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As we seek to look to Christ in all things, we must be diligent students of the word. Yet, many new believers struggle with even knowing where to start in understanding the Bible. For a busy mama who struggles to find the time to take a shower, this feels daunting, yet seeking to learn how to understand the Bible as a beginner is both doable and necessary.
How Can I Understand the Bible?
1 Corinthians 2 shows us that we are not capable of understanding spiritual things outside of the work of the Holy Spirit. As we seek to understand the Bible better, we must diligently pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the truth, beauty, and power contained within the Scriptures. This, however, does not mean that we are not required to do any work. A disciplined faith is one that is dedicated to reading and growing in the knowledge of the things of God. If you are seeking how to understand the Bible as a beginner, you must pray and then actually read it!
How to Understand the Bible in 30 Days – A Book Review
I was recently given the opportunity to read the thirtieth anniversary expanded edition of Max Anders’ 30 Days to Understanding the Bible. The goal of his book is to provide a tool for beginners to gain a foundational overview of the important events and doctrines of the Bible.
How to Understand the Bible for Beginners: Max Ander’s Method
Using a lot of repetition to encourage memory, the first two-thirds of the book teaches you the important places, people, and events of the Bible. Anders says that “if you want to learn to understand the Bible, you must first learn how the Bible is put together.” (pg 4) I was initially saddened to hear no mention of the Holy Spirit’s role in our understanding, however, I found that the goal of this section was not to increase spiritual understanding but to help in learning the general structure of the Bible and how to read it. He later says,
“Man’s natural ability to grasp and embrace the information in the Bible is limited. Much of it is spiritual information that man does not readily understand or accept. To overcome this fact, the Holy Spirit gradually illumines the receptive mind to understand and embrace more and more of the Bible, as the Christian matures in his or her spiritual walk.” (pg 194)
After spending many days learning summaries of the different sections of the Bible, I greatly enjoyed a short change of pace in reading the section on understanding the poetic passages in the Scriptures. Learning how to understand the types of literature and writing helps us understand the context of passages and how to interpret the meaning of the passage. Different literary contexts and techniques may mean reading a passage literally or metaphorically.
Finally, the book ends with a review of 10 major subjects or doctrines into which Anders believes you can divide everything the Bible teaches. This is important as the Bible is not just dates and events. Anders says,
“The Bible is more than history. If you would know the Bible, you must go beyond the historical study of people, places, and events, and learn about its teachings; taking that plunge is not easy.” (Pg 183)
Praise be to God for the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives and in the lives of the many Bible teachers who have come before us!
Thoughts on 30 Days to Understanding the Bible
I commend Max Anders’ goal for this book in providing an overview to help beginners know how to better understand the Bible. The mature believer can absolutely find great information here as well as refresh their memory on the timeline and important events of the Bible. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the extreme repetitiveness in the memorization exercises to be helpful, but I do know that it would be helpful for some learning styles.
As a busy mom, I also wish less time and space was given to the short stories that introduce each fifteen-minute chapter. Many of the stories were very secular in nature and seemed to just act as filler. Instead of including the stories, more time could have been devoted to the sections on doctrine enabling a deeper discussion of faith, salvation, and sanctification.
Overall, I would recommend 30 Days to Understand the Bible to beginners who have never read the Bible and are unsure where to start in reading and understanding it. The book can be read in fifteen minutes a day over thirty days, so it is the perfect length for busy moms! If you want more information on the book or the other resources Max Anders offers on how to study the Bible for beginners, check out Biblein30Days.com.
Bible Study Tools for Beginners
As you continue to grow in the faith, daily reading and Bible study should continue. Here are some of my favorite Bible study tools for beginners.