Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Practices of a Christian: Bible Study

I almost hesitate to write about the importance of Bible Study. Everyone, Christian or not, understands the importance of the Bible to the faith. We understand that it contains the history of our founding as a faith movement. The Bible includes the laws by which we live and organize our lives and relations. The Bible contains the building blocks for our faith, the very doctrines that we hold and cherish. We all know that we are supposed to be studying the Bible, and yet we do not.

Let’s skip right over the reasons that we do not study (or even read) the Bible. We know why we do not. We should focus on why we should read the Bible, or the benefits of it, and how to do it.

  • We should read the Bible because God says we should. We ought to be obedient to the Lord and his Word teaches us that we should read the Bible.
  • We should read the Bible because from it our relationship with Christ can grow. Getting to know Jesus is one of the greatest benefits to reading the Bible.
  • We should read the Bible because it offers us guidelines for living. When faced with dilemmas, answers can often be found here.
  • We should read the Bible because reading it will bring you peace of mind.
  • We should read the Bible because spending time with the Scripture will teach you more about life than any other source.
  • We should read the Bible because it is the primary driving force behind all of western culture.
  • We should read the Bible because it offers us a great overview of creation, history and culture of the Middle East and beyond.

Here are some suggestions to help you get going on your Bible reading adventure.

  • Find a Bible that you can read and understand. Every house has a Bible. The problem is usually that the Bible was written 400 years ago. The English of the King James Version is very difficult for the modern reader to understand. The most popular current Bible is the New International Version. It is very understandable. This year I have been reading the New Living Translation. I am enjoying it very much. You can get a very good Bible for less than $10 at most Christian stores.
  • Don’t over do it. Sometimes you can get tempted to try and read the whole thing at once. If you are just starting, do not do it that way. Start by reading just a few verses or a single chapter a day. This will help to keep you from getting overwhelmed by how much Bible there is.
  • Don’t start at the beginning. This suggestion does not seem to make sense, but if you start at the beginning of the Bible you will get bogged down pretty quickly. Start by reading the Gospel of Mark. Then try Jonah, Acts, Philemon, Ruth and Judges. After you have conquered some stories then try the larger books.
  • Get a partner. Find someone who would like to read the Bible with you. You do not have to read aloud together, but accountability will help you stay focused and on-track.
  • Keep going. Sometimes the Bible seems very dry and lifeless. There will be days when you will not “feel” anything from reading. You will get bored and want to quit. Keep reading anyway.

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