There are plenty of tools to help you learn the Bible. Study guides, commentaries, podcasts, small groups, and study Bibles heavy enough to counter-balance a construction crane.
After about 35 years of Bible study there is one thing I would recommend near the top of the list to help you learn the Bible: a reference Bible with a concordance.
Boatloads of study notes will help. Commentaries lining every wall of your home and office and filling the trunk of your Cadillac Eldorado will help. Every discipleship study ever produced can help.
But a simple Bible with cross-references and a concordance will help as much as any single thing you can own.
When I was a much younger believer my first spiritual growth spurt was using a Bible with cross-references and concordance. Even after “graduating” to a full study Bible I often grabbed a smaller Bible like the one I am recommending for portability and ease of study. I got a new Bible today because the thin Bible I have been using didn’t have a concordance or references.
Here is an example of “center column references” in an HCSB Ultrathin Bible.
Cross-references connect verses of scripture that are related. They connect prophecies with fulfillment. Parallel stories in the gospels. Complimentary subjects in the epistles. Old Testament history with New Testament theology.
Cross-references are the connectors that help reveal the total picture of the scriptures. They help show the themes as well.
The concordance is a selection of verses organized topically. Here’s a pic:
Why is this helpful? Because sometimes when you are reading you forget a specific verse, but you can remember a word or two. That’s when you head to the concordance and its list of verses by topic (sorry, but propositions and conjunctions will not help you; needs to be beefier). You will find a verse excerpt with the word and the reference. If the particular verse you want is not listed, look up the ones that are listed. There’s a good probability the cross-references will get you to the one you need. (Even if they don’t, just think of all the verses you will learn in the mean time!)
Here are a few reference Bibles with a concordance. If you are ready to take another step in learning God’s Word, order one and get started.
[There may be apps for smartphone or tablet that work just as well for some readers, but my experience using them as not been the same as with a physical Bible. Search functions work well in YouVersion and NeuBible, for instance, but I have found the tactile experience of turning pages and searching for verses better for learning the Bible. It also aids in learning the location of Bible books.]
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