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Recently I shared my favorite living books for teaching Bible. Today I want to expand on that topic and share with you more great resources for teaching Bible. These are not living books in and of themselves, but they will help you and your children dig into and feel at home with the Living Book, the Bible.
First, I’ll share some helpful resources for the entire family, then we’ll dive into some specific Bible studies for older students.
As we discussed in the previous Bible resources episode, most of our Bible lessons will be comprised of reading a passage directly from the Bible and then having the children narrate it. The trick is that if you are following Bible history chronologically, as it should be studied, the Bible books are not laid out in chronological order and some of them actually overlap and recount the same events in two places. So a guide can be very helpful.
We have three guides to walk you through Bible history: one covers the events in Genesis through Deuteronomy, one covers the rest of the Old Testament in Joshua through Malachi, and one covers the life of Christ and the beginnings of the church in Matthew through Acts. Each Bible lesson in these guides includes a quick review of what was read last time, a short introduction to the reading for today, and then lays out which passage to read and narrate.
The lessons also incorporate the living books that we mentioned in the previous episode and lay out which ones to read and when as you work your way through Bible history. These guides also include corresponding ancient world history and geography lessons.
Once you get through Acts, Bible history stops and all you have left are the epistles and Revelation. And we have three guides to walk you through those readings as well. As with the other guides, these also include world history and geography from the Middle Ages and Renaissance through Early Modern and Modern Times. The Bible lessons in these guides also include helpful ideas and discussion topics to help your students look closely at what God’s Word says as you work your way through the epistles and Revelation.
Another great resource, and one that the Bible lessons in all six of those guides recommend, is Then and Now Bible Maps from Rose Publishing. I love these maps because you can find the places mentioned in the Bible—that’s the Then map; but then you can flip an overlay on top of that map to see how that same area looks today—that’s the Now map. So for example, you can find Babylon and Assyria on the Bible Times map, and when you flip over the Now map, you can see that those two areas were both located where Iraq is now. It really helps to make Bible history and world history come together. There are all kinds of Then and Now maps in here for both the Old Testament and New Testament geography.
One more resource for the whole family. This one is brand new, and I’m very excited about it: Bible Picture Portfolios! These portfolios contain beautiful artwork by master artists that depict scenes from the Bible. Here’s how it works: Read the Bible passage and have the children narrate it as usual. Then display the corresponding picture and let the students look at it for a few minutes. When they’re ready, hide the picture and invite them to tell you not only a description of what it looked like but also anything it made them think of in the light of the Scripture passage that you read. Leading Thoughts are included to encourage more discussion. Currently, six portfolios are available: Genesis, Exodus and Numbers, Matthew, Mark and Acts, Luke, and one on Parables. Each portfolio includes eight works of art and a book that walks you through the lesson, giving you the corresponding Bible passages, information about the artist and the piece of art, as well as those Leading Thoughts. It’s a great way to enrich your Bible lessons or family devotions or a Sunday School class for children or adults.
Now let’s take a look at some specific Bible studies designed for older students, grades 7 and up. The key with all of these Bible studies is that they don’t tell your student what to believe; they simply point him to what the Bible says and encourage him to study it for himself.
First, Jashub’s Journal. This one is a combination of a living book and a Bible study that focuses on God’s Law in the Old Testament. The living book part follows a year in the life of one village of Israelites right after they have settled into the Promised Land. As in most communities, discrepancies and disputes arise. When that happens, the people go to Jashub for counsel, since he knows the Law of God. At that point, the story stops and the student is sent to research what God’s Law says about the situation in the story—and not just what the law is; the student is also challenged to think about why that law is wise. Then the story resumes and the student can read what Jashub counseled the people to do and continue the narrative to see what happens next. It’s a great way to make the Old Testament Law come alive!
Wisdom for Life is a topical Bible study in the book of Proverbs. It suggests eight different topics, such as money, self-control, friends, and your speech. The student selects one of those topics (it doesn’t matter in which order) and reads one chapter of Proverbs each day, looking for any verses that talk about his chosen topic. Anytime he finds a verse about that topic, he records the reference and what it says. The next day he reads another chapter, looking for verses on his topic. Since there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, he’ll spend about a month looking for God’s wisdom on that given topic. At the end of the month, he can write a narration, summarizing what he learned about it. Then choose a new topic and go again. So during one school year, your student can read the book of Proverbs eight times and discover a lot of wisdom for eight areas of life.
Foundations in Romans is the meatiest study of all of the ones I’m sharing today. It walks your student through each paragraph of the book of Romans, looking for the main idea of that paragraph, then examining the parts, and then putting it back together in the student’s own words—a written narration of each paragraph. At the end of each chapter, the student is encouraged to outline the chapter, read a commentary on that chapter, and then record any personal observations or applications. It’s not a light study, but it’s very rich and it teaches your child how to dig in and study for himself.
The next three resources are similar, so I’m going to lump them together: Life in the Word, Growth in the Word, and Strong in the Word. These three books are designed to give your student guidance and experience in performing different types of Bible studies. They focus on the epistles in the New Testament and pair nicely with the family Bible lessons in the guides that I mentioned earlier. The family Bible lessons in the guides go through each epistle in its entirety, while these studies focus on one chapter or one topic or aspect within each epistle. Your student will learn how to do a book study in the Bible, how to do a word study, a topical study, a narrative study, a character study, an inductive study, a compare-and-contrast study. He will learn to do text marking and how to pray through Scripture passages. The goal is that your student will gain the tools and the practice he needs in order to be confident performing all of these types of studies on his own as he digs into the Bible for himself over his entire life.
The final Bible study that I want to mention is Discovering Doctrine. This is a long-term journal for your student to use as he works his way through the Bible. This journal is divided into ten sections, each one focused on one major area: The Bible, God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, man, sin, salvation, angels, the church, and future events. As I mentioned earlier, it does not tell your students what to believe; rather, it provides an organized place for him to record truths about each of those ten areas as he comes across it in his Bible reading and studying, whether in your homeschool Bible lessons, in personal devotions, or in sermons at church. Whenever he reads a verse or passage that shares a truth about one of those areas, he can flip open to that section of the journal and record it along with its reference. So for example, if he starts in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” he can flip open to the section on God and record that truth. And he can continue recording what he reads about in all ten areas over the years until he has discovered what the Bible says about each one from Genesis through Revelation. Then during his senior year, he can write his own doctrinal statement, summarizing what he discovered for himself about each of those ten areas. It’s a six-year study or so, but it sets up a wonderful lifelong habit of looking for doctrinal truths as you’re reading the Bible.
So those are the six Bible studies that we recommend for grades 7 through 12. Each one is scheduled into the daily lesson plan guides that I mentioned earlier, so you will find it simple to help your students learn to feed themselves from the Word of God.