I’ve argued that everyone has a Bible study method, whether conscious or unconscious. So here’s mine.
The acronym OIA summarizes the method:
- Observation – what does it say?
- Interpretation – what does it mean?
- Application – how do I need to change?
You can restate these three steps as what? why? and so what? Or again, as what did the original author say? What did that mean to the original audience? And what does it mean in our context?
Knowable Word did not invent this method. It’s an old, old method. Seminaries call it the “historical-grammatical method of Bible interpretation,” but that title can be big and scary to most people. Some more popular treatments call it the “inductive Bible study method,” but I think that’s an unfortunate misuse of the wonderful term “inductive” from the realm of logic. So I prefer to call it simply “OIA.”
The wonder of the OIA method is that it allows the text to speak to us, rather than reading our own meaning into the text. The beauty of the OIA method is that it can be taught at seminary and get very, very deep, or it can be taught to the youngest children, enabling them as well to know the Lord in his Word.
I’ve explained the method in more detail in other posts, but for this summary, note what happens if we miss any part of it.
If we neglect good observation of what the text says, we have no true foundation upon which to know Christ. We have great intentions, but in all the wrong directions. We’re the people who failed to observe which weekend was the daylight savings time switch, and we show up to church an hour off from everyone else. An example of poor observation of Scripture is found in Luke 24:25-27.
If we neglect good interpretation of what the text means, we might not know whether what we believe or do is biblical or not. We might be honoring the Lord, or we might not be. We won’t be certain until we meet him face to face. A good example of poor interpretation of Scripture is found in Mark 12:24.
If we neglect good application of how we ought to change, we are like foolish builders founding a home upon sand. We are to be pitied. We give lip service to Christ, but our hearts are far from him (Matthew 15:8-9). God wants to make us more like Jesus (Rom 8:29), and he won’t rest until his Word accomplishes that purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11).
For much more detail on the OIA method see my How to Study the Bible series of posts.