As a pastor who is starting a brand new church, I’ve been asked this question several times in the past few months. How can I read the Bible and understand what it says?
I realize that not everyone who reads this blog is interested in reading the Bible or may not care about a relationship with Jesus right now. I would still encourage you to explore this. There is so much wisdom found in the Bible. I believe that your life will benefit from reading the Bible no matter your motivation. Give Proverbs a chance and see if you don’t pick up some wisdom!
This month, I want to explain how I read the Bible and remember what I’ve read.
#1. Find a platform and method that works for you. I personally use the Youversion Bible app. It’s a great way for me to read/ listen to the Bible in a life-giving manner. I struggle with physically reading and remembering some things. However, if I hear something, I remember it quite easily. My wife physically reads from her Bible every morning.
#2. Find a translation that works for you. There are plenty translations out there that work and are great for reading preferences. I personally enjoy reading the NIV, NLT and ESV versions. Every so often, I venture to the Message for its ease of reading and a fresh view on the scripture I’m reading. Some translations of the Bible are more accurate to the original language than others. I personally enjoy the process of finding a translation that helps me understand the concepts, principles, and message of God. This is important because the Bible teaches me how to live my life the way He intends me to.
#3. S.O.A.P. This is a method I’ve used for more than a decade. Even with utilizing the first two tips, there are were times I’d find myself wondering what I had just read. I would ask myself if there was anything helpful in what I just read. I came across this method when a mentor of mine explained how he read the Bible. The S.O.A.P. method is a journal keeping method that helps me understand the Bible content and apply it.
Let’s walk through Romans 8:1 as an example.
Write down the part of the Bible you’re reading. If you’re reading an entire chapter, but two verses of the Bible passage stand out to you, write down the entire address i.e. Romans 8:1-2.
What did you observe in verses 1-2 that stood out to you? “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
- People who are in a relationship with Jesus are free from the law of sin and death….what does that mean for people who aren’t in a relationship with Jesus?
- If there is no condemnation for people in a relationship with Jesus what does it mean for people who aren’t in a relationship with Jesus?
- How can I live a life of freedom? What does it look like for me to live in freedom from sin and death?
Out of the things you’ve observed, what is one thing you can apply? -Freedom. I want to live my life free from sin and death. If that is the case, Jesus gives me the strength to live free from the sin that enslaves me.
This is the last part of the process. Sometimes I write it out. Some days I simply pray it. Jesus, thank you for your word that offers me life. Jesus, help me to live in that freedom in order to experience life the way you intended me to live. Thank you for empowering people thousands of years ago to hear you and write what you directed them to write. Thank you for caring for me that much! Jesus, help me to <apply what I just read> live out that freedom from sin and death that can be found in you! -Amen.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
What are some methods you use to help you read and understand the Bible?