How to Read the Bible?!

Reading the Bible can be…entertaining, confusing, frustrating, incredible, life-changing…pick a descriptive term, and I bet someone has said it about reading the Bible.

However, at the GCSC, we’ve come to see the Bible the best story ever told, a story of a God who loved and created and is in the midst of putting all the brokenness back together! THIS story is, in many ways, the story from which all other stories pull. Self-sacrifice, redemption, love, all these find their ultimate meaning and origin in the story of God that is told in the pages of the Bible. As J.R.R. Tolkien (author of The Lord of the Rings) told C.S. Lewis, “Its the fairy tale that’s true. The story underneath all other good stories.”

But how to read? Basically, our ministry proposes three different ways:

1. Inductive study. This study starts with getting comfortable with the text. It’s a stepping stone to more scholarly study, but using the tools of inductive study to read SLOWLY, ASK QUESTIONS, and APPLY what is in the text will be the most frequent way to read the Bible. A link to a three column study we use is here:

3 column studies (docx)

This is a great way to study the Bible alone, but also with someone else. Basically, to study with someone else all you need to do is choose a section of text (no more than a chapter), then write any question you can think of, then meet whoever you’re studying with and discuss the questions you each have (of course this means you both do the work before you meet) and do the third column together. The benefits of this study is that it starts good conversation, makes the Word or Scripture the teacher, and helps familiarize the student with the Bible itself.

Here is a list of passages to study or start with:

From Creation to Christ

2. Deductive study. This is a more scholarly type of study that brings in other helpful resources (bible dictionaries, commentaries, bible handbooks, bible atlases, etc.) to answer deeper questions. Every student of Scripture should be familiar with this type of study if they are serious about learning the meaning of Scripture. This type of study can help correct mistakes or misunderstandings in inductive study, but may be more time consuming than inductive study. A thorough approach to this type of study is here:

How to read the Bible (ppt)

3. Lectio Divina or Prayerful reading. This type of reading uses the Bible as an aide to prayer. Ususally, this follows a pattern similar to as follows: 1. Spend some time in quiet. 2. Pick a passage (the Psalms are a good place to start). 3. Read it very slowly and prayfully, paying attenition to what words or thoughts the Spirit of God puts on your heart. 4. Repeat the process in 1-3. 5. Pray to God using the words or thoughts God put on your heart from the reading. Here is a helpful outline and article for personal and group use:

Lectio Divina (pdf)

Here are a few videos and tools that have helped us in our journey (there are many more of course, but this is a sampling). Their presence here doesn’t mean that we agree with everything in them, just that they have helped us to think about this important issue: