How To Read Your Bible
In this letter I’ll pass along a list of ways that I read the Bible. I’ve written them as a list of Do’s and Don’ts, but please don’t confuse them with the rules of interpreting your Bible. That would be hermeneutics, and hermeneutics is not a thing that is different for different people. So, even though I have them listed as do’s and don’ts, it would probably be better stated as: “I suggest that you…,” and, “I suggest that you not… .”
Make it a goal to read your entire Bible. Once you have read it, make it a goal to read it again in time.
Ask God to reveal himself to you before you read.
Pick a book, any book. Try to grasp the book as a whole. Ask yourself what is the overarching message or theme of that book, or what is the central message that God is telling His people?
Once you’ve gotten a better feel for that book, consider it in the context of the rest of the Bible. How does it fit? How does it compliment the rest of the Bible?
Divide your time between the Old and New Testaments. You will note that Jesus, as well as the Apostles, referred to the Old Testament often, and so should you. Keep in mind, as you are reading the New Testament that it was written to people who did not have a New Testament Bible to study.
Read the Bible in the same way that you would take a leisurely drive down a country road with lots of time to kill. When you see something interesting, feel free to pull over and admire it and / or study it, or whatever. Camp there for a while even. Take some pictures. Try to draw it when you get home. In the same way, as you are reading your Bible, feel free to stop when you see something that grabs your attention. Ask your Father in Heaven questions. Read it over a few times to get the essence of it in your mind so that you can continue to meditate on it during the days ahead. Keep it in mind as you continue to read.
Try to have a good quality Bible that you will keep for many years. Prefer, if you can, to read from that Bible. That way, while you may not remember the exact location of an interesting passage, you may remember that it was, say, on the top-right side of the left page. This will make it easier for you to find the places that you have stopped in the past to “take another look.”
Make marks in your Bible if you want to. Write notes and cross-references to yourself.
Memorize, memorize, memorize, word for word, verses, chapters, even books, as much as you possibly can.
If you look at a brick wall it would seem silly to note that the top layer of bricks would not be up there if the bottom layers weren’t holding them up. The same can be said about things you learn while reading your Bible. Some things that you might not have noticed before may be brought to your attention later. It might well be that the very passage you read without noticing or understanding yesterday, will help you to understand the one you have in your hand today. Isaiah had this to say about such things:
Whom will he teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just drawn from the breasts?
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.”
Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought. Sometimes it may be that you feel that you have discovered something in your Bible that no one else ever has. Be very careful! This book has been poured over by great minds for 2000 years. In that 2000 years there have been countless heresies and cults that were started with a “new revelation.” What we learn should be very similar to what others throughout the history of the church have learned. God is directing and superintending His Son’s bride, and He is big enough for the task. His bride is the goal. The Word is for her washing, so you, my children, be washed by the water of His word.
Don’t read your Bible in search of proof texts. That is not reading your Bible, rather it’s searching for ammo. The world is at war with God. Many of the world’s warriors go by the name “Christian” in these doctrine-rejecting days. You may find yourself looking for particular scriptures to defend the faith against such, but that’s not Bible reading. Be careful!
Don’t judge God as you read, but rather let His words judge you. Don’t skip lightly over passages that bother you; in fact, I’d suggest spending some time and prayer on those passages in particular. However, if you have to, feel free to set such passages aside for a time. Perhaps they are bricks meant for a higher place on the wall than the layer being laid now. I, for many years, hated Romans 9. I had to ignore it in my Bible because it made me question the goodness of God. Yet, one day I realized that I am a mere sinful man who was judging my creator according to my own standards, which are, by the way, corrupt. In time I have grown to love that passage.
Don’t feel as if you must fit your Bible reading plan into a wooden structure. If it helps, then by all means do. The goal is to get God’s Word into your heart and mind. It must be your foundation. It must be the lens through which you see and interpret your world and experiences.
Spend a few minutes in reflection before you read. Consider the bigness of God. Can Jehovah speak our universe into existence? Can He ensure that the words you are reading have come to you, not by the hand of Man, but by His loving providence? Is He subject to what Man thinks he knows? Is He big enough to send a delusion?
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess 2:9-12)
Don’t think yourself stronger than God, and so strong in fact that you will outwit him should He decide that you are one who will receive His delusion. Pray instead that your Father in Heaven will have mercy on you. Pray that often. Be humble before your God!
I pray, dear children, that God would have mercy on you, as I pray that He would have mercy on me also. I even now am praying that He would have mercy on your spouses should He give you the days to marry. I pray that He would have mercy on your children, and your children’s children, and I pray that He would give you the wisdom to pray likewise.