Getting to Know Chuck Swindoll
Chuck uses a simple method of Bible study that he learned years ago from Dr. Howard Hendricks, Chuck's beloved professor and mentor at Dallas Theological Seminary. It's based on three concepts: observation, interpretation, and application. Dr. Hendricks and his son William Hendricks have compiled their ideas for Bible study in an excellent and easy-to-read resource, Living by the Book (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1993), which we highly recommend.
The more serious you become about personal Bible study, the more you will be aware of the importance of owning some good study tools. Numerous books are available today, some of which are listed below. You should form the habit of purchasing at least one study aid per month for your own library.
It is best if you have a study Bible that has paragraph notations as well as footnotes that help you understand the difficult sections of Scripture. You will want to get some of the modern, reliable, and readable translations, versions, and paraphrases—preferably in hardback, leather, leatherlike, or bonded leather. Thankfully, there are several excellent versions and paraphrases of the Bible available today, which will enlighten your understanding of the meaning of the biblical text. For casual reading, you may wish to use The Message, The New Living Bible, and/or the New King James version.
While it is not the most readable, the New American Standard Version Ryrie Study Bible is very helpful, especially for a serious, in-depth study of the Scriptures. Always remember that some Bibles present a nearly word-for-word translation from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts into English, while others offer a looser, more contemporary rendering. Both are helpful as you seek a fuller, more complete grasp of the Holy Scriptures in your Bible study.
An excellent resource for the study of Scripture is the New Living Translation Life Application Study Bible. Chuck heartily recommends this particular study Bible, since it provides several reliable, readable helps: in-depth background information, numerous biographical sketches (called “personality profiles”), informative footnotes on key Scriptures and problem passages, easy-to-understand timeline charts, and maps related to the book of the Bible being studied. Most recently published in October, 2007, this Bible contains the latest up-to-date research.
A concordance is a must. It is an alphabetical listing of all the words in the Bible and of all the verses in which they appear.
- Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible or Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible are my preferences.
- Acquire an exhaustive concordance of the translation you use for study.
- Most good computer programs for Bible study (see No. 7) allow for multiple-word searches, including lexical searches in the original languages.
3. Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
- English—Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary or The Random House Dictionary of the English Language
- Bible—The New Unger's Bible Dictionary is the best.
- Theological—Baker's Dictionary of Practical Theology is a good tool.
- Greek and Hebrew—Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
- Encyclopedia—The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (5 volumes) and International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (4 volumes) are excellent.
4. Geographical and Cultural Helps
- A good atlas is indispensable for understanding context. The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands is highly recommended. (Also, if you have not yet been to Israel, you should go!)
- Bible backgrounds—The New Unger's Bible Handbook, Halley's Bible Handbook, Merrill Tenney's New Testament Times: Understanding the World of the First Century, or Alfred Edersheim's Bible History: Old Testament
5. Bible Doctrine Books
- Systematic Theology by Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology by Charles Hodge, or Systematic Theology by Augustus H. Strong
- Biblical Theology of the New Testament by Charles C. Ryrie
- Major Bible Themes by Lewis Sperry Chafer—a good, concise book
- Surveys of the entire Bible—The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty (in two volumes, Old and New Testaments) is outstanding. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary is my preferred one-volume commentary.
- Expositional (verse by verse)—some of the best are by Donald G. Barnhouse, Kenneth S. Wuest, William R. Newell, R. C. H. Lenski, H. C. Leupold, William Barclay, John F. Walvoord, Arthur W. Pink, and Tyndale House
- Devotional—books by G. Campbell Morgan, F. B. Meyer, Alan Redpath, H. A. Ironside, and Charles R. Swindoll
- Analytical—books by W. Graham Scroggie and Merrill Tenney as well as the I. C. C. (International Critical Commentary) series (critical and tends toward the liberal side)
- Best to purchase one of the entire Bible first
- Best to use different types in your study
- Best to consult them after your own personal study
- Best to read with discernment; don't be afraid to challenge or disagree
- An excellent volume by John Glynn, Commentary & Reference Survey, lists and explains the most popular and recommended commentaries (from various perspectives — evangelical, liberal, etc.) on every book of the Bible. It is helpful when you're looking for which commentary to buy . . . and which one not to buy.
7. Bible Study Computer Programs
- BibleWorks (for PC)—see www.bibleworks.com
Designed for analysis of the biblical text, BibleWorks is the best program for the PC platform—for all levels of users. It offers search tools, lexicons, and dictionaries for Bible study, sermon preparation, and detailed Bible research.
- Libronix Digital Library System (for PC and Macintosh)—see www.logos.com
An astounding assortment of commentaries, books, dictionaries, and tools allows for quick research on any passage or topic. Many of the recommended resources in this article are in the Libronix Library.
- Accordance (for PC and Macintosh)—see www.accordancebible.com
Accordance offers Bibles, commentaries, lexicons, and a comprehensive library of materials and tools that can grow with your needs.
8. Web Sites
- www.bible.org—"In the last decade bible.org has grown to serve millions of people and ministries around the world through providing thousands of trustworthy resources for Bible study — including an exciting new translation of the Bible (the NET Bible)"—from their Web site.
- www.bibleplaces.com—"BiblePlaces.com features photographs and descriptions of sites in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Greece with an emphasis on biblical archaeology, geography and history"—from their Web site.
9. Bible Study Methods
- Living by the Book by Howard G. and William D. Hendricks
- Independent Bible Study by Irving L. Jensen
- How to Study the Bible for Yourself by Tim LaHaye
- Methodical Bible Study by Robert A. Traina
The key ingredients to Chuck's sermons are his well-crafted principles and applications that he bases on the biblical text. These are the pillars upon which the message is built, and he spends the bulk of his study time in the quarry, chiselling out and polishing these statements. As you listen to his sermons, you may want to pick out the "principle and application" statements and note how he uses them in the sermon.
Chuck types all his sermon notes on about five or six half-sheets of paper and attaches his illustrations to the back. He almost always preaches from an expanded outline and rarely reads a manuscript from the pulpit. The outline stimulates his thoughts and keeps him on track. Sometimes he will read key sentences and quotes from his notes, but mostly he lets his thoughts flow from his heart naturally in order to preserve a conversational, down-to-earth tone.
Chuck's administrative assistant places his sermon notes (including illustrations) in packets and files them by series in alphabetical order. At Insight for Living Ministries, they transcribe all of his sermons and store them in a computer database so they can easily search for key words or phrases. Interestingly, Chuck doesn't use his own database to find illustrations or sermon material; he remembers them. Sometimes we have to ask him for the source of a certain illustration, and usually he can recall the book and author, even though it's been ten or fifteen years since he used the illustration. Quite a memory!
Chuck has a small, dark-brown cardboard box that he calls his "goody box," and whenever he reads something he likes (he is an avid reader), he copies the page and tosses it in the box. That's it! When he reads, he underlines sections that stand out to him and makes notes in the margins of his books. He puts the best material in his goody box, and he shelves the rest in his library.
Chuck essentially has two libraries. He keeps his working books—commentaries, character studies, word study books, and so forth—in his office, where he organises them by topic. He organises the rest of his books alphabetically by author. Chuck loves old, beautifully bound books. One of his favourite pastimes is to collect early editions of books by classic Christian authors and pastors. He also has a large number of biographies of influential leaders, such as Martin Luther, Abraham Lincoln, and Winston Churchill.
When we asked Chuck who his favourite writers are and what books have made an impact on his life, he said that the Bible, of course, and the following list has had significant meaning to him:
- John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress
- Winston Churchill, various writings
- Everett Harrison and Charles Pfeiffer, Wycliffe Bible Commentary
- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (and other works)
- J. I. Packer, Knowing God
- Eugene H. Peterson, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work
- A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (6 volumes)
- Charles Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine
- J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership
- Francis A. Schaeffer, True Spirituality
- C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (and other works)
- A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (and other works)
- Alexander Whyte, Bible Characters from the Old and New Testament (2 volumes)
- Warren H. Wiersbe, Listening to the Giants: A Guide to Good Reading and Great Preaching
- Philip Yancey and Paul Brand, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Because Chuck is already committed to Insight for Living Ministries, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Stonebriar Community Church, he has made it a firm policy to decline all speaking invitations not directly related to those three ministries.
Although we wish we could assist you with publishing or evaluating your writing, we cannot. Insight for Living Ministries is not a publisher in the commercial sense of the term. The only materials we publish are those written by Chuck, Terry, or other Insight for Living Ministries staff members for the purpose of supporting the broadcasts. Chuck has been asked by the Insight for Living Ministries board of directors not to endorse other authors or ministries, and he declines virtually all requests for endorsement.
We regret that we are unable to provide you with a financial contribution. The funds we have at Insight for Living UK are provided through donations from our radio audience. These dear donors send funds specifically to help us pay the bills for our radio broadcasts and other ministry-related costs. We cannot divert those monies to support any other cause, no matter how worthy. To do so would simply be unethical. Another aspect to consider is that we would never be able to help everyone who asked for donations; saying yes to some and no to others understandably causes offence to the ones denied. So in the interest of honourable business dealings, Christian stewardship, and fairness to all, we have had to establish a firm policy of declining all requests for financial aid.
For information on Insight for Living Ministries trips and future events, click on the Ministry tab and Conferences & Tours. Should you ever make a visit to the United States, he would also be happy to meet you at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. Please come by after one of the morning services and introduce yourself to him. He usually stays up at the front every Sunday, which gives folks a chance to speak with him and shake hands. Prior to your visit, you may want to call the church +1-469-252-5200 to find out whether or not he will be preaching on a particular day.
Rights and Permissions
If the source you are quoting is one of Chuck's trade books, your request for permission must be directed to the respective publisher. The same applies to requests to translate, adapt, or create a derivative work based on one of Chuck's trade books. Following are the names and addresses of the publishers of Chuck's books:
Thomas Nelson, Inc.
PO Box 141000
Nashville, TN 37214-1000, U.S.A.
W Publishing Group
PO Box 141000
Nashville, TN 37214-1000, U.S.A.
c/o Thomas Nelson, Inc.
PO Box 141000
Nashville, TN 37214-1000, U.S.A.
Zondervan Publishing House*
Attention: Rights and Permissions
5300 Patterson Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506, U.S.A
*Effective July 1993, Zondervan Publishing House assumed rights to any books of Chuck's that were formerly published by Multnomah Press.
If you need to reprint excerpts from any of Insight for Living Ministries' printed works, please complete the request for permission form. You will be directed to the Insight for Living Ministries rights and permissions web page. Kindly allow four to six weeks for a response.
In the case of a Bible study guide, workbook, Bible Companion, or other Insight for Living Ministries publication, please check carefully to see whether or not the excerpt is marked to indicate that it was originated by someone other than Chuck or published by a company other than Insight for Living Ministries. Such information would be shown in a footnote adjacent to the use, in an endnote at the back of the publication, or in the front of the publication on an “acknowledgments” page or copyright page. In that case, as with Chuck’s trade books, Insight for Living Ministries would not have control of the material, and your inquiry would need to be sent to the book’s publisher.
Please note: A reprint is not to be presented, published, or sold as a separate article, newspaper byline, or tract. Also, none of our works may be transferred or downloaded to any computerised database, to the Internet, or to any Web site, e-mail system, blog, or the like without specific permission from the ministry.
In limited circumstances, specified portions of a Bible study guide, workbook, or Bible Companion may be photocopied for distribution/use in a study group. The particular details of your request must be submitted in writing through our request for permission form. You will be directed to the Insight for Living Ministries rights and permissions web page. Kindly allow four to six weeks for a response.
If permission is granted, be aware that the copies may not be sold and all must include an acknowledgment that is assigned at the time the permission is granted. Note: If the material you wish to photocopy is in stock, requests to photocopy the material will not be granted.
Our audio materials are distributed for your personal use only. As our audiotape, CD, and MP3 labels clearly indicate, none of these may be duplicated under any other circumstances.
You are permitted to record Insight for Living broadcasts from the radio for your own personal use, but only on a short-term basis. Such recordings are not to be circulated, duplicated, or sold.
You may download the podcast to listen to at a later time, and you may burn the message onto compact disc for your own personal use. However, you may not reproduce copies to distribute or sell. If you wish to give away a podcast or MP3 as a gift, you have the option to purchase multiple quantities from our Web store.
No. We do not publish or publicly distribute written transcripts of Chuck’s messages under any circumstances.
In order to maintain the highest quality and accuracy in any translation, Insight for Living Ministries has strict standards that translators must meet. One consideration is that the translator has completed a master’s degree through a theologically conservative and evangelical seminary, preferably Dallas Theological Seminary. Another consideration is that the translator has experience with similar translation projects and can provide references. If you have such qualifications and wish to be considered eligible to make a translation, please contact International Ministries at Insight for Living Ministries for details.
Due to the wide variety of sources from which we get such requests and our limited resources to check each one, our policy is to decline the opportunity to swap Web content. We do not mind, however, if you provide a link on your Web site directing your constituents to the article as it appears on the Insight for Living Web site. Please e-mail your request. Kindly allow four to six weeks for a response.
Giving to Insight for Living UK
To include Insight for Living in your Will or Trust, simply pass the following information to your solicitor:
Registered Office Address:
Insight for Living UK
PO Box 553
Charity Registration Number