Let’s say you’ve tried to read the bible and it is just too confusing. Let’s look at Acts 8:26-10 An Ethiopian official was sitting in his chariot trying to read Isaiah 53:7-8, when Phillip asked if he understood what he was reading. The man replied “How can I unless someone explains it to me?”(Acts 8:30-31) While Phillip might not be nearby when we are studying, the Holy Spirit is. All you have to do is pray and ask God for understanding. (John 14:26) Let’s go back to Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:26-27) “…teach me your decrees. Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.”
We have seen that God says we should read the bible. We see why we should study the bible. We know how to get understanding. Now let’s look at what it says about God’s word. (2 Samuel 22:31) “As for God his way is perfect; the Lord’s word is flawless…” (Psalm 33:4) “For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.” (Psalm 119:103) “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:105) “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:130) “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Job 23:12) “…I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.”
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35
I want to include some links to some study aids and give a few ideas for studying. First and foremost to get anything out of the bible you must pray and ask for understanding. If you have never had God show you something in the bible it will amaze you when he unlocks a secret. Before you try a study bible or a commentary read the bible all the way through. In an average regular print bible you can do that in about 3 months reading around 10 pages a day. 2 pages a day can be done in a year. If you travel a lot get a bible on CD. I have seen several different versions with different people reading them. Find one that you will actually be able to listen to for hours at a time. I personally like the version with Johnny Cash’s voice. It’s New Testament only. The Word of Promise is a New Testament NKJV done as a radio drama. It has several well known actors and actresses reading the parts plus sound effects in the background. It’s awesome.
Start looking at the cross references once you have read the bible all the way through. Many bibles have these in them. It will point you to similar verses, which will help interpret stuff. Make notes in your bible or keep a notebook with you when you listen to a sermon. Afterward read the verse and study your notes.
. Go to the International Bible Society or Bible Gateway and compare the different translations until you find one you like and can understand. I use about five translations when I’m studying. The different translation of some words can completely change the way you see something. If you like gadgets Olive Tree bible software has downloadable bibles for most phones and Ipods.
There are several bible study programs out there. I like Esword. It’s a free download. It has several bibles and commentaries available. Many of them are free and the rest are at very reasonable prices. It has a built in word processor for doing studies and a tool for making your own commentaries. I use it to do many of my studies and to prepare the lessons for my class.
Sermons are a great way to get interpretations. Most of the well known preachers have sermons on their websites. Many small churches are starting to put sermons on their websites. Many times you can find a great pastor by just searching Churches. One Place Now has several Sermons and so does Sermon Audio. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible site has the five year radio program available as mp3s. In my opinion this is an excellent verse by verse bible audio commentary. John Mac Arthur on his Grace to You website has sermon transcripts these are a great helps to study the bible.
Now don’t let commentaries and sermons stop you from reading the bible. You still need to devote time to reading in addition to your study time. I also don’t recommend letting commentaries stop you from letting God help you interpret the bible.
Again do not let anything take the place of bible reading.