A week before Christmas, I wrote an article about Bible reading plans. In that post I shared what I use for my own daily reading plan and also examined why Christians need to read through the entire Bible and why it is essential to be reading consistently. In the time since that essay was posted, and a few times before then as well, I have received some inquiries from readers wanting more information on how I study the Word, and how they can become better students of the Bible and grow in their theological knowledge. Because this is a question that I am being asked fairly often, I thought it would be beneficial to write a post offering some suggestions and ideas as well as links to trusted resources.
Hopefully, you already have a desire and thirst for the Word. That is the first and most important step to growing in your knowledge and understanding of God. But what if you don’t? If that is the case with you, then your first step is to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to create a desire in you for reading and learning the Bible. God wants us to read His Word and draw closer to Him, so He will honor a sincere request for a change of heart in this area.
One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to lead believers in the truth (John 16:13). It is also His ministry to teach us (John 14:26). So before you open your Bible to begin your reading, it is a good idea to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you; to lead you in the truth and open your mind to the Scripture. He will.
In our present society, there is a prevailing attitude of wanting a quick route, or a short cut to results. That simply is not to be expected with Bible study and the things of God. There is just no way around it: Bible study takes time. You can’t leapfrog your way to spiritual maturity. I get the sense that many professing believers know they should read the Bible, but it’s drudgery to them, as if you are asking them to read a text-book. Maybe it is due to unfamiliarity, but there is something intimidating about the Bible to some folks. I would suggest prayer, like we already discussed. Ask the Lord to help you over come that, and then take a step of obedience and start reading, regardless of how you feel.
The last point I would like to make in this section is that you really don’t need anything other than the Bible and prayer. I’m not discouraging study aides, by any means. However, it seems like many people think they need the Bible and. You do not need a book written by a Christian about the Bible. You just need a Bible. As an aside, it always puzzles me when churches have ‘Bible studies’ for ladies and they use a book that is not the Bible. That is not a Bible study, that is a Christian book study, just to be clear.
Recommended Resources and Articles
If you have read any of my other essays, you probably have heard me mention Dr. John MacArthur, or a link to one of his articles or sermons. Let me explain why I like to use him as a resource. Dr. MacArthur has been the senior teaching pastor of Grace Community Church for over 40 years. All of his sermons are available for your examination and edification, free online. Because he has been in one place for so long, and his sermons are avaliable to you, you can examine what he says to make sure that it is consistent with what the Bible teaches, and verify that he hasn’t gone astray (he hasn’t). Dr. MacArthur’s sermon series on how to study the Bible can be found here. You can find all of his sermons, articles and edifying blog posts at his website Grace to You.
Another Bible teacher that I love to listen to is David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He has since gone on to glory, but you can find almost all of his sermons free, here.
Michelle Lesley has written a helpful article: 12 Do’s and Don’ts for effective Bible Study at her blog. I recommend it.
In answer to how I have learned and studied myself, I say this: I have read my Bible consistently. There were seasons of illness or busyness where I have dropped the ball for a while. It happens. That is why two years ago I started a daily reading plan. I liked the accountability. Nothing replaces daily time in the Word. As I stated earlier, you can’t really rush the process and get to a wide Biblical knowledge in a hurry. It takes time; day in and day out, year upon year. I have also listened to many, many sermons online. If I’m cleaning bathrooms, working out, or on a long road trip, I am probably listening to a sermon. Saturating your mind with the Word is how you change and grow and draw closer to the Lord. I also read an array of Christian blogs, some of which I have listed on my blogroll. I have also found some older Christian sisters and brothers that disciple me and help me learn and grow. I attend a local assembly faithfully. So that would be my advice to anyone asking: read your Bible consistently, listen to good teaching, build relationships with older and wiser believers, and make sure you are in a local church. I hope this has been a helpful post for you! 🙂
Soli Deo Gloria!