Life can be confusing. When you come up against a problem, you might hear conflicting advice from all sides—you’ll hear one thing from one friend, something different from another, an entirely opposing view from your parents, something else from a trusted teacher. How can you tell the right answer from the wrong one? For that matter, a lot of people don’t even think in terms of right and wrong—they believe their best course is just to follow what feels right.
But imagine knowing the best course to take in every case. Imagine having someone right beside you throughout your life who always gave you the best advice. No matter what anyone else said, you knew that you could always trust what this person told you, and things would work out best if you just followed that counsel.
What a relief that would be! Guaranteed success. Freedom from heaps of heartache you would have otherwise had.
Where can you turn for dependable advice every time? To the same source that True Education turns to—the Bible!
It may seem impossibly huge, complicated, difficult to read. But believe it or not, it has the answers to the everyday difficulties you face. Get to know it, and it will be your most reliable, lifelong counselor—because it contains the counsel of the source of all wisdom, the living God. When we study His inspired Word, the Holy Bible, God is talking to us.
As with any good education, there is study involved. So get out your Bible. We would also suggest having a pen and paper handy so you can write out the verses referred to, as well as any extra notes or thoughts to help you remember what you learn. Now, let’s begin.
Do You Really Need Advice?
1. Does man really need guidance from God? Can’t he reason out for himself how to properly lead his own life? Proverbs 14:12; Jeremiah 10:23.
Most people would disagree with these verses. They believe they have all the answers. But this world wouldn’t be nearly so messed up if people stopped being so arrogant, just admitted their ignorance, and then looked to God for advice and counsel on how to live. The sooner you acknowledge that you don’t have the answers, the better off you will be. After all, why would you listen to advice if you think you already know better?
2. Why can’t human beings look to themselves for the answers? Jeremiah 17:9. The heart that this verse speaks of is the human mind without God—a state the Bible refers to as “carnal.” What’s wrong with allowing yourself to be governed by your carnal mind? Romans 8:6-8.
This is hard to admit because we like to think we’re pretty good. But it is reality!
3. So for what purpose did God give His Word to us? 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Notice the words reproof and correction. Most people don’t like the idea of taking reproof (rebuke) or correction. Do you?
Will you let God, through His Word, show you where and how to change your life? After you read a scripture or a passage, ask yourself: How does this apply to me? Do I need to change my life to follow what God is telling me here?
4. Is there an attitude God is looking for in us as we seek Him through Bible study? 1 Peter 5:5; Isaiah 66:2.
We can’t seek God with a “take me as I am” attitude and expect results. God looks for humility—our knowing that we don’t have the answers by ourselves. Then we will tremble at His word, meaning we will respect what He tells us enough to act upon it and turn away from our mistakes (Isaiah 57:15). God will actually dwell with the humble! He will be at your side as your Adviser.
5. What did the Prophet Jeremiah do when he needed help, understanding and guidance? Who was his source? Psalm 119:9-11, 17-18, 140-144. When it came to seeking God, was he half-hearted?Verse 10.
To truly understand your studies of the Bible, you must pray first for understanding the way Jeremiah did.
In your future studies, the Psalms—including many written by King David—will help you see how to develop that same deep relationship with your Creator.
6. What are the rewards of seeking God’s understanding through His Word? Proverbs 3:13-18.
This is the bottom line. You will never receive these blessings without seeking after God’s advice and wisdom. Bible study is the chief way to do that. Although the idea of doing more study outside of school may not be exactly exciting now, that is the way to achieve success, peace, happiness and abundance. If you lack the motivation to study, ask God to help you find it! Read Luke 11:9-10.
7. How important does God consider Bible study? Deuteronomy 8:3; 11:18-21.
We must realize our need for Bible study. God compares it to the food we eat every day for physical survival. One commentary says, “The Bible should be studied as eagerly as a hungry man seeks for bread.” It may be hard to perceive this spiritual hunger, but spiritual starvation is just as real—and far more common—as physical starvation! God commands that we study because He knows we need it.
Practical Advice on Seeking Advice
Now let’s get practical. How can you begin to find the real-world wisdom contained within this massive book? Here are four keys to getting the most out of Bible study:
1. Study consistently and frequently.
For the Bible to become an effective counselor in your life, you have to get to know it well. As we said before, you must come to recognize it as a daily need. Daily study is essential. This, of course, takes self-discipline. So the first thing to do is set a regular study schedule into your everyday routine. Have it be at a time when you are alert and when it can be something you will truly anticipate.
2. Try different types of studies.
When you face a specific problem, do a special study on that subject. How? You’ll need a couple of Bible tools.
The simplest tool is a concordance. With this, you can look up any word and see all the places where that word appears in the Bible. Strong’s Concordance shows you what the original Hebrew or Greek words are, and it can help you more deeply understand the meaning of the words that have been translated into English. With a topical Bible, you can find many scriptures relevant to just about any subject you’re looking for. A great reference tool is Thompson’s Chain Reference Bible, which references a topical index beside each Bible verse, pointing you to other passages that can give you additional instruction.
A Bible dictionary or encyclopedia can define difficult Bible words or give you helpful background information, so you can understand what was going on in history at the time. Commentaries can have good information, but you must be careful because they contain erroneous interpretations as well.
Two other effective types of Bible studies are: 1) Studying a specific biblical personality—the Bible is full of short biographies, examples both good and bad. 2) Studying a specific book, such as Proverbs.
Be careful what translation you read. We recommend the King James Version and, as supplements, the Revised Standard Version and the Moffatt translation. A translation can contain many errors; for instance, the New International Version has mistranslations in many cases and even leaves a few scriptures completely out.
3. Develop a system to mark your Bible.
Colored pencils work very well for marking your Bible. For instance, mark promises in green, personal correction in yellow, and doctrine in orange. In addition, you can find good fine-point ink pens that will allow you to write notes in your margin to remind you of details and instruction that apply to the noted verses.
4. Meditate and review.
After learning lessons, it does not take long to forget. How can you make God’s Word come alive and really penetrate your heart and consciousness? Meditation is key (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; Psalm 77:12). You have to think about what you study if you want it to really sink in.
Am I Reading This Right?
Though we understand that the Bible is God’s Word, it seems there are as many different interpretations of the Bible as there are religions and churches. How can you know if you’re reading it correctly and getting the right advice?
1. Should we rely on our own or any other man’s interpretation of the Bible? Proverbs 3:5; 2 Peter 1:20.
Let the Bible interpret itself! Herbert W. Armstrong often compared the Bible to a jigsaw puzzle, “[H]ere a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). Avoid taking scriptures out of context or using only one scripture to prove a point. Read numerous scriptures on a given subject to gain a clear picture of what a specific verse or passage means.
2. Amid all that confusion, how can we get God’s interpretation and not that of the many men who claim to understand the Bible? 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
Study to prove God’s Word. Look into the history of the world, and see if God has brought His prophecies to pass. Look into world events today, and see whether God’s predictions have come true.
We should never approach Bible study with an attitude of disproving God. Test and prove God’s Word by obeying it. God promises blessings for heeding His commands and taking correction. Obey, and put those promises to the test. See if God lives up to His promises. (Read Malachi 3:10 as an example.)
Then, once you prove something good, hold fast to it! Never let it go! Build your life around the foundational truths you learn in your Bible study.
Don’t miss out on being educated by your Creator! Take advantage of His priceless advice—advice that is always available. When you are up against problems that need solutions, go to the Counselor who always has the right answers. Go to His Word, and seek out the solutions. Take the time, ask for the discipline from God, and begin a regimen of Bible study today.