What should a Christian know about Bible study? Bible study must be carried on in full dependence on the Holy Spirit. He is our teacher, and we should constantly seek His guidance.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. John 16:13.
There is no quick, easy way to learn the Bible. It involves hard work for everyone. Yet it is also true that the more knowledge of it we gain, the easier it is to gain additional knowledge.
The Bible student should first of all have tools to work with:
1. A good study Bible. The Scofield Reference Bible is excellent. The text is the same as the regular King James or Authorized Version, but helpful notes are added to explain difficult passages.
2. A good concordance. This enables you to find a verse when you can remember only a word or two in it. The three best concordances are Strong's, Young's and Cruden's. The first two are more complete, but the last is less costly and gives the English words only. (The former give the Greek and Hebrew.)
3. A good Bible dictionary. This contains a wealth of information on Bible subjects. Smith's or Peloubet's is satisfactory for the beginner.
Having provided himself with the necessary equipment, the believer is ready to embark on a serious study of the Scriptures.
1. The first thing to do is set aside a definite time each day, and begin reading the Bible. It is a good plan to start at Matthew and go through the New Testament. Then begin at Genesis and read through the entire Bible. Don't read so that you can say you've been through the Bible, but read so you will know what the Bible says.
2. When you come to an unfamiliar word, look it up in the Bible dictionary or in a regular dictionary. If you come to a passage you cannot understand, first try to get the meaning by studying it carefully. If this fails, make a note of the problem, and look it up in a Bible commentary when you get a chance. Among the helpful commentaries are those by Matthew Henry, and Jamieson, Faussett and Brown.
3. Compare Scripture with Scripture. Don't try to build a doctrine on a single verse. Find out what is the consistent teaching in all the Bible on the subject. "Truth does not contradict truth."
4. You will be well rewarded if you write down an outline of each chapter, answering the following questions:
—What have I learned about Christ? (Even in the Old Testament you will find the Saviour in types and shadows.)
—What is the principal message of this chapter?
—What precious promise may I claim?
—Which is the outstanding verse?
—What sin am I taught to avoid?
—What example is there for me to follow?
—What are the difficult verses?
5. During the day you should try to discuss what you have read with someone else. This will serve two purposes: it will help to fix the lesson in your own mind; it will enable someone else to share the blessing which you received from your Bible study.
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. Malachi 3:16.
6. Try to memorize two or three verses of Scripture each week. Begin with familiar Gospel verses such as: John 1:12; John 3:16; John 3:36; John 5:24; Romans 10:9, etc. Review all memory verses constantly until you really have them. You will find your own life enriched, and you will be better able to speak to others.
7. The great goal of Bible study, of course, is to put into practice what you have learned. We should allow the Word to rebuke us, to correct us, to make us more like the Lord Jesus.
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16.
Remember when you study the Bible you are studying an eternal book. Everything you learn about it here is an investment for eternity. So give it your very best.
From What Christians Believe: Basic Studies in Bible Doctrine and Christian Living by Alfred P. Gibbs ... [et al.]; staff members of Emmaus Bible School. Chicago: Moody Press, 1951.