We recently moved to Missouri and we spent the first few months here looking for a church. We knew we had moved away from the Bible Belt where there was a church on almost every corner, so we realized this would be more of a challenge. Although until we started our search, we did not realize the great need there is for churches that preach with an expository approach to God’s Word. This was a top priority for us as we looked for a church because both my husband and I value the method of studying Scripture in its context.
Whether you choose to attend a church that preaches verse-by-verse through the Bible or not is up to you, but each and every day you make a choice in how you approach Scripture. Here are a few tips for studying Scripture in context that I’ve found to be helpful in my own study of the Bible.
- Choose a book that interests you. Start with one of the Gospels or with a book in the Old Testament such as Joshua or 1-2 Samuel. Pray and ask God for direction and wisdom in choosing a book of Scripture to begin reading.
- Stick with it. Consistency really is the key and allows you to think about Scripture more deeply rather than just skimming through it and having to move on to check the next chapter off your Bible reading plan.
- Read the book of the Bible you’ve selected through at least three or four times. Repetition is beneficial when it comes to Scripture. Reading a passage or chapter through several times gives one time to truly dwell on Scripture.
- Find an accountability partner or friend to read with you. When I was in high school, a friend and I met weekly to pray for each other and discuss what we were reading and studying together in God’s Word. Even when reading was a struggle, I usually would make time for it because I knew I would be meeting with my friend. Most importantly though, we are accountable to God.
- Commit to finish. Whatever book you start, complete it. Set a routine place and time to read and a practical plan so that you can follow through with your commitment.
These tips should help guide your reading and keep you rooted in Scripture. As you read, remember to keep in mind the context of the Scripture you are studying and try not to impose your own current context on Scripture. Think about what it meant then, and refer to commentaries or a study Bible for direction if you are unsure about something.
Leaders, instill the importance of studying Scripture in its context in your students as you teach them how to study God’s Word for themselves. They are the next generation of leaders, so encourage them each week and urge them to make studying the Bible a regular priority in their lives.