The Bible and SOAP
This Sunday we begin a new sermon series titled ‘The Bible: A Story that Makes Sense of Life’. Throughout Term 2, we will explore the big story of the Bible and how it all fits together to form the true story of the whole world. It should be a helpful and illuminating look at the plotline of the world’s bestseller.
But of course, the Bible is much more than just the story of God’s interaction with the people he made and the world he loves. It is also the ongoing way that God continues to speak to us! This series, then, is a great opportunity for each of us to be encouraged and to build up the habit of reading God’s Word regularly.
There are plenty of approaches to reading and unpacking the Bible, but they all have the same main purpose: to help us understand and apply God’s Word to our lives as we follow Jesus.
At Oasis Youth, we often us the acronym SOAP as a reminder of the steps to follow when reading the Bible. This could be a helpful tool for you also.
Scripture: Start with an achievable chuck of the Bible. Enough for you to get the context and meaning (generally 1-2 verses won’t give you much of a picture of the what the passage is saying) but not too much to lose sight of the details (a whole chapter will, for most people, be the upper limit). I recommend reading through a book of the Bible, a bit each day. Perhaps you could encounter Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, dig into the deep and practical theology of Romans, be strengthened in your faith by 1 Peter, or see how God’s plan for salvation was achieved by Jesus in Hebrews.
Observe: Take some time to read the passage and see what stands out. Are there any significant people? What is the main point being made here? Is there any context around the passage which shows you what it is about? Is there anyone who learns something or grows through the passage? Do you know of any key historical or cultural context which affects how you understand the passage? (A Study Bible is a great tool to help you answer this last one.)
Apply: Now, take the key message and lessons from the story, and first ask: Does what Jesus has done affect this key meaning? If your passage is in the New Testament, the work of Jesus is probably a part of it already. If it from the Old Testament, there might be ways that it points us to Jesus, and then applies to our lives through him. (Again, a Study Bible will help a lot with this last one).
You can now apply this message and lessons to your life. What does this mean for you? Does it challenge you, or your previous understandings at all? What does it show you about who God is? Does it call you to take action in some area of your life?
Pray: This is such an important part in your Bible reading, because this is the key way you respond to God about all he has said to you in his Word. Take some time every time you read the Bible to talk to God about what you are reading, ask him for guidance to understand the tricky bits, and thank him for all he has done for you. He is your loving Father, and he loves it when you talk to him!
I also highly recommend to you a book called Read this First, by Gary Millar. This is an excellent introduction to the Bible, which will help you to understand how it is put together and how you can apply each part to your own life.
As always, if you have any questions or want any further resources for your time in God’s Word, don’t hesitate to get in touch with any of the team at Oasis!
Have a blessed week,