My Top 15 Elements for a Successful Bible Study

It’s taken years, but I have finally gotten into a nice rhythm in terms of studying the bible.  As we grow in our walk with Christ, knowing God’s word (and seeking it with zeal) is one of the most important things we can do.  After all, he’s revealed himself to us in two primary ways: Through his Holy Spirit, which we received as a gift when we became Christians, and in his Word.  My morning prayer almost always ends with David’s plea from Psalm 119: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

In this series, I’ve examined my personal “Top 15″ things leading to successful bible study.  I want to be clear that this may not be your top 15.  In fact, this list might not be applicable to another person on earth.  But I’ve observed that over the last several months, all of these things play an important role in my spiritual journey.  Maybe a few of them will be valuable for you, too.  As you work through this list (and its corresponding posts), I’d love to hear from you: What have I missed?  What are the most important elements for you?  What would you like to see more of?

Source Materials: You can’t have a bible study without a bible.
1 The Message.  In my opinion, the most readable and understandable version of the Good News.

2 A study bible.  It’s incredibly helpful to have a bible that contains detailed notes and cross-references.

3 Youversion mobile bible.  For smartphone users, this free bible app with its dozens of translations is a must-have.

4 BibleGateway.com.  The very easiest way to access the bible online, including robust searching and browsing functions, as well as the ability to easily link and embed text.

Going Deeper: Tools to take your study and its application into your life.

5 Baker’s Commentary on the Bible. The ultimate resource for explaining the bible, chapter and verse.

6 Wayne Grudem’s Bible Doctrine.  Why do you believe what you believe?  And what does your church have to say about it?  It’s important for any believer to know.

7 Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy’s Across the Spectrum.  An easily readable presentation of multiple doctrinally sound interpretations of scriptural meaning.  Key for refining your own belief set – and understanding others.

8 The Blue Letter Bible.  An amazing set of online resources to dig deep into the bible, its history, its original languages, and detailed teaching and commentary.

Making it Happen: When your bible study becomes a part of your daily “lifeflow.”

9 A Study Plan: The bible makes more sense (and is easier to share) when you’re following a plan.

10 A place: Where do you do your bible study?  Do you have a place where you can easily store all of your materials?

11 A Time: Many people (myself included) need a routine.  What part of your day do you set aside for study?

Reflection: Reading the bible isn’t the same thing as studying it (though both are valuable).  What are the things you can do to reflect on your reading, and prepare to apply it to your life?

12 A journal – Where do you log your thoughts and questions?  For me, it’s right here on Finding Approval.

13 Valley of Vision.  I always close (and open) my study in prayer, and never fail to draw inspiration from this beautiful book of puritan prayers.

Sharing it: Study shouldn’t be solely an individual pursuit … the added ingredient of other people can exponentially increase the wisdom and insights you derive from your study – and who knows, you might be able to help them out as well!

14 A small study group. A small group of trusted friends can add so much to your study.

15 A Teaching Pastor.  The right pastor is going to teach you, inspire you, and challenge you.  When was the last time your pastor surprised you with a new perspective on scripture?  Made you mad?  Drove you straight to the bible to find out more?  If it isn’t happening frequently, you may not have chosen the right church.

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4 responses to “My Top 15 Elements for a Successful Bible Study

  1. Great list, Greg – some very helpful advice throughout. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. I’m so glad that it’s proved useful for you, Brian … it’s great to have you here. Now that the big “Top 15” is out there, I have a whole queue of new posts waiting in the wings!

  3. Great Blog! Good Bible study habits are so important. There is so many false teachers in the world, one must know the truth for themselves. I’m currently enrolled in what is supposed to be a very conservative Bible College. Unfortunately My OT History class is proving to be anything but conservative. The professor is teaching that there were not 7 literal days in creation, and Deuteronomy is a possible forgery. If you are not well studied in your own right, you may fall victim to this sort of non-sense! Thanks for tolerating my rant, God Bless.

  4. Thanks, believer! So glad that you’re here! I think that even if the “authorities” out there challenge your beliefs that can be a good thing … it really forces you to dig in and understand what’s really important – and be able to tell it from what’s doctrinally debatable. I can’t imagine asserting that Deuteronomy is a forgery, for example, but if you read Boyd and Eddy’s “Across the Spectrum,” (number 7, above) they make 3 different, compelling, scripturally viable arguments for interpreting Genesis. In any case, that’s one of the reasons that really digging deep into the bible is so compelling, right? Anyway – thanks again for your encouragement and readership … hope to see lots of you here.

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