When it comes to studying the Bible, there are a few useful pointers to keep in mind.
Step 1: Make Sure You Know the Author
I’ve heard it said that the Bible is the only book in the world where the Author (God) is present when you’re reading it. In fact, in the Bible, Christ is referred to as the Living Word of God (John 1:1, for example).
I’ve found that having a relationship with Jesus Christ enables me to better understand the Bible, as He illuminates it for me. Christianity isn’t a set of rules, but a relationship with Jesus Christ.Christianity isn't a set of rules, but a relationship with Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet
Step 2: Seek to See and Get to Know Christ in the Bible
Some study the Bible to find out what they should and should not be doing. Although the Bible does speak to our “doing”, the Word of God speaks more to our being — that is, our Character and the fruit God wishes to develop in our lives (see Galatians 5:22-23).
I’ve created a free Bible study devotional for this purpose, called the Knowing My God notebooking pages, which are freely available here.
The Bible is the story of Christ. Everything you read in the Bible is to point to Christ, not “religion”. Search for Him as you read.Everything in the Bible points to Christ not religion. Search for Him as you read. Click To Tweet
Step 3: Balance the Nature and Character of Christ, as well as the context of the passage, against anything You Read
In other words, don’t major on minors.
I’ve seen, in many circles, as well as in articles, internet preachers, and some authors, a tendency to zero in on one minor thing in the Scriptures, often something that is purely part of the historical context rather than a command of God, and totally run with it. When we study the Scriptures, it’s so important to make sure we aren’t twisting things based on a misunderstanding of the audience, the historical time period, and the character of God revealed in the situation.Focus on Christ and Don't Major on Minor Issues Click To Tweet
The Bible calls on us to look at the whole counsel of God. When you view the Bible in a “big picture” way, instead of zeroing in on some individual verses out of context, you’ll better understand the Bible as a whole.
Step 4: Keep the Chronology (Time Line) of the Bible in Mind
I created a neat poster that shows the 10 steps through the Bible, to illustrate the Bible’s timeline. Keeping this timeline in mind will help you better understand the context of what each human author is talking about, especially when you read some of the Old Testament.Keep the Time Line of the Bible in Mind when studying it Click To Tweet
Step 5: Study the Bible Topically
In addition to reading whole books of the Bible as a group, I do like to do topical Bible studies from time to time, especially on topics that are important to me at that moment. For example, during our foreclosure, I really found myself noticing, perhaps for the first time, God’s heart for the poor as revealed in the Bible. Wow. Good stuff there.
Here are some thoughts on doing a topical Bible study, and some caveats as well. Always be careful, again, to look at the big picture, the context, when studying topically.Be careful to look at the big picture/context in topical Bible study Click To Tweet
Step 6: Dig Deeper into the Bible
Many times, I like to read through passages and let God speak to me through those passages. However, sometimes a passage will make me pause and wonder what it really means, and dig a little bit deeper into the topic. Sometimes I will do a full topical study into the subject. Other times, I will at least try to understand the passage in the original languages.
Because our English Bibles needed to be translated from the original languages of Greek and Hebrew, it’s helpful to use different tools available to us (many free, online), to better understand a word or phrase. I’ve written more about the topic of the Bible’s original languages and the tools we can use to enhance our Bible study here.
Step 7: Know What You Believe and Why
I often find it troubling when I meet someone who dogmatically preaches something at me but can’t really explain to me their reasoning behind these convictions or how they came to be. Usually, they were reading a book by some teacher or leader and came to some conclusion. I wrote about this before regarding parenting teachers and how we need to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
It’s always a better idea to develop your personal and family convictions from individual Bible study and time with the Lord, rather than just from listening to someone else espouse their ideas. I believe it’s a good idea to get good counsel and to listen to good teaching, but ultimately we need to own our own convictions. Amen?
Step 8: Don’t Keep it To Yourself
I am not really a confrontational person by nature, but I always enjoy being able to talk with others about my faith. Yesterday, I was the only person in a coffee house and so the owner and I had a delightful, quirky conversation about a good many things. We didn’t see totally eye to eye but we were able to be an encouragement to each other.
I don’t believe sharing our faith needs to be obnoxious or confrontational. In fact, it’s better if it isn’t. 🙂Sharing our faith shouldn't be obnoxious or confrontational. Click To Tweet
When God works in our lives, it’s only natural to share this with others and encourage them too. I’ve written more here, in the context of leading our children to a relationship with Christ.
The apostles, in fact, said,
“We can’t help but talk about what we’ve seen and heard!”
And really, that’s the crux. Faith is a natural, normal part of my everyday life, and so it flows out of me when I talk. It’s not something I “do” on a scheduled activity basis.
In Closing: Some Humor
Finally, for a laugh, Jordan at Blimey Cow tells us (sarcastically…it’s sarcasm people…) How to Be God’s Favorite.