To read and understand the bible better, there are many factors involved in the process. But the good news is you can start wherever you are and still reap the rich reward of this life transforming book.
Perhaps you’re still a newbie Christian or you keep getting confused whenever it’s time to pick up the bible. You wonder how and why it feels complex and contradictory and you’ve gotten too discouraged to move on.
It’s not too late to try again.
For years it wasn’t like this and I struggled to reconcile my personality with the person of God.
There were days God felt abstract and I tried to go with the flow and on other days I just didn’t care enough to engage with the word.
But with time, I’m learning to read the word and understand the bible better. And you can too!
To read and understand the bible better, be willing to learn
I fell in love with C.S Lewis after reading his story. As a former atheist, he took his friend’s advice to explore what Christianity was about. And he came out transformed and renewed. Even as a Christian, he bloomed so much in his spiritual journey I can’t help but desire so much in my walk with God.
To the PURE all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.Titus 1:15
I realised one major reason why I found it hard to read and understand the Bible as a Christian was because my heart wasn’t pure so everything I read was perceived through my flawed and tainted heart.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.Matthew 5:8
The Bible is a mirror and it reflects our heart. And only a pure heart can truly see God for who He is.
Unrenewed minds will only see what their hearts project.
But a willing heart eager to go deeper into God will see the beauty of God through His word.
Now I’m aware many of us are still striving to live a life pleasing to God. You may not understand everything it says, you may not understand some of the complexity it portrays, but the moment you open your heart to just keep showing up and to take each chapter as it comes, you’ll discover it’s a woven tapestry of love and goodness triumphing over evil.
You’ll learn about the God that wants to save you at all cost, purify you and set you free.
This is where your love story begins. So be willing to open your love letter one day at a time.
Get a Paperback Bible you can highlight.
E-copies are good, but there’s nothing like having a paperback. Also, it helps to see your handwriting on the pages of the Bible.
I have the Bible App on my phone but when it comes to highlighting and writing sticky notes, I can highlight, memorize and linger on some verses of a paperback Bible. That way I’m away from my phone which has the tendency to distract me.
Often times, I’ve found God speaking to me through a bible verse I highlighted some time ago. It has served as a reminder and a great help to me.
Highlighting scriptures also take you down memory lane and this is a good way to reflect and meditate on what God has told you before.
It’s interesting to read something you wrote in different colours. It always brings a smile to my face especially on days when I’ve forgotten what God’s presence feels like.
It can also help you look forward to bible study.
Get a Bible version that makes it easy to read
This is very important. Although I still revert back to the King James version since it’s one of the closest to the original translation, I stick with the NKJV. I don’t really read translations that take away the original meaning and context of scripture.
Immerse yourself in the New Testament
The Old Testament is part of the Bible filled with so much depth and intricacies of love and war. So to understand it better, start by reading the New Testament and getting familiar with it.
Get so familiar with the Epistles you can recite it in your sleep.
Let it become more than a ‘memory verse’
Don’t give up. Practice makes perfect.
How to read the New Testament
- The Canon gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were written FOR you
- The Epistles (Romans to Revelations) were written TO you.
- Read it as if you’re part of the congregation the Apostles were writing to thousands of years ago.
- Identify the authors and their reason for writing.
- Identify the church the apostles were writing to (E.g Corinthian Church, Galatian church, Ephesian church)
- Check out their level of growth and compare it to yours.
- Understand when Paul is talking about himself and the other apostles (matured believers) or the congregation in general (growing believers)
- Understand that ALL the Epistles were written to believers at different levels of their spiritual growth
- Read the New Testament in Progressive fashion. E.g Apostle Paul in Acts was definitely different from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians and Galatians. Same with the other apostles. Eg John was regarded as an Elder in His letters (1John, 2John and 3John) hereby revealing many years had passed between them. Timothy was first regarded as Paul’s spiritual son but afterwards, we see Paul referring to him as fellow servant and brother.
If you stay consistent with this, you’ll discover so much treasures in God’s word. You’ll see how the bible is actually in synchronisation and it was never contradictory. We are the contradictory ones. Because God is perfect and the only true one. We just need to align our hearts with his will.
Read the Old Testament one chapter at a time
I’m assuming this should be done after getting familiar with the New Testament as I shared earlier.
You can start slow by reading a chapter a day and writing/noting one thing you learned about God from that chapter.
Pick a book of the Old Testament and spend time learning about the characters involved
You can start by asking yourself the following questions
- Do any of the themes look similar to the New Testament?
- What did I learn about God today?
- What did I learn about myself as a human being today?
- How do I feel about God’s ways and my ways?
- What attribute/nature of God am I willing to understand better?
- Is Jesus reflected in this book of the Bible? Where, when and How?
- What lesson can I apply in my faith walk today?
Here’s an example:
The Book of Ruth
- The Book of Ruth had a God-chasing theme. Because Ruth was a die-hard God lover, was faithful and loyal even without career or husband prospects in sight. She chose to follow Naomi and believed in a God she didn’t really know. She sought God without thinking of what was in it for her.
- I learned that anyone who puts their trust in God and keeps believing in Him will not be put to shame. He rewarded Ruth by not only grafting her into the Messiah’s lineage but also with a family and community of God’s people.
- I learned that I still falter when it comes to faith, especially with no prospects in sight. But I hope to be like Ruth and build my faith more (Because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God). I also desire to be a virtuous woman like Ruth.
- I feel God’s ways are so far from mine. Our thought patterns are different and many times, I’m too shortsighted to see his good plans for me.
- I’m willing to understand God’s omnipotence better because He is all knowing and I am limited.
- I could see an attribute of Jesus in Boaz. Boaz was willing to do the right thing and honoured Ruth even when he didn’t have to.
- Lesson to be applied: Walk by faith and trust God’s plan for my life, even when everything else looks bleak.
Follow a Bible Plan
Following a Bible plan will keep you organized and serve as a system to keep you in check when reading the word. To get creative and make it more exciting, compare a chapter of the New Testament and another chapter of the Old Testament and find similarities and a common theme.
Have a bible study or accountability partner
To read and understand the bible better, you need to have a local church you belong, a group, a pastor or a bible study partner you can ask questions. This will help clarify any questions you may have about the personality of God and your role in his will.
Having someone to share with or ask questions will make you look forward to reading your bible and discovering more about God.
And if you don’t have one, you can follow me on Twitter where I share bible study tips and answer your questions. Or just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
And one more thing… Pray.
Bloom with Love. Xx!