If you’ve ever opened a Bible and felt a little lost, that’s okay. It’s not your typical book! The Bible consists of 66 books written over 1500 years by 40 different authors. The entire Bible is inspired by God and written for our instruction. A good place to start is with the 4 Gospels of the New Testament. It explains how and why God truly loves us. It also explains who His son Jesus is.
It is important that you not just read the Bible, but understand it. This involves understanding the context, Jewish history, language, geography and cross-references. Without studying the Bible, people can take verses out of context or twist the Bible verses to suit their message (e.g the Prosperity Gospel). The Bible is a complete story about Jesus so its best to read verse by verse, book by book to understand the full canon of scripture and what its telling you.
Anytime we divorce a single verse or passage of Scripture from its surrounding text, we’re on the road to misinterpretation. Proper context is the key to understanding the Bible properly, because context connects the dots driving us down a path. Context works in interpreting the Bible…each verse conveys the thought forward one step at a time in a continuous action. If we remove one verse from the passage and try to study it in isolation, we’ve stopped the movement of the idea. We’ve lost the thread of the conversation in the text, which then forces us to substitute our own conversation in its place.
It’s not a book of solutions for those who get into trouble, it’s a manual for living designed to lead us away from trouble. We are supposed to study it and obey it so that it goes well with us. We cannot obey what we do not understand, and we cannot teach what we ourselves have not studied.
My recommendation would be to get started in the book of Matthew and follow along with the Verse by Verse Ministry commentaries I have linked under Bible Study Resources. Before reading a book, I have found it extremely helpful to watch a Bible Project summary on the Book on Youtube. They also have downloadable poster summaries linked below.
If you don’t have a Bible, that’s ok, there are plenty of free apps and online versions. I have linked some of these here.
As a Christian, it is so important to read the Bible daily to grow in your relationship with Jesus. Lets say you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, and you never spent any time with them or knew barely anything about them - you would question whether you were really in a relationship with that person, wouldn't you? The same goes for your relationship with Jesus, the more time you put in, the closer you will get and the greater understanding you will receive. "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15).
The Bible is also the source of all truth. How will you know if a pastor is a good teacher of the Bible, or a church has sound doctrine, if you have no truth to compare it to? The Bible tells us to test all spirits in 1 John 4:1 "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." This will prevent you from being mislead and confused by those "Christians" who deceive and are of the world, not of God.