Top 8 Bible Reading Mistakes Beginners Make
The Bible is not like any other piece of literature. It was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by over 40 different authors. These authors had different occupations and social standings.
The people who wrote it were shepherds, fishermen, and military men. There were kings, a prime minister, and a royal cupbearer. There was even a doctor, a tax collector, and a tentmaker among so many other people from different walks of life. They wrote in a number of unusual circumstances, as varied as being in a prison or a palace. (Quoted from Alex Carmichael.)
It took about 1,600 years to write (1500 BC to 100 AD). Therefore, it has an historical context that most of us are not familiar with.
The most unique thing about the Bible though is that it shares God’s point-of-view.
The Bible has many purposes. To warn, to teach, to instruct, to rebuke, to lead, to guide, to train. But the main purpose of the Bible is to instruct us on how to turn away from sin and turn to God. The Bible reveals God’s plan for salvation through his son, Jesus Christ. The Bible shows us how to change from death to life, from destruction to salvation. (Quoted from Troy at Veritas Ministeria)
So it is very important to read the Bible correctly. Below are eight mistakes newbie Bible readers tend to make and what you can do about it.
ONE. NOT READING REGULARLY. Like any book, if you don’t read it regularly you will lose interest and the flow of the story. You will also lose sight of the new ideas and forget new words. Thus reading the Bible will lose its impact.
What to do:
- Determine why you are reading. This Book is not a book of entertainment. It is THE book of Life.
- Set up a regular place and time to read.
- Have all your supplies in your appointed place: Bible, Highlighter or pencil, dictionary, etc.
TWO. DON’T KNOW THE BACKGROUND OF THE BOOK YOU ARE READING. As was mentioned above, the Bible was written by many different authors, during many different time periods, and in languages most of us are not familiar with. Therefore when reading the books of the Bible we miss out on important ideas because we are not familiar with the culture, surrounding historical context, and full meaning of the words used to write the book. Oft times in a case like this, we read the material and interpret it according to our background and preconceived ideas and so totally miss out on the author’s original intent..
And besides knowing the cultural background to the books we are reading, there are new words to master. Every newbie needs to learn the basic vocabulary. Even a new cook needs to understand the lingo , like chop, preheat, and boil, in order to have a recipe turn out successfully.
What to do:
- At the very least read the introduction that most Bibles have before each book. This intro will give you things like a timeline, important dates and terms, and description of the most important people.
- Getting and reading a study Bible is a great way to learn the basics. Two good good ones are the Life Application Study Bible and the NIV Study Bible. However there are many study Bible in many versions, so go check them out to see which format you like best and so will then read.
- Use Internet tools like Bible Gateway and Blue Letter Bible. Both of these resources have commentaries, dictionaries, multiple translations and versions of the Bible, and devotionals.
- If you prefer hardbound books, invest in books like an Illustrated Bible Dictionary, and a Bible atlas. I love using my copies of Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels and Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.
- If you have the interest, time and money, one of the best Bible study tools is Logos Bible software.
CAUTION: These tools do not have precedence over reading the Bible. Don’t let your reading in a “tool” replace your reading in the Bible.
THREE. DISCOUNTING THE SUPERNATURAL. The Bible is more than a book of words.
- The Bible is God’s book. God is supernatural. What God does will not always makes sense to our finite minds and limited experiences.
- The Bible is filled with miraculous events. All of these events are true. Don’t let these miraculous events offend you or turn you away from the Bible.
- The Bible was written by men but under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is understood by the help of the Holy Spirit.
What to do:
- Pray and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to understand what you are reading.
- Pray and ask for the Holy’ Spirit’s help to accept the Bible as Truth.
- Accept on faith that the Bible is TRUE.
FOUR: NOT READING MINDFULLY . Have you ever been guilty of the following like I have been?
- Sometimes I let the worries or to-do’s of the day distract me and so I don’t really know what I’ve just read.
- Sometimes I let these same distractions lead me to speed read through the day’s material as if it were a mundane to-do that needs to get checked off.
What to do:
- Before I start reading I remind myself of the purpose of this reading and that it is life-changing.
- I pray and ask God to help me stay attentive.
- I think of my Bible as a treasure map and look attentively for that day’s treasure.
- I keep a notepad and pen so when pesky worries of to-do’s come to mind, I jot them down to look at them later. Then I resume my reading.
FIVE: READING A VERSION YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. Today’s Bible readers have a lot of choices. There are Bibles that translate the Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic into English word-by-word. And there are some that translate these languages by concept. There are some that use the old English and others that employ more modern words.
The point is, find a Bible translation/version that you understand especially if you are new to Bible reading.
What to do:
- On Biblegateway.com you can read your passage in over 50 (English) choices and all for free. “Test-drive” a few until you find one you like before investing in buying a Bible.
- If you are an auditory learner, get an audio version. You can even find many such choices on youtube.
- As a beginner, your main goal is to read the Bible through a couple of times in order to get the big picture. You can always get a scholarly Bible later.
SIX: THINK THAT READING IS ENOUGH. As has been said above, the Bible is not mere words; it is the Word of God. Therefore these words aren’t something we just put away when done with the day’s reading.
What to do:
- Purposely look for some action from your reading or information about God. Jot this down n your notebook. It doesn’t have to be a wordy or complicated note.
- Pray and ask God to help that day’s reading to change you.
- Throughout the day reflect on what you read.
SEVEN: IT’S HARD STUFF SO YOU QUIT. Sometimes what you read will be hard intellectually, spiritually, and/or emotionally. The Bible contains a lot of things we won’t understand especially as newbies.There are cultural, linguistic, and spiritual ideas that are new and seemingly hidden. And some things may be just plain old unpalatable.
What to do:
- Remind yourself that any new study you’ve ever undertaken requires a learning curve. As you read and study more and more, you will understand more and more.
- As you read and pray and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help in understanding, you will understand more and more.One of the holy Spirit’s jobs is to help you understand the Bible. This is called illumination.
- And sometimes what we read will get our hackles up and we could become offended by what we read. Again I say to pray. Pray and ask God to help you to have a humble, receptive heart. One that agrees with His words especially those words of instruction regarding our sin.
EIGHT: DON’T HAVE A PLAN. The Bible takes about 70 hours to read. However the Bible is not a single genre or by a single author. Therefore some of the books we will read quicker than others. We will immediately connect with some books and some we won’t. Some we will read effortlessly and some will require more work.
What to do:
- Find a reading plan. Many folks recommend that you don’t start at the beginning (Genesis) and read through to the last book of the Bible (Revelation). I disagree, I like to proceed in an orderly fashion and it is harder for me to lose my place. However, there are many different types of reading plans. Find one that fits.
- Don’t concentrate on the length of the Bible (or the 70 hours). Keep the immediate goal in mind – to read that day’s Scripture. Follow your plan and as you read page-by-page, you will get to the end.
Related Internet Posts . . .
- 6 Tips to Consistent Bible Reading
- 21 Things I Learned by Reading Individual Bible Books in One Sitting
- Rev Up Your Bible Study:7 Ideas to Combat B-o-r-i-n-g