Studying the Bible can be overwhelming and confusing. I'm no expert, and I find myself frequently saying "WHAT?!" as I read. But over the past few years, I've developed a couple of methods that have really helped me understand God and His Word better. I thought I'd share:
1. Pray! Remember, the Bible is a spiritual document. If you want God's heart on an issue, you're going to need His help.
2. Context, Context, Context. One of the most dangerous things I see people do with the Bible is to grab a single verse out of context. Please - take the time to read the entire chapter or book. At the very least, do the 20/20 rule: read the 20 verses ahead and the 20 verses after the particular section you're studying. If you have a fairly modern study Bible, you will also find references in the footnotes to guide you to other parts of the Bible that discuss a similar topic. It's worth it to take the time.
3. Logic. A common stumbling block for many people is the belief that the Bible contradicts itself. The Bible does not contradict itself. If you're reading a verse that seems to contradict another, look a bit closer. Pray for guidance. Ask yourself if you're jumping to conclusions or if the Bible is being explicit.
4. Understand the history. It can be easy to forget that the Bible is also a historical document. If we study what was happening in the world at the time the Bible was written, it can shed light on the language used. A good study Bible or Bible Commentary is a great tool for this.
5. Get to the root of it. Sometimes we can read and re-read the same section of the Bible, but it still doesn't make sense. It can be helpful to go back to the original language that the Bible was written in. Don't worry, you don't need to be fluent in Greek or Hebrew :)
I've found some great internet tools to help you really pick apart verses and get to the roots of what words mean. You can find my "method" in my most recent eHow article:
I sure don't have all the answers, but I love to study the Word and learn more about God. Do you have a verse or book (or topic) that you're having a hard time understanding? Drop me an email or leave a comment here - let's work on it together!