Bible Study Recommendations for Young Adults

These Bible study recommendations for young adults are for Bible study on a personal, individual level, not for a group. I have two reasons for choosing this level, the personal, individual level. The first is that I noticed that there is so much literature already on Bible study on a group level, either in Sunday school or in catechism classes or in other formal and informal groups, but there is so little on the personal, individual level. My second reason is that in my opinion there are more benefits to be derived from a Bible study on an individual level than on a group level. Very many who attend a group Bible study do not really develop their Christian life. They just go and grow with the group. At least this has been my personal experience, both in participating and in leading Bible study groups.

My Experience of Bible Study

I began to read and study the Bible on my own (without any human teacher or parent telling me to do it) when I was 8 years old but it was only when I was 49 years old that I got the full benefit of studying the Bible. I am now 65 years old.

If somebody guided me correctly when I was a young adult of 20 to 40 years old on how to study the Bible maybe I would have gotten this full benefit from studying the Scriptures earlier and I would have more years of enjoying this benefit. As it happened I have enjoyed this benefit for 16 years only as of now, instead of a possible 45 years, missing some 29 years when I could have enjoyed the full benefit of studying God's written Word.

When I was 26 years old I enrolled in a subject on studying the Bible. But this was for preaching purposes. It was basically a course on how to get to the real meaning of a Biblical passage in order to share this with the church members by preaching. I learned a lot in this course but it did not give me the full benefit of Bible study. It was only 23 years later that I got the full benefit.

It is my hope and fervent desire that young adults who read these recommendations and do them will get the full benefit of Bible study while they are still young and strong and thus enjoy this full benefit many, many years before they leave physically this planet Earth. It is understood and presumed that they do have the motivation to study the Bible on their own. After knowing through this article what this full benefit of Bible study is they may be encouraged to study the Bible on their own and not depend on a group leader or pastor or priest or catechist to teach them about the Word of God.

One: Get a Good Translation of the Bible

In the English language the translation that I recommend is the so-called King James or Authorized version. I am a Catholic and yet I recommend this translation for personal study of the Bible. I know some of the words there are foreign to a present day reader. They are called archaic words which belong to the English language in the 16th century but are no longer used now. But there are copies of this version where at the back of the Bible there is a Bible word list where these words are given equivalents in our time. Get a copy of such a King James version Bible. Many groups of Christians are giving out this copy free. Avail of one.

The reason why I recommend this translation of the Bible is because it is the one I consider done by the translators with the utmost reverence and so the unction of the Spirit can be felt most from this translation than from other translations. In my opinion it is the version that is most congenial for praying. And it has produced more holy men and women than any of the other translations.

From the point of scholarship and readability there are other better translations. The New International Version Bible may be better from the point of scholarship. The New Living Bible is far better from the point of view of readability. But from the perspective of a genuine, reverential, loving study of the Bible, I recommend the King James version. It is only a recommendation. You can use another version if you want.

Two: Have a Conversational Mode of Relationship with the Holy Spirit

As you begin to set yourself to study the Bible have a conversational mode of relationship with the Holy Spirit. Look up to him as your teacher, for he is indeed the best teacher of the Scriptures. After all he was the one who wrote them. Thank him for writing these and ask him to help you understand their content. Anytime that you think you need to know about the meaning of a passage, ask him first. He will be the one to direct you to a Bible dictionary or a commentary if needed. Be attentive to him always as you set about to study the Bible.

Third: Begin Studying with the First Book of the New Testament

Do not begin with Genesis or any other book of the Old Testament. Begin with the New Testament and begin with Matthew. The reason for this is because it is easier to understand the Old Testament after you have read the New Testament. There is a saying that the Old is in the New explained and the New is hidden in the Old. This means that the New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament and it explains the meanings of the words in the Old Testament. So, if you know the explanation of the Old Testament passages by reading the New Testament, it is easier to understand them later.

Another reason for beginning with the New Testament is because using the method that I am going to show you you can use this method more easily and with more profit if you use it first with the New Testament and only later with the Old Testament.

Fourth: Your Main Guide Question Is What Does This Passage Tell Me about Jesus?

Read only a small portion of the Bible. Maybe it is only a verse or few verses. Sometimes it may just be a phrase, a part of a verse. As you read this passage ask the Holy Spirit, What does this passage tell me about Jesus? Pause and listen for the answer. Then stop. Think about the answer given you. This may take only a minute or two or about 5 minutes. Sometimes it may be longer. But focus only on one character or description of Jesus.

The reason why I recommend this method is because our real life is hidden in Jesus and the more we know him the more we know ourselves and what we are supposed to be and do to be happy.

Almost all Bible study guides will tell you to reflect upon your life in the light of the passage read. In my experience this method does not really lead you to the full benefit of a Bible study. It will get you stuck thinking about your life, eventually forgetting about Jesus.

Five: Keep a Record of the Bible Verses You Have Read and the Descriptions or Insights about Jesus Given You by the Holy Spirit

This record is brief. It has the day and date when you studied the passage and the book, chapter and verse number or numbers you have studied for that day. Then you write in a sentence or two what the passage tells you about Jesus. Here is an example.

May 31 Thursday 2012. Matthew 1:1. Jesus descended from Abraham through David.

That's all. The next day you proceed to verse 2, doing the same thing. And you continue until you get to the end of the New Testament. Then after the last verse of Revelation proceed to the Old Testament. Begin with Genesis. After you finish with the Old Testament you can go back to the New Testament. From time to time read your record of your Bible study. Sooner or later you will be given the full benefit of Bible study.

The Full Benefit of Bible Study

Throughout this article you may have noticed that I mention the words “full benefit of Bible Study”. If you follow this method prayerfully you will learn more and more of Jesus. Sooner or later you will come upon a passage where your spirit begins to understand all the mysteries of God. The conviction comes upon you that now you understand the Truth. When this happens keep a special record of this event in your life. This is the moment when you begin to see God face to face but darkly, like in a Roman mirror at the time of Paul the Apostle which was made of polished metal unlike today when our mirror is made of glass.

When you see God face to face while you are still on earth, you get the full benefit of Bible study because you are going to possess God himself. There is nothing greater than God. There is a sense in which you can say that your joy and happiness are full. That is why I call this full benefit.

Then you continue enjoying God for the rest of your life. This does not mean that you will no longer have problems or that you will no longer suffer. But in the midst of all these problems and sufferings you know you have God and with him you enjoy the full benefit of your salvation, the vision of God. And this happens while you are still living physically on earth.

Those are my Bible study recommendations for young adults so that while they are still young they can begin to enjoy the blessings of God himself, not just the blessings of the things God created for us, but he himself, the source of all blessings.

Here are my other blogs which may be of help to you:

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How to Use Meditation to Deepen Your Spirituality

You can use meditation to deepen your spirituality. Very many practice it to have better health, both physical and mental. But you can use it also to deepen your spirituality.

Deepening Your Spirituality

The origins of meditation have been mostly religious, especially religion as practiced in the monasteries. Monks and nuns, both in Christian and non-Christian groups, like Buddhism, are still the ones who professedly practice meditation on a daily basis for long periods of time, even hours. Some who have practiced it have experienced the beneficial effects this practice has brought to them and so have encouraged to use this exercise to improve their physical and mental health.

But you can use meditation to also deepen your spirituality. By deepening your spirituality I mean that you will have a broader grasp of spiritual realities. You may come to realize that it is not only human persons who have a spiritual side to their nature but even the animals and plants have also a spiritual dimension. At present this is not widely accepted because of the Aristotelian model most learned in school that living things are made up only of matter and form, or body and soul.

To deepen your spirituality also means that you have a deeper grasp of spiritual realities. You enter more and more into the inner life of the Spirit and this produces creativity in you. When this happens you will just be surprised that even your most common and usual words have a deep effect on your hearers.

To deepen your spirituality you can use the practice of meditation, but you have to do this right. Here I outline some general suggestions on how you can meditate the right way to deepen your spirituality, that is to have a broader grasp of spiritual realities and live from the inner life of the Spirit, thus becoming creative.

Focus on a Significant Theme for Your Meditation

While a mantra word or phrase or sound really helps you to meditate it does not by itself provide you with a significant theme. By significant theme I mean an idea that is most relevant to you. Examples of significant themes are the four last things of life (death, judgment, hell and heaven), and the life of Christ in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. For a Buddhist a significant theme may be the suffering in this world. For a Muslim a significant theme may be the compassion of Allah.

Focus on this theme that you have selected. Do not wander from one theme to another. When we were in the seminary we had a preparation in the evening for our meditation the following morning. A priest or a senior seminarian would come in the hall and share some topic on meditation. What happened was that everyday we had a different topic depending on the sharing of the priest or senior seminarian. This is not the proper way to meditate. It should have a focus on a significant theme which lasts for days, weeks, months or even years. Without this focus the meditation will be less effective in your life. You will be wandering from one idea to another. Later you will experience that those who listen to you easily get bored and sleepy.

Have a Regular Place for Your Meditation

Having a regular place for your meditation is very important and yet it is not mentioned explicitly in manuals of meditation. The reason why you need to have a regular place is that meditating is like working in a laboratory, only this time you are not working with test tubes or other gadgets but with your mind and ideas. If you were a scientist you would not relocate your laboratory every day or even every week or as you please. You would stay put in your laboratory.

Meditating is like working in a laboratory because here you are also producing new ideas, just as in the laboratory you are producing new ways of looking at things or new ways of putting things together. So stay put in your place for meditation.

The place for meditation is one that is quiet. This can be your bedroom, or your sala, or your kitchen, as long as it is quiet at the time when you are meditating. I prefer a chapel where people are praying. But any quiet place will do as long as it is a regular place.

Have a Regular Time for Your Meditation

Again you need to have a regular time for your meditation, at least once during the day. I suggest that the length be not less than 15 minutes. If you can allot more time the better. But a minimum of 15 minutes will do once a day. If you can do it twice a day, the better. The reason for this is because processes are only effective if they have a rhythm. The sun, moon and stars have a rhythm. Our bodies have a rhythm of inhaling and exhaling. The seasons have a rhythm. To have effective meditation it needs to have a rhythm, a regularity.

Think about Your Significant Theme Until You Can No Longer Think about It, Then Stop Thinking about It

This advice is very important: To think about your significant theme until you can no longer think about it, then you stop thinking about it.

I do not advise that you to consider another theme. Most of those who practice meditation who do not have a good guide, take on another idea so that they can think while they are in their period of meditation. Or if they think that they are not getting anywhere in their meditation, they abandon it altogether saying, What's the use?

Actually it is at the point when you can no longer think anything related to your significant theme when you are beginning to enter into the inner life of the Spirit. This is now the signal of the Spirit for you to stop thinking about it because he himself will feed you with new ideas about your theme. You are now in the stage of passing from meditation to contemplation.

But you do not abandon the place and time of your meditation. You keep it faithfully even if it seems that you do nothing but you just sit there. Just be rested in your mind and in your spirit.

If you follow these simple steps in your meditation you will soon deepen your spirituality. You will begin to wonder that new ideas are pouring into your brain from all around you. This is the Spirit filling you with himself and his ideas.