(1) The Mark Challenge : Overview

Some time ago I began a journey through the Gospels.  I had read all of the New Testament and had found great comfort and strength in all of it.  As a matter of fact, for a very long time the book of Hebrews was my favorite book, but then I began to read through the Gospels and fell in love with them!  I began to see that the other writers of Scripture taught in their writings what Jesus had taught in the Gospel.  I realized the fact that all they ever knew about God was taught to them by Jesus.  They had the Old Testament and had read it their entire lives, but Jesus brought it to life for them!  So, what we read in the New Testament is what was taught to the writers by Jesus and they teach the rest of the Church how to apply it to us as individuals and as Church government.

In my journey through the NT I wanted to develop a way to study the Bible for myself.  I wanted to have a personal Bible study.   In Seminary I took a class taught by Dr. Cheryl Johns, PhD, called Inductive Bible Study.  In this class she taught us how to read the Bible.  It opened my eyes in a way that I had never dreamed possible!  From that came the method that has, in some ways, become my own method of study.  It is very simple and very practical.  I have always loved theological study and reading commentaries, but I wanted to see things in Scripture for myself; to hear the Holy Spirit teach me, after all, that is what He does!  My daughter, Cayla, has come to call this “The Mark Challenge.”  So that is the name of this method.  I challenge you to try it!

From that eye opening experience I began to read.  I found that if I decide on a book of the Bible I want to learn and have lessons from the Spirit, I could take my time in that book and pour over it; what a blessing and treasure that has been!  I have been doing this for years now and I can tell you it has completely changed the way I understand, preach, teach, and counsel from the Scriptures!  Anyone can do it!  It is the best way to do your own personal study of God’s Word!  You will learn things you could have otherwise have never known!  You will uncover things that are there for your taking and applying, but you have to apply yourself and search it out.  That is the way to grow in the Faith!

Let me describe the method and give some detail on how to do it.


you have to know what it is you want to achieve.  The bottom line is, you want to gain some insight into what is in Scripture.  What does it actually teach?  What is there for you glean?   Approach it with this question in mind: “What do I need to look for and do to get the things God wants me to glean?”


, read the book you are studying (in this case the Gospel of Mark) all the way through in one reading if that is possible for you.  In this reading read fast and do not stop to go back and try to pick up what you missed.  Just know you will miss a lot, but at this point you are not trying to get into the in-depth part of the study.  Just read.  Read without paying any attention to chapter divisions and verse numbers.  Read it like it is all one book, one story.  It may seem strange to you, but trust me, it will make your study invaluable.  When you disregard the divisions you begin to see that the book really is one continuous story.  It is not just a series of stories categorized or divided up for you to read as individual stories disconnected from the previous.  Read the book this way two to three times (three times is preferable) all the way through.

The fourth time

you read the book slow down some.  Don’t read so slowly that you are stopping after each verse or so to see what you didn’t catch because your mind wondered a little.  Just keep reading.  Read the book this way one or two times.  At this point, when you do the second reading you will begin to see things you want to check out the next time you read the book.

Now, it is time to slow down

.  Begin, now, to read in a way that you are taking in what you are reading.  If you see something that catches your eye stop there; make notes of observations and thoughts you have on that particular verse; note questions you have about it.  But don’t go searching at this point to find the answer.  Continue to read.


, read the book over and over as slowly as is needed.  You now begin to look for words, phrases, similarities, the way one section ties to another, things of curiosity about the book itself; write these down. Keep reading.  You literally must read the book at least twenty times (and more if you feel like there is something you are searching out).  By the time you complete this study you will have begun to see things in that book that feed, amaze, and excite you!  

God will continually show you things in His Word when you do this.  It is His will, His desire.  Remember the Scriptures teach us “to study to show ourselves approved.”  This is part of your walk with the Lord and is His plan for your growth.  Most Christians think they are getting what they need when they go to church; “the preacher is preaching good and preaching the Word!”  That may be the case, but you are not released from searching out the Scriptures for yourself!

In this blog, we are going to take a look at some of the things you should see going through this study.  Check the blog each week (hopefully) I will have a new post that may be of some help to you.  This will be the beginning of what I hope to be a commentary on the Gospel of Mark.  I hope you enjoy it!  If you have any questions for me leave them on the appropriate page of this website.

God bless you in your study and may He richly increase your knowledge in the Word.
Blog by Joseph Miller MDiv