Updated: Jul 3
How do I read the Bible? Practical advice
We established in our first two studies 1(a) and 1(b) that the Bible is the verbal, plenary, infallible, inerrant, and inspired Word of God. In other words God breathed it. We now address the practicalities of reading the Bible.
We want to know how you can go about studying the Bible and will now give some practical suggestions and hints.
Every person who is born again who calls himself a Christian ought to be spending time every day in the word of God. They should of course also be spending time prayer every day Unless we do these daily acts of spending time in the Word of God and in prayer, we will become weak, ineffectual, and even unstable. Each of us needs to regularly spend some time with the Lord each in his word so that He can speak to us and we can speak to him.
If you are not having a regular time with God every day you will probably begin to feel that God is far away from you and has stopped communicating with you. This can often become a pastoral issue although it might take a while for your pastor to get to the bottom of it. It is part of your spiritual growth towards maturity and is common to all who want to go on with the Lord.
We must ask ourselves how long we spend in God’s word each day. Many of us, including myself, often listen to various forms of media for hours every day. Surely, we can spare some time to meet with the Lord in his Word? Some Christians call this their 'Quiet Time' where there is communication with Lord whilst reading our bible (and prayer of course). If you lack the self-discipline to do this then consider meeting someone (friend, spouse, work mate etc.) for say 30 minutes for both of you to simply read the bible in the same room but not the same passage together. This can help get some people get up and running and can develop into a discipline.
Suggestions, pointers, and considerations to help you develop your bible study.
Which translation should you use?
You must choose carefully which version of the bible you will use. Please remember that the only true inspired Bible is the one which was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. I apologise if that offends some of you who think the King James Bible is the inspired one and only acceptable version, but the inspired Bible is the one written in the original languages not any of the translations. This has caused problems for me with one of my outreach teams. One team member reckoned only the KJV was the inspired word of God and all other translations were of the devil. He was entitled to his opinion, but then he set about unsettling the rest of the team!
Unfortunately. most of us do not know the original languages, so we had to choose a version of the Bible at some time. When I got saved in 1981, everyone quoted from the King James Version. However today the choice of translation is much more complicated because we have got so many versions. Most of us will base our choice of translation on which version is the most accurate or perhaps on which translation is the most readable version that we can use (see next section below). My own preference is for the King James Version. That is not because I feel that there is something special about the King James Version. Do remember that when the King James Version of the Bible came out, that there was no real competition, and many older Christians today still like to use the KJV. One advantage of the KJV is that its various quirks etc. are well known and understood. Until recent times all the complementary reference books were geared towards the KJV e.g. commentaries, concordances, and lexicons etc. However this is no longer the case with a wide choice of translation and a growing list of supporting reference and study aids becoming available.
So how do we choose our translation? Your choice could likely be based on two factors.
a) Accuracy of the translation from the original manuscripts into English
It is advisable to stick with whatever version you do choose so that you get to know at least one version of the Bible well. Most people usually have a second version for backup to help them with difficult passages.
My favourite Bible teacher recommends the following versions (please bear in mind that there is no perfect translation); the KJV, the NKJV, the NIV -which is very readable but messes up a few passages such as Hebrews 11. The NASB is one of the most accurate translations of the scriptures, again one or two corrections are needed but overall the NASB is particularly good. Other recommended versions include the Weymouth Bible, and the Williams Translation which has the most accurate verb tenses for those interested in this. Another one I like and use from time to time is the Youngs Literal Bible which can help when I cannot get a foothold on a particular passage .
If your children or new converts are reading other Bibles, you might want to point them to some of those recommended above as some other popular translations have little to do with the original text!
Here are a couple of quick test verses which might help you to spot whether a particular translation is any good or not.
Two useful Test Verses
In Psalm 84 in the KJV at the top of the Psalm is an instruction…'To the chief musician upon Gittith, a Psalm for the sons of Korah'. These introductory notes are part of the inspired text and must be in your Bible. If they are not there this is a poor reflection on the translation in question.
In Romans 9:5 check to see if the translation supports the Trinity or not. The KJV supports the Trinity. An example of a translation which does not support the Trinity is the RSV for it separates Christ and God. Check it out!
In our next study we will consider what other resources you might want to use to aid your Bible study.
 For other recommendations on bible translations please listen to BBS 083 by Roger Price -see link in the 'Additional Resources' section of website.
For full text for printout, video version, and access to other parts of 'about the bible' click