This topic is adapted from the Joseph Solomon YouTube channel.
If you want to go deeper in your relationship with God, one important step is to go deeper in your study of his word, the Bible.
Flipping open randomly to a page and pointing at a verse isn’t an efficient way of understanding the Bible’s overall message. The Bible is a story with a beginning, middle, and end, and just like you might be confused if you walk into a movie halfway, there’s a lot you’ll miss out on if you jump around in the Bible without understanding how it’s laid out.
Start with the Gospels
If the Bible’s a story, you’d probably figure you should start at the beginning. But if you want to learn about Jesus, you need to start with the gospel accounts – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Genesis is important and you should read it. It foretells Jesus (Genesis 3:15) but it’s not the best place to start if you want to see his miracles and teachings.
Move on to the Letters
The letters written by Paul and other early followers of Jesus are a good way to see what early Christians believed and taught. They give us a guideline of belief and practice.
Old Testament Books for Beginners
If you’re new to the Bible or to the Old Testament (OT), try starting with Psalms and Proverbs. These books contain wisdom and songs of praise that are easy to understand without becoming a Bible scholar.
Consistent Time and Place
It’s important to be disciplined and develop the habit of Bible reading. Start small so as not to overwhelm yourself. The fact is, we make time and space for the things we truly want to do, so if you truly want to read God’s word and understand it, it will become a priority for you. No excuses!
There are many English translations to choose from these days. At pursueGOD.org, we typically use the New Living Translation. Other great, readable translations are the New International Version and the English Standard Version. You can find a huge list of English Bible translations (and other languages as well!) at biblegateway.com.
Bible Reading Plan
There are a lot of Bible reading plans that can help you stay on track. Don’t read just to say you read. Read to gain wisdom and apply it to your life.
Don’t Compare Yourself
Two problems can arise from comparing yourself to others. You’ll either discourage yourself by seeing that you’re not as far along as someone else, or you’ll get prideful by feeling superior to someone else.
You never “arrive” when it comes to studying God’s word. The point is not that you master the Bible, but that the Bible masters you. That’s what real Christian maturity looks like, and that’s what a disciplined, faithful study of the Bible leads to.
Written content for this topic by Daniel Martin.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- How long have you been reading the Bible? What book did you start reading in? Why did you choose this book, and did you find it helpful for growing in your faith?
- Do you “flip around” when reading the Bible? How have you found this helpful for your spiritual growth? Or have you actually found it unhelpful? Explain.
- Have you ever read the gospels? If so, which is your favorite and why?
- Have you ever read some or all of the letters in the New Testament (NT)? If so, which do prefer and why?
- Have you ever read some of the books of the OT? If so, which do you prefer and why?
- Which Bible translation do (or have you) used? What are some of the positives and negatives of these different translations?
- Rate your Bible reading habit on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being best and 1 worst. Why do you rate yourself this way?
- What steps should you take to improve your self-score from the previous question?
- Have you ever known someone who was always comparing their Bible/theological knowledge to others? Describe that person.
- Why is it important not to compare yourself to others when it comes to Bible/theological knowledge?
- “The point is not that you master the Bible, but that the Bible masters you.” What does it mean to be “mastered” by God’s word? What words and examples would describe such a Christian?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.