Guest post from Kaleb Cuevas of Logos Bible Software
As kids around the country are heading back to school, adults are looking forward to more quiet time to spend in group Bible study and spiritual growth. Here are five tips for helping you stay on track with those goals of growing in biblical knowledge and discipleship with your community.
1) Start with Prayer
The Bible is unlike any other book because it was inspired by God himself. Paul told us that “the things of the Spirit of God . . . are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14), and Jesus said that the Spirit guides us into the truth (John 16:13). We have access to God through prayer, so we should be looking to him for guidance as we seek to understand his Scriptures. It doesn’t matter what incredible resources and study tools we use if we do not first go to God.
2) Study with a Group
Scripture was intended to be read and studied in community. We’ve all but lost sight of that in our modern individualistic culture. I’m not saying it’s wrong to do personal study—there is definitely a time and place for that. But if we study on our own in exclusion to studying with others, we’ll miss out on the rich insights the community of God has to offer. Additionally, we all need the checks and balances of other believers to keep us accountable. So do your personal study, but then bring what you learn to a group setting and discuss it together.
3) Dismiss any Preconceptions
It is tempting to read the Bible selectively, trying to prove an idea we already believe to be true. If we come to the Scriptures with a predetermined conclusion, we can force them to say whatever we want. That might make us feel better, but it won’t be doing us any good. Rather, we should open the Bible with humility, knowing that some of our beliefs are wrong and ought to be changed. We must let the text speak for itself without forcing our own preconceptions on it.
4) Consider Multiple Perspectives
Similar to the above mistake, it is tempting to only use study resources we already agree with. But this severely limits our spiritual growth. I’ve found that those whose perspectives differ from my own often have the most to teach me. Look for Study Bibles that have a wide array of theological viewpoints to help broaden your understanding of the material. Resources such as the Faithlife Study Bible, for example, includes contributions from such men as Timothy Keller, N. T. Wright, and everywhere in between. They all share a love for God, but their differing perspectives bring unique insights to the Scriptures.
5) Use Multiple Translations
Different Bible versions follow different translation philosophies. The basic categories include formal equivalence (seeking word-for-word accuracy), dynamic equivalence (seeking thought-for-thought accuracy), and paraphrases (rewriting the overall message). Furthermore, the Greek and Hebrew texts have many nuances that can’t be captured by a single translation. If you don’t read Greek or Hebrew, comparing multiple translations can help you see the various nuances each passage has to offer. Some readers recommended pairing the NASB with NLT or the ESV with NIrV, but my personal preference would be to pair the NET with the LEB.
Kaleb Cuevas is Marketing Manager for Logos Bible Software, a product of Faithlife, which uses technology to equip the Church to grow in the light of the Bible and offers 14 products and services for churches.