HOW TO READ OR STUDY THE BIBLE
Many people (including Christians) have a desire to read the Bible but have difficulty getting started and sticking with it because they often don’t understand what they are reading. One of the reasons for this is because they mistakenly think that the Bible can be read in the same way they read a newspaper or a novel.
The key to understanding the Bible is to first of all recognize that the Bible is God’s book. God has a great desire for you to understand what He has to say. The Bible is God’s voice calling to us to test His claims and to claim His promises!
Secondly, we need to understand the purpose of the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 tells us that the Scriptures are able to instruct us and give us understanding for salvation which comes through faith in Jesus. Our salvation is God’s goal! These verses go on to tell us that the Scriptures:
• Are profitable for our instruction - The Bible gives us valuable information and how-to’s.
• Good for reproof and conviction of sin - The Bible shows us where we are wrong; in our speech, actions, attitudes, beliefs, etc. Reproof means to rebuke, to reprimand, to correct, teach a lesson, etc. Conviction is a firm belief or persuasion. No more doubt!
• Good for correction of error and discipline in obedience
• Training in righteousness - The Bible teaches us how to live our everyday lives successfully in the way God intends for us.
• Why? So that we will be complete, made whole, thoroughly equipped for every good work!
We must realize that the Bible gives us God’s plan for our personal lives.
You may be thinking, “Okay, so how do I study the Bible?” “How can I understand it?” Each person learns in different ways and various tools will help such as a dictionary, a concordance, books written by Christian authors, etc., but the most important study aid is to ask for God’s help!
Matthew 7:7-8 (Amplified Version) tells us:
“Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, the door will be opened.”
Read the Bible prayerfully. If anyone understands God’s Word, it is because of God, not the reader.
John 14:26 (Amplified Version) tells us:
“...the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.”
Before reading, pray and invite God to speak to you. Don’t go looking for your own idea, go searching for His!
Search and you will find His promises. Proverbs 2:4-5 (Amplified Version) encourages us to search God’s Word as if we would search for hidden treasure:
“If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God.”
Proverbs 1:7 (Amplified Version) tells us:
“The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence] . . . ”
The meaning of the word “fear” as it is used in these Scriptures does not mean fear as in to be afraid. These Scriptures are referring to having great respect and reverence for the Lord because of Who He is.
Searching and understanding God’s Word requires effort on your part just the same as anything worthwhile does. Acts 17:11 gives us an example to follow by searching the Scriptures to learn the truth, to see if the things you have heard are truly God or not and 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us that we should study so that we may be able to rightly handle the Word of Truth.
Your soul requires a steady diet of God’s Word in the same way that your body requires a steady diet of healthy food in order to function as it should. We must feed regularly on the Word of God. Exodus 16 tells us that God gave manna to Israel in the wilderness in limited portions. They were given enough manna for each day, no more and no less.
Isaiah 28:10 explains to us that God will cause us to grow in knowledge and understanding little by little, teaching us precept upon precept, building upon our knowledge. We should be dedicated to a lifetime of learning!
Knocking gives us the connotation of action being required on our part. It is one thing to know what to do. It’s another thing to do it. James 1:25 admonishes us that we should be doers of the Word and not hearers only.
Happiness comes to those who do what they read and learn from God’s Word. It is the same as medicine. What good does it do to only read the label? We must follow through reading the instructions to opening the bottle and taking the prescribed dose.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word is alive and full of power. God uses His Word to expose to us the very motives of our hearts!
Another very important point to remember is that Jesus is God’s Word. John 1:1 tells us that God’s Word was made flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. When searching the Scriptures, keep your focus on Jesus, always looking for Him. We must remember that the Spirit behind this wonderful book is the Spirit of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 3:6 teaches us that the letter of the law kills, but the Spirit makes us alive! The Bible is not intended to beat us into submission or condemn us, but rather its intention is to give us life everlasting!
Lastly, we should meditate on God’s Word. God promises us success in every area of our lives as we continually look to Him for guidance. Psalms 1:1-3 (Amplified Version) promises us:
“Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].”
Joshua 1:8 (Amplified Version) tells us:
“This Book of the Law shall not depart out o your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success.”
What great and precious promises! What a wonderful God we have! Be encouraged as you search out the riches of His unending love and mercy!
• Understand the Bible is God’s voice to you
• Know the Bible’s purpose is to reveal God’s plan to you - Salvation!
• Ask God to help you understand what He is saying to you
• Search for His hidden treasures
• Be diligent and regularly feed on His Word
• Put into action what you have learned
• Receive the life His Word brings and allow it to change your heart and your life
• Always look for Jesus
• Meditate on the Word