If you are like me, and most Christians I know, you want to read and study the Bible more then you currently do. Isn’t that all of our New Years resolutions? As Christians, we all know this is something we should do. Yet, as a large collection of diverse and ancient texts, the Bible is a daunting book! Sometimes it can feel unapproachable. Perhaps you do not know where to start, or feel ill-equipped to handle difficult books. You are not alone.
Below I’ve compiled a list of tips that I have learned over the past two years while working in and with Bible schools. These principals have helped me dramatically in my personal Bible study. Incorporating these practical steps have not only made scripture feel more approachable, but increased my love for God's word.
Sometimes we get so caught up in study that we forget that we are dealing with the inspired word of God. Before beginning daily study, ask the Holy Spirit (the ultimate interpreter of scripture) to bring the word of God to life. Ask him to direct your study and convict you of any changes that need to be made in your life.
2. Read Whole Books:
The saying “Context is King” is so true. Each book of the Bible is a cohesive document, and so books are good units of study. Read through the whole book from start to finish without interruptions. Do this in one sitting, if possible. Keep an eye out for themes or repeated words. I have found this simple step to be revolutionary in my own life.
3. Know The Genre.
Remember all that stuff you learned in English class? That’s going to come in handy during your bible study. Take note of the literature type you are reading. Is it poetry? Is it prophecy? Is it history? Proverb? Parable? Each genre should be read differently. Knowing the genre will bring so much clarity to the text.
4. Understand the Setting.
What’s going on behind the scenes? What questions is the author answering? It’s important to know that, although the Bible was written for you, it was not written to you. Even a basic understanding of the audience and time period will enhance your study.
5. First Them, then Us.
It’s so tempting to read a passage and then immediately try to apply it to our life situations. However, it’s so important to understand how the original readers (such as the church in Corinth) would have understood and applied the text BEFORE moving on to the 21st century. This is a safeguard against misinterpreting the text in a way it was never meant to be read. I have found this step to make my studies incredibly rich and deep!
6. Make It Personal.
The best study in the world is meaningless without personal application. How is what you’ve learned relevant to today? Is there a belief that you hold that needs to be changed in light of what the Bible teaches? Are your views of God accurate? Is there a person you need to restore relationship with? Make your application specific and practical. How can you practically live this out today, tomorrow and the next day?
7. Share With Others.
Find a bible-buddy or study group to join that will allow you to share your discoveries with others. It’s important to walk out our lives with others around us. It’s also exciting to see what others are learning. Share your application with those around you so that you can hold each other accountable in the things God is calling you to do.
8. Just Do It.
I have found that the more I study the Bible, the more I want to continue. There is no substitute for doing your own reading, studying, and application. God’s word is so rich and rewarding. If we want more of God in our lives, this is the first place to start. He has given us so much information abotu His character, goodness and plan for humanity in the bible, what could be more deserving of our time?
By Abigail Elliott.