When I was in seminary twenty years ago, unprecedented numbers of students were unable to pass an English Bible test. The trend has only worsened since then. In the American church, the average Christian doesn’t know his or her Bible very well. Here are eight simple tricks to develop a stronger grip on the Bible.
To strengthen your grasp of the Bible, don’t be intimidated.
There’s no doubt that some parts of the Bible are more difficult to understand than others. But not everything is difficult. Much of the Bible is far more accessible than most people assume. Be willing to start reading your Bible. You can do it!
To strengthen your grasp of the Bible, trust the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit indwells believers (1 Corinthians 6:19). He is the One who inspired this book and He guide us with pleasure! You can trust Him to help guide you into understanding. There’s no more capable guide.
To strengthen your grasp of the Bible, read in community.
Attend worship every week and hear God's word preached. Join a Bible study in your church. Write down your questions. Seek out a pastor, elder, or mentor, and ask them your questions. You can also read books by reliable authors. Ask your mentors for recommendations.
To strengthen your grasp of the Bible, use good resources.
Don’t be afraid to use your Bible’s Table of Contents to find the different books. You will also benefit from a good Bible Dictionary. For years I have used The New Bible Dictionary. A good study Bible can also be helpful. Concordances will list cross-references for verses, which will help you better understand them. Finally, good commentaries are quite helpful.
To strengthen your grasp of the Bible, study Genesis 1-3
These three chapters are foundational for the entire Bible. I would go so far as to say that if you don’t understand them, you will have a difficult time making sense of the rest of the Bible. If you have never read the Bible on your own, I would recommend starting here. You may just find it difficult to stop there, though!
To strengthen your grasp of the Bible, read a gospel.
There are four of them. Matthew has a lot to say about Christ fulfilling the Old Testament. Mark is an action-oriented narrative about Jesus. It’s perfect for the “just the facts” person. Luke approaches his subject with the sensibilities of an apologist and historian. John provides a more intimate portrait of Jesus.
To strengthen your grasp of the Bible, read in context.
You can avoid a lot of confusion simply by reading verses in the context of their paragraphs, paragraphs in the context of their chapters, and chapters in the context of their books. It’s when we isolate verses from their context that we run into the greatest difficulty.
To strengthen your grasp of the Bible, read the whole thing.
You will meet some difficult sections. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down. Press on. If you’re like the rest of us, you will find certain stories perplexing. That’s okay. Your perseverance will reward you with a better understanding of the big picture.
What difficulties have you found in reading the Bible? What other recommendations would you make for someone who wants to develop a better grasp of the Bible?