Andrew Fountain - How to Get More out of Reading the Bible


  • 3x5 card given out during the sermon:
    Handout on Bible Reading
  • A Question that I ofen hear is: I don’t seem to get much from reading the Bible, how can I benefit from it?
    • If you don’t benefit from it, then you don’t do it, and then you feel guilty...
    • But if you are getting good things from it then you will wan to do it.
  • I want to use a well-known verse, 2 Timothy 3:16, as a framework for answering this.
  • Today is going to be an unusual kind of sermon—more of a workshop

2 Timothy 3:16

  1. Every scripture is inspired [breathed out] by God and useful for
  • teaching [teaching us more about God, ourselves and life in general, encouraging us in God’s love]
  • for reproof [negative—when are doing stuff we shouldn’t, God will often use Scripture to speak to us]
  • for correction [positive—literally “straightening out”, removing the twists and healing damaged bits]
  • and for training in righteousness [literally training a child, equipping them and getting the best out of them. Sometimes translated nurture.]
  1. that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.
  • passionate about God, to be equipped—that’s what we all want, isn’t it!
  • Going to concentrate on the NT today
    • Explain structure of NT

The New Testament

time period The New Testament
from birth to death
and resurrection
Matthew, Mark & Luke (John)
Story of the church
from resurrection
to gospel reaching Rome
Roughly same time
period as Acts
Letters to churches,
by Paul, Peter, John and others
End of John’s life Revelation (prophetic)

Before you open the book

  • Imagine you are recently engaged
    • but your fiance is living in another city.
      • They just sent you a page from their journal
    • Why would you be interested?
      • tells you about them (likes, dislikes, characteristics, personality)
      • helps you understand them
      • shows you how they relate to people
      • gain tips for how you will relate to them better in the future
    • Would you need to put a lot of effort into “trying to make it relevant”
  • What if you don’t know the person
    • Would the journal still be interesting?
    • still may be interesting, but not on the same level


  1. Must understand it

-importance of a good translation

-value of knowing about the culture of the day and the historical background

-We understand it as a community so ask others for help

  1. Don’t be too hasty to jump to “how does this relate to me”

-Imagine I was telling you about my week and you interrupted me...

-Well I just thought that we were friends and you might be interested in me as a person

-God is worth knowing better just because of who he is

  • There is a common problem where we are disappointed
    • unless we feel we have heard something very specific for us that day
      • We must allow God to choose the topic of conversation!
    • You might want guidance in an urgent issue (say changing jobs)
      • God is actually more concerned about some aspect of your character where you need to be more Christ-like
    • Imagine God was in a room and you walked in and said: God, this is what we are going to be talking about today.
      • This does not mean he’ll not address our concerns
      • But we should not define our Bible reading as a failure or a success based on this.

Four Steps

  1. Pray for your eyes to be opened
  2. Read to understand
  3. Ask yourself three questions (see 2 Timothy 3:16)
    1. what does it tell me about Jesus as a person? (or Father/Spirit depending on story)
      what can I learn about how he relates to people in the story?
      what encouragement can I get from this?
    2. what issues might I need to deal with?
      negative: Am I doing stuff I shouldn’t?
      positive: What would it look like to be straightened out?
    3. how can I be led by this and stimulated to grow as a Christian.
  4. Pray through these thoughts
  1. Pray for your eyes to be opened
    • Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes so I can truly see the marvellous things in your law! (Law referred to the first five books of the Bible, all that David had)
    • What is the implication if God doesn’t open your eyes?
    • Also, giving him permission to speak into your life today
  2. Read to understand
    • What is the writer trying to emphasize (it is the Spirit that wants to emphasize this!)
      • e.g. woman of Samaria, keeps emphasizing how shocking it was that Jesus should speak to a woman/Samaritan/immoral, especially in the light of the previous conversation.
      • What is the writer trying to tell me?
    • Context, background etc are important, but that is outside of the scope
      • Reading through a book is a big help
  3. Ask yourself three questions (see 2 Timothy 3:16)
    1. what does it tell me about Jesus as a person? (or Father/Spirit depending on story)
      • what can I learn about he relates to people in the story?
      • what encouragement can I get from this? (e.g. how gentle he was with people)
      • The same principles can apply to the O.T. as we see how God related to people
    2. what issues might I need to deal with?
      • negative: Am I doing stuff I shouldn’t?
      • positive: What would it look like to be straightened out?
    3. how can I be led by this and stimulated to grow as a Christian.
      • How might it be “coaching” me?
    • note that very often you will not have answers in all three areas, or some of them may be very general
  4. Pray through these thoughts

1. Reading the Gospels

Example of Mark 2:1–12 (Paralysed man let down through the roof)

Mark 2:1–12

Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralysed Man

  1. Now after some days, when he returned to Capernaum, the news spread that he was at home.
  2. So many gathered that there was no longer any room, not even by the door, and he preached the word to them.
  3. Some people came bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them.
  4. When they were not able to bring him in because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Jesus. Then, after making an opening, they lowered the stretcher the paralysed man was lying on.
  5. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
  6. Now some of the experts in the law were sitting there, turning these things over in their minds:
  7. “Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
  8. Now immediately, when Jesus realized in his spirit that they were contemplating such thoughts, he said to them, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
  9. Which is easier, to say to the paralysed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up, take your stretcher, and walk’?
  10. But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—he said to the paralysed man—
  11. “I tell you, stand up, take your stretcher, and go home.”
  12. And immediately the man stood up, took his stretcher, and went out in front of them all. They were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

based on NET Bible

  1. Pray
  2. Read to understand
    • What points is Mark trying to make?
      • What is the first thing he emphasizes?
      • seems to be an emphasis on how people were crowding to see Jesus
    • Why is the coming down through the hole significant?
      • determination to see Jesus
    • What did Jesus say that the coming through the roof was a sign of?
      • Faith. (not the usual way we recognize faith)
        • Why was this faith?
        • Determination is not always faith—what made this faith?
          • ponder why faith=making a hole in the roof
          • They really believed they would get something at the end.
        • They tood a risk
    • The other thing: That he could forgive sins as a response to faith
    • What do you think of Jesus’ quesion in v.9 ?
    • We could go further, but...
  3. ?
    • You can put yourself in the position of each of the people in the story
  4. Pray

2. Letters (Epistles)

  • Actually this is Jesus (said he had more to tell them) John 16:12
    1. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
    2. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come.
    3. He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.
  • If you could have a personal letter from Jesus, would you say
    • I know I should read it but I can’t summon the enthusiasm.
    • I’m not sure I am going to get anything from it!
  • Now of course it is not just for you as an individual, but it is for you as part of a group
  • Same kinds of questions
    • What does Jesus like and what upsets him
    • How does he relate to people
    • There is bound to be some of it that applies to me!

Example of Ephesians 3:11–21

Ephesians 3:11–21

  1. This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
  2. in whom we have boldness and confident access to God because of Christ’s faithfulness.
  3. For this reason I ask you not to lose heart because of what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
  4. For this reason I kneel before the Father,
  5. from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named.
  6. I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person,
  7. that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love,
  8. you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
  9. and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
  10. Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think,
  11. to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen

based on NET Bible

4. Some Practical Pointers

  • Which translation?

-Whatever you find you understand

-Idea: Message/ESV combo —read first in the message, then the ESV

  • Where to read?
    • Consecutively—not too much at a time unless it is narrative—you are allowed to get carried away!
    • Luke, Mark, Acts, Ephesians

-Then OT narrative

  • When?
    • whenever suits you, but a habit is very good
  • When shall I start?
    • Today!

Updated on 2015-06-02 by Andrew Fountain