Bible-marking is an easy way to prepare yourself to be able to study with others, answer questions, or teach a class or devotional. If you’re unfamiliar it, check this out or check out the Bible-marking feature at Come Fill Your Cup.
Today’s post will consider some questions I hear most often. If you think of another that isn’t mentioned, please share it with us!
What tools do you need?
A GOOD BIBLE. A reliable word-for-word translation will be easier to follow along with and mark. Some good examples are NASB, NKJV, and ESV. It also helps to have wide margins but it’s not necessary.
PENS. I like Pigma Micron pens, size 01. They come in a variety of colors and have a fine tip that won’t bleed through the delicate pages of your Bible. You can find them at most craft stores, Christian book stores, and amazon.
How do you determine which topics to mark?
LISTEN. Listen to what your friends, neighbors, family members or co-workers are discussing. Is there something that confuses them, such as reconciling the existence of pain and suffering with a good God? Is there something they’re struggling with, such as discouragement or a specific sin? Also listen to sermons and classes. When you hear a lesson on grace or prayer, start jotting down the Scripture references for later study. Neal just preached “Parenting from Proverbs” this past Sunday and I thought, “That’d be a great Bible-marking topic!”
PREPARE. Many topics will be geared toward your own personal Bible study opportunities. You’ll want to be prepared to answer questions about salvation, worship, authority, the organization of the Lord’s church, etc.
PRACTICALITY. You could Bible-mark just about any topic, but not every topic needs to be Bible-marked. Ask yourself the purpose for marking. Will it be helpful in teaching others? Will it be beneficial for your own spiritual growth or encouragement? Will it be something you could use when called on to give a devotional? The purpose of Bible-marking is to be prepared for study, sharing, and growth. If a topic doesn’t fulfill any of those goals, there’s really no need to Bible-mark it.
How do you keep from proof texting?
STUDY. Proof texting is using Bible verses to try and prove a point without considering the entire context. Passages pulled out of context can be used to prove just about any opinion or viewpoint and that can be very dangerous. It’s vitally important that quality time is spent in study to make sure we’re never guilty of misusing Scripture (2 Tim. 2:15). It’s easy to pull verses out of context. It takes work to understand the context. Because we’re accountable for what we teach (James 3:1), we better take the time and trouble to study, study, study.
When more than one topic uses the same passage, how do you know which verse goes with which topic?
COLOR. The pigma micron pens come in a variety of colors. Using different colors for each topic will allow you to keep your topics clearly marked. For example, the topics “Plan of Salvation” and “Sinful Past” share a verse, so at the end of that verse there are two passages listed. Because those topics have been marked in different colors, I know which verse to go to for the “Plan of Salvation” and which one to go to for “Sinful Past.” If you ever find that you used the same color in that situation, simply note the topic initials next to the passages you’re supposed to go to next. For instance, write “Acts 2:38 (PS)” at the end of the verse.
How do you know when to underline, circle, or draw a square around certain words?
STYLE. It’s all completely personal. Use your own style to determine what you’d like to mark in each verse. The point is to draw attention to what needs to be emphasized for the topic you’re studying. If you’d prefer to circle instead of underline, or use highlighters instead of pens, go for it. If you don’t like to write notes in your margins, that’s okay. Everyone has their own style and preferences. I tend to look for two things in each verse: the key word/ thought I’m studying (such as “forgive” or “grace”) and then the teaching about that thought (such as how to forgive or the extent of grace). I will usually mark the key word by circling it and then mark the teaching by underlining it. If there is a second key thought to note, I will draw a square around it. If there is a second teaching (how often to forgive or a benefit of forgiveness, etc.), I will draw a squiggly line under it. That method makes the most sense for me. When it comes to marking verses, you get to choose what works best for you.
How long does it take to put together a Bible-marking topic?
HOURS. But how many depends on the topic itself. If it’s a deeper subject, naturally it’ll take longer to study. If it’s a topic you’re more familiar with or one that you’ve recently studied in a class, you can prepare it for Bible-marking in only a couple of hours. Again, the time is mostly devoted to making sure no passages are misused or taken out of context.
With the exception of making sure all passages are used accurately, there’s really no right or wrong way to Bible-mark. Everyone has their own learning style, study habits, and personal preferences. The idea is to just get into the Word and look for ways to easily share it with others.
Prayer for Today: Thank you for Your Word, Lord. May we always be ready to share it!