There are many ways to get to know God. We may think we are getting to know Him pretty well through our prayer life, our efforts to support helping ministries, and our involvement and appreciation of Him through nature.
But, if we stop there, we are missing out on the most important avenue for knowing God, which is through the written word. The Bible provides us with the most complete picture of who God is and what His plans are for His created beings. It tells us who we are praying to, how to best serve those around us, and what the inconsistencies of nature actually mean to our existence.
There is no other book, known to mankind, that represents more fully what our Christian faith is about. No other book that takes a lifetime and more to learn from. And no other book that is more important for us to know and understand. Because in studying the Holy Bible we are equipping ourselves with the armor it takes to stand any and all of Satan’s attacks upon us and those we love. See Ephesians 6:16, 17.
That said, we wonder how to best undertake the Bible study that comes so highly recommended to us. Many successful ways have been suggested, and any or all of them have worked for others and are certainly worth our consideration.
[Note: A good concordance and Bible dictionary will prove helpful in any of these methods.]
A few well-known methods of Bible study include…
Read an entire book of the Bible you have decided to study. You have 66 choices from the Old and New Testaments. For this introductory reading you may find it helpful to find out the five P’s (mentioned by A.T. Pierson). They are the:
Place—where it was written
Person—who wrote it
People—for whom it was written
Purpose—why it was written
Period—in what period of time it was written
Many like to read their chosen book in one sitting, looking for the main themes, structure, and background of the book. Some like to read the entire book three times—once for the story it tells, twice for the thought it brings us, and third for the literary style it uses. Then, one can examine it chapter by chapter.
Lives of great persons
This biographical approach can be very enjoyable, with a wide array of Bible characters waiting to be discovered. Reading about the lives of men and women in the Bible, both good and bad, inspires us to be more or less like them and helps us become more like the God we serve.
Topics or doctrines
This is another favorite approach to Bible study. Choose a topic that interests you and find out all you can about that subject of study. A good concordance is especially helpful here (found online or in the back of most Bibles). Some areas to explore might be angels, baptism, death, faith, heaven, love, marriage, prayer, repentance, temptation, and the list goes on and on.
Great chapters of the Bible
Concentrated study of one familiar, important chapter at a time can be profitable. Often, we think we know all there is to know about Genesis 1 (that tells us about creation), Exodus 20 (which includes the Ten Commandments), 1 Corinthians 13 (called the love chapter), and many others that are even worth our memorization. But we are amazed at the new insights that come to our attention with a more thoughtful, deliberate study of these chapters, much as if we are using the book-by-book study.
[Memorization can also be a profitable by-product of this kind of study, as it causes us to reflect on the words of the chapter we are seeking to remember. It enables us to put those words into our hearts, as well as our minds (Psalm 119:11).]
It can be very satisfying and rewarding to read the Bible “from cover to cover”, and there are many plans that enable this to happen within a year’s time. Such a reading should probably be done at least once in a person’s lifetime. You might consider some of the plans that allow something other than a “from beginning-to-end” method, however. It can be somewhat difficult when one encounters some of the more technical, boring passages, so these can be combined with more interesting readings in one of the alternative timelines, without jeopardizing our reading of the whole Bible at the end of our allotted time.
There are other methods worth exploring. For instance, one might study all the miracles in the Bible, all the parables of Christ, the recorded prayers in the Bible, the meaning of the sanctuary service, or the various prophecies about end times.
Another creative method was used by a man in my church, who wrote out the entire Bible by hand. So, be creative in undertaking your preferred method, and make it a part of your daily routine.
Whatever method you choose, Charles W. Conn suggests we observe these instructions when studying God’s word:
- Read carefully (find a convenient time and place to study).
- Read prayerfully (always ask God to illuminate your understanding).
- Read reflectively (think, meditate, contemplate what you are reading).
- Read regularly (and often).
- Read repeatedly (don’t rush; review constantly).
- Read introspectively (apply what you have read, as a message to your own heart).
Proper reading and study of the Bible can be the most exciting and enjoyable mental/spiritual activity we can ever experience. Don’t deny yourself this rewarding and necessary challenge that enables us to know God in the fullest way possible.
If your church provides systematic study helps for group study, like our own Sabbath School Bible Study Guides (found at https://absg.adventist.org/), by all means take advantage of this method of study as well.
You will find it a great way to share corporately what you have studied during the week, gaining valuable insights from the experience and knowledge of your fellow church members. These lessons are designed to cover the entire Bible in a certain number of years, so take full advantage of this global resource that reaches those of like faith around the world.