The most common question new Christians ask: what is the best way to study the Bible?
My answer is usually the same: whatever is the best way for you to understand it.
Since there are many different ways to study the Bible, I usually start new students off with the most important thing – a version of the Bible that is easy for them to understand. The next step is just as easy – just read it.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Bibles are expensive, so try out different versions of the Bible through a Bible app (YouVersion Bible App) or website (YouVersion Bible App, Bible Gateway) before purchasing one. You don’t want to sink a lot of money into one that is hard to understand. Let’s face it. The King James Bible is just not for everyone. Bible apps and websites have practically every version of the Bible in a thousand different languages. You don’t have to read the King James Bible. Not everyone can understand 16th Century English. It’s difficult. I get it. Begin with the NIV (New International Version), the NLT (New Living Translation), or, for you word junkies, the AMP (Amplified).
- Bibles are also deeply personal. The Word of God is alive and active. When you read it, it will speak to you. It has this mind-blowing way of giving you what you need at the right moment whether that be conviction, encouragement, enlightenment, comfort, or praise. Therefore, it should fit you like a favorite pair of gloves. It should sit just right in your hands. Your eyes should move across the page easily. Maybe you need room in the margins to jot down notes. A pastor friend of mine won’t buy a Bible unless it lays flat when opened. Find one that is comfortable for you and meets all of your needs. Maybe you just can’t afford a paper and print Bible. That’s okay, too! Just use the app!
- Start by reading the Book of James or the passages your pastor used in church. James covers the Christian lifestyle, so it is a good place for new Christians to start (and a good refresher for those who have been around the faith for awhile). Start with James 1:1 and read until something jumps out at you, catch it, and think about it all day. Do the same thing the next day, starting where you left off. Repeat, repeat, repeat.Writing down the scriptures your pastor uses in his or her sermon is also a good place to start. Each week day, read a portion of the chapter of the book which was used in the sermon. For example, if your pastor quoted 1 Peter 5:10 (NLT) – “In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation” – in his sermon about relying on God for strength in hard times. Beginning on Monday, read 1 Peter 5:1-3 and think about how it connects to your pastor’s sermon. Then on Tuesday read 1 Peter 5:4-6, Wednesday: 1 Peter 5:6-9, Thursday: 1 Peter 5:10-12, and Friday: 1 Peter 5:13-14. Each day thinking about how the scriptures fit together and build on what your pastor said.
That’s it. That is how I started studying my Bible. Eventually, I started taking more detailed notes in church, and then later I started writing down what the Spirit revealed to me during the week. The key words there are “eventually” and “later.” You can start taking detailed notes and revelations, but that feels like drowning to me. “We’re throwing you into the deep end, missy. Sink or swim, baby. SINK. OR. SWIM!” That’s just a bit too overwhelming, and frankly, most people end up sinking. I don’t want that to happen to you. Start with bite-size chunks that you can process during the day.
First, get acclimated to this new Christian lifestyle. The heavy lifting will come later.
As always, please let me know if this helped you, and I’m always interested in what worked for you. Leave a comment!