There can be little doubt among Christians that the Bible is the beginning place for spiritual information and growth. Our prayer lives are important, but we must never take for granted the Holy Scriptures as we learn about God and his will for our lives. The Bible serves as the foundation stone for everything else that we believe, do or value. We have spent time discussing the importance of reading and studying God's word, and we have considered some tools that will assist us in understanding the background and meaning of the Bible. Now let's consider how to study the Bible.
To begin with we need to reiterate the importance of reading the Bible. In the words of the famous Nike ad, “Just do it.” You do not need to learn everything before you start reading the Bible. Just start reading it. There are a lot of aids at this point. Find a schedule that will work for you. There are many online resources to help with this. In addition, we have a schedule that we are following as a congregation for 2012. Choose something and get started.
Now that you are started, ask yourself the following questions about your reading each time you read.
- What does this passage say? Decide what it is that the Biblical author is trying to communicate. You can do this by using some resources that will assist you in understanding. A study Bible or a commentary might be helpful. It could be that you will want to read the passage in some different translations. Start by reading the passage slowly. Ask the big questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Learn what is happening and what is being said in a passage before you move on.
- How does this passage apply to me? Bible study is perhaps the most important thing that you can do on a regular basis. But the value of that study is severely limited if you don't follow it up by learning what you should do about it. The Bible calls us to action. It is a great source of information, but more importantly it is a book of instruction. When studying God's word think about what you should do because of what it says. How does a passage affect you? How should you think?
- Why is this passage important? To begin with we need to understand that all the passages in the Bible are important. Some are more or less relevant to us than others, but all are equally a part of God's word to us. With that disclaimer out of the way, pray about the significance of a passage. Not how important it is compared to other passages, but rather, answer why it is important to you. What is God trying to teach you with this passage? What is it's significance in my life?
There was a Christian song that was pretty popular several years ago. The hook of the chorus was “Read the book; don't wait for the movie.” That should be our approach to the Bible. We need to jump in and have a go. Hopefully you are now feeling more prepared to do that.