Studying the Bible can seem like a daunting task to most people. It seemed that way to me. And to be honest, it still does sometimes. I put off my Bible study most days simply because it seemed like a big project. And believe me, I didn’t have time to take on another project.
We get caught up in our own heads asking ourselves questions like, “Where do I even start?” “How do I know what it all means?” “How will I find the time to study?”. All these are valid questions and all these questions have an answer. That is why I put together this guide to simplify your Bible study and improve your spiritual walk. I didn’t only make it for you, I made it for myself to help me get the ball rolling in my life.
Before we get started, I would like to suggest you use the King James Version as your Primary version. I won’t get into the details (but definitely in a later post) here but that is what I believe to be original.
Follow the guidelines below to help you get started with your Bible study.
This is the most important step you could take in your bible study. As you are starting your bible study, think about who’s book you are about to study. The answer to that is easy, Gods. Now if you are looking to get more out of a book, who better to get insight from than the author himself? Prayer is a direct link between you and God and a lot of people don’t realize the power in that. So, use this time to ask God for guidance, and to reveal himself through his word.
This might be obvious but it is probably the last thing a Christian, especially a new one, will think to do. I mean, how are we supposed to have a plan if we don’t even know where to start? Well, I will tell you. Think of a topic you are interested in such as salvation, creation, marriage and so forth. After you select a topic…. Google it and find where to read about it. A lot of Christians feel like using the internet is cheating. I ask them, Why? It is no different than getting out the concordance or purchasing a study Bible. The internet is just tool. You just have to know how to use it.
If you are the type of person that needs a little more structure, I like to go to biblestudytools.com. There is a ton of resources there. There is also an app I started using a lot. It is called the YouVersion Bible app. It has pre-made reading plans and a bunch of other cool features you can use right from your phone or tablet. Don’t only plan your topics, plan on a time. Even 10 minutes a day can make an impact. What I have done, is wake up 30 min earlier than normal and use that time to read and pray. It is hard at first, but soon you will form a habit.
Don’t go in with preconceived ideas
This step is critical. Because of the world we live in, there is a lot of preconceived ideas about scriptures in the bible. The world has twisted the word of God to fit its mold of what it feels is right. Gods word is forever and is truth. We can’t let our feelings get in the way of what God says is truth. As you read the Bible, read what is there and not what you think is there. Go into it thinking to yourself, “I could be wrong about something, so if I am, God show me the truth and allow me to accept it”.
Get your definitions from the Bible
I heard a preacher once say, “If you don’t know what something means in the Bible, just keep reading. God will tell you exactly what he is talking about”. One little trick of studying that most don’t know is, the first time God introduces a new word or concept in the Bible, he always defines it. So, find the first time that word is introduced and read that passage. God will define that word.
Validate Scripture with Scripture
This point kind of ties into step 3. It is crucial to understand that there are ZERO conflicts in the Bible. I have come across passages I felt conflicted with another passage in scripture. And guess what, as I study the topic in more depth, I see it was my preconceived ideas that were wrong all along. It was a misunderstanding or was just plain wrong about the topic. If you come across a scripture you do not understand or you feel is a conflict with another part of scripture, take these steps.
- Read the passage in its full context. If that means starting in the previous chapter, do it.
- Find another book of the Bible that tells the same story. Compare them. (this is the validation part)
- Ask yourself, “who was the author talking too?”
- Pray and ask God for understanding.
Write down your questions
This tip is short, but probably my favorite. Get a dedicated study notebook. My recommendation is a composition or spiral notebook. I don’t know why. I just like them. As you study, ask questions. As you think of questions, write them down and come back to them in later studies. This is also a fantastic way to come up with new topics of study.
This just might be the hardest part. It is easy to read a couple passages and feel like you have fulfilled your Christian duties. If we don’t apply scripture to our lives, the Bible just becomes another book on the shelf. Paul says in Philippians 4:9, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Here Paul tells us to “do” so that God will be with us.
The only way to take your spiritual walk to the next level is to take action. Here are a few simple ways to start taking action.
- We have already covered this but the more you read the more you will know what God asks of you.
- You can’t know what to do if you don’t remember what you read.
- I am not talking about the hippy meditation where you sit indian style, put your fingertips together and say “UUUMMM”. I am talking about digesting Gods word in a way where what you have just read sinks in. Psalm 1:2 tells us that the man who meditates is blessed.
Another easy way to start taking action is to surround yourself with other Christians. Preferably Christians who are further along in their spiritual walk. Once you do that, they will change your state of mind and be able to hold you accountable. One way to find like minded people is to join a Bible study group at your church. Make it a habit of making these meetings and I promise you will see growth in your daily walk with Christ.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. This just scratches the surface. But I believe it is a great start to get the ball rolling for new Christians or even Christians that have been out of the word for a while. You are not going to understand it all in one day. Heck, you aren’t going to understand it all in one year! That is the beauty of the Bible. After a lifetime of study, you will still learn from it. 2nd Peter 3:16 and Matthew chapter 13 prove the word of God is hard to understand at times. Jesus said that some people were given the mysteries of heaven and others were not. I believe those people given the mysteries are the active followers of Christ.
With that being said, God didn’t want his word to be complicated. He wanted us to know exactly what he was talking about. Just keep in mind that the word of God is eternal and that the Bible is the word of God. Therefore, it takes an eternity to understand the scriptures in full. Do not be discouraged when you come across something you don’t understand. Just think to yourself, “God will reveal it in due time”.
God Bless and happy studying.