This is something I’ve been passionately pursuing since I was 16 and a fresh Christian with no idea how to dive into this complicated and intimidating world of the Bible.
I asked people the question of where to start and they all said start with a short book in the New testament like Philippians. Okay great idea, so I did. It was still a little confusing and let me tell you, it took me a solid 5 years to reach the point of confidence in my Bible reading.
Of course we can NEVER fully know the Bible. It has so much depth, beauty and application for all of us that the Holy Spirit will use different focuses at different times to communicate with us.
YOU CAN’T GO DEEPER WITH GOD IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO UNDERSTAND HIS WORDS TO YOU.
I get this question all the time, how do I start? so I decided to break down the process into 8 easy steps you can work through to become confident. Know that these will take time. They were not meant to be rushed through resulting in ease and understanding but are meant to be stepping stones to a deeper connection with God and His Word!
Step 1. Come as You Are
I always start here. God isn’t interested in your past, He wants you now. He is quite literally calling to you saying come as you are, come to me. He is waiting for you to come even with the anxiety, even with the depression, the addiction, the issues, the pride, the grudges, the sin, the relationships. The God of the Bible isn’t a being of condemnation, He is not waiting to scold you. He is waiting for you to let Him love you.
People get stuck here most often, in the in between. In between the discovery of God and the actual pursuit of a relationship and I say right now let everything go that’s holding you back.
Just come friend, just come.
Step 2. Pursue in Prayer + the Holy Spirit
Do you believe in God? The Spirit is the third part of God that many people get tripped up with but right now I am not tackling this and I don’t want you to get distracted from your goal, the Spirit will work.
Pray before you begin. Give your time in God’s word over to God and say “Lord, reveal to me your truths so I can readjust myself and fulfill the abundant life you have for me.” Don’t even begin by relying on your own mind but allow God to come and speak to you.
Prayer is simple. It’s a conversation with God. You are doing this to get to know Him more and grow in your relationship with Him so start there!
Step 3. Discover your Why
Your why is a mighty thing. If you have been around the business world in any capacity you have probably heard this. We are emotional decision makers. We decide to do things not because it’s logical but because we have emotions that are compelling us to. Say amen whoever loves a run to Target on a bad day!
Your why behind the emotions can be tough to grasp but I want you to think about it. What’s your why? Why do you want to read the Bible?
My why has developed over the years but in the beginning it was simple, I wanted to pursue a relationship with God. In this relationship I needed to learn about His character. How do you do that? By reading the Bible and learning about who He is.
Answer that question then remind yourself of it. Write it on post it notes. Stick them on your Bible, by your phone charger, on your mirror, in your car. Be obnoxious about it! Remembering your why will remind you it’s worth your time to dive into the Bible today.
Step 4. Grasp the Big Picture
This wasn’t something I started with but oh so wish I did. To be able to fully understand any book of the Bible we must look at the whole thing from a distance. Meaning that airplane view of God’s word is the perfect place to see where it all began and it all ends. Where you took off (creation) and where you will eventually land (heaven).
Once we grasp the Big big view of the Bible we can discover the big views of the books. Each book is written differently, typically by a different author, and with a specific purpose in mind. So we can start to see how the landscape puzzle pieces fit together a little closer to the ground.
Not sure where to start? Grab a Children’s Bible. Read it through beginning to end. You can firmly grasp the big big picture through this and feel the flow of the story!
Related: Read to read the Bible but not sure where to start?
Step 5. Know the difference between the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT)
Okay. This is not something I grasped until a few years into my relationship with God and it changed my ENTIRE view of the Bible.
FACT // GOD DOES NOT CHANGE. HE ACTUALLY SAYS “FOR I THE LORD, DO NOT CHANGE” IN MALACHI 3:6
This means that God is the same throughout the OT as well as the NT. But when you begin reading you might stub your toe on some things that happen in the OT.
In the beginning we had NO sin and we had NO separation from God. Then Eve and Adam ate the apple and we were separated from the holy God we once knew closely. But God didn’t just leave His creation, He sought us out still. He gave us laws so that if we followed them, we could be in relation with Him. But of course we failed every time.
But He kept using us. He kept using His people to prepare the world for what was going to destroy the separation forever, Jesus.
Welcome to the NT. Here Jesus comes, lives a perfect life, dies on the cross FOR US, then defeats death so we can have a relationship with God again! A one on one relationship with Him!
So now we don’t follow those OT laws any more. Those were for those people specifically but we have two new laws. Love God and love others (Mark 12) and I can honestly say I fail at both daily. If you think that sounds easy you’re in for a treat ?.
Now when you read the Bible looking at these facts understand this. God’s character is unchanging and He is the MAIN dude of the Bible. He is woven into every story, every place, every context. It’s not about us, it’s about Him. When you read the OT learn from other people’s mistakes and stories and observe who God is. Then in the NT praise the Lord because we GET to live life with Him and follow Jesus’ example of living.
Step 6. Context is key
You’ll probably hear this word a lot, don’t be intimidated by it. Context is simply looking at not only the words on the page but the time period it was written, who it was written by and for, and why those specific things were said.
To grasp context we must dive into the history of the Bible because I don’t know if you know this, it was written yesterday! You may be thinking that this means it isn’t relevant to todays culture but you are very wrong.
God supernaturally inspired many different broken humans to write down their stories and relationships with God. If God doesn’t change then that means His character is the same then and now. If we truly want to know God and be in relation with Him then we GET to read His words to us!
Context ensures we are not just reading then applying something not meant for us. Let’s look at the book of Levticus. Those laws were written for those people, at that time, before Jesus. Now we get to read that book and see how God was looking out for His people and protecting them from themselves, He was trying to guide them to holiness so they could be in relation with God.
Then we see how Jesus came and the separation of sin we had before was destroyed. Those laws no longer apply, we now live under a new law (to love God and love others as mentioned above).
Context takes practice so don’t give up! Keep it up, keep it up!
Step 7. Let Scripture interpret Scripture
- The Bible was written by God using His people.
- He used about 35 different people to get it done.
- All the Bible is true.
- There are no contradictions in the Bible.
- Different authors focused on different aspects of life.
For example let’s look at the gospels. We have four different books by four different authors but all the events are about the same topic, they are retellings of Jesus time on Earth. BUT each author shares his specific experiences and tries to tell the reader what He specifically wants them to know.
Like John. He focused on the main point that Jesus was the true Messiah, the son of God and all who believe in Him will have eternal life. (John 20:30-31)
But Matthew is focused on bringing Jesus to the Jews. He looks to the prophecies of the Old Testament and is specifically speaking to the Jews of that time showing them how Jesus was fulfilling those prophecies.
See both of these books of the Bible have the same subject, Jesus, but are focusing on different aspects to different audiences of the time. Now we get to read both of them and see the truth woven through ALL the Bible! What a privilege we have!
So how do we let Scripture interpret scripture? Follow the threads. What I mean is look at the cross references within your Bible (or online) and follow them! See where else the Bible is saying about the same time. Make sure you read within context in both verses and this will build your knowledge of the overall cohesiveness of the Bible!
Step 8. Develop Discipline
No one likes this one but we can’t accomplish anything in life within discipline. This is simply the choice to do something despite our feelings about it. Discipline is like a muscle, you must work it up and it takes time. Think about other areas you may have discipline. Do you exercise consistently? Do you choose to eat healthy? Do you go to work everyday? Do you go to church every week?
WHEN WE TRULY DESIRE THE RESULTS OF AN ACTION, WE CHOOSE TO DO THE ACTION.
If you truly desire to learn about God through reading the Bible, then read the Bible.
I don’t want you to be overwhelmed with a one year Bible plan, just start with one book! Choose one book and read through it. If you don’t have an hour a day start with 15 minutes. Choose a time and do it daily, despite your emotions and busyness.
If this is important to you, make the time.
I made a questionaire so you can PERSONALLY determine what step you need to spend some time in!
Grab it below!