How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible

How to Enjoy Studying the BibleI have always been bur­dened to share with you all a solid way to read and enjoy study­ing your Bible. I came across a great help in the basics of get­ting in and soak­ing up the Bible. Take the next 5 min­utes and read through this arti­cle and apply a few prin­ci­ples to your next quiet times with God. It will be worth it, I assure you. Any time you apply to seek­ing Your God is always worth it!

Don’t just mean­der in your time with God. Really dig in and seek Him with all your heart. Taste and see that the Lord is good!

The points I would def­i­nitely rec­om­mend are 1. READ YOUR BIBLE. And also, the ques­tions to ask your­self after you read at the end of your time with God.

After you read it, share what helped you in the com­ments sec­tion. Lets get a con­ver­sa­tion going on this…

HOW TO ENJOY STUDYING THE BIBLE

(By John MacArthur)

There’s noth­ing I enjoy more than study­ing the Bible. Yet it has not always been that way. My real pas­sion for study­ing Scrip­ture began when as a col­lege stu­dent, I made a com­mit­ment to explore the Bible in earnest. I found that the more I stud­ied, the more my hunger for Scrip­ture grew.

Here are three sim­ple guide­lines that have helped me to make the most of my study time.

1. READ THE BIBLE

First, begin with read­ing the Bible. That seems obvi­ous, but quite frankly, it’s where many peo­ple fail. Too many Chris­tians are con­tent with a second-hand knowl­edge of Scrip­ture. They read books about the Bible instead of study­ing the Bible for them­selves. Books are good, but col­lat­eral read­ing can never replace the Bible itself.

There are many good Bible read­ing plans avail­able, but here is one I’ve found most help­ful. I read through the Old Tes­ta­ment at least once a year. As I read, I note in the mar­gins any truths I par­tic­u­larly want to remem­ber, and I write down sep­a­rately any­thing I don’t imme­di­ately under­stand. Often I find that as I read, my ques­tions are answered by the text itself. The ques­tions to which I can’t find answers become the start­ing points for more in-depth study using com­men­taries or other ref­er­ence tools.

I fol­low a dif­fer­ent plan for read­ing the New Tes­ta­ment. I read one book at a time rep­e­ti­tiously for a month or more. I began doing this when I was in sem­i­nary, because I wanted to retain what was in the New Tes­ta­ment and not always have to depend on a con­cor­dance to find things. If you want to try this, begin with a short book, such as 1 John, and read it through in one sit­ting every day for 30 days. At the end of that time, you will know what’s in that book. Write on index cards the major theme of each chap­ter. By refer­ring to the cards as you do your daily read­ing, you’ll begin to remem­ber the con­tent of each chap­ter. In fact, you’ll develop a visual per­cep­tion of the book in your mind.

Divide longer books into short sec­tions and read each sec­tion daily for thirty days. For exam­ple, the gospel of John con­tains 21 chap­ters. Divide it into 3 sec­tions of 7 chap­ters. At the end of 90 days, you’ll fin­ish John. For vari­ety, alter­nate short and long books, and in less than 3 years you will have fin­ished the entire New Testament—and you’ll really know it!

2. INTERPRET THE BIBLE

As I read Scrip­ture, I always keep in mind one sim­ple ques­tion: “What does this mean?” It’s not enough to read the text and jump directly t the appli­ca­tion; we must first deter­mine what it means, oth­er­wise the appli­ca­tion may be incorrect.

Gaps to Bridge

The first step in inter­pret­ing the Bible is to rec­og­nize the four gaps we have to bridge: lan­guage, cul­ture, geog­ra­phy, and history.

1. Lan­guage

The Bible was orig­i­nally writ­ten in Greek, Hebrew, and Ara­maic. Often, under­stand­ing the mean­ing of a word or phrase in the orig­i­nal lan­guage can be the key to cor­rectly inter­pret­ing a pas­sage of Scrip­ture. Two books that will help you close the lan­guage gap are An Expos­i­tory Dic­tio­nary of New Tes­ta­ment Words, by W. E. Vince, and Nelson’s Expos­i­tory Dic­tio­nary of the Old Tes­ta­ment, by Mer­rill F. Unger and William White, Jr. You don’t need to know Greek or Hebrew to use these books effectively.

2. Cul­ture

The cul­ture gap can be tricky. Some peo­ple try to use cul­tural dif­fer­ences to explain away the more dif­fi­cult bib­li­cal com­mands. Don’t fall into that trap, but real­ize that we must first view Scrip­ture in the con­text of the cul­ture in which it was writ­ten. With­out an under­stand­ing of first-century Jew­ish cul­ture, it is dif­fi­cult to under­stand the gospels. Acts and the epis­tles must be read in light of the Greek and Roman cul­tures. The fol­low­ing books will help you under­stand the cul­tural back­ground of the Bible: The Life and Times of Jesus the Mes­siah, by Alfred Eder­sheim, Sketches of Jew­ish Social Life, also by Eder­sheim, and Man­ners and Cus­toms of Bible Lands, by Fred H. Wight.

3. Geog­ra­phy

A third gap that needs to be closed is the geog­ra­phy gap. Bib­li­cal geog­ra­phy makes the Bible come alive. A good Bible atlas is an invalu­able ref­er­ence tool that can help you com­pre­hend the geog­ra­phy of the Holy Land. Of course, noth­ing helps like see­ing the land first­hand on a tour.

4. His­tory

We must also bridge the his­tory gap. Unlike the scrip­tures of most other world reli­gions, the Bible con­tains the records of actual his­tor­i­cal per­sons and events. An under­stand­ing of Bible his­tory will help us place the peo­ple and events in it in their proper his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive. A good Bible dic­tio­nary or Bible ency­clo­pe­dia is use­ful here, as are basic his­tor­i­cal studies.

Prin­ci­ples to Understand

Four prin­ci­ples should guide us as we inter­pret the Bible: lit­eral, his­tor­i­cal, gram­mat­i­cal, and synthesis.

1. The Lit­eral Principle

Scrip­ture should be under­stood in its lit­eral, nor­mal, and nat­ural sense. While the Bible does con­tain fig­ures of speech and sym­bols, they were intended to con­vey lit­eral truth. In gen­eral, how­ever, the Bible speaks in lit­eral terms, and we must allow it to speak for itself.

2. The His­tor­i­cal Principle

This means that we inter­pret Scrip­ture in its his­tor­i­cal con­text. We must ask what the text meant to the peo­ple to whom it was first writ­ten. In this way we can develop a proper con­tex­tual under­stand­ing of the orig­i­nal intent of scripture.

3. The Gram­mat­i­cal Principle

This requires that we under­stand the basic gram­mat­i­cal struc­ture of each sen­tence in the orig­i­nal lan­guage. To whom do the pro­nouns refer? What is the tense of the main verb? You’ll find that when you ask some sim­ple ques­tions like those, the mean­ing of the text imme­di­ately becomes clear.

4. The Syn­the­sis Principle

This is what the Reform­ers called the analo­gia scrip­tura. It means that the Bible doesn’t con­tra­dict itself. If we arrive at an inter­pre­ta­tion of a pas­sage that con­tra­dicts a truth taught else­where in the Scrip­tures, our inter­pre­ta­tion can­not be cor­rect. Scrip­ture must be com­pared with Scrip­ture to dis­cover its full meaning.

3. APPLY THE BIBLE

QuoteHav­ing read and inter­preted the Bible, you should have a basic under­stand­ing of what the Bible says, and what it means by what it says. But my Bible study doesn’t stop there. I never study God’s Word just to get a ser­mon. My ulti­mate goal is to let it speak to me and enable me to grow spir­i­tu­ally. That requires per­sonal application.

Bible study is not com­plete until we ask our­selves, “What does this mean for my life and how can I prac­ti­cally apply it?” We must take the knowl­edge we’ve gained from our read­ing and inter­pre­ta­tion and draw out the prac­ti­cal prin­ci­ples that apply to our per­sonal lives.

If there is a com­mand to be obeyed, we obey it. If there is a promise to be embraced, we claim it. If there is a warn­ing to be fol­lowed, we heed it. This is the ulti­mate step: we sub­mit to Scrip­ture and let it trans­form our lives. If you skip this step, you will never enjoy your Bible study and the Bible will never change your life.

Bible study is not optional in the Chris­t­ian life. It is both the oblig­a­tion and the priv­i­lege of all believ­ers. If you are not involved in reg­u­lar sys­tem­atic Bible study, you are miss­ing one of the pri­mary means God uses to bring us to matu­rity (1 Peter 2:2).

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