This post last updated on November 13th, 2021
There are a few prevailing thoughts people have about the Bible. One is that it’s an old, outdated book that’s full of old fashioned, outdated rules that just aren’t cool. Another is that it’s life’s “instruction manual.”
Instruction manual or antiquated book, why should you study the Bible, anyway?
The truth is, the Bible is the written means by which God, the creator of all things, has chosen to reveal himself to you, me, and everyone else. It gives you everything you could hope for, and all that you need to intimately know the living God. The Bible also teaches you how to live in a way that is pleasing to God.
I promise you that is not as easy as it sounds, or as some Christians would have you believe. But I can testify that pleasing God with how you live brings a more fulfilling life experience to you.
3 Big Reasons to Read God’s Word
You cannot live the life of a Christian without regularly spending time with God, studying and learning his word. It’s true that spending time reading the Bible is another form of worship. It’s also one of the investments of your time that will bring some of the highest returns.
In case that’s not quite enough, here are 3 more big reasons from How to Read the Bible for Spiritual Growth showing why you need to study God’s word.
- Your faith will grow. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes to us when we are exposed to God’s word.
- Your faith will mature. When you read and study the Bible, the Holy Spirit is empowered to instruct you, and that will result in spiritual maturity. You’ll find that in 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
- Your faith becomes stronger. Jesus taught that when you hear and live by his word and apply his teaching to your life, your faith becomes like bedrock foundation. He taught that in Matthew 7:24-27.
Let’s Make it Personal
It’s good to understand why you should study the Bible. But let’s get real here while I share a result of my personal experience with you.
God’s word has sincerely created a bedrock for faith to be built upon in my life. When I was a new believer, I consumed the word every day. I read the Bible cover to cover to learn about this God who rescued me from my lifestyle of sin, rebellion, and self destruction.
Truth be told, I actually read a New Believer’s Bible just like this one (affiliate link) until the covers came off and the pages fell out!
And it’s a good thing that I did read the Bible in those early, formative years of my faith. In just a few short years, I would backslide. Tremendously. And I stayed in that mess, but through it all I knew these 2 important things:
God still loves me, and I’m not alone.
And I knew that because his word was still alive inside me, calling me back to repentance. Had his word not been in my mind and in my heart, I question whether or not I would have truly believed those things about God. Would I have even heard the Holy Spirits subtle call to repentance and restoration?
Knowing those 2 things ultimately led me to this truth that you can take home and keep: You are not beyond God’s reach.
“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
I’ve now been walking with the Lord in that restored relationship for about 20 years. Life is not necessarily easier, but I can promise you that with his word in my heart and on my mind, life is hopeful and more joyful. Difficult times and situations still come hard, but I have hope and I do not give up on God and the promise of his unchanging word.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24
How to Study the Bible
Ok, I hope that by now you agree that you need to study the Bible. But maybe you’d like some tips on how to do that.
Confession time. I do not have all of the answers, the latest trends, or the slickest techniques. But we’re all about application here and while you can open to a page, point, and read, there are more effective ways to studying the Bible for application and growth.
And since I know you’re busy, you’re going to want a plan to get the most out of your time in the Bible, right?
Bible Study Methods
Remember when I said that I read this Bible (affiliate link) until the pages fell out? What I did not know then was that’s basically a survey of the Bible. An Old or New Testament survey will give you a giant overview of Scripture.
It’s a very wide look at the Bible which gives you a basic look at themes, characters, events, and places. A survey study of the Bible prepares you to look deeper at those things.
You could pick up and start reading, for example, a survey of the Gospels. Or maybe a survey of the Pentateuch, the first 5 books in the Old Testament. That method can be carried along to the other themes of the Bible, like a survey of Old Testament history, or a survey of Paul’s letters.
You could also use resources. One that I’ve had the privilege of reviewing is the newly revised 30th anniversary of 30 Days to Understanding the Bible (affiliate link) by Max Anders. This one really does an amazing job at laying the groundwork with visualization of Bible themes, eras, and characters, preparing you for deeper study and understanding.
If you want something more academic, I can suggest a survey I used during my Bachelor in Biblical Studies degree. My favorite is A Survey of the Old Testament by Andrew Hill and John Walton. For the New Testament, take a look at Survey of the New Testament – Everyman’s Bible Commentary by Paul Benware. (affiliate links)
Bible Reading Plans
I’m starting to think that there is no end to Bible reading plans. You could find one for every season, nearly every situation, and probably one for every shoe size! But seriously, a reading plan is Bible study and something you should use in addition to any in-depth Bible study you have going on.
I shared some highly effective reading plans before and you can find all of those in one place right here.
Most Bible reading plans are going to follow a verse by verse, exegetical process. Try not to follow a reading plan just for the sake of checking it off though. When you follow this method, be sure to read each chapter and verse in context for understanding. Ask questions like, “Who is this written to? Who is the intended audience?” and, “How does this truth apply to my life today?”
This is also worth checking out. Bible Gateway shared these 5 Questions to Ask About a Bible Passage for Individual or Group Application from 4 different sources.
Word and Topical Studies
Topical and word studies are quite similar. A word study is when you take a word and put your concordance to work. A topical study is pretty much the same thing, except maybe you have a question to answer, such as “What does the Bible say about adultery?” Here’s how this works…
Recently, I wanted to know more about how and why God tests his children. Topically, the question could be, “Does God test his children? Or “How does God test us?
Using the ESV Reference Bible, (affiliate link) I went to the concordance in the back and looked up the word test. I wrote down each scripture reference and then proceeded to looking up each verse.
Since I use a reference Bible for this kind of study, I was then able to look up each verse that every verse I had written down connected to. Then I did that again for each of those verses! You can keep doing this until you run out of reference verses, until you have a good understanding of your word study, or until you’ve answered your topical study questions.
But wait…there’s more! If you want to keep going, go back to your concordance and do a word study on each word related to your original! For our example, that would include words like testing and tested.
As you can imagine, a thorough word study can keep you busy for quite some time! And if you really want to get into topical and word studies, I can strongly suggest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. (affiliate link)
See what I did there? 🙂
Bible journaling has become increasingly popular, and there are endless methods and applications for this type of study. If you look at Pinterest you’ll see just how many flavors Bible journaling can take on.
First, you’ll find people who have more artistic creativity in their pinky than I will ever have. They create beautiful full page artwork in their Bible journals. Then you have people like me who can’t draw very well at all, but love to write. My journaling takes on more written words than drawn pictures. But I do use a lot of colors!
There isn’t a “right way” to do this. Find what works best for you, what helps you understand and apply God’s word, and go with it. For the record, I use this ESV Journaling Bible (affiliate link) and it is beautiful.
My hope is that if you weren’t already, now you’re convinced that it’s critical to study the Bible. My prayer is that this post helps you with the how to study your Bible.
There is no time like now. Try not to wait for perfect timing, or for a perfect plan to come along. Settle on an approach to God’s word and take it.
After all, the only real wrong way to study the Bible is not at all!
Great stuff, Gene. If there is one theme I am seeing here it is, be intentional. If you are going to read and study, don’t just “follow a guide” or “look at words”. Be intent on gaining a deeper understanding.
Keep it up!
Gene S. Whitehead
Excellent take-away, Jake! A pastor mentor of mine just suggested to me a few days ago to spend time in a book, or even just a chapter of a book over and over until it’s a part of you, how you think and how you behave. I like that.
Thank you for the encouragement and for checking this one out!
John v Faltermeier
Gene l have been a Christian for a long time
In name only l have done a lot of works good
Things for years giving , serving l help the poor l pray memorize bible verses l am a grateful person l have been doing this because l have condoned sinful behavior in my life for years l am trying to understand the real meaning of salvation through jesus l have tryed to complicate it for
Years a pastor l like is
Explaining change the way you think change your life l want my brother to see if he can
Not help me make that
Happen l like Timothy for a good guidline to live l came across a bible
Verse from titus l like reading 1st and 2nd peter and romans l have not mastered meditating on gods word
Gene S. Whitehead
Hi John, wow… you really hit a lot of great points! One that stands out in particular to me is when you said you have not yet mastered God’s word. I can relate, and I think we’ll spend the remaining years we have on this planet trying to do that!
One excellent resource I’ve found to help to master God’s word though is 30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders. It’s an excellent resource that I can greatly recommend. I wrote a review on that and you can check that out here: https://genewhitehead.com/book/bible-in-30-days/
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