I know that there is no shortage of webpages that want to teach you how to read your Bible and that is great. However, what I want to share is how I personally treat and mark up God’s word in my studies.
Back in my younger days, before kids, marriage, rock bands and high school I went to a small church in Riverside, CA. Every Sunday, before the pastor began his sermon, he would instruct us all to hold up our Bible’s and repeat the following:
[blockquote]This is the Word of God. It is alive and active, sharper than any two edged sword (Heb 4:12). The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of God abides forever (Isa 40:8). It is a lamp to my feet. And a light to my path (Psa 119:105). It is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). I believe everything it says. I am who it says I am. I have what it says I have. And I can do what it say’s I can do.[/blockquote]
To this day, that declaration stays with me and I am thankful for the foundation that it has helped to establish in my mind. As a result and over the years, I have developed what I believe to be a solid set of useful study tips that I do my best to put to use as I read my Bible.
Make Your Mark
When you read your Bible, underline it, circle things, write in the margins, and turn down page corners. The more you use it, the more valuable it becomes. I know there are some people who choose not to mark up their BIble; and that is completely acceptable! For me however, making marks allows me to keep track of what I’ve read and helps me locate certain verses easier. But a couple years ago I also added a new method in how I mark my pages.
While I still underline things like crazy, I developed a set of symbols that help separate and categorize verses that I read. I add these marks in the margins of the page, next to the line where the statement is underlined. The symbols are really quite simple and easy to put to memory.
- Hollow Circle – Prophecy, details about Jesus’ return
- Filled Circle – Fulfilled Prophecy
- Upward Facing Triangle – Command we are to obey
- Downward Facing Triangle – Promise from God
- Hollow Square – Comments on predestination and election
- Cross – Significant statement concerning Jesus
- Star – Things concerning Salvation
- Two Intersecting Circles – Counsel for families and marriages
- House – Instructions and guidance for the Church
- Capitol S - Statement regarding Satan, demons, oppression, etc
- Capitol G - Descriptions of God’s attributes and nature, the Trinity, etc
These are the items and topics I have chosen to isolate, but please take them and feel free to let me know if you add any of your own (I may want to use them as well)!
Using Your Bible’s Blank Pages
Every Bible I have ever owned has always had a set of blank pages in the back that never saw the light of day. So recently I came up with an ingenious idea; use them!
To help for when I come across adherents of religious groups that twist scripture as much as I drink coffee, I decided to start cataloging points to raise in discussion. Since I am very aware of arguments and positions that different religions hold, I decided to dedicate one page to each view and as I come across verses that could be used in response to that view, I write them in the back with a little note describing the point.
For example, I have a page for Jehovah’s Witnesses where I can record verses that affirm Jesus’ deity, his physical resurrection and the personhood of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, I have a page for Mormons where there are verses that identify God as one, Satan as a created being and Jesus as God in flesh. Lastly, there is a page that covers general claims like salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, the Trinity and so on.
This way, as long as I have my Bible nearby, I have a resource for responding to the common claims made by those who try to persuade me to believe false Gospels.
Take It Or Leave It, But Study God’s Word
How you carry out your personal Bible study is ultimately up to you. The only wrong way to do it, is to not do it at all.
Feel free to take what is written here, share it, modify it and let me know what you do that is different, so that I could possibly apply it to how I study and mark up my Bible.