How To Read and Study The Bible (Message Outline)

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The Bible: Understanding the Best-Selling Book of All-Time
Part 4—How Should I Read And Study The Bible?

Sometimes people make these statements about studying the Bible.

  • I am intimidated by the Bible.
  • I don’t know where to start.
  • I don’t understand it.
  • I don’t know anything about the Bible, so I feel dumb when I read it.

The Bible is not a simple history book or a book of wisdom. It is living and active. The Word of God reveals what we think and what we want.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

There are many people who read about the Bible, study other’s thoughts about the Bible, read commentaries on books of the Bible, delve deeply into the critical analysis of the Bible… but they don’t ever actually study and read the Bible itself.

There is a real need for Bible study that is…

  • not commentaries
  • not theological books
  • not devotional books
  • but study of the Bible

HOW can we get the most out of our Bible study time?

Spiritual Conditions

  • Love for Christ
  • Love for Scripture
  • Humble and Hungry
  • Prayerful and Surrendered

Practical Conditions

  • Find a place.
  • Find a time.
  • Find a rhythm. 

The most important spiritual condition is to know Christ as your Lord and Savior.
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:14).

What is the best method for reading and studying the bible?
At Hillside, we won’t say there is ONE best way to study the Bible.

Bible study methods are like diets
There are so many diets that claim to be the single best way to lose weight, when in fact there are many diet methods that will get you to lose weight or change your BMI. Bible study is the same way! No single bible study method is the only way. Each has its strengths and each will lead you to deeper spiritual growth and closer walk with Christ when done properly. (The only exception is the point and hope method, where you open the Bible, point your finger blindly, and hope God will give a specific word about what you are thinking or praying. The Bible is not a magic eight ball.)

[ONE of the methods of Bible study that many people find effective is the S.O.A.P. method. This method was not created by our teaching team, but has enjoyed widespread use throughout the world.]


All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God p may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). 

  • Read Scripture
  • Listen to Scripture
  • Write Scripture
  • Bible Reading vs. Bible Study 

“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Ps. 119:97-105).

Here are some questions that could be helpful in observing Scripture:

  • What is the overall theme of the passage, chapter, or book?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Who are the people in it? What about the places?
  • Are there any words or phrases that stick out to you?
  • What are the key verses? Is there a particular verse that speaks to you?
  • What other bible verses, passages, stories, or people come to mind as you read the text?
  • What is difficult to understand? And why?
  • How would you explain this passage to someone else?
  • Does it make you think of any stories, metaphors, or object lessons?
  • Are there any phrases repeated?
  • Where is Christ in this passage?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:22-25).

Information without application leads to deception.

Information with application leads to transformation.

Some great application questions to ask from the passage:

  • What applies to my life?
  • What changes do I need to make?
  • How should I think differently?
  • What should I do differently?
  • What key verse or verses should I memorize?

“Be good to your servant while I live, that I may obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Ps. 119:18).

Pray God’s Word back to Him. After reading, observing, and considering the application of the passage, prayer can help highlight what has been learned. Some people find prayer the best start to their Bible study.

[One great prayer approach is the A.C.T.S. method.]


  • Adoration
  • Confession
  • Thanksgiving
  • Supplication

How should I express appreciation or adoration to God after studying these scriptures?

What sins should I confess after studying these scriptures?

Where in my life am I grateful and in need of expressing thanksgiving to God because of these scriptures?

What should I ask humbly from God for others and for myself in light of these scriptures?

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