“We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.”
—A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy
What an amazing privilege it is to not only have individual access to The Word of God to read, study and meditate on, but to have the opportunity to train others to do likewise!
The Word of God – The Bible: sweeter than honey, a lamp to light our paths, living and active, sharper than a double edged sword piercing our very souls so that we can know God and know how He sees us – is essential to any discipleship relationship.
But as wonderful as it is, it can also be daunting to train others in how to use this holy and inspired gift. That’s why we’re excited to present you with one of our favorite old school Navigator Quiet Time tools: S.P.E.C.K., an acronym to help you process and apply what you’re reading.
As you read a verse or passage, ask the Spirit to reveal to you if there is a S.P.E.C.K. He wants to show you. (Not every passage will contain every element.) We’d encourage you to journal as you go along; it’s amazing to go back even years later and see how God is still using His word to actively speak to you in these areas! As you read, is there a…
Sin to confess or avoid?
Remember that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We needn’t stew over our sin, but we also must never allow it to separate us from God. Consider brother Lawrence’s example:
“That when [brother Lawrence] had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault, saying to GOD, ‘I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself; ‘tis You must hinder my falling, and mend what is amiss.’ That after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it.” —The Practice of the Presence of God
Remember, too, that a sin is anything that separates us from God. Sometimes, a passage might not explicitly categorize a desire or behavior as sin, but if it is going to to cause distance in our relationship with God (e.g. fear or unbelief), that’s something we’d also want to bring before Him to acknowledge, confess, and be on guard against as we walk along in our daily lives.
Promise to claim?
Remember that, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4). Do you struggle to know how to claim God’s promises in their fullness, as God said them and intended them? Check out this great flowchart our sister property, Eagle Lake Camps, put together on how to claim God’s promises!
Example to follow (or not follow)?
Throughout the Bible, we’re exhorted to be like some characters we read and not be like others. (Consider Hebrews 13:7; Philippians 3:17; Matthew 6:7-8.) Other times, we read accounts of people in Scripture who leave us wondering whether or not we should emulate their examples. (This is especially true in Old Testament narratives!) If you’re not sure if the person you are reading about is someone you should emulate, ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom (James 1:5), try to pinpoint specific characteristics (e.g. faithfulness or quick to anger) and then look up what else the Bible has to say about those characteristics to help you make your decision on how to act.
Command to obey?
Remember that we’re commanded in James 1:22-25, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
For most people, it’s not enough to simply obey. If you or the person you are meeting with struggles with this, we’d encourage you to consider why it’s important to obey God. (It’s okay to ask these kinds of questions that don’t have easy answers!) We recommend starting in John 15, especially verses 9-16. (By obeying, we remain in the love of Christ and our joy is made complete. Obeying also allows us to be fruitful, producing fruit with eternal significance and for God’s glory.)
Knowledge about God to embrace, correct, or share?
Many people read the Bible thinking the main character is themself – reading it as though the most important thing they can get out of it is how to be a “better Christian” – what rules they need to obey better, what sins they need to avoid. And while it is important to obey the Word and confess our sins, we tend to agree with Matt Chandler when he says, “When you take a book that is meant to show you the beauties and realities of Christ and say, ‘This book is about me,’ and you begin to seek out you in a book about God, of course you’re going to be frustrated, because when all is said and done we’re not really interested in who He is.”
As Tozer says, the most important thing about us is “what comes into our minds when we think about God.” Do you think of him as distant benefactor? An angry force just waiting for the perfect time to punish you? A kind, generous Father? A supreme, almighty King? God’s character is like a diamond – we can hold it up and see it’s brilliance in many different lights and many different angles. It’s essential to read the Bible looking for what we can discover about God. In doing so, we will find ourselves and our story within His, simply because He loves us and desires to draw us to Him.
Only in truly knowing God’s grace and forgiveness will we be confident in confessing our sins and receiving his mercy. Only in knowing God’s vast resources and His love for us as His children will we be able to confidently claim His promises. Only in knowing who He is and what He values will we be able to understand His will for us when it comes to following or avoiding the examples He’s given us both in His Word and in the world around us. Only in knowing His supremacy and personal care for us will we be motivated to obey Him.
Is there greater wonder, greater purpose, greater joy than to know God? And to read His Word to know Him better – is there a greater privilege?
How to practically apply S.P.E.C.K.
Download our SPECK Bible Study Tool infographic.
- We encourage you to read the passage or Bible verse first, all the way through.
- Then, read it a second time, journaling as you observe any S.P.E.C.K.s you find – noting and praying through each one. (You can write out the acronym letters vertically down the side of a piece of paper or journal and leave space to fill in information.)
- You usually won’t find all five elements in every passage. However, we believe there is always something we can learn about God. In the verses where it is harder to discern, simply ask God to help reveal Himself to you.