- Prayer - Pray for wisdom and understanding as you read and study.
- Read the Bible, A LOT! - Don't just read verses here and there or short devotions. Read whole chapters and books! Take some time to read it through beginning to end. Get a good grasp of the Bible as a whole, so when you do just study a few verses, you understand how they fit into the whole counsel of the Bible.
- Follow principles of the Inductive Study Method - Read more about Inductive Bible Study here. Use observation, interpretation, and application to study the Bible and live by its truths. Here's an overview of this method.
- Use a variety of Bible translations - It helps you get a fuller picture of the passage. Biblegateway.com is fantastic for this.
- Pastors and teachers at your church - They have a lot of experience with the Bible. It's ok to ask them questions. If it's an unusual question that they don't have an answer for, you might be able to work on it together.
- A Concordance (or Keyword search online) - Find verses that use a particular word (English) to study what the Bible has to say about it. For example, you can look up "love" to see what the Bible has to say about love. Be sure you read around the word too to get its context.
- A Topical Bible (I use Nave's) - Find passages about a particular topic, even if the verse doesn't include the word. For example, look up passages about marriage, even if the word "marriage" isn't in the verses.
- A Hebrew and Greek Lexicon (like Strong's) - Use with a Bible or concordance that shows the reference numbers of each word. (I especially like Interlinear Bibles.) Look up the definitions of the original language to help you understand words, verses, and passages better. You can also look up other verses that use the same Hebrew or Greek word to get a clearer picture of it.
- Commentaries - These take you deeper into the Word through Bible scholars who have studied the context, language, history, etc. Be sure to check out the author's background to make sure you agree with their philosophies. For example, some have different views on such things as the work of the Holy Spirit today.
- Books by Christian authors - Browse your local Christian bookstore, such as Berean, Lifeway, or Family Christian Store. Again, check out the author.
- Online - Search for a topic online, BUT BE VERY CAREFUL! There are thousands of websites that look Christian at first glance but are not what they appear. ALWAYS look for a statement of faith, or "what we believe," or "about me", or some other way to see how their faith matches up with yours. Don't blindly accept anyone's Bible "knowledge." Know where they are coming from spiritually.
God gave you the Bible, and He gave you your brain. If you don't use them both together, you risk following false doctrine. It is possible to read the Bible for yourself and understand it.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. -- 2 Timothy 2:15