How to Mark Your Bible for Effective Spiritual Growth

Bible Study

Here is an exercise for you to increase your awareness of what we have in Christ. We are told:

Philemon 6 “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual [energized, powerful, operative to bringing Heaven to Earth] by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”

What this tells me is that if I want to see and experience results with God, I need to know to a deep level what I already have in Christ by His great work and what He is doing now. That little preposition “in” from “in you in Christ” means what is in a fixed position as a permanent condition of place, time or state.

So not what I am going to have, but what I have now. If nothing else, this will make my prayer and study time a lot more efficient. I will not bother praying for what I already have, nor will I study certain things from the wrong perspective. I will study as an “owner” and not a “maybe someday hoper.”

The corollary is also true, my lack of effective power is a result of not acknowledging, so it changes my life, what I already have in Christ.  This acknowledging includes the word abiding.

As Jesus promised:

John 15:7 “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall aiteo/ask (demand, require and expect as due by covenant promise) what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

As I recall the thing that made the difference in the life of Hudson Taylor and forming the China Inland Mission was when he finally decided that he was in Christ and to start abiding, making that a permanent and pleasant abode of his heart.

Then Hudson’s continual confession became:

John 15:4 “Abide in me (Jesus), and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me [by faith in my great work of the 50 days from the Last Supper, the cross, resurrection and sending forth Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost], he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Whether our works burn or are purified on the Day of Judgment is up to us. We are to do the abiding.  Who is going to be successful accusing God on THAT Day?

In a flash of inspiration I saw a way to start this “acknowledging of every good thing that is in me in Christ,” was to take a Bible highlighter (that does not bleed through the Bible pages) and mark everything we already have in Christ.

For example I highlighted most of Ephesians chapter 1 down to verse 15. These are things I have. I may not have anyone praying for me and no one may have heard how I am so great at loving others, so those parts did not get highlighted. Then I highlighted the rest of the chapter this way – see the bold parts.

Eph 1:15 “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

Here are some of what I have in these verses.

  • I have a calling that is filled with hope (the joyful expectation of coming good); God has a calling for me that fills Him with hope (the joyful expectation of coming good).
  • God has an inheritance in me. He gets something out of me by the great work of Jesus as the Mighty Arm of God who did not fail, and this something make Him very excited (included in the meaning of biblical hope).
  • He paid for it and He will get it. I may not know of it, or understand any of it, but He has it in me and I have it in Him.
  • And God exercised this great and awesome power when He raised Jesus from the dead and it is towards me also for good.
  • I am given Jesus to be my Head as He is head over all the Body of Christ as a gift from God for me. So Jesus as my head is a gift for me to use from God for God.
  • Somehow I am now part of how Jesus is going to fill all of creation because I am a member of the Body of Christ.
  • Whether I know or understand these things or use these awesome things properly, I got them from God in Christ now.

And I have them forever, first because some may not be delivered until after the Day of Judgment,  and because” Rom 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Yes, that is another verse that got underlined.

When Job said this he did not have the full story:

Job 1:21 “And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

It is clear from Job 1 and 2 that God did none of the taking. The one who did all the taking was the devil. So Rom 11:29 stands and I can stand in it.

I started at Romans because, while there are things promised that I have in the Gospels, I  could not see myself selecting out special words of Jesus. I figured you take them all as they are. Nor could I do many in Acts, so I started with Romans to Revelation. And I highlighted about one-third to one-half of most of those letters!

Now when I open that Bible I am not so much working on deep theological issues and the nature of sin in the world or the Christian, but I am obeying Philemon 6 so I can make the manner of my life a reflection of the power of God by knowing what I already have in Christ before I worry about how to renew my mind or grow in Christian maturity.

This marked up NIV New Testament happens to be the Bible that I keep in my car. Whenever I minister, I often take it with me. Or when I am taking a ministry team somewhere I will ask that someone read only the highlighted text as we ride. Sure seems to quiet a lot of theological debate.

When we I am with my wife shopping, I take this Bible with me, and read or just thumb though it to remind myself of what I already have in Christ. Not what I am working on in growing in Christ, but what I have forever in Him already. I bet if I did the same to one of those tiny New Testament-Psalms-Proverbs versions I would carry it even more often.

This is not the Bible I usually study from, or underline and mark up. This is my “make your Christian life effective” Bible. I tend to treat it as a special gift from God to be shared. I really love to watch people’ eyes as their minds start to process as they just look at all those highlighted verses!  A few go, “Wow!”

Got a Bible to try this with? Only highlight those things that you absolutely have in Christ. I think it is better to err on the side of less rather than too much. As this changes your thinking and gives more clarity, you can always underline more.

God is no respecter of persons. His ways apply to all, all the time. If you do not see God move, the problem is not on the “God” end.

We are destroyed, walk in failure, fear and confusion, by lack of knowledge and lies, not some administrative decision by God.

God is no respecter of persons. Do the right things and you will get the right results; do anything different and you will be unhappy sooner or later. Digital Universe.

Evil works inspired and powered by the devil are no match for the Living God, but they sure tempt fleshly leaky neurons, even in those spiritually righteous.

There are no wrong answers here, only seek more of Jesus who already paid for every failure we ever made, are now making, or will make. Since He was healed of it, so are you.

It will be shameful for you to show up on the Day of Judgment and see that every hardness of heart was already healed and waiting for you to do the right labour to get that hardness of heart healing already done in Jesus.

A Bible not devoured is like bags of seed stored away. The potential of God into the Earth is there, but never a harvest is made. Jesus is the Seed. The only soil that matters is your heart.

Keep Working the Word so God can Work!

God Bless You and Yours in the Name of Jesus to be more Noble in Him (Acts 17:11-12)

Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth!


Donald C. Mann

Speaker, teacher, navigator and author of:

OK, God, Now What? (
Discovering Our Redemption
Battle Prayer for Divine Healing-Field Manual 2

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