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Effective Bible Study

by Russell Carnley
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Each and every person should study the Bible. There are many blessings that come from a personal knowledge of God's word. The Scriptures contain "...all things that pertain to life and godliness..." (2 Pet. 1:3). The Bible holds within its pages all of the answers to the seemingly endless problems of this life. The Bible reveals the mysteries of God, the plan of salvation, and the keys of eternal life. It tells of the glory of heaven and the beauty of a Christ centered life. With all of this to offer it is a shame to let the opportunity of studying the Scriptures pass us by. Yet this is what many today are doing. People can become so busy with the affairs of this life that they neglect the book which holds the keys to the next. We need to slow down and spend some quality time with God's word each and every day. It is important to get the most out of the time we have devoted to study. In this article we will look at three keys to effective Bible study.


Bible study is first and foremost a personal activity. A personal relationship with God demands a personal knowledge of who He is. The only way for you to have this knowledge is to study His word for yourself. "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day," (Ps. 119:97). Consider how frequently the psalmist uses "I", "me", and "my" in the 176 verses contained in Psalm 119. Usually when we read these words we consider that the writer is self centered. But this simply is not true in this case. His focus is on God's word, and the blessings that come from a personal knowledge of it. It is evident from the psalm that the penman had a great desire to know and to understand the word of God. His knowledge of God came from personal and diligent study of God's word.


For Bible study to be effective, it must be done with a view toward the practical application of it to our daily lives. An academic knowledge of the word is of little value unless it's principles are put to use in our lives. When a passage is read, some questions are in order. "What does it mean?" This question is more difficult with some passages, but it can be answered (Jn. 8:32). When studying, consider the context of the passage. Consider also any historical information, as well as other passages of the Bible which address the same subject. When you understand the meaning ask the question "How does this passage apply to me?" Make it personal. When you read the Bible it is as if God is speaking directly from heaven. His word is given to us to help us in our daily walk. The final question is "How can I apply this teaching to my life?" "I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies. I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments," (Ps. 119:59,60). Bible study must be both personal and practical if it is to be effective.


As we consider the subject of Bible study, we must be aware of our own limitations and time constraints. Many adopt a Bible reading plan at the start of a new year as a New Year's resolution. Sadly, most people quit their program after only a short time because of other activities. The psalmist exclaimed "My eyes fail from searching Your word...My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word," (Ps. 119:82,148). This amount of dedication is very commendable, but it just doesn't happen overnight. Satan works very hard to distract and discourage us from our commitment to God and from our plans to study His word. We should devote a certain amount of time each day for Bible study and prayer. We need to devote enough time to challenge us, but not so much as to overwhelm us. We need to whet our appetite with a steady diet of God's word. And we should keep growing and studying more as our faith is increasing.
Studying the Bible is something that everyone should do. A great deal of religious error can be avoided with just a rudimentary knowledge of the Scriptures. Also many moral dilemmas would be avoided by heeding the warnings given in the Bible. Whenever the subject of Bible study is mentioned, someone is prone to say "I don't remember what I've read, so what use is it to me?". Bible study is like taking a bath. It provides cleansing for the spirit. It is also like taking vitamins. It provides long term benefit. Bible study is like daily exercise. It takes effort, and it works over time to develop a healthy person.