Studying your Bible is a topic covered A LOT by a lot of different people because it is a very important part of the Christian life. So, what can we do to help us study better? Some of these tips you may have already figured out, and some you may already be implementing. I'm hoping one of these five you may not do yet and that implementing it will help you grow a little bit deeper.
1) Know HOW You Study: Some people have music in the background, some people have silence; some people do it in the morning, some people in the evening- it all depends on when YOU are most aware, alert, and able to actually focus.
Because, if you're not in the zone to concentrate/if you're not well rested, it's going to be very difficult for you to study like you want to study. The first tip is VERY simple. You need to know YOU and you need to know how you study well.
2) Paper and Pen: Have paper and pen next to you. It sounds simple, and may even sound archaic- why use pen and paper when you can use your phone? Well, you can use your phone... But on your phone you have a thousand other apps and one swipe over gets you on instagram, tiktok, snapchat, or anything else that will take your mind off of what you are doing.
So while you could type in your notepad app, why would you when the distractions are there to take your mind out of studying? Another great reason to write it is so you have a file to look back on. You can go back through a year from now and see how God has grown you and maybe even see things you missed while reading back through.
3) Have More Than One Study Bible: No matter what study Bible you use, it's going to have the lens of whatever publishing company put the Bible out. For example, if the commentary is done by someone with more of a reformed theology background- it's going to have a reformed bend to it.
If it comes from a charismatic background- it's going to have a charismatic bend to it. It's important to have a main one and it needs to match up with how you think theology actually works. BUT, what will help you study and grow is to have a different study bible from a different perspective. You don’t need it necessarily to influence you- but to allow you to have a different perspective on the subject.
Then, you can say "I understand a bit more of that view point now. I may not agree with it still, but I at least get where they are coming from." Not only does this help you study but it also helps you develop your theology more. It allows you to have better arguments for why you believe what you believe.
That is why we study the bible- it allows us to build our foundation more solid in who we think God is and how He reveals Himself to us in scripture. So, more than one study bible or translation is always better than just one.
4) Study with a Group: This one can be harder to accomplish, and while we recommend having a bible reading you do daily by yourself, it is great to have at least one or two friends you meet with weekly to dive into a book or chapter of the bible with.
It's a similar concept to why you should have a bible with a different commentary or translation- it's helpful because everyone approaches life differently. We've all had different experiences and perceive things a bit differently.
Again, this isn't to change your mind or influence you, but the body of Christ is there to help you grow and sharpen your understanding of who God is. Someone else's life could be the conduit of how God reveals something in scripture to you. So this tip is simple- do Bible Study in a community of other believers.
5) Look Back Over It: Go back through your notes to see did I approach this from the perspective of what is scripture revealing to me? Or did I approach this writing myself into scripture and make this study and text about me? Exegesis vs Eisegesis is very important.
Oftentimes when we are studying the bible it is easy for us to read ourselves into the text when we should really be asking what is it saying. What is it saying to the people, to the context, and how does it apply to us now?
It is always a good idea after you finish your Bible study for that day or week, to sit back and reflect on your notes, conversations, and prayers over that text. Ask yourself, "What did the scriptures show me this week?" Reflect back and see if you allowed God- through notes, prayer, and other people- to draw out His great plan in what was read.
It is important to end with this because you've already gone through all of the study following the previous steps and now you can sit back and look at the big picture of HOW you read it and what you learned this week about our good and great God.
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