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A Gospel-Centered Bible Reading Method (GCBRM) ver. 2.0.

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INTRODUCTION

The GCBRM is an approach to studying the Bible that includes both inductive and deductive
elements. With a prayerful heart and a reverent mindset that honors the Bible as Gods Word,1 we give the
passage under study a chance to speak its message to us by utilizing the basic tools of the inductive method
which includes 1) making careful observations about the text (grounded in its context), 2) unpacking the
significance of the biblical data, and finally, 3) applying Gods truth to our lives.

Undergirding this inductive approach, however, is the core premise that the Bible tells one story:
God is glorifying Himself by bringing fallen people from every nation2 into a right
relationship with Him, and thus each other, through faith in His Son Jesus Christ3, and by
working all things toward the consummation of the Kingdom when King Jesus will return
and reign over a renewed creation.

In other words, the Bible is a historical-redemptive narrative with the gospel of Jesus Christ at the heart of the
story. As such, we can think through any passage in an orderly fashion by using as guides the basic logic and
categories of the gospel: God, Sin, Redemption (through Christ), and New Identity (in Christ).4 These are not
strict categories that we must read into every text but they can serve as a guide for thinking through the
passage and as categories to classify our observations. Therefore, we may find that not all four categories will
be manifest in every passage we study. Also, we can expect to make varying numbers of observations in
each category according to the content of the passage. There will not always be five observations in each
category for every passage. Let the content of the passage guide our observations and categorization.

Complementing and anchoring the in-depth inductive examination of the Scriptures, then, is a
deductive element that seeks to tie the specifics of the passage to the bigger picture of what God is doing
throughout the whole Bible. The inductive approach honors the individual and unique identities of the human
authors that God the Holy Spirit inspired to write the various books of the Bible as well as the specific
audiences and their historical context which the writers sought to address. The deductive element is
necessary, however, because we must also acknowledge that the Bible is not merely a collection of disjointed
writings on disparate themes and subjects, but rather a literary kaleidoscope of law, history, poetry, prophecy,
epistle and apocalyptic revelation, all of which tell a single story. The Bible as a whole is Gods self-revelation
to a fallen mankind of how He loved us in a just way and is saving mankind from our sin through the
substitutionary atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross (Is 53:6; Rom 3:21-26; 2 Cor 5:21), and ultimately
gives us a new identity in Jesus Christ as we are restored back to relationship with Him.

The seed of this gospel was present from the very beginning, even right after Adam and Eve sinned
against God in the Garden of Eden. In pronouncing judgment against Satan, God also foreshadowed the

We hold to a verbal plenary inspiration view of the Bible. We affirm that the Bible was written by men moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet
1:20-21) and every word is God-given, so that it is without error in its original writings and complete in its revelation of His will for our
salvation (2 Tim 3:16-17). We see the Bible as the ultimate authority on every aspect of human life. Thus, when studying the Bible, we
approach it with faith in its teachings, obedience in its commands, and trust in its promises.
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nation in the biblical sense of the word, that is, a people group (ethne) rather than a geo-political entity as in modern usage.

For the people of God in the Old Testament, salvation was likewise by Gods grace as they placed their faith in the promised Messiah
(Gal 3:22; Heb 11:24-26).
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While the human mind cannot plumb the depths of the richness and mystery of the gospel, it is the conviction of the author and
many others (although not necessarily with the exact same terms, e.g. Bullmore, M. The Gospel and Scripture: How to Read the
Bible, 2011 Crossway.) that these four are the essential elements to a biblical understanding of the gospel. To leave out any of these
basic categories is to have an incomplete understanding of the gospel.

victory that one of Eves offspring5 would gain over Satan by crushing his head.6 The lineage of this Seed is
traced throughout the history of Israel in the Old Testament until in the fullness of Gods timing in dealing with
His people Israel, Jesus the Messiah broke into time and space to complete Gods redemptive work for fallen
man by living among us, dying on the cross, and rising from the dead (Gal 4:4; Jn 1:4-5; 1 Pet 1:3).

But the story does not end there. The Bible concludes with the book of Revelation where God gives
us a glimpse of the consummation of His redemptive program. At that time, God will create a new heaven
and new earth and the redeemed saints from every culture, people, tribe and tongue will gather before the
throne of God to worship the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ (Rev 7:9-10). Then for all of eternity, God will dwell
with His people and put on display the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us, in Christ Jesus
(Eph 2:7). He will be our God and we will be His people, thereby fulfilling the purpose for which we were
created, to be in loving relationship with our Creator God (Ps 100:3; Rev 21:3).

Now, because the arc of the redemptive narrative spans creation to re-creation, Genesis to
Revelation, it is important to keep this big picture of the Bible in mind as we study the individual parts in
between. The GCBRM seeks to help us dig deep into the passage under study in light of the big picture of
Gods redemptive story.
DESCRIPTION OF METHODOLOGY
Generally, in any passage that we read, we want to ask 3 questions:
I. What? (Description)
II. So What? (Significance)
III. Now What? (Application)
I. The What?
A. Survey: as you read, jot down any historical, literary, theological, interpretational questions/
observations that may initially strike you.
B. Introductory Matters
1. Author: identity of the person who wrote the book, epistle, poem, etc.
2. Audience: the intended recipient of the writing.
3. Occasion & Purpose: the circumstances of the audience and the reason as to why the author
wrote the work.
4. Help for the Passage: any contribution to a better understanding of the passage at hand that
this background information may have provided.

C. Context
1. General: where does the passage fit in the overall flow of the book under study?7
2. Immediate: what is happening or being said in the paragraph just prior to and after the passage
being studied?
3. Help for the Passage: what help does the context provide for understanding this passage?

Literally seed.

This promise in Gen 3:15 is often called the proto-evangelion, or the first gospel.

It may be helpful to consult an outline of the book which can often be found in study Bibles and commentaries, also see
www.blueletterbible.org outline page.

D. General Survey
1. Who? (who is being discussed in the passage)
2. What? (is being discussed and what is being said about it)
3. Why? (is the what happening or being discussed)
4. Where? (will the passages what be realized)
5. When? (will the passages what be realized)
6. How? (will the passages what be realized)
7. Misc.

E. Observations in Gospel-centered Categories 8


1. What does this passage teach/show us about thenature, character, and work of the
TriuneGod?
What is God doing or saying in this passage (either directly or through His servants)?
What do we learn about God through His actions, commands, thoughts, words?
What does the author of the book say and/or believe about God that are true?
What does this passage say about the offices of Christ (prophet, priest, king)?
How is the Holy Spirit working in this passage?
2. What does this passage teach/show us about our condition as fallensinners living in a fallen
world?
What aspect of mans sinful condition does the text highlight, address, reference, imply,
condemn, etc.
What are the effects, consequences, and/or result of sin described or implied in the
passage?
How has sin twisted the human heart and mind in this passage?
What sin is motivating, enabling, and directing the wrong actions of the characters in the
passage?
3. What does this passage teach/show us about Gods mission ofredemption?
How does God provide redemption for mans fallen condition in this passage?
How is God the ultimate hero in this text?
How does this passage illustrate the way God sovereignly saves His people because of His
grace?
How is the Holy Spirit working in this passage to apply salvation to the believer?
How does this passage predict, foreshadow, prepare for, reflect, explain:
a. the person of Christ (the God-man who came as a propitiation)
b. the sacrificial atonement of Christ on the cross
c. the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ
What aspect of our redemption does this passage point to:
a. Election (Gods choice of people to be saved)
b. The gospel call (proclaiming the message of the gospel)
c. Regeneration (being born again)
d. Conversion (faith and repentance)
e. Justification (right legal standing before God)
4. What does this passage teach/show us about our newidentityas the people of God (OT-NT)/
disciples of Christ (NT)?
What does the text say about who we are as Gods people? Who we are in Christ?
Who does the text say we are in relation to other believers? non-believers?

The following questions are meant to be guides to help one think through the passage. They are representative rather than
comprehensive. It is not necessary to answer every question for the passage under study, but use them as guides to make
observations and comments of the passage.

What are the stated or assumed privileges and rights of Gods people?
What are the stated or assumed roles and responsibilities of Gods people?
What does it mean to be saved? How are we continually being saved?
What aspect of our redemption does this passage point to:
a. Adoption (membership in Gods family)
b. Sanctification (conformity to the image of Christ)
c. Perseverance (remaining a Christian)
d. Death (going to be with the Lord)
e. Glorification (receiving a resurrection body/life)9

5. Misc. category for observations, notes, and questions that do not fall into the categories above.

F. The Big Picture


1. Outline of the Passage
2. Passages Basic Message
What is the author trying to communicate to the original audience through this passage?
Do not simply repeat the content of the passage.
Write a single sentence that brings together the important aspects of the passage and
communicates what the author is trying to teach in it.
Try to tie the various strands observed under the four gospel categories into a coherent
whole.
State the basic message of the passage in one sentence.
3. Fallen Condition Focus
What is the mutual human condition that contemporary believers share with those for or by
whom the text was written that requires the grace of the passage to manifest God's glory in
His people?10
State the FCF of the passage in one sentence.
4.The Mission of God
Tie the passage under study back to the big picture of what God is doing.
If the main theme of the Bible is summed up as: God is glorifying Himself by bringing fallen
people from every nation into a right relationship with Him, and thus each other, through faith
in His Son Jesus Christ, and by working all things toward the consummation of the Kingdom
when King Jesus will return and reign over a renewed creation. How does this passage fit
into that larger picture?
Which aspect of that grander themeGods self-glorification, mans sinful and fallen
condition, Gods global plan of salvation, Gods reconciliation with man, life as Gods people
(NT: the Church), Christs salvific mission, and the Churchs mission of gospel proclamation
does the passage address, relate to, and elaborate on?

Order of Salvation list from Wayne Grudems Systematic Theology 1994, 670.

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Definition of FCF is from Dr. B. Chapells Lecture #2 in his preaching course on www.biblicaltraining.org

II. The So What?


A. Implication/Significance
1. Go through all/some of the things that was identified in the What? category and talk about
their significance.
What importance or difference does it make?
What implication do the truths in each category have on our lives?
What view of Goddo I havethat this passage corrects?
What is the condition of my own heart in relation to the sin addressed in this passage?
What is the good news for me in this passage?
What does this passage teach me about my identity in Christ?
Draw at least one significance from each of the Gospel-centered category headings.
III. The Now What?

A. Lifestyle Application
1. Draw application from the significances and implications noted under the So What section.
how can we apply the teaching of this passage into our lives?
what are some concrete specific actions we need to take?
what are some steps that I need to identify and put into action that will begin to change my
lifestyle so that I will be in conformity to the teaching of this passage?
Write out at least two applications and highlight in bold the action verbs of each
application.
IV. Prayer

A. For Faith to Believe Gods Word

B. For Humility to Obey Gods Word

C. For Boldness to Share Gods Word

SAMPLE GCBRM OUTLINE


I. WHAT?

A. Survey

B. Introductory Matters
1. Author:
2. Audience:
3. Help for the Passage:

C. Context
1. General:
2. Immediate:
3. Help for the Passage:

D. The Basics
1. Who
2. What
3. Why
4. Where
5. When
6. How
7. Misc.

E. Gospel-centered Categories
1. God
2. Sin/Fallen Condition
3. Redemption
4. Identity in Christ
5. Misc.

F. The Big Picture
1. Outline of the Passage
2. Passages Basic Message:
3.Fallen Condition Focus:
4.The Mission of God:
II. SO WHAT?

A.

B.

C.

D.
III. NOW WHAT?

A.

B.
IV. PRAYER

GCBRM OUTLINE (sample for John 21:15-25)


I. WHAT?
A. Context
1. General: This passage is in the epilogue of the gospel of John which takes place after the death
and resurrection of Jesus.
2. Immediate: (before) Jesus eats breakfast with his disciples after they have a miracle catch of fish.
This is the 3rd time that Jesus has appeared to his disciples after his resurrection (after) nothing.
3. Help for the Passage: John concludes his gospel by highlighting that love and commitment to the
Lord Jesus must characterize the follower of Christ.
B. Observations
1. God
-v. 15, Jesus can be (and also desires) to be loved! God is personal, can be known, for one cannot
love whom he doesnt know. God is relational.
-v. 15, Jesus is Lord.
-v. 15, Jesus knows Peters affections, inner thoughts and feelings.
-v. 15, Jesus concern is for His flock, that they would be taken care of (fed) by those who love Him.
Conversely, God doesnt just want us to do stuff for Him, but He desires our affections.
-v. 15, Jesus looks upon his people as sheep, in need of care and feeding.
-v. 17, Jesus knows all things. Peter makes the logical connection that because Jesus knows all
things, then surely He knows the condition of his heart.
-v. 15-17, God is not afraid to use someone who screwed up before in the past to serve Him.
-v. 18, Jesus addresses Peters hurt feelings by telling him that he will be martyred. haha.
-v. 22, could we say perhaps that God is intensely interested in individuals? He has a plan for each
person and he is interested in seeing each person fulfill the purpose to which He has called each one.
-v. 22, Jesus is coming back.
-v. 22-23, Jesus is sovereignly in control over the days of our life. Whether we remain in this life or go
to the next is ultimately in His hands.
2. Sinful Man
-v. 19, sinful man will oppose the work of God by opposing His servants.
-v. 21, I dont think curiosity is necessarily sinful by itself, but Jesus response to Peters question
suggests that perhaps Peter was going just beyond mere curiosity. Perhaps there was an unhealthy
sense of competition between him and John, or an unhealthy dependence, its hard to say. Or
perhaps he was deflecting the focus from his following of Christ to others. keep the focus on yourself
before you start asking about other peoples walk.
3. Redemption
-v. 22, The next step in Gods redemptive program is the return of Christ. In the meantime, our call is
to follow Christ.
-v. 22-23, We are kept by the power and will of God. If Jesus can claim to be sovereign over our life,
then surely He is the Christ, the son of God, and worthy of our faith and trust and can grant us eternal
life.

4. Identity in Christ
-v. 15-17, we can know and love God!
-v. 15-17, we relate to Jesus as Him being the leader and we are the follower. we relate to other
followers of Jesus as carers, but acknowledging that each person must follow the Lord.
-v. 18, Peter didnt ask for it, but Jesus tells him, nearly in the sense that we ask the question, what
is Gods will for your life? and the prophecy is not pleasant.
-v. 19, It relates to how Peter will die. Everyone dies but does our kind of death (and life) glorify God?
Reiterating a kingdom principle here that was oft spoken of by the Lord in the other gospels, and that
is: the cross must come before the crown.
-v. 19, the final exhortation in light of the kind of death that Peter was going to experience is that he
follow his Lord. we know from the exchange between Peter and the Lord that Jesus wasnt just
talking about at that moment Peter literally following Jesus to walk away from everyone else for a little
bit because John explains what Jesus means in v. 23 that those words of Jesus gave birth to a rumor
that perhaps John would not die. Jesus was commanding Peter to take up the way of the cross,
down a road that Peter is not trailblazing but merely following in the footsteps of his Lord.
-How much of our contemporary Christian culture focuses on Jesus making everything all better and
happy in our life? If we knew that our faith in Jesus would one day lead us to a painful death would we
still follow Him? At the core of our identity must be one who follows Jesus.
-v. 22-23, we are kept by the sovereign will of God and yet, we are not to pry into that mysterious will
of God, rather we are called to follow Him.
-v. 24, a disciple testifies to the truth, for the purpose of facilitating belief that Jesus is the Christ
(20:31)
5. Misc.
-Was the Lord perhaps trying to hammer into Peters mind that love for the Lord results in action,
specifically the caring of His people? Did Peter ditch the other disciples after his denials in an act of
self-preservation and hence the Lord was re-establishing that relationship?
-Why does Peter respond the way he does? Why couldnt he have simply said, yes Lord, I love
you.? Is it perhaps to emphasize the verity of his claim, that its not just testified to by him, but the
Lord knows it as well?
B. The Big Picture
1. Passages Basic Message: In restoring Peter to fellowship and service, Jesus teaches Peter that
the life of discipleship is two-fold: love for the Lord results in a) the caring of the other disciples
(corporate nature) and b) personal commitment regardless of cost (individual nature).
2. The Mission of God:
-The Christian religion must never be an individual endeavor, for the gospel creates a community
characterized by mutual love and care.
-The Christian religion must also never lose its personal link between the believer and Christ, for each
of us are called to be in a right relationship with Him.
-A disciple must also be one who testifies for the purpose of bringing others into a right relationship
with God for the Christian religion does not just meet individual needs but the common need of an
entire sinful race.

II. SO WHAT?
A. Love for our Lord is manifested in the caring of His people. As someone once told John Wesley, The
Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.
B. Individual discipleship is important. How is each person following the Lord? The Lord is calling each
one of us to follow Him, not riding on the spiritual coattails of another.
C. If Jesus desires to be known and loved, should we not strive to build up that relationship through the
exercising of the spiritual disciplines?
D. The reality is, even if our life does not go smoothly as a result of being a disciple, Jesus still commands
us to Follow Him!
III. NOW WHAT?
A. When I serve, do I do so in love? Help me to look upon my brothers and sisters in love because I
profess to love the Lord.
B. Prepare my mind and heart that even in the face of difficulty, perhaps even tragedy, Jesus still
commands us to follow Him.