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How to Read the Bible




Jared:

What advice would you give to somebody who's trying to figure this out for the first time?


Pastor David:

Yeah, I have a couple of suggestions. I think that the Bible obviously is a huge resource, it's massive. One of the challenges of the Bible is context doesn't always translate. So if you don't understand context, statements can be confusing or misunderstood.


Pastor David:

So what I like to do is I like to try to simplify it and give it some clarity of focus. And so I think there are several reasons why you read the Bible, among them are to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ obviously, secondly to learn, thirdly to know and understand God better and also discover yourself and how to conform or live the way God would ask you to live. So those are some of the things that really influence why people search the scriptures.


Pastor David:

So I would say if you're newly starting reading the Bible, I'd give you kind of a couple pointers. The first one is, start with a gospel. And I would say specifically, I would challenge you to go to the Gospel of John, which is the fourth gospel. There's a couple reasons why I do that. First of all, it's a great summary of the gospel. It concentrates on the divinity or the Godship of Jesus. The other thing that it does is the context is interpersonal, you have more interpersonal interactions with Jesus than any of the other gospels so you really see how Jesus deals with people one on one in the most clear terms. Better than Matthew, better than Mark, better than Luke. Not that those are bad gospels, they're great gospels but you're going to still get the gospel story, you're going to still see it all. And almost half of the Book of John, almost half of it is the last week of Jesus' life. Actually, yeah, almost half the book is really like the last 24 hours of Jesus.


Jared:

Yeah, so really focuses and zooms in on that?


Pastor David:

Highly intentional about the things leading up to his death and his resurrection. Highly intentional. So like I said, that week is really concentrated on and you get to see these dynamic interactions. So I really encourage people to read the Gospel of John. And, you read a chapter and it's got clear kind of start stop moments. So chapter one, chapter two, chapter three. So it talks about Jesus in his preexistent, in the beginning was the word, Jesus is the word. So from his preexistent setting to his final victory to speak. So I would highly recommend you read at least a chapter of John.


Pastor David:

The second thing I would do is I would encourage you to read a psalm a day, at least one psalm, you can start in Psalm one, work your way through. Some of them are longer than others, some are shorter than others, some of them are going to feel somewhat repetitive. But you're going to start seeing a theme, there's going to be the exaltation, celebration of who God is, interpersonal struggles, how to relate that to God. You see honesty in I'm beat up, I'm tore up. I'm messed up. "Where are you, oh God?" You're going to hear that, you're going to be able to relate to that. And it's also going to point you to ultimate hope and faith and it is highly devotional in the context of it's teaching you how to worship God in every context of life. So first one is to get to know Jesus, second one is learn how to worship God in every context of life.


Pastor David:

And the third thing I would encourage people to do is read a proverb a day. So there are 31 Proverbs for 31 days of the month. So every proverb, and that's just wisdom, just general wisdom, giving you some real insights into, hey, if you can just live this way, if you can think this way, if you can seek this, you're going to be better off. And so you got wisdom, you got worship and you've got developing in your relationship with God. So John, psalms, proverbs. That's what I would encourage people to do.


Pastor David:

Then you can build on that format. Then you can start thinking about, well, let's go back to Genesis, let's kind of see the whole historical context of how we got here then you can start thinking about being more theological, moving into Romans, Ephesians, that kind of thing, Hebrews, which you need a lot of Old Testament context to really understand Hebrews. So there's so many layers, but if you want to start at a basic level, I think that's a great basic level to start at.


Jared:

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Yeah, that's super helpful and super practical. I think another thing too is just obviously the mindset behind how you're reading it and what your mindset is. I was having a discussion with somebody who was talking about the different versions of the Bible and why they read this specific version because it's the only one that they feel like they're not missing out on anything. And to which my response was like, "Yeah, I get that but I feel like with a lot of these things if I don't get it this time, I'll get it the 400th time I read the book."


Pastor David:

Yeah, and obviously the versions have been created based on syntax and development of language based on specific manuscripts. So the Bible in its original manuscripts are absolutely without error. Translations can influence that, but you can still be confident that God's speaking to you through the scriptures and that they are the word of God. So, that's another discussion, but what I tell people is you really do need to understand the difference between a paraphrase and a translation, a paraphrase just somebody's take on it whereas a translation is there's actual scholarship involved in the translation. So I would obviously encourage you to move towards translations as opposed to paraphrases. But there's some great translations out there today, great translations, great versions, ESV is a great one, New American Standard's a great one, New International Version has been around a long time. However I'm saying it.


Jared:

Around for a while?


Pastor David:

There you go. New Living translation, the message version, which they say it's a translation, but it's a bit of a-


Jared:

I was going to say, that's what I usually think of when I hear paraphrasing stuff.


Pastor David:

Yeah, it's a bit more of a paraphrase. But it's still good, gives you insights. So there's lots out there that you can really rely on, you really be comfortable with and can help give you insight and perspective.


Jared:

Yeah, yeah. And I just think if you're in this thing and you're really committed, it's like this book is going to be with you the rest of your life.


Pastor David:

Yep, you're going to read it. You're going to read it all the time.


Jared:

Yeah, just take it one step at a time and you don't have to be a scholar the next day.


Pastor David:

Yeah. And I think it's really important that you always go into the scripture, so this is probably the last thing I would encourage people to do. The Bible, Jesus says that he's going to send you the Holy Spirit and he will lead you into all truth. John reiterated that, which was one of the disciples, when he said, "You don't need anybody to teach you, you have the spirit teaching you." Now he's not saying don't allow people to influence your understanding, he's saying the holy spirit is there and he's really motivated to lead you into all truth. So if you just approach the book with scholarship or with mental understanding, you're going to miss it. It's really important to open up your heart and invite the Holy Spirit to teach you. So I would encourage you to pray before you read it and just say, "Hey Lord, open my heart, open my eyes. Let me see. Let me understand"


Pastor David:

And I'll give you two other things that will help you. Number one, ask questions. So when you're reading it, just don't take it at face value. Say, "Well, why did he say that?" Or, "Why is that important?" Because those whys are important to discovery and what I call revelation. Ask questions. Don't be afraid of questions, don't be afraid of questions. God is not insecure so please ask your questions in relationship... And if you can't kind of root that out in your study or your reading then ask somebody that you know knows definitely a little bit more and they might be able to help you out.


Jared:

That's super important, yeah. I think that's the main purpose or the main way to build relationships with the Christians around you, especially when you're new to it is those kind of questions and those kind of seeking sort of things.


Pastor David:

Yeah. So two things ask questions and if you're still stuck, just realize that if the holy spirit's your teacher and you're still stuck, maybe you're not ready to understand what it is you're trying to read. So at some point, accept, "Okay, I'll come back to this. All right, I'm not getting it today, but I'll come back to this." And just set it in your heart, "It's okay, I don't have to know everything today. I can grow in my knowledge, my faith and my knowledge." And so accept both of those conditions as a part of the process.


Jared:

For sure, man. That was a lot. That was a lot of bars that you dropped there, but I think it was all very good and very useful.


Pastor David:

Yeah, hopefully it helps.


Jared:

Yeah, exactly. But appreciate you man, appreciate your insight. Appreciate you guys. Just remember to like, share and subscribe as well as just text your questions in and we'll see you next week.



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