The Wiersbe Bible study guides are my favorite tool I suggest small groups use to facilitate a discussion of the Bible. You can use the Wiersbe guides for your own personal Bible study, or in a small group Bible study. Whatever format you choose to use the Wiersbe guides in, here are four tips to help you get the most out of them.
Before doing your Bible study pray to God about what you are going to be reading and studying. Ask God to help you learn his Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and ask God to help you apply his Truth (John 17:17).
Praying before you study will prepare your heart and mind for what God is going to have you read, learn, and grow. The prayer does not have to be long or thorough. Just a simple, “God, please help me to learn your Word and apply your Truth” is sufficient.
II. READ THE PASSAGE IN YOUR BIBLE
There’s a story I once heard about the grey squirrels which lived at the Yale University campus. The students often fed the squirrels on campus. Because the squirrels began obtaining their food so easily from the students they stopped storing food for the winter. When the students would go home for winter break, some of the squirrels would die from starvation. They had obtained their food so easily that they learned to rely on others to be there every day to give it to them.
One of the main goals of Bible study is for you to learn to search the Scriptures on your own. No pastor wants his people to be completely dependent on him for their learning and growth. In fact, nothing is more encouraging to a pastor than knowing his people are regularly reading God’s Word and studying it on their own.
A. Read the Passage Quickly for a Broad Overview
First, you want to read the passage for that lesson a couple times quickly. Don’t get bogged down on fancy words, what a phrase might mean, or other things like that. Just read it quickly and try to get a feel for the big idea of the reading as well as some of the main themes that are discussed in the passage.
B. Read the Passage Slowly for more Focused Understanding and Study
Second, after you have read the passage a few times quickly, read it again slowly with a good study Bible or commentary nearby for reference. The thing I love about the Wiersbe Bible study guides is that there is also a commentary for each study guide written by Warren Wiersbe to supplement the Bible study. These commentaries are easy to read, well outlined, and highly applicational. I also highly suggest the Bible Knowledge Commentary edited by Roy Zuck and John Walvoord. Here are the Old Testament and New Testament. If a commentary is not your thing, a good study Bible willdo the job as well. I use and suggest the ESV Study Bible, NIV Study Bible, and the newly-released Swindoll Study Bible.
III. ANSWER THE QUESTIONS
Henry Ford is credited with saying, “Cut your own wood and you warm yourself twice.” (What he meant was that when you cut your own wood you warm yourself when cutting it and then you warm yourself when burning it.) It’s easy to look at a study Bible or commentary to answer the questions in the Wiersbe guides, but you want to do your best to answer the questions on your own.
Now that you have prayed for your study time, read the passage several times quickly and slowly, it’s time to answer the questions in the study guide.
A. How to Answer the Questions
When you answer the questions, don’t worry about having the “right” answer. Read the questions and jot down your honest thoughts and opinions. Do not worry about correct grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Bullet point answers are completely fine. If you don’t understand a question or are not sure how to answer it, then just skip it. If you are doing the Wiersbe Bible study guide in a small group you can attend the group and listen to how others answered the question. One benefit of the Wiersbe guides is that there are lots of questions in each lesson, so if you don’t understand one it’s okay to skip it because there are plenty of others to spend your time on.
B. The Types of Questions
In the Wiersbe Bible study guides each lesson has five sets of questions.
- Getting Started (questions 1-2). These two questions are designed to help you get a basic feel for what the passage is saying. These are the observation questions and should go quickly. The basic idea here is, “What do I see?”
- Going Deeper (questions 3-10). These eight questions are designed to help you interpret the meaning of the passage. Who was the author’s original audience? What did he want them to think and feel? What other passages relate to this passage? What does this phrase or word mean? In this section, Wiersbe will give you some excerpts from his commentary and have you read other passages from the Bible that will help interpret what the passage means. The basic idea here is, “What does it mean?
- Looking Inward (questions 11-13). These three questions help you start to internalize and apply what you have learned. Wiersbe will help you relate your life to what you have learned in the passage.
- Going Forward (question 14). This question puts the rubber to the road. It has you take all that you have learned and decide how you are going to apply it to your life. The basic idea here is, “How does it work?”
- Seeking Help (question 15). The last question in each lesson encourages you to write out a prayer to the Holy Spirit asking him to help you apply what you have learned from the lesson.
IV. FOCUS ON APPLICATION
The last tip I have for you to get the most out of the Wiersbe Bible study guides is to focus on the application questions. These are the sections “Looking Inward” and “Going Forward.” It is easy to get into a Bible study, spend lots of time on the first ten questions, and then skip the last questions. Be sure to allocate a good amount of time to questions 11-14 because that is where you will apply what you have learned from the passage. Our goal in Bible study is not to fill our heads with knowledge. Our goal with Bible study is to grow in our faith and character so that we resemble Christ more and more. What has helped me focus on application in my Bible study time is to use the GTL Bible-Hi-Glider to highlight the verse Wiersbe has you pick from question #14. This way that verse stands out to me, and every time I open my Bible to that page I am reminded of what verse I chose and how I should be applying it to my life.
It is important to remember that when you use a Bible study guide such as the Wiersbe guide, your main textbook of study is the Bible. You are not “doing a study of the Wiersbe Bible study guide.” In the past people have been critical of me when I promote the Wiersbe guides because people say, “Oh, you want me to study a book, not the Bible. That’s wrong.” No, the Wierbe Bible study guides are just that-guides! They are a tool you use to study the Bible. So your main textbook of study is the Bible itself, and the Wiersbe guide provides questions and commentary to guide your study and discussion of the Bible.
Do you want to use the Wiersbe Bible study guides but are not sure which book to study? Here’s a list of books I suggest each small group cover at some point in time. 1
- Galatians: Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality (8 lessons)
- Ephesians: Gaining the Things That Money Can’t Buy (8)
- James: Growing Up in Christ (8)
- Nehemiah: Standing Firm in the Face of Opposition (8)
- John: Get to Know the Living Savior (12)
- Ruth & Esther: Doing God’s Will Whatever the Cost (8)
- Hebrews: Live by Faith, Not by Sight (12)
- Romans: How to Be Right with God, Yourself, and Others (12)
- I am considering adding the book of Acts to this list. What do you think? Should I add Acts to the list of books that every small group should study at some point in time? ↩