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How to Study the Bible

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12
How to Study the Bible Book Cover

So now that you have the big picture, how do you bring the Bible’s epic story into focus for your day-to-day life with Jesus? How do you move past names you can’t pronounce and places you’ve never been to engage with every word in the Bible in a way that equips you with wisdom and strengthens your faith?

The more you relate to the Bible as one large story of salvation rather than isolated passages of wisdom, the more powerful God’s Word will become in your life. So, rather than jumping around choosing passages at random, consider making a plan. You could set out to read through the Bible in a year or two—maybe using a chronological plan. Work your way through the Gospels or read Acts, adding Paul’s letters where they fit in the timeline. Whether you use an app, or work from a paper copy, set an intention.

Throughout this study, we’re going to go into more detail about each book and section of the Bible, and we want to give you some guidance when it comes to studying Scripture too. On days four and five of every week, you will have the chance to put the study process into practice. There are lots of different ways to study the Bible, but we want to give you one method that can be extremely helpful: inductive study. Here are some steps to take:

Start with Prayer

Whether you have ten minutes or an hour to sit with God’s Word, always start with prayer. It can be something as simple as, “Lord, here I am. Show me something about you today; show me something about myself today. Give me eyes to see where I am falling short. Give me a heart to receive your truth. Transform me and help me to engage the world around me.”

Observe: What Does it Say?

Because the Bible was written by particular people at a particular time, its message becomes much more powerful and relevant when we understand the framework. To thoroughly observe the text, we will focus on several different aspects of it. First, we ask:

WHAT
What is discussed throughout the chapter?
What is happening in the text?
What type of instructions does the author note?

WHEN
When does or when will the event take place? Past, present, or future?

WHERE
Where did the event take place?
Where does this passage fall in the story of the book you’re reading? The whole story of the Bible?

Interpret: What Does it Mean?

While observation helps us look at what the text is saying, interpretation helps us understand the meaning of the text. Approach the Bible with humility. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us interpret Scripture, so pray for a teachable heart, and open eyes to see what’s true. As we seek to accurately interpret the Scriptures, we should reflect on several key components: context, themes, contradictions, and teaching.

Ask yourself:

  • Is your interpretation of the text consistent with the main point or intent of the book?
  • Does your interpretation math other Scriptures that discuss a similar topic?
  • Are you taking into account the cultural and historical context of this passage?

Apply: What Does it Say?

Like everything we learn, the power is in the practice. As we read in James 1:22, we want to be doers of the Word and not just hearers. By “doing” the Word of God, we become more like Jesus, which is our ultimate goal as his followers. The application of Scripture opens the door for God to work in our lives. As we attempt to apply the Scriptures to our lives, let us remember to seek out the teaching of each passage, to examine our hearts and lives for anything contradictory to God’s Word, and to ask the Lord what he is trying to teach us through each passage.

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How to Read Your Bible

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Understanding the Bible

Daily Question

What is the difference between studying the Bible for knowledge and reading God’s Word as a spiritual discipline?

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Comments (10)

The difference between studying the Bible for knowledge and reading Gods word as a spiritual discipline is when you are studying the Bible at least for me I am trying to figure out what it means and how it applies to my life. What was so important in this chapter or passage that God felt it necessary to put into the Bible. Reading Gods word as a spiritual discipline for me means that this is how I will keep a relationship with God. This is how I can understand God more.

To me, studying for knowledge is like learning a subject in school….it is head information (very important). Studying as a spiritual discipline to me means developing it is a skill for your life. It is making a plan.

For me, studying the bible for knowledge is just like reading a history book at school, what is the reason for reading the history book, (learning) so that’s what i think about that. Reading God’s word as a spiritual discipline is digging deep and intentionality on our part. Study is a spiritual discipline in that it, like all other spiritual practices, can best be understood through habit.

There’s a big difference for me personally. Studying for knowledge increases your intelligence level regarding what the Bible says, just like studying a subject in school. Reading God’s Word as a spiritual discipline involves deepening not only my knowledge of Scripture, but my relationship with God. I read not just to KNOW, but to seek and follow and obey with the motivation of love.

Anyone can read the Bible for historical study and growing in knowledge. Many scholars who aren’t believers have read the Bible yet the Lord hasn’t not elected them. Reading God’s Word as a spiritual discipline is first acknowledging that the Bible isn’t just a history book or a book of poetry but the inspired words of our Father in heaven who longs to be reunited with us that He imparted these words to men so we may be able to learn and grow by the instruction manual of life. Everything we need to know on how to be in life now and in the future is in His Word. Then once you read them, you need to act on the words.

I think studying the Bible for knowledge stops at my desire for information or to "know"….whereas reading God’s word as a spiritual discipline could include these things, the primary purpose is to hear what God would want me to know/learn…understand in the ways that He provides…prepare for servant leadership of His people – not my agenda. A hugely different focus!

Reading God’s word for knowledge makes it no different than researching a topic of interest for personal gain. It you are trying to just gain knowledge you are approaching the time spent for personal gain instead of listening to God and learning to be a doer. A spiritual discipline is doing something even when you don’t want too or if there is no intention of doing it to receive something. You do it because God has asked you to and He has given you the desire of your heart to learn more of Him to be more like Him intest of just acquiring knowledge for an intellectual gain.

When you study for knowledge, you are more or less trying to remember what you are studying. When you reading as a spiritual discipline you are gaining knowledge to apply it to your life and improve my relationship with God and others.

Studying for knowledge just fills our head with information, reading as a spiritual discipline transforms our hearts.

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