Simple Way to Study the Bible
I'm going to start this with some examples in real life scenarios to help understand what I'll be explaining later in this piece. Sometimes, we just read, read, read and memorize the scriptures without understanding what we are reading.
EXAMPLESHUMAN: When you tell your child to go clean their room, this usually means that the room is dirty or trashy. The kids don't go in there to throw out everything they see. They don't take the brand new TV from the wall or shelf along with the candy wrappers from the floor and toss it all in the trash can. Instead, they throw out some items (trash), put some items back where they belong (toys) and sometimes leave other items where they are in the room (bed).
BIBLE: This is how the bible is. It's God's instruction to us, which can also be easily taken out of context if we rely so much on the content instead of the context. I'll touch on this briefly below.
HUMAN: Your kids understand the meaning of "go clean your room" because they've seen you do it and you showed them how it's done.
BIBLE: We understand what Christianity or Christ-like living means because Jesus came down from heaven to showed us how it's done. And then left instructions for us to follow.
HUMAN: Your kids may never always get it right like you do or taught them to but you can tell when they give it their best unlike when they don't give a crap or pretend to care.
BIBLE: We don't always get it right like Jesus did when He was on earth but He can tell when we are giving it our best unlike when we are pretending to give it our best.
- Alternatively, a child can ignore the context of the instruction and get rid of precious items in the room, then turn around and say: "well, you told me to 'clean' my room so I cleaned it good. I tossed everything out in the trash and now it's spotless." This is obviously taking things out of context by relying only on content.
- In the same way, we can read something like John 3:16 and say "...who so ever believes, will not perish." I believe in God so I don't need baptism. Yet, we forget that the conversation that led to John 3:16 started from John 3:1 with Jesus telling Nicodemus the importance of baptism or being born again, not of the flesh but of water and spirit. Even simple cross referencing of James 2:19 that says the devil "believes" will show that I should not just take John 3:16 and run with it because the devil will not be saved by simply believing; neither will I.
Approach is basically your mindset when your study or read the bible. I've explained the difference between reading and studying the bible in another piece so I'm just going to jump this for now.
- Praying for guidance is something we must do on a regular basis. This prayer needs to be done even when we don't have the bible in our hands.
- As soon as you pick up the bible, your first thought should always, yes, always be to remind yourself that you are the one seeking information that doesn't belong to you so let the bible speak.
- Always be open minded and never think you know it all even if you are reading the same scripture for the one thousandth time. Read it like this is your first time and you'll be surprised how refreshing it is.
- Use dictionary for the content if you need to but not for the context because dictionary will not define the context.
Understanding God's will for us helps us put things in context but how can we understand God if we don't even listen to Him through His word as our Father? And how can we listen to Him through His word if we don't have an open heart to receive it by searching and matching the scriptures to know God's intent with the examples he laid out for us?
You don't need a PhD to know the truth. You just need to honestly seek the truth with an open mind along with the willingness to swallow your pride if you find yourself in the wrong. No human is bigger than the bible.