We take the Bible as our guide, rule and practice in the C.I.A. (Comprehension, Interpretation, Application) approach to studying the Bible.

It will teach us to move beyond loving God with just our hearts to loving Him with our mind and soul. The Bible will focus on answering the question “What does the Bible say about God?” Our Bible will aid us in the worthy task of God-discovery. The Bible is not a book about self-discovery, but rather a book about discovering God. The Bible is God’s declared intent to make Himself known to us. He reveals his love to us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Our focus changes the way we understand the Bible. We look first on what a scripture can teach us about the character of God, allowing self-discovery to be the by-product of God-discovery. This is a much better approach because here can be no true knowledge of self apart from knowledge of God. Thus knowledge of God leads to true knowledge of self, which leads to repentance and transformation. Paul, in Romans 12:2, indicates “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Most of us are good at loving God with our hearts. We are good at employing our emotions in our pursuit of God.

In studying the Bile, we can use the C.I.A. approach to examine the scriptures. We will begin by placing the scriptures in its historical and cultural setting. We will read through the scriptures to encounter the meaning of the words. This allows us to proclaim and understand what the scripture wants to say to us. As we encounter and proclaim the scriptures, we can relate to the scriptures. The three C.I.A. procedures are:

Comprehension: Reading for comprehension will allow us to test our knowledge of what we have read. The objective is to help us read for detail. When we read for comprehension we ask ourselves, “What do the scriptures indicate or reveal?” A person who comprehends the scriptures can tell specifically what happened and how we can relate to it. This is the first step toward being able to interpret and relate to the meaning of the scriptures.

Interpretation: While comprehension asks, “What do the scriptures indicate?”, interpretation asks “What does it mean?” Once we have read a scripture enough times to know what it says, we are ready to look into its meaning. A person who interprets the scriptures can tell us what it means and how we can relate to it in everyday life.

Application: After doing the work to understand what the scripture says and what the scripture means, we are finally ready to ask, “How should it change us?” What is the central theme or thought of the scriptures? Here is where we draw on our God-centered perspective, as we encounter the C.I.A.

  • What does the scripture teach us about God?
  • What is the main or central theme or tendency as we relate to reading of the scriptures?
  • How does this aspect of God’s character change my view?
  • What should I do in response or what action should I take?

Knowledge of God gleaned through the study of the Bible and the C.I.A. can help us be better disciples of Jesus Christ.

J.B. Morris leads Rock Hill United Methodist Church