Just knowing the “why” of Bible study is not enough. You must also discover the “how” of Bible study. All too often, Christians commit themselves to the idea of Bible study without committing themselves to a plan for Bible study. Often this results in discouragement that ultimately leads to defeat. I would like to discuss at least nine strategic steps for successful study of God’s Word.
Step 1: Select the Passage: There are sixty-six separate books in the Bible with a combined total of more than 600,000 words; so selecting one passage to study can be difficult if you do not have a method. It is easy to fail at this point for in many instances, something like this happens…
A Christian decides to begin a daily Bible study. The logical place to start seems to be Genesis 1:1, so he reads through the first chapters of Genesis, which are very interesting. Then, on the third day, things begin to bog down with verses like, “And Cainan lived seventy years and begat Mahalaleel.” He cannot pronounce the names and does not know what “begat” even means, but he keeps on struggling through several more chapters hoping things will get better. Instead, he runs into, “And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, and Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah, and Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba, and Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.” Confused and discouraged, he concludes that the Bible is too difficult to understand, that it doesn’t relate to life in the 21st century.
Is he right? Of course not, but it is easy to understand how he reached this conclusion. However, he would not have had this disheartening experience if he had known how to select what to study. Certainly, he should not have started with Genesis 1:1 and proceeded to read straight through the following chapters each day. In the first place, he was only reading, not studying. And, the chapters he read are a more complex, historical narrative. But the biggest problem is that he read too much. Too much, that is, to study at one brief daily Bible study.
What should he have done? He should have read just a few verses (perhaps a maximum of one chapter) at each Bible study. Then he would have been able to concentrate on key words, phrases and verses. This would have enriched his Bible study by helping him to more easily understand and apply the Word to his life.
Preferably, he should have started with chapters or short books which are ideally suited to devotional Bible study. For example, he could study through the book of Philippians, taking as much time as necessary to gain the most spiritual benefit. This chould possibly require four or five weeks; remember, God is concerned with how much we “learn” from His Word, not have “fast” we read it.
Maybe it has been difficult for you to maintain a consistent, daily Bible study. Part of the problem could be that you just have not known how to get started. Tomorrow we will examine more steps for selecting the passage to study!