Being active in the ministry of Jesus Christ allows me to associate with many people who are distraught by not being able to understand the Bible. When they ask me how to study the Bible in a way that lets them understand it, I always point out that the Apostle Paul was very plain in 1 Corinthians that an unsaved person cannot understand the Word of God. Most of the time people will assure me that they are truly saved so the question resurfaces about why they don’t understand the Bible.
Can I give them a fool-proof way to study and understand? I am careful not to make any promises that only God can fulfill. I do offer some suggestions that might help. Most of the time I refer to the notes and highlights of the course I was privileged to teach in seminary. Of course most people don’t have the time to listen to a full semester of information so I try to keep it as brief as possible while including the major points of successful Bible study.
First of all as with any undertaking concerning a full life with God, prayer is the compulsory initial act. We should pray that God will reveal the truth of His Word to us in a way that we can understand. It is my belief that the desired motive for that understanding should not be so we will know more just for the sake of knowing. It should be so that we will be able to live our lives as God wants us to live them.
After prayer, what comes next? Let’s compare this to a trip to Walmart or whatever your favorite store is. First thing is, get in your car, or here in Texas it will probably be your pick-up. Ha, ha! Sitting behind the steering wheel, can you begin taking stuff off the shelves and putting them in your shopping cart? No, of course not. There are things that must be done to get you to the store so you can start putting that stuff in your shopping cart. Walmart or store is the destination but you don’t start out at the destination.
In Bible study we tend to want to start at the destination. The destination is living the life God wants us to live. That means, “applying the Bible to our lives or in one word, application.” Just like the trip to the store, we don’t start at the destination. So, in Bible study we don’t start at the destination. OK, where do we start? Glad you asked!
My recommendation would be to get a good study Bible. My 2 favorite study Bibles are the Ryrie Study Bible and the Life Application Study Bible. Since I am a King James Bible guy, both of the hardcover editions I use are KJV. With technology we have a veritable gold mine of biblical resources at our fingertips or keystrokes. Even though I preach and teach with the KJV, I do have other translations on my computer. Most of the Bible apps have multiple translations available. For years my primary Bible software was Parsons Quick Verse. That is out of publication now and the one replacing it is Word Search through Lifeway. Another program I use is Logos through FaithLife. They offer a free basic package that is very good. I have spent a few dollars and acquired the Logos 8 version which has an enormous amount of resources.
The Logos I use has a Ryrie study resource and for my CSB translation I have a CSB study Bible. Study Bibles are good because most of them give the details of each book such as date written, author, key verses and purpose. They also include notes on certain verses in each book which give details about words used and the people involved. Study Bibles also have maps and personal information about the people that are mentioned in each book. Most include cross references of verses to guide you to other Bible verses that help in understanding the proper context.
Now that we have some tools to help in our study, the Lord willing we will begin next week in the step by step process of achieving a good sound Bible study. As with other pages of this blog, I encourage you to use the Contact Me form to let me know your experiences and processes for Bible study that work for you.