Lent has already started, and Easter is a few Sundays away. An article about either seemed inappropriate. So I’m going off-topic (liturgically speaking).
Several people have talked with me about wanting to better understand the Bible. That’s a topic we could spend weeks talking about. Developing our ability to understand the Bible is essential for a Christian. Since I have only a few paragraphs, and not several weeks, I’ll make three suggestions you can implement quickly to begin this process.
First, you need a Bible. (Duh!) Not just any Bible, though. I recommend the NIV for both readability and accuracy. I suggest at least two: One that contains only the text (so you’re not influenced by the insights of scholars at first), and a study Bible, such as The NIV Life-Application Study Bible (so the scholars can help answer the questions the texts raise for you).
Second, I recommend two books that should be on every Christian’s bookshelf: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, and How to Read the Bible Book by Book. The first provides insight on how to read the various genres of literature in the Bible. The second provides brief intros and overviews of each book of the Bible.
Third, if you don’t have one laying around the house, go out and buy a notebook. If a question comes to your mind while you’re reading, write it down. If you have an insight, write it down. Outline the text you’re reading. Paraphrase it. Write down any ways you think of to apply the text. You don’t have to write down everything. But if you find a particular question intriguing, or if God reveals a particularly insightful answer to you, write it down. Trust me – you won’t remember it later if you don’t – I speak from 25 years’ experience of sermon ideas in the middle of the night that disappeared by morning because I didn’t write them down.
I figured out how to tie this into Lent/Easter! Take these few suggestions and begin reading John 18-19 (The Passion Narrative). Whew!