Reading the bible
We know that as Christians we should read the Bible, but often it’s hard to know how! Sometimes we start with good intentions, we pray, we read a passage… and then we’re stuck! What next?
It can be tempting to close your Bible (or your Bible app) at this point, but if we want to know God better, it’s worth digging deeper. The Bible is God’s Word and it’s how we know him better. We can be confident that if we trust Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit to help us understand (1 John 2:27). God himself will teach us as we read his Word.
This Bible-reading method (a modified version of the Swedish method) has 5 easy steps. As we go through, I’ll use 1 John 2:28-30 as an example – it might help to have the passage in front of you.
A light bulb
The first symbol is a light bulb. This is for something that stands out from the passage – something that ‘shines’. It might be a repeated word or idea, something that’s new, or something that makes you go, “Wow!” So from 1 John 2:28-3:10, it might be from verse 1: “Wow! God loves so much that he calls us his children! What a great privilege, to be called the children of God.”
A question mark
The question mark is for anything that is unclear in the passage, or that you have questions about; anything that is hard to understand, or doesn’t make sense. So from our passage, it might be; What does it mean to be born of God? Or who is the devil? Have a go at answering your own questions, by re-reading the passage and the parts around it. See if those parts help you to answer your questions. But if you can’t work it out, that’s ok. You could try asking an older Christian friend, your Bible study leader or one of the ministers.
All of the Bible is a story about Jesus and points to him. The third symbols helps you to connect the passage that you are reading to the bigger story of the Bible about Jesus. As you read your passage, think: how do these verses relate to Jesus? If you are reading the New Testament it might be a bit easier; often Jesus is spoken about explicitly. In 1 John 3:5, Jesus appears to take away our sin. If it’s Old Testament, it might be a bit trickier to work out how the passage points to Jesus. Some good questions to ask are:
- Are there hints about Jesus’ life, death or resurrection?
- How does this passage show us that we need Jesus?
- Is there anything in the passage that reminds you of Jesus?
The fourth symbol is an arrow. As believers, we want to be people who put God’s word into practice (James 1:22). So we ask: how does this apply to my life? How will I respond to what God has said to me in his word? There are many different areas of our lives that God’s word could apply to: our thinking, our actions, or what we love. In our example, how might I continue to do what is right, rather than continuing in sin?
The last step is to pray. (Although we should ask God to help us with every step along the way, as well!) Pray in light of what you have learnt from the passage. Thank God for what you have learnt, confess you sin, ask God to help you apply what you have learnt. We need God’s help to understand his word and to put it into practice.
Reading the Bible yourself doesn’t need to be scary – these 5 symbols will help you have a go at reading the Bible for yourself.