Hoping to inspire readers to read the best book ever written, once they learn how to read it.
There are many reasons people find not to read the Bible. I want to give you reasons why you should read it. Some won't read it because they know it requires a comitment they are not willing to make. Others say it doesn't make sense or it's boring. I know many devout born-again Christians who study the Bible and still can't interpret it for themselves. Here's what I found over many years to be necessary for understanding Gods Word. I hope it will lead some to try again. The Bible after all, is filled with the thoughts of God, so if you want to know HIm, and how He thinks, what better way than to read what He has to say.
Just about everything we do in life requires preparation. In a course I took about 30 years ago, I learned of the 5 P's : PRIOR-PREPARATION-PREVENTS-POOR-PERFORMANCE. I never forgot those words. If you will adhere to them, I believe you can learn anything you want to. Before you open the Bible it is wise to say a brief prayer. The prayer I say uses the very Scripture that first opened the verses for me. With thanksgiving, I simply ask God to open my mind so that I can understand His Words.
Luke 24:45 "And He opened their understanding so that they might comprehend the Scriptures." (NKJV)
Luke 24:45 "Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." (NIV)
Lets think about that for a moment. Here are a group of Christ's disciples, who had been with Him throughout His ministry, and are well versed in the Torah. Yet, Jesus appears to them after the ressurection, and has to "open their understanding." He was speaking of the Old Testament, and I believe He was also preparing them for when they would write their Epistles about Him, in the New Testament. Remember also, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction, in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete thoroughly equipped for every good work."
After learning the right way to read the Bible I then began to fashion a study period for myself each day. This consisted of reading the Bible from cover to cover, and Each verse that I chose to interpret I would write my own thoughts down. Next, I would look it up in the concordance, checking out all the Greek and Hebrew, then go to Matthew Henry's complete commentary to check out how far off I was;-).
The most important thing I learned is that no matter how smart, or gifted you are, God allows you to learn His word only at His discretion! So, if you want to learn the truths that are in the Bible, you must have a working relationship with God. Also, discernment is a gift that requires you to be filled with the Holy Spirit. For me as a Christian, I believe our personal relationship with Christ, is a way to open the door to God's wisdom, it enhances what we learn. I also believe, if you don't study the Old Testament, you will never know the Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, the way God wants you to.
Many of our brethern in other religions, learn much from their own Sacred Books. God has relationships with others and we can't deny them their own beliefs. As Christians we learn that God gives us a choice, who are we to take that choice away from others. You can evangelize all you want about Christ, and I do, but you must not deny others their God-given rights to choose their own way, and let God be the judge.
I began to study seriously, over 30 years ago, so I did it with the King James Version- along with the NKJV, Strong's Concordance, and Matthew Henry's Complete commentaries. I am prejudiced, because I still think that is the best combo for study. However, I have added the NASB and NIV Bibles, plus other readings to my studies as they became available. I have read most Bibles, RSV, NAB, others as they came out, Jerusalem, Living, Amplified,etc.
How serious you are, whether you read for comfort, devotion, or to learn, and how deep you want to go, you must choose. However, if you are going to study you should have the best for your investment of time and to make sure you learn correctly. You need to choose one that stands the test of adhering to the original text. In my humble opinion I have found the best ones to do this are, the KJV, NASB, and NIV. I have to admit I keep other versions alongside the KJV when I study. You can keep the Living and Amplified by your side to check some things out, but please use one of the first three, not a paraphrase, along with a good concordance and commentary. According to how far you wish to go, you may want a Greek and Hebrew version, also.
A pastor of athe Baptist church I used to attend, asked me to do a study on the controversy over the different versions of the Bible. Thus a few of my findings. The difference in Bibles using the KJV and NIV is that different manuscripts were used. When Erasmus wrote the manuscript for the KJV he put in a few verses that came from Jerome's Latin Vulgate which was anathema to the protestants who commisioned the new version to be written at that time, and they hate to admit it . The NIV manuscripts came from an earlier time and have some people upset because several verses are not included in the text, however they have these verses listed in notes at the bottom of the page, so you don't have to worry that you will miss something. You just need to be aware of these things.
Though I still consider the KJV best, It is a lot easier for today's culture to read and understand the NIV and NASB, especially the youth. It is important to be comfortable with what you read after all, or you won't want to continue. Finally some things to remember:
#1. Decide on how serious you are, then get a good Bible, Concordance, and Commentary
#2. Pray before you do any reading
#3. Check your notes against other opinions (or commentary)
#4. Pray with thanksgiving after you read;-)
#5. Keep separate notes of when God illuminates a verse for you!
I hope this may be of help , and if you have questions don't be afraid to ask.
Eileen T. Waldron © 2001