How To Study The Bible


In the US, There are many churches and ministries that have an emphasis on the primacy of scripture, and have adopted the name Berean. You may have seen this name as apart of a church name. The Catholic Diocese of Lincoln describes one particular affiliation, the Berean Church, as comprising about 60 independent U.S. congregations of similar beliefs with features in common with Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians. So what is the importance of this name? Why do churches want to be known as Berean churches?

In the Bible, the Bereans emphasized the primacy of the God’s Word (Acts 17:11). They studied hard in order to know the validity of the truth. They compared Paul’s teaching to the God’s Word and set a good example for the church throughout history.

As believers, we would fare well to follow the example of the Bereans by reading and studying our Bibles. Studying and reading the Bible is one of the most important activities in the life of a Christian. This concept is foundational to growing in our knowledge of the Lord. Not only is a believer’s Bible reading foundational, but it is also extremely practical (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3).

Why is the Bible so important? The Bible makes some audacious claims and it would behoove us greatly to not ignore its message. There are four characteristics that make the Bible important.

1. The Bible is exclusive and God’s Word is the only means by which salvation occurs (1 Tim. 3:15; Rom. 10:17).

2. The Bible is authoritative and inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16a)

3. The Bible is useful for teaching, conviction, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16b).

4. The Bible is sufficient and should be our

5. standard for every rule and practice (2 Tim. 3:17; 2 Pet. 1:3)

In the Psalms, David describes the ways of the Lord as being perfect and His Word as being flawless (Ps. 18:30). In today’s world where everything seems so uncertain, do we not want to follow something that is perfect and flawless?

DIFFERENT WAYS TO READ AND STUDY THE BIBLE

There are various ways to read and study the Bible. The first way is to hear God’s Word. Christians should expose themselves to as much of the Bible as possible (1 Tim. 4:13). There are numerous ways in which God’s Word can be heard. The most important listening opportunity takes place on Sunday morning in the pews of the church. Hearing the pastor explain God’s Word can be extremely edifying to the soul.

Another way of hearing God’s Word involves listening to an audio device (radio, CDs, mp3 player, etc.). If you spend a lot of time in the vehicle then you can probably listen to God’s Word being preached or sung on the radio. Or, you could download your favorite sermons and Christian music to a CD or mp3 player. I like to load my mp3 player with various sermons from different pastors, counselors, and teachers. Listening to God’s Word being proclaimed is great opportunity to grow in your knowledge and understanding of the Lord.

Second, a believer must be reading God’s Word (Rev. 1:3). I would encourage everyone to be on a Bible reading plan. Most of these plans can be found online or by asking your pastor. A simple rule of thumb is to read 5-6 chapters a day. While it may not be true that reading 5-6 chapters a day will keep the devil away, our reading will leave us feeling edified and blessed (Ps. 1:1-2; Rev. 1:3).

Apart from reading the Bible, one can read a lot of information concerning the truths and teachings of Scripture. The easiest way to do this is to go to the local Christian book store and pick out a book to read. There is a lot of Christian books being circulated these and some are more helpful than others. If interested in reading a book concerning a biblical text or doctrine, my advice would be to consult the pastor or church library first. It is quite possible that the pastor or library may have a book on the text or topic in which you are interested.

Third, a believer must be studying God’s Word. Do not be scared of the word “study.” Although helpful, you do not have to have a seminary degree or be a pastor to study God’s Word.

Here are some helpful questions to ask when studying the Bible…

1. What does this text teach about God?

2. What does this text teach about man?

3. Does the text call for praise or thankfulness?

4. What does this text teach concerning the attitudes of the heart?

5. Does the text call for a decision?

6. How is the text teaching me to pray for others, or myself?

There are also many Bible study tools that can supplement your study of Scripture. The first set of helpful tools are reference tools. It would be a great idea for everyone to have some type of concordance for looking up Bible passages. Most concordances now have a Hebrew and Greek dictionary built into it. Of course you do not have to know Hebrew and Greek to use this effective tool.

Finally, another useful tool are commentaries. Usually, commentaries consist of someone’s thoughts, sermons, or study of the biblical text. There are many commentaries for every book of the Bible. Whether you are a Sunday school teacher, children’s minister, youth minister, or lay person, reading commentaries can be an extremely informative and enriching exercise. As mentioned earlier, seek the counsel of the pastor or church leadership before acquiring just any commentary.

HIDING GOD’S WORD IN OUR HEART

The Bible commands Christians to guard their hearts, because out of the heart flow the issues of life (Prov. 4:23). The best way to guard our hearts is to hide God’s Word in our heart in order that we might not sin against God (Ps. 119:11). This means that we must be thinking about and memorizing Scripture in order to engage in our everyday battle with the devil (Eph. 6:10-18; 1 Pet. 5:8).

The Bible tells us to always be thinking about and meditating upon God’s Word. This does not mean being mentally passive, emptying your mind, or creating your own mental reality like most Eastern forms of meditation. Instead, biblical thinking and meditation involves renewing your mind (Eph. 4:22-24) and perceiving life through Scripture (Phil. 4:8). Simply put, meditation is thinking deeply about the truth and realities of Scripture.

Psalm 119 is an extremely useful chapter of encouragement that speaks about the joy and delight of God’s Word. Take time this week to read Psalm 119 and let the Lord use His Word to speak truth into your heart. It is my prayer that Christians will imitate the Psalmist by hiding, longing for, meditating upon, and delighting in His Holy Word.

The Bible says that meditation leads to obedience and obedience leads to God’s blessing (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:1-3; James 1:25). What does it look like to think about and meditate upon the Bible?

There are different ways in which we can hide God’s Word in our hearts…

1. Write a Bible verse on a notecard and commit it to memory.

2. Rewrite the Bible verse or phrase in your own words.

3. Look for and think through the applications and implications of the text.

4. Pray through the text of Scripture.

5. Use the Philippians 4:8 Principle (what is true? what is honorable? what is right, pure, lovely, etc.)

CONCLUSION

The study and reading of God’s Word is not optional. It is necessary! It is necessary because it contains the life transforming and saving power of the gospel of Jesus (Rom. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 15:2). Christ came to destroy the work of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8) and to give His life as ransom to save sinners (Mk. 10:45; 1 Jn. 3:5). You, too, can experience the transforming power of Jesus by asking Him to save you (Rom. 10:9-13). Once Christians, the Holy Spirit grows us into the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18). May God use the Bible to grow us spiritually through our reading and studying of His precious truth.