How Do I Study the Bible?
To understand how important studying the Word is, we must first understand that the Word of God is alive! The Word can really affect and have a life-changing impact on our day-to-day living. God reveals Himself through His Word. As He reveals Himself to us through His Word, we can expect our lives to change because we are not just getting to know about God, but we are getting to know God Himself! The reason we study the Bible is that we may know God, His ways and walk in them.
That’s why it is so important that we settle in our minds that, while the Bible is God’s inspired Word, it is also meant to be down-to-earth. We are not to just reverently give it a place of honor on our bookshelves, but instead to treat the Word as our personal hands-on reference book on life—a how-to book for everyday living. We must get rid of the negative idea that it is just a set of rules.
Treat this period of studying the Bible as an appointment that you’re required to attend. Then, every day, follow through by building your schedule around this appointment—and not the other way around. Soon, you’ll develop a desire to attend your study and it will become easier and easier. And if you miss an appointment once in a while, don’t worry. Just get back in the flow. As you get started studying, it is wise to use a Bible you feel free to mark and take notes in. Start underlining scriptures that have significance and special meaning to you. This will help personalize the Word for you. Marking these scriptures will also help you find them more easily when you need them.
At your appointment, one of the best ways to “dig” into the Word is to find a subject or certain scriptures you need to understand. Pray for understanding and discernment of the scriptures. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you. Read and think about each word in each scripture. You can check meanings, too, by using a concordance to study the Greek or Hebrew root words and their meanings.
An important part of your study of the Word is meditation. To meditate means “to think deeply and continuously, ponder or reflect.” It also means “to converse with oneself.” This takes some time. Read the scripture over and over again as you pray in the spirit. Meditation brings your spirit and your mind together and builds a capacity for your faith to be released (Romans 10:17). Ask the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your understanding so you can comprehend the deep things of God. Then expect the Lord to do it. Expect Him to meet you on the level of your need and reveal His Word to you.
When starting out, spend the majority of your time in the New Testament (primarily in the letters the Apostle Paul wrote to the early churches). Look for and underline phrases such as “in Him,” “in whom” and “in Christ.” Every one of them has something to offer you personally because according to Ephesians 2:6, you are in Christ!
Make what God says the authority in your life. That means you shouldn’t just believe what God says to you in His Word, but you should also act on it. Acting on it is what produces results (see Matthew 7:24-27). Part of acting on the Word includes speaking it. You will find that what you really believe in your heart is what you speak all the time—and what you speak determines what happens in your life (Mark 11:23).
Once you start speaking God’s Word about your needs, do not speak anything contrary to it. If you need healing, for example, do not let the focus of your words be about your sickness. Rather, confess what the Word says about it: “By His stripes I am healed according to Isaiah 53:4-5.”
To help in your study, we recommend the following:
1. Young’s Analytical Concordance—a great help in finding verses that pertain to specific situations or needs. It contains the Hebrew and Greek word translations.
2. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance—a dictionary of the Hebrew, Chaldee and Greek words.
3. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words—a dictionary for Scriptural words and meanings.
4. Expositions of Holy Scripture by Alexander Maclaren—a 17-volume series that includes sermons and expositions from almost every book of the Bible, and the most comprehensive index of any major expositional work.
You can also use many different translations of the Bible during your study time. To start out, you may want to use the King James Version and The Amplified Bible.
Use the books and tapes of other ministers, but do not allow them to take the place of your personal study time. Take what they have learned and allow the Holy Spirit to add to it. And of course, no matter what material you study, be sure it lines up with God’s Word.
Here are some steps to follow in studying the Word:
- Apply the Word to yourself personally.
- Allow the Holy Spirit to make the Word a reality in your heart.
- Carefully ponder how the Word applies to your everyday life.
- Dwell on how the Word changes your situation.
- See yourself as God sees you.
- Realize the integrity of God’s Word.