Flipping through the Bible for the first time can be quite intimidating. There are lots of names of people and places to keep track of, the names are often hard to pronounce, and the formatting of the books themselves is way different from the normal books that we are used to. It’s easy to see why people can quickly get lost. It’s also easy to throw up your hands, declare yourself not smart enough to read the Bible, and put it away.
Another reason we may get the idea that we have to be really smart to read the Bible is because of our pastors or priests. When they get up in front of us on Sundays and deliver a message, they (hopefully) come off as really knowledgeable about the topic they are teaching us. They’ve gone to school to learn the languages the Bible was written in, to learn what the Bible says, and how to get up in front of others to tell them about it. So, in order for me to get out of the Bible what they get out of the Bible, I would have to have the same training, right?
The good news is that you don’t have to have a degree to study the Bible. “Uneducated” people have been reading the Bible for a really long time. It’s not a matter of mental capacity; it’s often a matter of motivation. Will it be challenging? Sure. It is even for those who have been trained to teach it. But, if you’re motivated enough, you can do it!
Also, keep in mind that every Christian is called to evaluate if someone is teaching the truth or not. How can you do that if you’ve never read the book the pastor is teaching from? And you can’t just rely on someone else to tell you if someone is a false teacher because then you’d just be relying on them. We all need to be able to judge the truth for ourselves. That starts with Bible study.
Some Guidance Required
I think it is a disservice to first-time Bible readers when we hand them a Bible and send them on their way with little more than a wave and a “good luck”. The act of reading the Bible is easy enough. But, the skills and methods you need to make your time fruitful are something that needs to be taught. This is where the guidance of more mature Christians is necessary. If you’re getting into the Bible for the first time, try to find someone in your local church that you trust, who can guide you through the process, and who can help you get your questions answered when they come up. Don’t have anyone like that in your life? Reach out to me! Please. I have a great passion for Bible study and how it can change the lives of those who engage with it. I’d be happy to give you guidance and help you through.
I’d also like to suggest a couple of books that were of great help to me. The first is How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth by Gorden D. Fee and Stuart Douglas and the second is Living By The Book by Howard and William Hendricks. Both of these books are easy to read and give you excellent frameworks to get the most out of your Bible reading time. They teach you how to understand the genre of book you’re reading and what tools to use to see how passages fit together. Living By The Book even has a companion workbook you can use to practice breaking down passages and concepts.
What If I Have A Learning Disability?
I want to acknowledge that learning disabilities are a real thing. Dyslexia is a real thing that people struggle with and it often frustrates them to the point that they don’t like to read. There are other learning disabilities around reading, too. When my son was in elementary school, we discovered he had one. When he was told to read quietly to himself, he read at a grade level below. When he read out loud, he read a grade level above. When someone else read to him, he comprehended 3 grades higher!
If this is you, then I have great news! Many Bible translations have audio versions that you can get on CDs, MP3s, or other formats. With Logos Bible Software, you can even have it read a passage to you on both the mobile app and the desktop software. God doesn’t care which medium you use to engage with His Word.
It’s never been easier to start reading the Bible!
(P.S. Not sure which Bible to pick? Check out my guide on Bible translations)