HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE
By Henry Jaegers
1. How do I begin?
A) Understanding the bible begins very simply: with prayer. The Bible is not a book but a library containing 66 books, written by 40 different authors over a period of 1500 years, without one single error or contradiction. There has never been a book like the Bible and no religion or holy book can make that claim. This information alone is enough to convince men that it is indeed THE WORD OF GOD AND IS WORTHY OF OUR CONSIDERATION.
B) What shall we pray for? First we should pray for Salvation. If a man is not born again he lacks the potential to understand the scriptures. The indwelling Holy Spirit, who enters a person’s life at the time of the New Birth, enables one to desire and understand God’s word. Jesus made this clear when He spoke to Nicodemus on this subject. “Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born again, He cannot see the kingdom of God. The word “See” in this sense means to have knowledge of, or understanding. Second, we need to pray for a heart like a child, eager to learn and expecting to receive a blessing.
Third We need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us into truth: This means that when we seek the truth in God’s Word we must be willing to surrender preconceived ideas, not based upon the plain truth of scripture. There is a cost to believing truth, for it involves surrendering false ideas that the enemy of our soul doesn’t want us to forsake. One of the activities of the Holy Spirit is to “Lead us into all truth”.( John 15:13) “When the Plain sense of scripture makes good sense, Seek no other kind of sense” is a good guide to help us along our journey. Fourth, pray for a hunger for the Word of God. This is a prayer that God Promises to answer. (Matthew 5:5) “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” When we are hungry there is an intense desire for that which will satisfy. Once again the Holy Spirit can create in us a clean heart and a desire for righteousness that results in God Being glorified
These are some preliminary considerations for studying the Bible
C) Begin with a quiet place without outside distractions. Studying the Bible requires concentration in order to hear God speak.
D) Bring a pad and paper with you to record the things you receive that are important from your meeting with God, through the scriptures. Remember. God wants you to understand the Bible and He has made every provision for you to do so.( sometimes He even uses preachers to help.)
2. Where Do I Begin?
Where to begin sometimes is determined by a particular need in my life or where I am in my spiritual development. The reason for that is, there are some passages and books in the Bible which are difficult to understand without the necessary background. To start reading books like Leviticus or some of the prophetical books without knowing the necessary historical format would lead to discouragement resulting in giving up. So to start, in the Old Testament, the first book of the Bible, Genesis is the best place to start. It is the book of beginnings and tells us about how everything began. It contains history, science prophecy, fulfilled promises, narratives of successes and failures, and compared to other books of the Old Testament, it is easy to understand.
In the New Testament, The Gospel of John, by the consensus of
Many Bible teachers is the best place to start. The Gospels of Matthew,
Mark and Luke are called synoptic Gospels and contain similar accounts of the life of Christ. The gospel of John is different and focuses on The Deity of Christ. John contains accounts that the others do not, and gives more place to the ministry of The Holy Spirit. It is pretty straightforward and easy to understand with many faith-building promises that give assurance to the believer.
3. What methods will help me to better understand the Bible?
Sometimes time is a factor in studying the bible so there are various methods we can employ to best reach our goal. Here are some guidelines:
A) The Devotional Method.
This method is important because it helps us to get into the Word of God in order to hear His voice and learn His purposes and will for us and how to apply His word to everyday situations. The devotional method is the practical application of God’s Word.
B) The Topical Method.
The topical method is employed to search out what the Bible has to say on certain subjects. One of the benefits of modern day study Bibles is that they have an index listing hundreds of topics a person can study. Some suggested topics a person might pursue is on the subject of capital punishment, Prayer, forgiveness, and the possibilities are endless. Topical studies are beneficial especially when a group of people are discussing some topic contained in the bible.
C) The textual method
This is the method most often used by pastors when they are delivering the message from the pulpit. The textual method takes portions from a passage such as “the prodigal son”, or “the parable of the soils” or “the story of the rich young ruler”. These are sermons based upon certain texts. The studies involve thorough explanations of shorter passages of scripture.
D) The Historical method.
In order to make many portions of scripture clear, an examination of biblical history is necessary to clearly understand what God is trying to tell us. A study in the life of Abraham is essential for us to understand the history of the nation of Israel and God’s plan for them. A study in the book of Judges is a good example telling us of the dark ages of Israel’s history. Mostly all sound Bible study is laced with historical facts. In the Old Testament some of the Historical books are: Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, Ezra Nehemiah, and Esther In the New Testament there is only one historical book: The book of Acts ( which is the History of the Church.)
E) The Expository method.
The expository method is the one used by most pastors involved in in-depth Bible teaching. It usually goes verse by verse, chapter by chapter until the whole book or section of scripture is complete. Expository Studies can be divided into two parts.
This method can be compared to looking at something through a microscope. Much detail is employed in searching out a portion of scripture even to the point of examining the meanings of words to explain. This method usually starts at the beginning of a book or section, and explains the meaning to the end.
This method is more intent of presenting the study in a more concise form. The synthetic method can be compared to looking at the passage through a telescope, giving us a birds-eye view. A comparison between the two methods as to which is better depends upon the person who comes under the teaching of both. Because people tend to get restless, the synthetical approach covers more ground in a shorter period of time and the message appears to be retained for a longer period. It takes a gifted expositor to use the analytical method.
4. How can I get started?
As you begin your venture into this study ask yourself these questions as you begin:
A) What is the main subject?
B) Who are the main persons addressed ?
C) What is the key verse?
D) What does this passage teach me about Christ?
E) Is there any sin for me to confess, and forsake?
F) Is there any command for me to obey?
G) Is there any promise for me to claim?
H) Is there any instruction for me follow?
I) Is there any prayer that I should pray?
The above writings are given with the purpose of supplying an incentive to begin an adventure filled with blessing and enjoyment of God through discovering the great treasures found in God’s Word. May God Bless you as you experience of His filling as you hunger and thirst after righteousness.
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