It’s funny how words can evolve to take on different meanings. The word hack used to describe the sound of a person’s cough. Now we most often use the word to describe an idea that makes our life easier.
A lot of words have evolved and changed over time, and there will never be an end to new ideas. Maybe that is the most remarkable thing about the Bible.
The Bible we study today contains the exact same Scripture that every other generation has studied. The prophet Isaiah lived in the eighth century BC and wrote, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8). Thousands of years have proven the truth of his statement. God’s unchanging word still stands.
So how can I make studying the Bible, God’s forever truth, a bit easier?
Here are a few Bible “hacks” I have used over the years.
A few Bible hacks
How to search your Bible easily
Take your Bible and divide the pages of Scripture in half. You should find yourself in Psalms or Proverbs. The first half of the pages will be the Old Testament history. The middle of the Bible is wisdom literature.
Next, you can divide the back half of the pages into two equal sections. The first half contains the prophets and the back half will be the New Testament. (Hint: If you have a study Bible, you will have to adjust for the study pages at the back, but, generally speaking, this works.)
How to choose the best study Bible
Everyone needs a study Bible, but which study Bible version is best?
Study from a version that has the study helps authored by a long list of scholars. No one person can know enough to be an expert in every book. Choose a version that has invited the best scholar(s) for each book to author the notes. Those notes will be less denominational and more focused on the original translation of the original manuscripts.
Scripture will always mean what it has always meant. Buy the version that understands that perspective is the accurate goal for study.
How to believe the Bible
The Bible makes many promises but many more “probably statements.”
People often read a psalm or proverb as a promise, then feel let down when the verse seems untrue in their circumstances. Psalms and Proverbs are wisdom literature. Most of those Scriptures were written to remind us of what God is able to do, not what God has promised to do.
I often use Proverbs 22:6 to illustrate this point: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” That verse cannot be a promise because we know God created every child with a free will. Therefore, it is a “probably” verse because most kids who are raised to know and love God usually find their way back to the faith, even if they choose to stray.
How to know the Bible
Google is great, but Psalm 119:11 is better: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to remind us of what God would say now because it is what God has already said. In our Google world, it seems easier to remember our phones than remember a verse of Scripture. But, we will make fewer mistakes if we store up what we need to remember.
The best teachers and counselors will rarely pause mid-sentence to say, “Let me check Google and I’ll get back to you.”
How to live the Bible
The best hack I can suggest is to give up the notion that ease is our goal.
There is no such hack. The easiest way to live out our faith is to be absolutely convinced that it isn’t easy.
Never underestimate the value of knowing how much you need God’s help to live his ways. He knew it was difficult. That’s why God gave us his Holy Spirit. The best way to live a biblical lifestyle is to “keep in step” with God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:25).
Suggested Bible resources
After thirty-plus years of ministry, I’ve discovered a few helps that I’m happy to share. There is an abundance of information, but I can help you wade through those waters. These are a few of my favorite Bible helps:
Favorite study Bibles
I recommend the NIV Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible. Both have used great scholarship for the notes. That said, only the Scripture is the perfect word of God. The notes will always have a few imperfections.
I like to use a Bible promise book to search for a good passage about a subject. If I have to teach a class, speak to a group, or counsel a friend, a Bible promise book is a great way to begin.
I look up a topic, then I often find a verse that leads me to a passage. I can then teach the verse in its context. Because what the verse meant is what it still means today.
Favorite Bible websites
I like BibleHub.com if I want to read a verse from several different versions.
I like OpenBible.info if I want to see several verses from Scripture on a particular subject.
I like BibleGateway.com for advanced study of a passage.
Their commentary help is called BibleGatewayPlus and will cost you a few dollars each month, but it is handy and reliable help if you are a teacher or person who wants to dig a little deeper using a website.
And although it might sound self-serving, you should know that those of us who write for Denison Ministries have a strict commitment to biblical accuracy.
Only God’s word is perfection, but a lot of dedicated Christians have worked hard to make it easier for us to know and live a life that God is able to direct and bless. I’m grateful for the countless teachers I have had throughout my life. I’m glad to offer all of you a few “hacks” for some easy help along the way.
The best Bible hack
I was teaching 1 Corinthians last week when I discovered what might be the best hack in the Bible. Paul wrote to the church and said, “And I will show you a still more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). Paul proceeded to give them 1 Corinthians 13, often called the “love chapter.” I’ll sum it up for all of us by saying the most excellent way to live our Christian lives is to love God like he loves us and to love others with the love God gives through us.
Hack into God’s love and the rest of life will get a lot easier.
Now, go find your Bibles and try that first hack. It really works, and you should be finding those Bible passages much faster in the near future.