The Bible is meant to be taken at face value. It is any man's book. What you see is what you get. If you can read, you can know God through the pages of the Bible.
That does not mean that I am suggesting that it is easy. It is not easy. It is a chore. Real, bona fide knowledge and understanding of the Bible does not come easily, but considering that the eternal rewards that come with knowing, understanding and obeying the Word of God are inestimable, the effort that you make to understand the scriptures is the most worthy investment you could ever make, and worth more than anyone can possibly imagine.
First of all, if you are an English-speaking person, you must have the right translation of the Bible. If you were fluent in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, you could read the Bible in its original texts. But almost nobody is qualified to do that. Therefore, you must ascertain that the English translation you study is the most reliable and accurate version available. (Actually, this is true in ANY language. Every translation of the Bible is a potentially hazardous resource, depending on the authenticity and accuracy employed in its translation process.)
I won't take the time here to explain all the multitudinous reasons why I insist on using the King James Version as my primary source for Bible study. But you can read my explanations here if you have a problem with that. I am quite adamant that no other English version can compare with the KJV, and I insist on clinging to the KJV as the primary study resource for English-speaking people. Other English versions are simply NOT to be trusted!
Secondly, good-quality Bible study need not be complicated. Here are the things you need:
- A place to study - with a comfortable chair and good lighting. This goes along with my previous teachings about having "A Place to PRAY." If you are serious about your Christian living, you need a proper place to PRAY, and a proper place to READ and STUDY GOD'S WORD.
- A good-quality KJV Bible. I suggest the Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible. It has a unique reference system that will enable you to begin at any place in the Bible and follow that particular subject from Genesis to Revelation. For instance, if the subject is "jealousy," the Thompson Chain Reference will lead you from one verse to the next on the subject of "jealousy" until you have gone through the entire Bible on that subject. It also contains many other valuable charts, graphs, and encylopedic-type helps in the back of the Bible.
- A notebook. Buy whatever kind of notebook that suits you well. I suggest a spiral-bound notebook, or a writing-tablet on a clipboard. Many of my earliest handwritten Bible studies were kept in a 3-ring notebook. I wrote hundreds and hundreds of pages of handwritten notes in my early days. A 3-ring notebook is large and cumbersome, but it is logical if you intend to add to or re-arrange your notes eventually. If you are high-tech, keep your laptop nearby with a note-taking program like EVERNOTE open at all times. Evernote is a free program. You can keep a separate file open for each topic you are studying.
- A Concordance. A Strong's Concordance or Young's Concordance will enable you to look up any word in the Bible and see the original Hebrew, Greek or Aramic word. It will show you all the possible meanings of that word. If you are online, you can search the online versions of Strong's Concordance.
- A good Dictionary. Keep a good quality dictionary nearby to provide word definitions for difficult words.
- A good Bible Dictionary (or a search-engine on the Internet). Smith's Bible Dictionary is an old Bible Dictionary that is now in the public domain, and it will provide many valuable helps, such as telling you all about cities, people, objects, etc. in the Bible. A Smith's Bible Dictionary is a great Bible study aid. A free online version of Smith's Dictionary is readily available, too.
As you study through the Bible, you will inevitably run off on a lot of tangents. Every time you find a subject that baffles you, or intrigues you, or confuses you, you should take a little time to satisfy the need to understand. But DON'T GET LOST! If you cannot come to a satisfactory understanding of a particular subject, SKIP IT FOR A WHILE, and go back to your original point where you left off. Don't be in a big hurry to understand complicated subjects! Get a cursory understanding at first, and leave the heavy research until later. Many of the hard subjects will become easier as you go through the entire Bible. Subjects that you did not understand six months ago will suddenly become plain.
After you have studied the ENTIRE BIBLE, your second pass will be MUCH EASIER to understand!! Don't get bogged down! Keep moving. Move at a nice, comfortable pace. Read slowly enough to understand what you just read, but fast enough to keep moving.
Once you find a comfortable study pace, you can study the entire Bible for the rest of your life in that manner. Within a few years, you will begin to experience a great deal of mastery on all the subjects of the Bible.
LAST, I heartily recommend MY DAILY BIBLE COMPANION to you. It is my own personal Bible Commentary. I spent 5 years and 4 months writing four mini-lessons every single day, from Genesis to Revelation. I stopped at virtually every talking point in the Bible and explained the meaning of that segment of the Bible. MY DAILY BIBLE COMPANION comes in two volumes. Volume 1 contains lessons from the Old Testament. Volume 2 contains lessons from the New Testament. I encourage people to keep Volume 1 by their bedside, and Volume 2 by their favorite chair. That way, you can study the Bible day and night!
In addition to MY DAILY BIBLE COMPANION, I urge you to get my prophecy book, THE DANIEL PROPHECIES - GOD'S PLAN FOR THE LAST DAYS. It contains 726 pages, 175 photos, and hundreds of footnotes on virtually all of the major prophecies of the Bible. You will not find a single book anywhere else in the world that is more thorough or comprehensive on Bible prophecies for the Last Days. THE DANIEL PROPHECIES will help you attain to real mastery of Bible prophecies. You will understand prophecies better than 99% of all Christians when you are done.
Follow these suggestions, and you will become a great, great student of God's Word. Don't be surprised when you begin to feel the urge to preach or teach the Word to everybody you know!
God bless you!