Hank Hanegraaff shares a unique acronym to help you study the Bible more effectively.
It is your responsibility to search the Scriptures daily. My opinion is no better than anyone else’s opinion unless it squares with Scripture. The apostle Paul commended the Berean believers “for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11, emphasis added).
Finally, it is crucial that you get into the Word of God and get the Word of God into you. If you fail to eat well-balanced meals on a regular basis, you eventually will suffer the physical consequences. Likewise, if you do not regularly feed on the Word of God, you will suffer spiritual consequences. Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Great physical meals are one thing; great spiritual M-E-A-L-S are quite another:
Memorize: As a result of teaching memory seminars for over twenty years I am convinced that anyone, regardless of age or acumen, can memorize Scripture. God has called you to write his Word on the tablet of your heart (Proverbs 7:1-3; Deuteronomy 6:6), and with the call he has provided the ability. Your mind is like a muscle. If you exercise it, you will increase its capacity to remember and recall information. If you do not, like a muscle, it will atrophy. A good place to start memorizing is Joshua 1:8: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Examine: As mentioned above, the Berean believers daily examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul taught was true. For that they were commended as being noble in character. Ultimate authority was not placed in the revelation of men but in the revelation of God. The apostle Paul urged Christians to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and to be transformed by the renewing of their minds in order to discern the will of God (Romans 12:2). Examining the Scriptures requires discipline, but the dividends are dramatic.
Apply: As wonderful and worthwhile as it is to memorize and examine Scripture, it is not enough! You must take the knowledge you have gleaned from the Word of God and apply it in your daily life—wisdom is the application of knowledge. As the Master put it: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27). James the brother of Jesus used irony to drive home the same point. In essence, he said that anyone who hears the Word and does not apply it is like a man who looks in a mirror and sees that his face is dirty, but doesn’t wash it (James 1:23-24).
Listen: In order to apply God’s directions to life experiences, you must first listen carefully as God speaks to you through the mystery of his Word. Like Samuel, you should say, “Speak, [Lord,] for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10, emphasis added). One of the most amazing aspects of Scripture is that it is alive and active, not dead and dull. Indeed, God still speaks today through the mystery of his Word. The Holy Spirit illumines our minds so that we may understand what he has freely given us (1 Corinthians 2:12). As Jesus so beautifully put it, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27, emphasis added).
Study: In examining Scripture, it is typically best to stick with one good Bible translation. This not only provides consistency but facilitates the process of Scripture memorization. In studying, however, it is helpful to use a number of good translations. To further your study of Scripture, it is necessary to have access to study tools. The toolbox of serious Scripture students should include a concordance, a commentary, and a Bible dictionary. You also might consider obtaining some of the resources suggested in The Bible Answer Book. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). May the acronym M-E-A-L-S daily remind you to nourish yourself by partaking of the Bread of life.