A couple of years ago, I started going to Bear Valley’s Higher Ground Encampment (a Bible camp for teen girls). It’s an awesome experience all around, but by far my favorite part is Kathy Pollard’s Bible Marking class, where we learn about chain reference Bible studies. It’s pretty easy, and I’m going to teach you how to do it! (In case you couldn’t tell, this article is going to be very informal– there’s just no way to make this sound pretty. It will, however, be very hands on, which I think is a good tradeoff.)
First, I have to tell you about the pens. They are called Micron Pigma pens and you can get them at most art supply stores (if you have Guiry’s, that’s where I get mine). Unlike other pens and highlighters, they won’t bleed through the thin Bible paper! They come in a plethora of lovely colors and a few different widths– I personally prefer the “01” width because it’s not so fat that you can’t write small, but it’s not so skinny that you can barely read it. You’ll want a lot of colors for various and sundry marking purposes.
I’m going to jump right into the study– today we’re going to do the plan of salvation. This study comes in particularly handy when you’re actually having a Bible study with someone trying to convert them (especially if that person is already religious/denominational). Again, thanks to Kathy Pollard– I’m pretty much giving you word for word her Bible marking class. I just pass along information. (Also, I’m using the New American Standard when I tell you what to underline.)
Alright. If you have blank pages in the front/back of your Bible, turn there and write “Plan of Salvation” in the color of your choice. In parentheses next to it write “PS” and then write “Isaiah 62:2.”
Now go to Isaiah 62:2. (I’m not going to write out the verses… because this is going to be a long article as is.) Circle the verse and write (PS) next to it, so you’ll know which study it’s part of (sometimes they overlap). Underline “called by a new name.” In your margin, with your lovely Bible marking pen, write “That name is Christian.” Now, at the end of that verse draw an arrow and write “Acts 11:26.” That’s where we’re going next.
Ok. Flip to Acts 11:26, circle, write (PS). Underline “Christians” because that’s the new name Isaiah was talking about. Draw your arrow at the end to Ephesians 1:3.
Circle Ephesians 1:3 and write (PS). This is the last time I’ll tell you to do that because I know you’re all old pros now. Underline “every spiritual blessing” and “in Christ.” Your arrow this time goes to verse 7 of the same chapter.
At this point we’re going to start listing the spiritual blessings that are found in Christ. It might even be useful, if you’re in a study, to start making a two-column list on paper: “In Christ” and “Outside of Christ.”
In verse 7, underline “In Him,” “redemption,” and “forgiveness.” In your margin, write, “These are the spiritual blessings.” Draw your arrow to Ephesians 2:6.
In 2:6, underline “raised up with Him.” Draw your arrow to 2:10.
In 2:10, underline “created in Christ Jesus for good works” and circle the “for.” In the margin, write “for = purpose.” Draw your arrow to 2:12-13.
This is where we also start highlighting what happens if you’re NOT in Christ. In verse 12, underline “separate from Christ” and “no hope and without God.” Of course, there’s still an upside, so in 13 underline “brought near.” Alright, we’re finally leaving Ephesians. Draw your arrow to 2 Timothy 2:1.
In 2 Timothy, underline “grace” and “in Christ Jesus.” (By the way, just because I underline doesn’t mean you have to. You can box it or circle it or whatever you want.) Draw your arrow to 2 Corinthians 5:17.
In 2 Corinthians, underline “in Christ” and both occurrences of “new.” Draw your arrow to Romans 3:24.
In Romans, underline “justify,” “gift,” “through the redemption,” and “in Christ Jesus.” I have kind of a lot written in my margin for this one, so feel free to condense somehow if you don’t have as much space as me. I wrote “gift = freely” and “justified = just as if I never sinned.” Draw your arrow to 8:1 of the same book.
In 8:1, underline “no condemnation” and (you guessed it!) “in Christ Jesus.” Draw your arrow to 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
In Thessalonians, underline “the dead in Christ will rise first” (I even have a double underline under “in Christ”).
At this point in the study, you’ve completely established that you want to be in Christ! We’ve underlined twelve spiritual blessings that those in Christ receive, and we haven’t even begun to look at all the passages that talk about it. When you add in the negative implications that come with being outside of Christ, the conclusion is obvious: in Christ is the place to be.
In the second half of the study, we’ll be asking how to receive those spiritual blessings– how to get into Christ. Tune in next week to get the second half!
By Melissa Hite
Melissa (age 17) attends Bear Valley church of Christ with her parents, Michael and Lynn, and her little brother, Matthew. Her goals include continually growing closer to God and eventually becoming a writer and a mom. On her blog, Christ Crossed My Heart, you can find other poignant, well-written posts.