Often times in my conversations with individuals across the broad spectrum of Christianity I get asked the question, “what are some of the ways I can better study the Bible?” Well, at face value this seems to be a very simple question that should elicit a simple answer, right? Wrong! Think about this with me. A large majority of men and women that are noted for either their Biblical teacher or preaching are often students of some academic institution or seminary. In other words, the men and women that are causing deep interest into further study of the Bible, are those who are spending, or have spent, thousands of dollars to develop a more thorough and efficient Bible study program.
So how can one, perhaps those without specific callings to official positions that revolve around the demand for greater Biblical insight, develop and access a deeper degree of Biblical study? I mean, let’s get real! The average, in-depth software that many of the Biblically academic use can average in the thousands of dollars! Sure, if you can afford such software, then go ahead! However, what about the rest of us? Here are three simple solutions to access a more enriching, insightful Biblical study.
Step #1: Be willing to invest the time: as the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” This is true also in the realm of Biblical study. Just as dynamic Bible teaching is the result of dynamic Bible study, so also is the individual that recognizes the need to become deeply familiar with the materials he/she wishes to study! Sure, one could flip through the pages of devotional material and attempt to build their mental library with the results of another person’s studies, but will that serve to truly acquaint the individual with the material? Sadly, no. Therefore, if one wishes to develop a deep insight to the Word of God, set aside certain times throughout the day where you can read the material without distraction. That means, if you have a hard time not checking your Facebook/Instagram feeds every few minutes, don’t utilize electronics as your source of reading or study! Bible study is a discipline, and as such, requires that one be willing to invest quality, focused time to it.
Step #2: Build necessary resources to streamline study: it has been said that every good preacher/teacher needs to be a good reader. I would wholeheartedly agree! If you hate to read, then you are going to hate studying God’s written Word! That being said, it is crucial that one develop a “bare-bones” library of essential study tools and resources. Sadly, this is where too many people get messed up and fail to properly utilize those said resources. A prime example of this would be found in the “word study” department. Probably the most commonly used resource that is bandied about is the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. You have heard it referenced many times during the delivery of a sermon or a lesson perhaps following the verbal introduction of “according to Strong’s…” Strong’s can be a very valuable resource to have, but improper use of the resource leads to crippling, and often inaccurate interpretations! For a good presentation of the proper process of using Strong’s click here * A good library is going to require money if you are wanting the hard copies of certain materials. Some things one should invest in are as follows: Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias, Word Studies, Bible Background Commentaries, Bible Atlases, a good study bible, and various Topical Bible books. If you are interested in a good start list click here
Step #3: Develop a good note/journal system: This is crucial for anyone seeking to develop a deeper degree of Biblical study! There are many various ways that one can journal or take notes during their study of the Bible. Perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective way is still the old “pen-and-paper” system. Purchase several spiral notebooks and start simple. For example, if you were to begin your study of the Bible in the book of Genesis, create a spiral notebook solely dedicated to the book of Genesis. Make sure that it is organized, easy to read, and allows for future additions (you will find that the more you study the more you will go back and see mistakes you made!). If you are a little more technologically advanced I would recommend a variety of software/apps that you can use. Some of these are as follows: Microsoft OneNote, Notability, or Evernote. While I have my favorite among these three, spend the time to interact with them all. As you study, take notes, record thoughts, and document each discovery you find in dictionaries, word studies, and the various other resources you are using. Pay careful attention to seek connections as you study (a good concordance will assist with this as well) and make a note in the study bible you are using. A good set of highlighters and pens will be extremely useful as well. One set I have really enjoyed can be found at Amazon relatively inexpensive (click here).