Speaker: Tyler McKenzie
Week Four Devotional
By Tomara Brown
Last week, I introduced you to a helpful way of studying the Bible called the “Alive Method”. The Alive Method is a simple framework for looking at any passage of Scripture. For those who’ve been in church for a while, you might know it as inductive Bible study. Here’s a written example from my study time to show what it can look like to use this method. Read through it to be encouraged that Bible study isn’t just for the scholars. You can use this method to study the Bible right now!
The Alive Method
The Alive Method is based on asking four questions of Scripture:
- “What does it say?” (Observe)
- “What’s the backstory?” (Context)
- “What does it mean?” (Theological Principle) and
- “What does it mean for me?” (Application)
Breath Prayer: Jesus Christ, Son of God, sharpen my mind to receive your word.
Choose your Bible: I’m using the ESV Study Bible by Crossway
Read Scripture: John 15:1-17 then study John 15:1-5 using the ALIVE METHOD by Nicole Unice.
- What does it say?
This first step encourages me to observe. I’ll paraphrase the verses into my own words. I’ll be looking for repetition of words, compare/contrast statements, if-then statement, important conjunctions, etc. I’ll also look for imagery and figures of speech.
- Those who stay connected to the true vine, Jesus, will produce fruit – fruit that will last – fruit that has eternal value. This connection is abiding.
- Every part of the believer who is bearing fruit should expect the pruning process so they can bear more fruit.
- Fruit is an image for the good results coming from the life of a believer that is advancing the work of God in the world. Life “apart” from Jesus cannot produce “a part” of Jesus.
- What’s the backstory?
The second step includes researching the setting, the author, the audience and any cross-references.
- John 15 is among the farewell conversations that include the last teachings that Jesus extended to his disciples before his death.
- The Gospel, John, was written by John (son of Zebedee and one of the 12 disciples.) The larger theme here is that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the son of God, and by believing in Jesus people can have eternal life.
- The main genre here is Gospel, which combines 3 different ingredients: what Jesus did, what Jesus said and people’s response to Jesus.
- Here Jesus is confirming his “I am” statement – that he is the true vine. A cross reference here is Isaiah 5:1-7. In the Song of the Vineyard, the vineyard is the “house of Israel” that yields only the bad fruit of injustice and oppression. But in the Day of the Messiah, this vineyard will flourish.
- Abide is a key word here. It is found in verses 4,5,6,7,9,10 and 16. What, then does “abiding” entail? It’s not talking about belief as intellectual assent, but belief as embracing, clinging to, and continuing to receive spiritual sustenance from the vine.
- Fruit is another key word. It is found in verses 2, 4, 5, 8 and 16. What, then, is fruit? The fruit is the evidence that you are a disciple of Jesus.
- What does it mean?
The third step includes identifying the main principles and truth statements.
The 1st Principle: If you abide in Jesus then you will be able to produce fruit.
- As followers of Jesus, we must abide in him if we want to produce fruit – fruit that will last – eternal fruit. In other words, if we want to love others as Christ loves them then we must remain connected to the vine – Jesus.
- To “abide” means that I must “hold to” or “continue in” Jesus’ teaching. This is the opposite of running hot for a short period of time, and then coasting. When I abide in Jesus’ word then I don’t give up under persecution or allow my fruitfulness to be choked by the “weeds” of worldly pressures (to use the vocabulary of Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13:1-8, 18-23).
- Fruit is expressed in Galatians as the fruit of the spirit -love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Fruit grows through abiding and not striving. As we abide, God works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. This kind of fruit enables us to love our neighbor and seek justice for the oppressed.
The 2nd Principle: People and plants must be pruned to grow. It can be painful but necessary.
- What does it mean for me?
The fourth step includes making application for myself. This requires reflection on my daily walk with Jesus.
- My abiding in Jesus should always bring God glory and be reflected in my conduct, my character, and my conversations.
- I am called to abide, not just visit with Jesus. I am to press in ever closer to Him when circumstances tempt to pull me away.
- The pruning process increases my effectiveness as a Christian. Everything I experience while abiding as a branch is to prepare me to bear more fruit. It will be uncomfortable but as I abide in him, he abides in me. I draw strength, nourishment, protection, and energy from the vine.
I hope this method sparks a desire and confidence for you to study the Bible in a new way. Take a few minutes today to try the ALIVE method for yourself.
Recommended Resources from Sermon:
–The Story by Lucado
–Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew About the Bible by Mike Bird
–Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How you Read the Bible by McKnight
–Reading While Black by McCaulley
–Canon Revisited by Kruger
–New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp
–Help My Bible is Alive by Nicole Unice
–Prodigal Prophet by Keller
–Songs of Jesus by Keller
–Mr. Phil TV “Bring Faith to Life for Kids” a video subscription program by Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales
–Bible Project App & Podcast- Learn the Bible for free online