We all know that studying the Bible is an important thing to do. But do you know how to study the Bible? Studying is important, and reading is important, but – what’s the difference? How do you get more meaning from scripture than just the surface story? Is there more than one way to study the Bible, and are any of those ways “more right” than the others? As part of my new category for Growing in Faith, I felt like Bible studies and studying “out loud” or with my readers should be an integral part of what goes on here. So many that are new to the faith, and even sometimes people who’ve been believers for many years, have never been taught to study God’s Word. I think that’s a shame and I hope that if you are in that situation that you can find help here.
First of all, the answer is no – there is not just one best way to study the Bible. You have to find what works for you! As a homeschooling mom, I would probably point you towards learning style research so that you know and can recognize immediately which methods will work better for you.
Secondly, I would say that it depends on what your motivation and intent for studying are. Do you want something to do each morning in your time with the Lord? Do you want to get more out of daily scripture reading? Is there a particular topic that you’re wanting to discover God’s will concerning? Each of those reasons for studying is perfectly reasonable and logical, but I would go about each one of them differently.
For the purpose of this article, let’s look at the latter two topics:
- Getting more out of scripture reading
- Subject study
For today’s article, we’ll look at just the first one.
I think that most people, when they come under conviction of the Holy Spirit that they should be studying scripture, will just open the book and begin reading. Some people start with Genesis, some with Matthew, and some with a book recommended by a trusted friend. It doesn’t matter where you start – reading God’s Word is crucial to growing in faith, and the whole book is important! Personally, I’d recommend starting in the New Testament; watch for subsequent posts where I’ll explain that recommendation.
So, pick a book near the back and start reading. Read a chapter, or read until you’ve gotten the story’s gist. In fact, if you don’t know the stories, just a read-through of the New Testament is a good place to start. You’ll want to read a few chapters a day until you’ve finished the New Testament, and be in an active, Bible-preaching church for the interim. God will speak to you with a first reading of His Word.
But let’s say you’ve done that, or that you’re mostly familiar with the stories. Now what? Let’s pick Ephesians as an example; it only has 6 chapters. You’ll read the first few verses and want to skim through them; it’s just Paul’s greeting to the people. But, wait! That’s great information – Paul is the author of this book. Do you know who Paul is, and his specific testimony in coming to Christ? If not, jot that down in your note-taking. You’ll want to know who Paul is and why he has authority. He’s talking to the people at Ephesus – do you know where that is? Do you know when that is? Jot it down!
The next verse begins a blessing from Paul to the people at the church at Ephesus, but even that has information. It says in Ephesians 1:3 –
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ
There! You just got some great information about Jesus Christ, and about yourself! Did you know that Christ has already given you EVERY spiritual blessing? It says, “in the heavenly places.” I wonder what that means? Jot it down!
From those 4 simple verses, you may already have a week’s worth of study material. You need to learn who Paul is and what his story entails. You need to find out when this is taking place, what the culture and the local “atmosphere” was like, and where exactly Ephesus is. You may want to do research to find out exactly what spiritual blessings even exist, if you’ve been given them (even as a new believer). And it looks like a good opportunity to find out what the original language intended by the phrase translated “heavenly places.”
The Study Plan
To get more out of God’s Word when you read, have paper and pencil handy. As you read, note the little things about the passage. Write down names or places that are unfamiliar. If there is vocabulary or phrases that sound religious or you aren’t quite sure what they mean in literal terms, write them down. Pay special attention when Jesus does or says anything, or when Jesus is talked about as having done or said anything. You’ll want to take notice of any words that indicate a command, and watch for words like “we” and “us” (even “whosoever”) that point to Biblical truths that apply to you. Watch also for anything that is a promise, including sentences with if/then statements.
If you’re visual, you can mark each of those things with a different color highlighter in your actual Bible. I’ve created a graph that you are welcome to use if it will help you. Be sure and use a separate paper (or the back of yesterday’s graph) to write down any new revelation – such as the gift of spiritual blessing, above – that is new to you or that you’ve understood in a new way in this reading.
This is only one method that you can use to get more out of your Bible reading. We’ll look again next week to see what to do with these pieces of information, and resources on finding the pieces that were missing during your reading time. You know now what you need to study, and next week I will provide you with some tools to do exactly that.
Please leave a comment and let me know if this is helpful to you! Do you still have questions? Are you going to utilize the graph? Be blessed!
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