The Bible is one of the most famous books in the world, but it is not just any book. It is an instruction guide for life, inspired by the Creator of the universe Himself. The Bible is filled with knowledge and wisdom for every situation imaginable. When you stop and think about it, it is actually pretty amazing. We have the answers to all of life’s problems right at our fingertips and all that we have to do is make the effort to study them. Unfortunately for many people, the Bible is a very intimidating book and when it comes to reading it they just don’t have a clue where to begin. Thankfully, studying the Bible is a lot more difficult in theory than it is in practice and once most people begin, they find themselves in the middle of an extremely eye opening and life changing experience. Whether you’re a brand new Christian, a more seasoned Christian, or a Non-Christian who just wants to find out what this Jesus stuff is all about, this beginner’s guide to reading the Bible will equip you with all of the tools that you need to get started on whatever journey you may be embarking upon.
Understanding the text.
“There are just so many thees and thous! I really do want to read my Bible but I just don’t understand what is being said.”
If you have ever thought those words then you are not alone. Difficulty deciphering the text is one of the biggest reasons that people give for not reading The Word of God. Fortunately, there are many different translations available today without a thee or thou in sight. The New International, Amplified, and Contemporary English versions are three of the most reader friendly translations that I have found. My personal favorite is the Contemporary English version because it takes the scripture and breaks it down into a very easy to read, almost conversational tone. Different versions work better for different people, but if the language is what is hindering you from reading the word of God, I highly suggest taking a trip to your local Christian or regular book store, and browsing until you find a translation that works for you.
Where to begin.
“Now I have a Bible that I understand, but it’s a really big book and there are so many scriptures, I just don’t know where to start”
If this is a problem for you, once again you are not alone. Truth be told, there is no one size fits all method for reading the Bible. Many people choose to start at the beginning and work their way to the back. If this method works for you then I say go for it, but it is important to note that The Bible is not written in chronological order so if you are not already familiar with its stories, the cover to cover approach might be a bit confusing. The method that works the best for me is the glossary approach. If there is a specific person in the Bible who I want to read about, or a specific issue that I want to study, I turn to the very back of my Bible and find out what books I need to read by looking it up in the Glossary. Another great approach for Bible beginners is to get tech savvy and utilize an app. The free YouVersion Bible app is a fantastic tool for beginners and veterans alike. This app is available on smartphones, tablets, and also on the computer at Bible.com. The great thing about YouVersion is that it has custom reading plans. You simply select one that meets your goals and needs, and the app will tell you what to read and when. Much like finding a good translation, you just have to use trial and error to figure out what works for you.”
“I’ve been reading my Bible for a while now, but I still don’t see how this applies to my life. You said that it was an instruction guide, so how does this work?”
The Bible is filled with stories about average, every day people. Some of these people accomplished extraordinary things, some of these people faced tremendous adversity. Some of these people were heroes, some of them were villains, and some of them (like Kind David) had really good hearts but couldn’t quite get it all together on the outside. There are kings and slaves, and just about every other type of person that you could imagine depicted in the Bible and each of them has a story to tell. A great way to use the Bible as an instruction guide is to observe the lives of the people in the stories. Pay close attention to their failures, their successes, and what they did that led them there. Make an effort to relate to the people the stories are about. Find a little bit of yourself in each scripture and apply the lessons that you learn to your every day life.
Another great method for practically applying the Bible to your life is to utilize your glossary. I mentioned earlier that using the glossary approach was a good way to figure out where to start reading. The other great thing about the glossary approach is that it gives us instant access to the passages that suit out needs. If you are struggling to forgive someone for something that they have done, you can turn to the glossary and see what God has to say about forgiveness, or if you are feeling alone you can look up verses that reassure you that Jesus is our comforter, along with so many other things. What The Bible won’t do, is give us detail specific instructions like who we should marry, but it will tell us what qualities to search for in a partner so that we don’t make bad mistakes. The Bible may not always give us literal answers to all of life’s problems, but it does equip us with the wisdom to make Godly choices in every situation imaginable.
Studying The Bible does not have to be a challenge. In fact, once you get the hang of it, it can quickly become an enjoyable way to spend alone time with God.