The Bible says, “All Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16). Reading the Bible is profitable! But there are many Christians who don’t know how to read God’s Word. It’s so important for Christians to learn how to study the Bible for themselves. If you’ve never read your Bible before, now is a good time to start! The following are some practical tips to help make your Bible study a little bit easier:
1. CHOOSE A RELIABLE, MODERN, EASY-TO-READ TRANSLATION
There are many different English versions of the Bible available today. Unless you understand the Old English of 1611 really well, then you will have a hard time understanding the King James Version. I recommend a modern version like the New King James Version, because it is easier to understand (that’s the version I mainly use). Get a good study Bible – it will help you understand how the Bible applies to your life. If you have problems reading, or just don’t like to read, then get the Bible on CD or MP3, watch Bible videos (Visual Bible – Matthew & Acts), or get someone to read to you!
2. WHERE TO START READING
Eventually you’ll want to read every word of the Bible; however, it does not have to be read straight through from page one. Since it is a library of sixty-six books, you can begin almost anywhere. If you are new to the Bible, try starting your reading in the New Testament with the book of Mark. It is a short, fast-paced account of the life of Jesus Christ. This book will give you a dramatic introduction to the events that changed the world and can change your life. Studying the life of Jesus will help you get to know God better, because Jesus said that when we see Him, we see the Father. Next try John, two books after Mark.
3. PRAY BEFORE YOU BEGIN YOUR BIBLE STUDY
Because God is the author of the Bible, He can help us understand what we read! Jesus said the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth. You may want to pray a simple prayer like this: “Father God, please give me spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that I might grow in my knowledge of You. May my heart be flooded with light so that I can understand the wonderful future You have promised to me. Help me to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance You have given to me as one of your children, in Jesus’ name, Amen!” (adapted from Eph. 1:17-18).
4. TAKE NOTES ON WHAT YOU’RE READING
This helps keep your mind active in the learning process. It forces you to think about what you read and it helps you to remember what you’ve read. Ask yourself questions as you’re reading through the Scripture, like – what does this verse teach me about the following:
a. God’s nature (what He is like-loving, holy, just, merciful, etc.);
b. My nature (the nature of human beings);
b. God’s Commandments (what God requires of me);
c. God’s Promises (what God has promised to do for me)?
5. APPLY THE WORD TO YOUR LIFE
This is the most important step in your process of Bible study. Don’t just be a “hearer of the Word, but a doer!” Look for ways to apply the Word to your life. This is the ultimate goal of Bible study. For example, if you read a passage on loving others, look for ways to show love! The Bible was not written just to be studied, but to change lives.
Some Basic Bible Study Tools:
a) Bible Dictionary (i.e. Unger’s Concise Bible Dictionary);
b) Biblical Concordance (i.e. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible);
c) Bible Atlas (i.e. Baker’s Bible Atlas);
d) Bible Handbook (i.e. Halley’s Bible Handbook);
e) Commentaries (i.e. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries);
f) The one most seem to use these days is good ole Google! But be careful and check the source!