Studying While You Read the Bible

Jacob Hantla July 17, 2010

God reveals Himself most clearly and powerfully to us in His Word. It is important for us to be familiar with all of God’s Word if we are to know and love all about the God of that Word. It is for this reason that one of the requirements for BUILD is that you commit to a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan. Whether you are in BUILD or not, I hope that have a plan to systematically read through all of God’s Word.

However, I know that sometimes when reading such big passages in one sitting it is difficult to take it all in. I am often tempted read passively, check the box, and think that my job is done because I finished the assigned reading. But reading is a means to an end, not the end in itself. The Bible is revelation; the Bible reveals God. And if I read the Bible but don’t come away without having seen God, I have wasted my time. Each and every time I study the Bible I am looking for God and responding rightly to what I learn. The purpose of the Bible is to reveal God, and the goal of your reading should be to know that revealed God.

I cannot do this reading passively; I must be an active reader whenever I have the Bible open in front of me. That is why I encourage you to read with a pen and paper (or computer) with you. I have found that if I use the following questions to guide my reading of my Bible-in-a-year plan, I can engage my mind and my heart. These questions help me to read to understand and to look for God as I read. As we study, we must seek to understand the original author’s meaning for the original readers. We don’t look for some personal meaning (what the Bible means to me); we look for what the Bible meant by what it said when it said it. It is this timeless message set within a historical context that reveals God to us now. These questions are intended to help you see that revealed God everytime you study, understand & remember what you read, and be rightly affected what you read. I hope that you can integrate them into your Bible reading plan (or that these would inspire you to make your own questions):

  • Quickly remind yourself what you read yesterday.
  • How were your thinking and actions yesterday affected by what you read?
  • Quickly summarize the key details of the book (historical context, author of book, purpose of book):
  • Summarize what you read. This is a summary of the original author’s message for the original audience. For example, describe each paragraph in a few words or sentences. Look for repeated words and key themes. What is the main point of what you read?
  • What did this text reveal to you about God? Worship Him
  • What does this text reveal about sinful man and what happens when Holy God interacts with sinful man?
  • What is the ONE POINT that you want to remember from today’s reading?
  • How must today’s reading affect you (sin to repent of, action to take, thinking to change, etc)?