Who among us, if we’re being honest with ourselves, are really satisfied with how much we know about the Bible? We read our Bibles and pay attention during sermons and Bible classes; but if we are honest, our reach for Bible knowledge has never really extended beyond that. It’s not that we don’t want to try; it’s just that we don’t know how. What can we do to take our own Bible study to the next level? The following are a few suggestions that I try to put to use in my own study. Maybe they’ll be helpful to you.
Stop relying on the cookie cutter plans. We’ve all seen them and we’ve all tried them – “read through the entire Bible in a year,” “read through the New Testament every 30 days,” “read through the Old Testament every quarter,” etc. They are all well meaning and they are all effective for some people but none of them are effective for everyone. So many of the cookie-cutter reading plans focus on quantity of reading and not necessarily quality. What we need to focus on in our reading is retention and comprehension.
Utilize different methods of Bible study to keep things fresh and to gain a more comprehensive knowledge of the Bible. Should we study topics, themes, words, phrases, or characters? Should we study verses, paragraphs, or entire books at a time? What if instead of pigeonholing ourselves into believing that only one method of Bible study is the right one we utilized them all? One immense danger that threatens our Bible study is the potential of that study, or our interest in it, growing stale. By utilizing different methods of Bible study, we avoid that potential danger and tap into the possibility of a wider reaching Bible knowledge.
Don’t be afraid to use extra-Biblical resources to help you along the way. I’ve heard people who adamantly oppose the idea of reading from anything outside of the Bible. “The Bible is enough” is the typical response. And you know, the Bible is enough; and if all we had access to was the Bible, we would have everything we need.
Ask for help when you need it. But doesn’t needing help imply weakness? The Ethiopian eunuch didn’t think so. When Philip found him reading from Isaiah 53 he asked him if he understood what he was reading. The eunuch responded, “How can I except some man should guide me” (vs. 31). When the eunuch asked for help in understanding the scriptures Philip patiently started in Isaiah 53 and taught him about Jesus.
The eunuch wasn’t afraid to ask for help and Philip wasn’t afraid to give it. Sometimes we all get stuck. When we get stuck we can either try to selfishly get unstuck alone or we can selflessly ask someone for help. Some of the most valuable extra-Biblical resources we have access to are preachers, elders, Bible class teachers, or other Christians who have been effective Bible students for years. Let’s take advantage of those resources while we have them.
There’s more that could be said, but suffice it to say that if we will put forth the effort God has already provided the increase for us through His word. Take these ideas and go do it.