How to Study the Bible

by David Parham


There is no greater book to study than the Holy Bible. It is the only book ever written that teaches us how to live and also answers the problems that we face in life. Many believe that the Bible is a hard book to read, but it in fact is very easy once the first requirement to understand is met. Before anyone can understand and comprehend the scriptures, "You must be born again." Jesus told Nicodemus, a leader of the Pharisees (a very strict and exacting religious group of that day), that he could not enter heaven unless he was born again.

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

This simply means that we have to see our lost condition before God, repent of those sins, and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. At that moment, the spiritual man is "born again." After this, we can understand the scriptures. If we do not know Christ as Savior, we will not be able to comprehend the Bible even with the most intense study.

1 Cor 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

In R.A. Torrey's fine book on "How to Study the Bible", he gives several key points that are required to be an effective student of the Word of God.


#1. You must be born again. The verse there in I Corinthians points out how we simply will not comprehend God's Word without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. "The Bible is a spiritual book. It combines spiritual things with spiritual words. A person who understands the language of the Holy Spirit, but who does not understand a word of Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic, will get more out of the Bible than one who knows all about Greek and Hebrew but is not born again. It is a well demonstrated fact that many plain men and women who possess no knowledge of the original languages in which the Bible was written have a knowledge of the real contents of the Bible. Their understanding of its actual teaching and its depth, fullness, and beauty far surpasses that of many learned professors in theological faculties."


#2. The second condition for profitable study is have a love for the Bible. A man who eats with an appetite will get far more good out of his meal than a man who eats from a sense of duty. A student of the Bible should be able to say with Job, .... I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. (Job 23:12 ) or with Jeremiah, Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.(Jer 15:16)


#3 The third condition is a willingness to work hard. Solomon has given a graphic picture of the Bible student who gets the most profit out of his study.

Prov 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

Prov 2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

Prov 2:3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

Prov 2:4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Prov 2:5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

Seeking for silver and searching for hidden treasure means hard work, and the one who wishes to get not only the silver but the gold as well out of the Bible must make up his time to dig. It is not glancing at the Word but studying the Word, meditating upon the Word, and pondering the Word that brings the richest yields. The reason many people get so little out of their Bible reading is simply because they are not willing to think. Intellectual laziness lies at the bottom of a large percent of fruitless Bible reading. People are constantly crying for new methods of Bible Study, but what many of them want is simply some method of Bible study where they can get the most without much work.


#4 The fourth condition is a will wholly surrendered to God. Jesus said in John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

We must be willing to totally surrender our will to God. A surrendered will does more to make the Bible and open book than a university education.


#5 The fifth condition is very closely related to the fourth. The student of the Bible who would get the greatest profit out of his studies must be obedient to its teachings as soon as he sees them.

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

James 1:24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.


#6 The sixth condition is a childlike mind. God reveals His deepest truths to babes. No age needs more than our own to lay to heart the words of Jesus:

Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

A child believes the things he is told by his parents. We must be like a child when we come to God, knowing that as our Heavenly Father, he wants the very best for us, his children.


#7 The seventh condition of studying the Bible is to truly believe that it is THE WORD OF GOD. The apostle Paul, in writing the Thessalonians, thanked God without ceasing that when they received the Word of God, they "received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God." (I Thes 2:13) We need to have an unquestioning acceptance of its teachings. They definitely have be ascertained and proven through the years. Real human wisdom comes when we bow before God and say "Speak what You will and I will believe." This takes faith, but God will give us this faith as we pray and study His Word day by day.


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