How to Read the Bible as a New Believer
Written by Phylicia Masonheimer | August 31, 2018
You’re new to Christianity! How exciting! Perhaps you recommitted after growing up in the church, never having “owned” it as a personal relationship. Or maybe you grew up foreign to Jesus and this is an all-new journey for you. It’s so exciting to see your blossoming faith!
After salvation and beginning your faith journey it can be intimidating to enter Christian culture. There are so many journals, study guides, foreign words, strange place names and books of the Bible to understand. Don’t let this discourage you! All of us were once new to these things. The goal of them is not to memorize more facts or be the most knowledgeable Bible scholar in your local church, but to know God Himself on a deeper level. By knowing God through His Word, you’ll grow in your new faith.
God has chosen to reveal Himself through His Word, which is inspired by His Spirit and recorded by man. The Bible records how God interacted with mankind over the course of history. This gives us a template for understanding His movements in our life—how we know He is good, faithful, loving and kind.
Practically speaking, the Bible can feel like a lot. Here are some simple tips to help you get started in study as a new believer.
1. Keep it simple.
Don’t overcommit! If you’ve never read the Bible regularly until now, committing to a yearlong plan may be a bit much. Start small. Read the book of John over the course of a month, for example, highlighting what stands out, taking note of themes and verses that raise questions in your mind. If you have read the Bible before, but tend to reread the same passages, change it up! The whole Bible is at your fingertips and is ready to be used for your walk with God.
2. Get some good tools.
A few pens, highlighters, a good notebook (I recommend Well-Watered Women’s Give Me Jesus journal, which gives you prompts for note-taking) and a simple commentary or Bible encyclopedia will help you better understand what you’re reading. I like Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary to look up names of places and people.
3. Take notes.
Don’t think of this as homework. Taking notes has been proven to help with retention, and recapturing what you read in your own words will help you cement the truths you read. You can also write down questions, comments and prayers. If there is anything you add to your Bible study routine, this should be it. Taking notes is so important. It will also keep you awake and focused during your study time.
4. Remember the big picture.
The Bible applies to all centuries and all people. However, it was written in ancient Hebrew and Greek culture—not 21st-century America. Many believers don’t realize this, and they take verses out of their context. Remember the big picture of the Bible as you read it; think about where the story you’re reading fits with the whole gospel narrative. Israelite history is all leading up to the climactic moment when Jesus, Son of David, heir of Judah, comes as Messiah. When we forget this, we tend to take a small view of the Bible or get bored with genealogies and historical facts. Remember: It’s all part of a bigger story.
5. Ask, “Who is God in this passage?”
Last, but definitely not least, ask yourself: “Who is God revealing Himself to be in what I’m reading?” By focusing on who God is, not just how to apply the passage, you’ll be drawn closer to His person. He will then teach you, through His Spirit, how to apply what you learn to daily life. Let Him do that work, and you simply take the faithful step of exposing yourself to Him through His Word.