It is in our human nature to protect our current lifestyle and can justify almost anything, therefore it is very easy for us to misinterpret the word and end up leading ourselves and others astray. The bible is a book of principles written by man, but inspired by God, with its core purpose to reveal his love for us and be a manual to reconcile us with the father. Therefore we must always read the scripture within the context of the entire passage within relation to the purpose it is intended for. To understand the word we need to seek the heart of God, which he has revealed in the word through his holy spirit, which has been given to guide us.
Knowing this, understanding the word and finding the truth takes practice, so here are some basic steps to get you on your way. You’ll get the hang of it but start small as this does take practice.
1. Time management – set aside some time each day so you can focus and avoid distractions. Know how much time you have, don’t rush it, just adjust the extent of your study according to the time you have. Example… Short time = Short passage, Long time = Long passage.
2. Pray before, during and after, for an open mind, that we may receive the holy spirits guidance, and that he reveals the true meaning of the passage, and not just “what you want to hear.”
3. Choose a passage and Read the entire passage. A passage can be referred to as a complete unit of thought, and usually has 3 or more verses. We can often miss out vital keys points by stopping short or not reading the start of the passage.
4. Seek to understand the context of the passage, taking into account,
- What is the purpose and who was it intended for? Is it an actual event, parable, poem, law or letter of instruction or prophecy?
- How does this fit in with the rest of the chapter, book and what Jesus taught in the gospels, including the main purpose of Christ coming to earth to reconcile us with God?
- The current situation, culture and history of the passage?
- What the people are feeling?
- The reason why the actions that have been taken, were taken?
- What was the result?
5. Ask questions – Put yourself in the situation, try to understand what is going through the minds of the characters in the story. What would you do in the situation? How would that look today? What can I learn from this? what would that look like in the future?
6. Find the principle (life lesson) behind the passage, every passage in the bible is put there for a reason, by finding the principle we can relate the passage to our own lives. Their is a deep spiritual truth hiding in every passage you just have to find it.
7. Pray about it and check your understanding. How does this fit in my understanding of my relationship with God and the rest of the bible. Discuss your understanding with others, any revelation should be shared, this allows you to figure out if you are on the rite track, provides great opportunities for and others to learn so much more.
8. Be honest with yourself and apply the principle to your own lives. You can learn as much as you like but if you never apply it, have you actually allowed it to grow you. Find a simple way to act out what you have learnt and set goals and a time frame to act upon it.
It is through a constant process of prayer and reading the word that we can develop our relationship with Christ and understanding of the truth. however It is only when we begin to act upon our beliefs that we confirm our faith and begin to grow.
On a side note, Remember Bible commentaries and devotionals are good, but at times they can merely be another person’s perspective of what is written in the word and should be used to check your understanding or provide incite into a passage you are not sure of. There is no replacement for reading the bible yourself and gaining your own understanding.
Thank you for your time and God Bless.
There is multiple online and downloadable biblical resources to help you to dig deaper into the word. You can also use E-sword as a extra research tool which has many biblical resources for download including dictionaries, Greek and Hebrew translations, http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html