You Don’t Have To Be A Scholar To Read The Bible With Confidence

You Don’t Have To Be A Scholar To Read The Bible With Confidence

Professor Tom Friskney’s first words to us in my undergraduate Biblical Interpretation class were,

God has communicated through his word and he expects to be understood.

Those words, and the man himself, made an indelible impression on me.

Internet Confusion

I’m mindful of what Professor Friskney said every time I watch people engage in discussions on the Internet about what certain passages in the Bible really mean.

One of the blessings of the World Wide Web is that we now have access to an unlimited number of opinions about any given subject. One of the curses of the World Wide Web is there is no search engine that screens for stupidity and poor judgment.

Google any biblical passage and one quickly finds so many conflicting opinions on what that passage means that a novice is led to believe that the true meaning of what God meant to say in that passage is simply unknowable.

This is ludicrous.

As Mr. Friskney said, “God has communicated through his word and he expects to be understood.”

The good news is that understanding the Bible is possible, even for a person who has never read it before.

My Top Ten Suggestions

Are you new to reading the Bible? Here are 10 suggestions that will help you study, interpret, and apply the Bible with confidence.

  1. Make a commitment that you are going to invest the rest of your life learning what the Bible says. Say to yourself that you are no longer going to allow yourself to be put into a position where you must rely solely upon others to tell you what a particular passage means.
  2. Get a reliable translation of the Bible that you can understand. My recommendation is the NIV Study Bible. It will cost $50, but it’s a worthwhile investment. This particular version of the Bible has notes written underneath each passage to help answer questions.
  3. Commit to read the Bible five days a week for 15-20 minutes each day. Make this a habit and stick to it. You will never regret the time you spend in God’s word. Read the New Testament in one yearRead the entire Bible in one year.
  4. Buy a copy of Gordon Fee’s How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth. It is universally regarded as the single best book for beginners on how to understand the Bible. Commit yourself to master this book. It will teach you essential tools for interpreting the Bible with confidence.
  5. It’s critical to understand why the Bible is important in the first place, and to know what is meant by the concept of the “authority of the Bible” and how that shapes what we believe and how we live our lives. There is no better book on this subject than Dr. Jack Cottrell’s Solid: The Authority Of God’s Word. You might want to begin with this book before Gordon Fee’s.
  6. PLEASE WRITE IN YOUR BIBLE. People treat their Bibles as if they’re sacred, so they avoid writing in them. The message is sacred, but the paper is not.Circle, underline, make notes, etc. Writing in my Bible helps me process what I’m learning. You can get a new one once all the open space is filled up.
  7. Attend a Bible teaching and believing church. This is huge. Every week at CCV we spend 30 minutes in our services studying the Bible and applying it to our everyday lives. My goal is to simply model what it looks like to study a passage so that anyone can do what I’m doing at home. If you don’t attend a church that does this, find a new one. Being in a church that values the Bible is essential for your spiritual growth.Find a church like CCV in your area.
  8. Join a Bible study group. Studying the Bible together will be essential to grow in your understanding of God’s word. There’s a lot you can learn from humble people who have the gift of teaching. But remember the goal is to learn how to dowhat it teaches, not just excessively study the Bible. Study minus implementation inevitably creates narrow-minded, self-centered Christians who constantly complain about not being fed. Being in a group with an outward focus will help overcome these pitfalls.
  9. Once you’ve implemented the first eight steps it’s time to delve deeper into each of the 66 books of the Bible. I suggest buying Gordon Fee’s How To Read The Bible Book By Book. This will help you gain a deeper understanding of why each book was written and for what purpose.
  10. BE CONFIDENT. 99.5% of Bible passages are self-explanatory. The other .5% that people disagree on usually deal with peripheral issues of negligible importance.Don’t let people with hidden agendas tell you that a passage doesn’t mean what it clearly means.

I’m confident that if you take these steps you will soon have all the tools you need to study, interpret and apply the Bible for yourself.

It is an immense privilege to own a Bible that you can understand and have tools available to help you study it. Many Christians around the world are not so fortunate.

Please take advantage of this opportunity. You will not regret it.

Anything you’d add to this list?

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