In April I attended Together for the Gospel and got a pile of free books. Since the free books numbered more than I could ever read, I gave many of them away.
Two volumes on the stack almost got passed on to a more available master, but were snatched from the fire at the 11th hour. These were the two Read Mark Learn volumes—one on John, the other on Romans—published by Christian Focus in partnership with St. Helen’s Bishopsgate.
I almost passed over these treasures like an angel of death on the fourteenth day of the first month. My initial perusal revealed them to be a series of Bible studies, and, well, I need more Bible studies like Solomon needs more wives:
I find something more bitter than death: the woman [substitute “Bible study guide” for “woman” and you’ll catch my usual disillusionment] whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things— which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. (Eccl 7:26-28, ESV)
I read one short study from the volume on John’s Gospel just for kicks. And boy, am I glad I did.
I read another and another. After 5 of them, I couldn’t stop raving over them to my wife (you should have seen the spittle in my beard!). After only 2 or 3 more, I was ready to purchase a volume on every other book of the Bible. But I searched online and could find only John and Romans. I spoke with a representative from Westminster bookstore, and he could find only John and Romans. I went on the Christian Focus website, and still I could find only John and Romans.
The bad news is that they have volumes on only John and Romans. The good news, however, is that I finally found this page on St. Helen’s’s website, which has a long list of studies on many other (though not all) books of the Bible—all available for free. More bad news, though: John and Romans cost money. Sorry.
What is so good about these Bible studies?
- They are short: only 10 pages or fewer per unit of text.
- They consider context. The book’s historical context, the unit’s literary context, and the entire Bible’s gospel context.
- They concisely trace out (and focus on) the author’s flow of thought.
- They identify a main point for each section.
- They connect every passage to Christ.
- They get specific in application.
I’m not sure I can think of anything else I would ask for in a Bible study.
The only problem I can see with these studies is the threat of addiction. Just be careful not to read them until after you study the text for yourself. But if ever I was tempted to ignore my own standards for such things, now would be the time.
Disclaimer: If you click the Amazon links in this post and buy stuff, you’ll support this blog at no extra cost to yourself. This may enable me to buy more copies of Read Mark Learn to give out to my friends.