theological ideas that are not there be read into the passage. Use this step to help you evaluate your conclusions. At the end of this step you should be able to explain in depth what the passage you are studying meant to the audience and how it should have impacted their lives.
  • Application – Bible study is never complete without practical application. In fact, all the effort that has been put out to this point finds its value in our lives as we take the time to recognize how the truth that impacted those believers should also impact how we live today. This step is always a challenge because before we can apply the text we have to recognize how we cannot. We must consider the differences and similarities between us and the original audience. Our application must always be based upon the similarities and not the differences. We want to find a clear principle in the text that was clearly to impact them in that day and can still impact us today. Once you find that principle it is time to look to the Lord to challenge your life and make practical application steps. You want application to be something you can step out in faith and do today and not leave it at a distance truth that doesn’t have any impact on your everyday life. Applications of a text can be many depending upon the various situations of life you find yourself in.
  • Communicating the text – At this point you know more than enough to share what you have studies with others. If you have the opportunity let others in on what you have learned!

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