Update: I now offer a free 5 day course on how to study the Bible, if you are interested, learn more here.
I was on Twitter this morning and happened to scroll past a tweet from a man didn’t know how to study the Bible. This man had not finished high school and had become a Christian after a rocky past. He wanted to share and talk about scripture and was getting negative feedback from believers who didn’t feel he was using verses correctly.
It broke my heart guys. I have met so many believers who have been in the church for years and they feel like they don’t have enough knowledge to share their faith, and here is a young believer who is trying his best and getting shut down instead of discipled.
One reason I felt so frustrated is that I believe that ANY believer can approach the Bible. You don’t need a degree or special education to read the Bible and share it with others. In fact you SHOULD be sharing the Bible!
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Things You Need to Study the Bible
1. An Open Heart
God radically changed your heart when you became a believer. He took the life you were living for yourself and made it clean. When you sit down to read the Bible ask for wisdom to understand it and the humility to see where you need to change. Never get to the point where you don’t feel you need your heart changed.
2. Your Bible
Yes, to study the Bible effectively you will actually need to sit down with it and spend time in the Word. Choose a translation that you can understand, open the Bible and read. I love my Inductive Study Bible because it has so many tips for how to study the Bible. I highly recommend it if you want to study the Bible in depth. However, you can study any Bible. The Inductive Study Bible has great introductions to each book as well as helpful extras such as timelines, maps and family trees. Whatever Bible you have, set aside a time to read it every day.
No one is an expert on every single verse in the Bible. Fellowship with other believers holds us accountable to how we interpret the word of God. It is so important to have a body of believers that you meet with regularly. Search for a church that believes that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.
What to Do When You Open Your Bible
1. Read an Entire Passage
Don’t stop after a verse or two. You risk taking verses out of context if you only read a couple sentences. Try to read at least an entire chapter to get the whole picture of what the passage says. One great example is in Romans. Paul asks rhetorical questions and then answers them. In Romans 9:20-24 you can see what an incorrect picture of God’s sovereignty you would have if you read only verse 20.
3. Ask Yourself the Five W’s and H
As you read, ask yourself who, what, when, where, why and how. Really make yourself identify things like, who is speaking? Who are they speaking to? What are they saying? Where are they saying it?
I recently had an ‘aha’ moment by asking the question ‘where?’ My pastor was preaching through the book of Acts and pointed out that in chapter 3 when Peter heals the lame man, he was about to enter the temple. This lame man probably sat at the entrance to the temple in Jerusalem every day. Jesus probably passed by him. God moved Peter to heal him that day and not before. It is clear that this is God’s timing. It gives Peter the chance to preach to a crowd of people so effectively that it annoys the religious leaders who oppose him (chapter 4).
4. Read Through an Entire Book
With the possible exception of Psalm and Proverbs, it is important to read a book through in its entirety to get a full picture of its context. Read through a gospel, then read through another book, and another until you have read through the entire Bible. By reading an entire book you get a full picture of what God is trying to day through that particular author and in that setting.
If you want to read more about how to study your Bible more effectively, you might enjoy this post about the Inductive Study Bible I use.