How To Read The Bible
Any of you who are connected to Ignite Church, know that we started a new series recently. We are calling it “Be Better” and what we are doing in this series is we are going through the book of Titus. In the preacher world we call that expository preaching. Which means, that there is a lot more emphasis on what the writer is trying to say. As a pastor, I love doing that because it gives me a chance to really dive into the scriptures more deeply than I do typically.
It’s kind of a peek behind the curtain of my life when we are doing a topical message because you really know what the Holy Spirit’s put on my heart. I get to find supporting scriptures that coordinate with that heart. You always want to know what the writer is trying to say and you always want to know what the heart and intent is, but there are times where honestly, if a verse fits perfectly in the English what I want to say and I then go to the Greek and find out hey, “that it doesn’t fit as perfectly in the Greek as it does in the English,” I use it anyway. Whereas when you do expository, it says what it says and your job is to get to the heart of that.
With all that, I thought it would be really neat for some practical stuff on diving into God’s word on your own.
I tell our church all the time, please don’t just listen to me.
I am not that smart and I have a very narrow view of what the Holy Spirit tells to me to present to you and scripture and you are going to always get more out of reading the unfiltered Word for yourself. I kind of get to chew it up and in a weird birdlike manner, feed you some stuff that I’ve chewed on which is good, and is easy to swallow, but you are never going to get the fullness of it unless you study on your own. So we are going to be talking about that in just a little bit.
First, just to give you a little scripture reference to the importance of this for your life because I know pastors tell you all the time you need to be in the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that the whole Bible is given to us by the inspiration of God and it is used to teach us what is true, and to help us realize what is wrong in our lives. It strengthen us and helps us to do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point fully equipped to do every good work. This is one verse out of many saying how important it is for us to know and examine the Bible.
I really want to start off talking about how you just read the Bible. We are going to get a little more deep into studying it, but how do you just read it?
I think a lot of people struggle to know how to read God’s Word. They want to, but being real with you, the Bible is a hard book. It is a challenging book. I want to give you little tips of how I read it. If you want a great book on this, because I want of course give all credit where credit is due, a lot of the points that I got and how I study come from a very old book that Rick Warren wrote about 20 years ago and it was called “Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods” because Rick is real creative like that. He is a lot like me. He is a pastor out in California and he wrote “The Purpose Driven Life” but he is not good at fancy titles. He just wrote a book called “How to Read the Bible” so when I was at the library in my college days, I was like “that makes sense” so I grabbed it.
1. Have a plan.
Nowadays it’s simpler than ever with things like YouVersion. They create plans for you. If you don’t know what YouVersion is, it’s a great app you can download for your phone, your tablet, your PC and it makes Bible plans for you. Please, don’t do the dip and skip method. You know the old pastor joke of the guy who kind of just opened his Bible and said “Lord, tell me something I need to do.” And the verse he opened was like “Judas went out and hung himself.” That is obviously not correct for me. Let me try again. So he closes it and opens it again. “Now go and do likewise” was the next verse he came to. You got to be careful with God’s Word. Pick something and have a plan that you know is going to work. Otherwise, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble. If you only read a couple of verses, the Bible can say anything to you.
I would encourage people to read it systematically.
Read it with a purpose in mind.
For anyone who is a new Christian and has not read a lot of scripture, I would say to start in the book of John. It’s a gospel. It has great narrative stories about Jesus. It also shares a lot of his theological purpose for why He was here. More so maybe than any of the other gospels do. Jesus over and over again is revealing more and more why He is here. He tells it to Nicodemus. He is revealing it to His disciples. It is a great starting point. The other reason, practically, is you go from John right into Acts.
You go from John which is all about Jesus into the book of Acts which is all about what are the disciples doing after Jesus died. It is a very easy transition. You’re not skipping anything. John is just a nice starting point, and then you can jump back and look at the gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They fill in a lot of info. They have things like genealogies, that I never encourage a new Christian to start with. Because you read Matthew 1:1 and it’s “this person begot this person begot this person begot…” That’s how the book starts. Please don’t do that to yourself. Start with John.
2. Read in a Bible that doesn’t have notes.
Study Bibles are great. I use a lot of study Bibles. If you want to know my favorite one, it is the MacArthur Study Bible. That was a gift that I got when I graduated high school and it is worn out, because I read it so much. When you use a Bible with notes, that triples your reading because any verse that means anything, somebody has something to say about it. Read without notes. Just read it and let the Holy Spirit speak to you.
3. Read aloud to yourself.
If you are using YouVersion or a great app, get the app to read it to you out loud. What I really do guys, everyday with my personal reading, is I open YouVersion on my phone, I put in my head phones, and I pull up a translation that reads it out to me, and I read along with it out loud. It’s another method of learning. It helps keep it interesting. So read it out loud.
The Bible is a tough book and if you are up in the morning early and you are trying to read it on your own and your house is a little dark because you don’t want to wake people up, you are going to fall asleep. There is great potential for doing that. So read it aloud to keep you awake and connected.
4. Underlining/Highlighting is your friend.
Mark things that mean something to you. ‘Engage with it’ is kind of what I’m saying.
I’ve dumped a lot of info on you for one post, but please, please, please get in your Bibles. Fifteen minutes of Bible reading a day, you can read through the New Testament very easily in a year.
Most Christians have not read the entirety of the New Testament. If you are trying to do some thirty day Bible plan, that’s great. But if you’ve never read through the whole Bible, please don’t do that to yourself. A little bit will change your whole outlook for the day.