We talk much about personal Bible study but we probably don’t give enough suggestions as to how to do good personal Bible study. Maybe this will help change that.
There is no study that you can do, no academic endeavor more important than studying your Bible. No matter your career, there is nothing more vital to your life and the lives of those around you than the way you approach Bible study. No matter how much you love and trust your preacher, there is no preacher worthy of blind allegiance. When Paul writes that we are to “study to show yourself approved unto God” he is speaking to all disciples. Study is a vital part of the Christian way of life. Here are 4 quick suggestions to enhance and deepen your study time.
1. Focus Your Thoughts for Better Bible Study
The Bible is a book that is both a work of simplicity and a fountain of unfathomable knowledge. Its topics are many and span centuries of history while at the same time impacting each moment in which we live. I do not believe that every Bible topic can be exhaustively studied in a single life time. A man can never boast that “I know it all.”
A prudent Bible student will select a very specific, very well defined topic of interest and drill down to learn all that is possible about that topic. For example, instead of studying “The Holy Spirit,” a Bible student might instead study “The miraculous work of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.” Notice how much more limited the topic is. By restricting yourself, you avoid being overwhelmed by the material. Instead of only scratching the surface of the topic you are positioned to dig deeper and better understand a smaller piece of Scripture.
2. Record Your Notes for Better Bible Study
During your studies, you will quickly discover new ideas and new courses of study. Sudden flashes of insight will fill your mind and your will experience moments of bright clarity when all of your work suddenly seems to gel together. It is important to write down these new thoughts before they vanish into the oblivion of forgotten thoughts. When you come across never before considered verses which shed new light on your study, record them for future analysis.
The Bible student’s best friends are paper and pen. You must be able to record your thoughts. The mere act of writing down your notes will help you remember your findings. For me, a legal pad is best. Don’t worry about neatness, just jot down your thoughts. Draw lines to different notes connecting them together as your study deepens.
3. File Your Thoughts for Better Bible Study
What shame to do all this work and a year later need to answer a question and be unable to recall your thoughts! As we age, memory seems to grow brief. A simple system of recording your thoughts for future study is invaluable.
Many of us have filing systems for our bills and finances. We careful record each bill, the amount due, the amount paid and the check number. A similar system is useful for all Bible study notes including personal study, Bible class study, sermon notes and articles. Begin with a manila folder labeled with your topic or with the passage you are studying. When done with that particular study, file it away and begin a new one. When you find an article that is helpful on some topic, create a file for that topic. Begin simply and let your filing system grow with you.
4. Challenge Your Thinking for Better Study
The best universities seek to have faculty from a variety of schools. The idea is that this will bring different views to the classroom. You and I can do the same thing with our studies. Read, study and collect different and opposing views on every subject. Let them challenge your thinking and conclusions. Truth has no fear of being challenged but thrives in an environment where it can shine even brighter.
Do your own studies first, then expose yourself to contrasting ideas and check them, and your own conclusions, against the truth of Scripture. Anything you read, hear or see is secondary to Scripture. Only God’s Word can be depended upon for the purity of its truth. Everything else is measured against it. Challenge your thinking to find the diamonds of truth buried within.
Bible study is hard work but the payout is grand. Use these four tools to get started on a lifetime of Bible study.
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.