Editor’s Note:

The purpose of this series is to help Christians think through the doctrine of Scripture and provide practical guidance on not only how to read the Bible but to deal with objections and attacks on the Bible.

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Yesterday I started a five part series on how to hear, read and study the Bible. In that post I talked about the importance of hearing and studying the Bible for our spiritual growth. Today, I’ll give you a few practical tips on how to study God’s Word.

Studying God’s Word

Ezra 7:10, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.“ There’s an instructive significance to the sequence in this verse. Ezra 1) “devoted himself,” 2) “to the study,” 3) “and observant of the Law of the Lord,”, 4) “and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” Before he taught the Word of God to the people of God, he practiced what he learned. Ezra’s learning came from the Scriptures. Before he studied he first devoted himself to study. Ezra is an example of disciplining himself to study God’s Word.

The other example comes from Acts 17:11. Missionaries Paul and Silas has barely escaped from Thessalonica after their successful evangelistic work had provoked the Jews there to jealousy. When they repeated the same course of action in Berea, the Jews there responded different: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with greater eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” The willingness to examine the Scripture is commended as noble character here.

Why do so many Christians neglect the study of God’s Word?  Dr. R.C. Sproul said:  “Here then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring but because its work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.”[2]

For some the problem may be about how to study or how to begin to study. The basic difference between Bible reading and Bible study is as simple as a pencil and a piece of paper (one can even use a laptop and Word to write down observations). Write down your observations about the text as you read and record questions that come to your mind. If your Bible has cross-references, look up the one’s that relate to the verses that prompt your questions, then record your insights. Find a key word in your reading and use the concordance found in the back of most Bibles to review the other references that use the word, and again note your findings. Another way to begin is to outline a chapter, one paragraph at a time. When you read that chapter, move on to the next until you’ve outlined the rest of the book. Before long you’ll have a far stronger grasp on a section of Scripture than you had by just reading it.

As you advance in the study of the Bible you will learn the value of in-depth word studies, character studies, topical studies, and book studies. You’ll discover a new richness in the Scripture as your understanding grows of how the grammar, history, culture, and geography surrounding a text affects its interpretation.

Don’t let a feeling of inadequacy keep you from the delight of learning the Bible on your own. Books, thick and thin, abound on how to study the Bible. They can provide more guidance regarding methods and tools that we can delve into in this blog post. Don’t settle only for spiritual food that has been “predigested” by others. Experience the joy of discovering biblical insights firsthand through your own Bible study.

Conclusion

If one could measure the quality of growth in godliness by the quality of one’s Bible intake what would be the result? One’s growth in godliness is greatly affected by your Bible intake. Jesus in John 17:17 said this, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” God’s plan for sanctifying us, that is, for making us holy and godly, is accomplished by means of “the truth”- His Word. If we settle for a poor quality of intake of hearing, reading and studying God’s Word we restrict the main flow of God’s sanctifying grace to us.

What is one thing I can do to improve my intake of God’s Word? Joining a group of like-mined believers to hear God’s Word preached each week should be a minimum. Many Bible-believing churches provide more than one opportunity each week to hear God’s Word. You may want to consider podcasts (we have regular sermons posted here on Servants of Grace), or Bible exposition on radio as options for increased hearing of God’s Word. Also inexpensive workbooks and study guides on every book in the Bible and a multitude of topics are available in Christian bookstores. Besides launching out individually, join a Bible study group in your local church or community or even consider starting a group study.

Whatever way you choose, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness by committing to at least one way of improving your intake of God’s Word. Those who use their Bibles little are really not much better off than those who have no Bible at all.

In our next post we will consider how to memorizing and meditate on God’s Word.