The Bible, our user manual
As we learned in our previous post Should We Study The Bible, studying the word of God is a very important part of your life as a Christian. God uses his word to convict, uplift, and guide us. If we rely on our human nature to explain to us what the Bible is saying, we will fail every step of the way. The biggest, best benefit to studying God’s word is that as we get to know him we crave to know him more and more. The following steps are a process and just one way of many to study the Bible. Be kind to yourself as each step will take as long as it takes. Remember, time means something different to God than it does to us. So sit back, relax, and dive into God’s word.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV)
1. Pray before you even open your Bible. Ask Holy Spirit to reveal his message and to give you understanding and wisdom. Ask him to open your heart and mind to his ways. God is always faithful and wants us to read his thoughts (his Word). One of the reasons you need to pray before reading is that the Bible was created for everyone. That means baby Christians as well as mature Christians and everyone in between. So when you pray, God will lead you to what he knows you are able to understand. There is no point in fumbling around in the dark when you have instant access to the light, right? God will take your hand and gently encourage you to reach further and grow but he will start you where he knows you need to be.
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breast. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little.” (Isaiah 28:10 KJV)
2. Open your Bible where you feel led and begin to read a passage. Slow yourself down as you read and really look at each word. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a passage with fresh eyes when I have done this. We tend to read with the knowledge of what we’ve been told a passage is about. We take it by faith that we have been told correctly. But as you read train yourself to slow down and read each word. The goal isn’t to speed read or skim but to absorb. Read the paragraph before and after your chosen passage as well. This helps to put the text in context (meaning the verses before and after your verse usually give you additional insight into what the writer is talking about). If you take a passage out of context, you can make it say pretty much whatever you want it to say. You don’t want to add your own spin on things. God doesn’t take too kindly to that idea. Even Satan uses scripture with his own slight modifications to deceive.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9 KJV)
3. Find other verses about your subject (topic). Just because a particular word or subject is used in multiple verses does not mean each verse applies to your subject. Read and compare them. Use the previous steps to check them out. Remember, some words have multiple meanings so don’t assume you know how God intended to use a word or subject. Don’t forget to simply ask him. He knows what every single line means since he wrote the Bible. Allow God to use his Word to explain his Word.
“Be diligent in these things. Give yourself wholly to them, that your progress may be revealed to all. Pay attention to yourself, and to your teaching. Continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:15-16 WEB)
4. Pray about what you’ve just read. The word should inspire us to pray because these are your promises and guidance from God. Thank him for his word. As I read and come across something I don’t understand, I ask God about it then move on trusting that when I am ready, he will reveal to me what that verse meant.
“Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 WEB)
5. Give yourself time to meditate (think) on what you’ve just read and learned before jumping to conclusions or going to the next topic. Meditating on God’s word gives it time to go down deep into your spirit. Think of a farmer planting seed. He has to plant it deep enough to be able to take root and then he has to give it fertilizer, water, sun and time to grow. It won’t happen overnight no matter how badly the farmer desires it. The same needs to happen when we read God’s word. We need to plant it deep into our spirit, give it the above steps and watch God grow our faith and knowledge.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one anoother in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16 KJV)
Give It A Try
There is no perfect way to study the Bible. In future posts, I plan to share a few different ways to spend time in scripture. Pray about whichever method you use. Ask God if this is the right way for you to study or if there is another way that would work better for your brain and personality. Some people have a favorite tried and true method they feel comfortable using. I don’t. In fact, every few months I change-up the way I study. I feel it gives me a fresh perspective and forces me to slow down and not race through my time in scripture. Just remember, the method you choose isn’t important. The important thing is to get into the Word and study it for yourself! If you would like to try a different study method or simply want to dip your toes in God’s Word a bit deeper, click over to this post about writing the word of God. Writing the Word is a study method I call my “read to know, write to remember” method. It takes a bit more of your time to write out the Word but it will be time well spent. What is your favorite way to study the Bible? Have you ever switched it up and tried a different method for your study?
*KJV = King James Version of the Bible
*WEB = World English Bible