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How Can I Get More Out of Bible Study?

Many people ask this very question. It comes from a sincere desire to read and understand the Bible — just as God intended — for God did not give us an unintelligible book. He knows we can understand His word, and He gave us that word to comprehend. However, the Bible is a book which must be "rightly divided" as Paul said to Timothy (2 Tim. 2:15). One must study the Bible in order to properly discern its teachings. Timothy was commanded to study and read the Scriptures (1 Tim. 4:13). The fact that he was so commanded means that it was possible for his study to be productive and useful. As Christians, Peter exhorts us to add knowledge to our faith (2 Peter 1:5). If we achieve this knowledge, it will come through study of God's word. No one will be miraculously endowed with scriptural knowledge in our generation.

If Bible study is to be profitable to us, we must make the proper approach to Scripture. Bible reading is different than reading the newspaper or a novel. Following some of these guidelines for effective Bible reading and study will help you get more out of the time you spend with the Word of God.

  • Read with reverence. The Bible is "inspired" of God. It did not originate with man. II Peter 1:21 says that the Holy Spirit "moved" the men who wrote the Scriptures.
  • Read with a sense of need. Realize that you need God's instruction and that He will provide it through His word. Man is incapable of directing his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23).
  • Think while you are reading. How often have you read words but did not comprehend because you were not thinking about what you were reading? The Bible deserves meditation — deliberate thinking. Don't imagine that just reading the words of the Bible will help you. The upright man of Psalm 1:2 meditated on the law of God.
  • Don't "read something into" the Bible. Let the Bible speak for itself. So many people make the mistake of reading the Bible with their minds already made up concerning what it has to say. We must not decide what we want to believe and then go to the Bible to try and prove it. The Scriptures are profitable for doctrine (teaching) according to II Timothy 3:16. Allow the Scriptures to formulate your beliefs.
  • Determine to apply what you are reading. If you love God's truth, you must be governed by it. If you read the Scriptures but fail to do what you read, do not be surprised if soon your Scripture reading stops altogether. We must not only listen to the Scriptures, we must also obey them (James 1:22). The Scriptures are not designed to be ignored.

Why not give these suggestions a try and see if your personal Bible study doesn't improve?