A 17-year-old young man went to church for the first time because the shoe salesman who had led him to Christ told him he needed to learn more about the Savior he had just received. During the service the minister said, “Turn to First Timothy 5:12.”
The young convert turned to the first page of the Bible which his friend had given him and thumbed through Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and a number of other books but could not find Timothy. Turning to the table of contents he found that First Timothy was on page 325, but when he found that page number he was in the book of Joshua. Again looking the table of contents he discovered that there were two basic sections of the Bible, and that First Timothy was in the second section! By the time the young Christian had found the text the minister was finished with his sermon. Needless to say, the young man was embarrassed and a little frustrated.
Have you ever felt like that? If so, don’t be discouraged, because most new Christians start out the same way. From that discouraging beginning the young man developed a desire to know the Bible thoroughly. Years later he became a famous preacher who, it is said, led one million people to Jesus Christ. In the later years of his life he founded a Bible institute that today trains over 1200 young people annually in the Word of God. This young man’s name was Dwight L. Moody, and few men have ever influenced Christianity more than he did. But he would never have been an influence at all had he not been willing to study the Word of God for himself!
Although we don’t know what method Moody used to study the Bible, we do know that he was not given much formal education, and that most of his Bible study he did on his own. The methods outlined in this book are probably similar to the ones he used. You too can be an effective servant of Christ—but only if you are willing to study the Bible for yourself.
Success or failure in the Christian life depends on how much of the Bible you get into your mind on a regular basis and how obedient you are to it. True, you can go to heaven knowing little more than John 3:16 and Romans 10:9,10, because God’s marvelous gift of salvation is so free that all you have to do to get it is to receive it by faith (John 1:12). But if you are ever going to be a happy, successful Christian it will be by regularly feeding on the Word of God, and that takes work. The more you work at it the faster and better you will grow, and this growth is well worth the price it requires.
Jesus Christ gave the formula for success when He said, “if you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17 NKJV).Happiness and blessing are the result of knowing and doing the will of God as He has revealed it in the Bible. The problem with so many Christians today is that they don’t spend time learning the principles of the Bible, so they don’t even know what is expected of them. No wonder they don’t enjoy all the blessings of the Christian life!
The Bible Was Written for People
Unfortunately, many Christians have the idea that they cannot understand the Bible. They think it was written for theologians or ministers, so all they do is listen to “Bible scholars” lecture and preach or read books about the Bible, but they spend very little time actually studying it for themselves. The sad thing about this is that the Bible wasn’t written for theologians but for people just like you! For example, the Lord said through the apostle John, “I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven…because you have known him who is from the beginning” (1 John 2:12-13). Even children or brand-new Christians can understand the Bible. This means that you can understand the Bible! You may not be able to go down into the depths of Bible truth the way the scholars do, and there will be a few things you won’t fully understand, but you will find far more in Scripture that you can understand than what you cannot.
Once the fact that you can study the Bible for yourself really grips you, your Christian life will take on an entirely new dimension. I have watched new Christians and some old believers who had never been very excited about their Christian experience really come to life by studying the Bible on their own. Through the years I have developed a very simple method of Bible study that has literally transformed the lives of those who have used it consistently. This book was written to help you study the Word of God and to experience that same kind of transforming Christian experience.
But there is one thing I must tell you: Study is work. A Greek mathematician once said, “There is no royal road to geometry.” This statement was made to a young student who wondered if there was an easier way of learning than to study. But of course there isn’t, and the same is true for Bible study. In fact, it takes the hardest kind of work there is: thinking. But if you follow the program outlined in this book, you will find the effort well worth it, for you will develop a working knowledge of the Bible that will not only enrich your own spiritual life but will enable you to serve Jesus Christ effectively for years to come.
The idea for this method of study really came to me some years ago when I read an advertisement in a magazine that said, “Learn English in 15 minutes a day.” Nothing had been harder for me in high school than English! But this man showed me it could be mastered in just 15 minutes a day. Actually, you can master almost anything in 15 minutes a day if you do it long enough. This program will take 15 minutes a day for reading, another 15 minutes a day for studying, and some spare moments for learning. By the end of three years you will have accomplished the following:
1. Read the Bible completely through.
2. Read the key books several times.
3. Accumulated the major principles, promises, and commands of Scripture.
4. Studied the most important chapters.
5. Learned a number of key verses.
6. Developed a working knowledge of the Bible.
7. Developed a lifetime habit of Bible study that will enrich your entire life.
I hope that you regularly attend a Bible-teaching church where you hear the Bible taught, and of course you should continue in this. But now I suggest that you add the other four methods of Bible study: reading, studying, learning, and thinking. You will find the results well worth the time invested!