How To Get Started Reading The Bible
Buckle up ladies and gents because you're in for the best adventure of your life
Below is part two of the series: How To Grow In Your Faith! For part one on four ways to grow in your faith, feast your eyes on this baby.
One of my favorite Instagram Reels is this twenty-something gal, seriously and intently speaking into her camera. She was speaking to me. And what did she say? She said, "You need to stop being afraid of overdressed middle school girls at Starbucks. You're older than them and wiser than them. They may judge you but they cannot hurt you."
I felt that.
There are a whole slew of things that make me feel insecure and afraid. There is a laundry list of people and places that cause me to feel inadequate and inferior. I'm working on it, okay! When I first started opening the Bible, I felt that in some ways. I was in unknown territory. I wasn't exactly sure where to start or if I was doing it right.
If that's you today, let's take a walk! Or if you're a veteran believer or even somewhere in between, there's something here for everyone.
First you have to determine where you're going to get a Bible. If you already have one, yay! Praise hands! But if not, decide what version you're going to use. May I recommend the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) or the English Standard Version (ESV.) There are also solid peeps who use the New International Version (NIV.) Consider what version your pastor preaches from at your local church! Side note: Please be connected to a local church hehe. If you use the same version your pastor does, you'll be able to follow along better when he's giving a sermon.
The Bible on your phone is cool but nothing compares to a good ole' paper page Bible that you can mark up and cling to. The Bible I use right now is the She Reads Truth Bible, linked here. But I do often miss my ESV Journaling Bible, a similar one is linked here.
Now that you have a Bible, you can crack that baby open and get to reading! John Piper's explanation on how to start reading Scripture is sweet and you can read it here. I will echo what John Piper says, and that's to read about Jesus first, since all of the Bible points to Him. You can read about the life and ministry of Jesus in the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, in the New Testament.
One of the best things about Scripture is that it is all profitable. The Bible literally says that.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
So no matter where you start reading, all of Scripture will speak to you and point you to our Savior.
When you're reading, you will probably have questions about word meanings, background information, context, among other things. This is good! It's good to ask questions and seek answers. Write them down and bring them to someone you can trust will answer them well.
To help answer some of the questions, you can use a study Bible. It's worth the investment! Having a study Bible has been a very helpful tool when I'm reading. This ESV Study Bible offers extensive study notes, charts, maps, and articles. There are footnotes on each page explaining the verses for deeper understanding.
Once you have a Bible of your own and possibly a study Bible for help with some leg work, and you're starting out in one of the Gospels, maybe? You're in good hands.
What I will leave you with are these three questions to ask yourself as you read Scripture:
1. What does this text show me about who God is?
The Bible is about God! My selfish heart needs to hear this every day. The Bible is not a self help book I pick up when I need some encouragement about how great of a person I am. Of course the Bible has encouragement for my bones, but it's not me-centered!
When we are reading the Bible, let's ask ourselves, "What does this show me about who God is?" God is not up for redefinition, so what Scripture says about Him is true. We need prayerful discernment and the totality of Scripture to help us understand what the passage we are reading says about God. Let's not twist His words so we can make them say what we want.
2. What does this text say about me in light of who God is?
Am I a twenty-something woman who is afraid of middle school girls at Starbucks? *Face palm* I mean maybe! But the Bible tells me I am a broken person in need of Jesus's redemptive blood to cover me. As His daughter I am chosen and wholly loved and known.
Scripture helps me understand by the power of the Spirit what will convict me and where I need sanctification. Recently as I have been reading my Bible, I've seen over and over the call in the New Testament and in the Old Testament that God opposes the proud. So from there, I see, by the Spirit, all the areas in my life I am arrogant and proud. By the Spirit I am brought to my knees in need of grace.
There are a multiplicity of things we can learn about ourselves from Scripture even though it doesn't revolve around us. The God who created us is the best person to help us understand who He made us to be.
3. How can I apply this text to my life?
James 1:22 says, "But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." This is something else I need to be constantly reminded of. It's great that we're going to read Scripture and study it. Let's accumulate knowledge and know Jesus deeply and like a brother! But let's not stop there. Let's pray for application to take place and for us to continually grow to be more like Jesus.
If there are commands in the passage you're reading, take note of them!
Every day I am learning more about how to read my Bible. Just this morning I read a few chapters of Isaiah and really needed help on what I was reading. But reading Scripture is not intimidating or scary anymore. I'm not the twenty-something woman at Starbucks afraid of overdressed middle school girls judging me when it comes to my Bible reading. It may be often challenging, but it's not scary. I now know there are tools I can use and people I trust to help me when I have questions.
My prayer is that you will be able to say the same.