Most Christians agree that studying the Bible is an important part of our spiritual life. We agree that we should read the Bible and live according to what it teaches.
The Bible is a large book that was written over a thousand years of time. The oldest parts were written over 3000 years ago. The most recent parts were written about 2000 years ago. It was written in 3 different languages and has to be translated into English for us to read. That translation further complicates our Bible reading. Which translation is the best?
All of these factors can make it difficult for us to feel like we are able to study the Bible effectively. But the fact remains; Paul’s admonition to Timothy is also a command for us. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
I would like to share some guidelines for studying the Bible in an effective way.
1. Pray before you read and ask God to teach you His message through your reading.
2. Ask yourself these three questions: a)What does this say about God? b) Does this tell me anything about human nature, in other words, about myself? And finally c) Does it tell me something I should do?
3. When you come across something that is difficult to understand or that does not seem right somehow, read the passage in more than one translation. Don’t just accept the translation that you like the best. Try to compare the English versions and get the real meaning. Consult a commentary, talk to your pastor or a trusted Christian friend about the passage.
4. Resist the temptation to accept that any interpretation is right just because your favorite tv preacher says it is. Study the Bible for yourself.
5. Reading through the Bible completely is a good thing to do but understanding is more important than getting through it. Quality matters more than quantity.
If you follow these guidelines, your Bible study will be more fruitful and meaningful. This will help you follow Jesus more faithfully.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC