The Bible is the inerrant word of God, made available to the masses. The Bible contains several books, written over centuries by various authors, yet the message is consistent throughout. In it, we learn of the unending love of a benevolent God, and the disobedience of His people. The Bible is rife with stories of God's chosen race, the Jews, as they are blessed, then fall into disobedience and idolatry. The longsuffering Lord God punishes His people and they, in turn, cry out to Him for help.
The Roman Catholic Bible has 76 books; other standard Bibles have only 66. The extra books of the Catholic Bible contain the Apocrypha, which was derived from the Greek language version of the Old Testament. The Protestant faith relies on the original Hebrew translation, which had fewer books included. The Greek version became known as the Septuagint, which Jesus quoted from most of the time.
All Christians are encouraged to study the Bible, but the approach they take may differ. In Catholicism, many believers rely upon the priest to interpret the Bible messages. This stemmed from ancient times when the written Word was not available to the populace. Now, Catholic organizations conduct group Bible study worldwide. Protestants also have group Bible study, but they further encourage believers to read from the Bible daily to enhance their relationship with the Lord.
Many people begin to study the Bible, but are confused by the antiquated language, or the metaphorical stories. Others do not understand why God would punish those who went astray with great vengeance, as in the Old Testament. They see God in a distorted light, discouraging further research. Unlike most books, the Bible is not written in chronological order. When beginners try to read the Bible from cover to cover, they frequently get lost in the third or fourth chapters of Leviticus and Numbers, where Jewish laws are explained in detail and the Jewish lineage is explored in depth. Various translations are helpful to those struggling with King James.
There are many approaches to studying the Bible. The Gospel of John is a favorite jumping off place, because it sums up the essence of the Gospel in understandable terminology. Students may want to check the concordance at the back of the Bible, and pick a word or topic that interests them.
However you choose to start, there are some guidelines for getting the most out of your Bible study.
- 1.Spend a few minutes in prayer before you open the book. Ask for the Lord's intervention to help you understand what you read.
- 2.Take your time as you allow the message to sink in. Some Christians study daily for an hour and read only 4-5 verses of text. You may not want to take things that slowly, but do not rush through your study.
- 3.Avoid any possible interruptions. A calm, quiet atmosphere is best for processing the Lord's words.
There is no wrong way to read the Bible. The study of God's word will enrich your life and help bring peace to your soul.