Sometimes I come in contact with a Christian who feels dumb. They want to be a more informed believer, but don’t know where to begin. They’d like to have a broader knowledge and understanding of the Bible or Christianity in general, but feel overwhelmed or intimidated. You’ve got to begin somewhere, and small steps can get you moving in the right direction! My knowledge has grown very slowly over time. Here are three things that helped me over the years.
- Get your self a good study Bible. (A devotional Bible is NOT a study Bible.) I love my classic Ryrie study Bible but a variety of study Bibles are available. Don’t let the word “study” scare you. A study Bible just contains extra notes and commentary, that is not simply devotional, but designed to help you better understand the text. The Bible was written in a very different time and place, and the commentary can aide you. When you hear a sermon or a Sunday school lesson on a certain passage – utilize the features of your study Bible. Look to the bottom of the page and read any notes on the verses. Look up any cross-references. Read the introduction to the book of the Bible that the verses are from. Be curious!
- This might seem an odd suggestion, but subscribe to the magazine Christianity Today (CT). Over the years, this magazine introduced me to various theological or biblical issues that I’d previously known nothing or very little about. It provides thoughtful, biblical perspectives on theology, church, ministry, and culture. You’ll also find news from the Christian world and book reviews. While evangelical, it is not limited to covering just one denominational or theological perspective but is broader in scope. I think some Christians read only the publication of their denomination, and this is limiting. CT has truly been helpful to me.
- Broaden your book reading. I think some Christians are “devotion-ed” to death. All they read is devotionals or other light encouraging material. Yes, we need some of this, but we need MORE than this. Here are several beginner type books to get you started:
Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem is a brief, introductory book on Christian doctrine.
Living by the Book by Howard Hendricks is a book on how to better understand and read the Bible for yourself.
131 Christians Everyone Should Know, has brief chapters that introduce you to influential people from Christian history.
Learning is a life long process no matter what the field. We never “arrive” but there is always more to know. Don’t let that discourage you. 2 Peter 3:18 tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Growth means life. Are you stagnant? Or do you have signs of life? Consider it a privilege that you can keep growing in your knowledge of the Lord Jesus.