What are the influences in your Bible study style?

Question / Comment - What are the influences in your Bible study style?

Brother I Gordon

It is really a pleasure to write to you today. First I thank God whose Sovereignty made it possible for me to come across your website since 2005 or so. Even though I have been a Christian for a considerably long time, the materials produced are just so fresh and enlightening for the growth of the believer, no matter their stage in the Lord.

It is important to add that I am not given to flattery or hero-worshipping, but I cannot help but thank you for making available the most precious materials in such an understated and TRANSPARENT fashion. My library is ever growing with your recommended books; William R Newell verse by verse Romans/Hebrews are literarily indispensable , the William MacDonald Commentary is the most practical Christ-centred commentary I have ever owned. I cannot tell joy of reading the Saving Life of Christ by Ian Thomas. I could go ahead to tell you of Don Matzat, Bob George. Thank you for not keeping the Green Letters to yourself- a definite blessed resource to my life.


By the grace of God we are about to spread the good news by a way of website and various other means as He pleases. To that regard, I have a few questions that I have been longing to ask. I hope you forgive me if they seem a bit intimate.

What is your typical bible study style? I ask that for 2 reasons, (1) I love your OT and NT coverage of your subject, pretty much like Ian Thomas’ style.( 2) They are not excessively long but you still manage to say what many may not be able to in so many pages. I love your presentation style as well so simple anybody can grasp your train of thought. If you have a general study or presentation outline, I will be happy to own it even at a price.

Finally, do we have your permission to quote you, or make references to some of your materials?

Once more God bless you for being a blessing to me and I trust the Lord to keep you fresh in Him

Thanking you so much

JPN Reply:


thanks for the email and I'm pleased to read that you are not given to flattery or hero-worshipping. Obviously, as a Christian, that would be wrong and I would not go along with such things. Bribery, on the other hand, is a different matter and it is something I respond to! : )

Seriously, I'm pleased to read that you have been helped by the different authors mentioned and some of the studies on the website. Obviously I've listed those books/authors because they have helped me so it is pleasing to see others enjoying those resources.

You asked about my 'typical Bible study style'. I'm not exactly sure what you are after but I'll talk about what has influenced the studies as you have picked up on some of this already... We are all influenced by what we read, study and enjoy are we not? Probably the style, layout and themes of the Bible studies have all been influenced by others in some regard. Some of the more notable, which come to mind are:

Major Ian Thomas - The first I heard of him was through a tape that my Mum had from when he came to New Zealand in the 1970's. I became a Christian in 1990 and even though I was a very young Christian, it is fair to say that I had never heard preaching like that before! It was everything - the subject of the indwelling life of Christ, the force and utter conviction that he preached with, the authority that he had... My Mum said that when she went and heard him in the 1970's she knew that he had discovered and had something that she knew nothing about! When I started Bible College in 1993 I found 'The Saving Life of Christ' in their library. Right from the start I loved that His theme from anywhere in the Bible was Christ! As Jesus showed those on the road to Emmaus -

Luk 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

I recently noticed on my website that I have only done one study on a New Testament book - 2 Peter. Ooops. It wasn't on purpose and I do need to do more on the N.T but I really love the Old Testament and specifically seeing Jesus/the Christian life in those books. It is like finding treasure that you have to hunt for!

Pro 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

It also shows that God is the author of the entire Bible when it all interlocks with all the other books. I also really like stories which may influence why I have written more on the O.T! Jesus often taught that way. I find stories are easier to grasp and remember than just doctrine (and I'm a bit of a kid at heart). But how cool is it when you discover that the stories (whether they be Old or New Testament) illustrate the doctrinal truth that God wants us to teach us? It brings it all alive. Exodus, Joshua, 1st Samuel, the Gospels... it really doesn't matter - God has placed His types and illustrations concerning Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Salvation etc through it all.

I should say however that I didn't start with the Old Testament and nor would I recommend starting there. People should first become fully acquainted with the essential doctrines of the New Testament. Especially John, Romans, Ephesians, Colossians etc. Once you become aware of the truth contained in these types of letters then it helps to see that same truth elsewhere. So... I would say that Major Ian was a big influence in the theme of 'Jesus Plus Nothing' plus a big contributor in my love of the Old Testament. His book 'If I perish I perish' had a big impact on the first study that I wrote which was Nehemiah in that I read that book looking for types etc like he had found in the book of Esther. There were others, like some of the old brethren writers (especially C.H.M) who helped in this regard as well. I would definitely recommend reading some of the older well loved writers. They lived in an age where the gospel truth was way way way more clearer than it is now (in this age of apostasy). As C.S Lewis said:

"It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between."

William Newell - I'm glad you mentioned Romans verse by verse. That is a fantastic commentary on Romans. Amongst other things, that book influenced the way that I lay out the studies in regard to the footnotes. When I read it, I found that I was enjoying his footnotes probably more than the actual commentary! His footnotes weren't just small references but were his thoughts on lots of different (but related topics) and were really cool. So when I started writing the studies many moons ago I thought I'd try do something similar.

In regards to the simplicity of the studies, there are other quotes/thoughts that I try to keep in mind as well. I mentioned a couple of the following here: http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/questions/StudyPreperation.htm Like:

"Most theologians devote their lives to answering questions most people are not asking."C.S. Lewis Hence, we should always try to write about things that do matter and do effect people's everyday lives.
J.Vernon McGee had a saying that he always tried 'to put the cookies on the lowest shelf'. I like that too! It means he does his best to take the really good bits from the Bible ('the cookies!') and puts them on the lowest shelf so that all can reach them. He tries to keep things as simple as possible. I appreciated that you thought my studies were simple. Good! Great! I also like J.Vernon McGee (as quoted above) because he is very 'real' - He has a fantastic understanding of the Bible but keeps things at a level that the normal Joe Blogs can grasp. He wrote the following:

"Let us stop this so-called intellectual approach that we find in our churches today. It's no good. When I started out as a pastor, I tried to be intellectual. An elder in the church in which I served came to me and talked to me about it, and he said, "We would rather have a genuine Vernon McGee than an imitation of anybody else." You see, I was trying to imitate intellectual men whom I admired. We don't need to do that kind of thing—we need to be ourselves. We need to get down off our high horses. Remember that the Lord Jesus is feeding sheep, not giraffes."

As an example, in the 1970's Hal Lindsey's 'The Late Great Planet Earth' was a New York Times best seller. Why? He obviously captured a theme that was hugely popular during that time (the return of Jesus Christ) but there had been lots of books on prophecy before this. What he did well was take a theme that was meant to be difficult and presented it at a level where it could be understood and relevant to the average reader.

In terms of the length of the studies - I try not to write more than 4-5 pages. Firstly because I can't write any longer than that! I'm not a writer and it already takes me too long to come up with that! : ) But also because people don't want to have to read pages and pages of verbose language just to get to the main point!

Last point: Bible Software - do you have good Bible Software? I use e-Sword (free) and it is a fantastic resource. I've purchased the extra 'bits' I like and need (like Believers Bible Commentary, J Veron McGee 'Thru the Bible', Bible Knowledge Commentary, Vines Word Studies etc and you can add so many free resources like Spurgeons treasury of David, old Brethren writers, Treasury of Scripture Knowledge for looking up cross references etc... Really makes studying, and writing the studies, a lot easier.

Well I have written enough. Hope it helps a little but I wasn't exactly sure what you were after. And yeah feel free to quote or reference what ever you like on the site. Or better still, quote and reference some of these other writers that you now enjoy. Do you have a website already or are you just starting the process?

All the best.