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.