“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
It is our responsibility to become a student of the Word. Being a student of the Word does not mean the Bible is something that we casually read. We must be committed to studying the Word of God. So many have lost the desire to study the Word of God. When we watch our favorite sports team or the next big movie we get excited, and we can’t wait until the next Harry Potter book comes out. How come we don’t get excited about the Word of God?
Today there are 215 seminaries in the United States. Seminaries in and of themselves are not bad, but it is my opinion that they have fostered an idea that they are necessary to create students of the Word. We should not let the fact that we did not attend seminary hinder us from becoming a student of the Word. 1 Peter 2:2 reminds us that we should desire the pure milk of the Word so that we may grow. We are called to be Holy (1 Peter 1:16), and the Lord has given us resources to be Holy. We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. (1 Corinthians 6:19) We also have the Word of God that will last forever (1 Peter 1:25, Matthew 24:35). When we enter into eternity, one of the few things we will have is the Word of God.
It is clear that we must become students of the Word. When I first felt convicted that I needed to be spending more time studying God’s Word, my first decision was determining what Bible I should use for studying. My journey started with a wide-margin Bible, then on to a journaling Bible and finally with the use of an iPad to study God’s Word. Yes, an iPad. Each form of study had its benefits and drawbacks of which I will discuss.
When I first started to use a wide-margin Bible it was a little difficult for me. As I took notes or wrote something in the margins, I would either become unorganized or my writing became illegible, preventing me from being able to review it later. With the intentions I had in mind, this Bible just didn’t work for me. I do have a good friend, however, who it does work for. He organizes his wide-margin Bible in a unique way. If someone is speaking about prayer, he automatically turns to 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray without ceasing.” When he thinks of prayer he thinks of this verse. Using this method allows him to refer to various notes on prayer. Admittedly, his Bible has arrow after arrow all over the pages and I would find it difficult to read and refer back to at times.
The next Bible I used in my journey to become a student of the Word was a journaling Bible. I thought this Bible had solved all of my “problems”—it had lines in the margins. I thought I would be able to organize my notes and it would be much neater with lines. Unfortunately, I found that I could only fit so much and therefore I had to be selective in what I would write in the margin. One plus about this Bible was that it was inexpensive, only $20.
I finally decided to give the iPad a try. I saw numerous people using their iPad as their Bible. I would always wonder what was so special about it but nothing ever wowed me. Someone then told me about Olive Tree Bible software for electronic devises. There is an Olive Tree “app” you can download to your iPad. I thought it looked very useful. I decided to try out the software on my Mac before making the purchase of an iPad. I immediately loved it.
Among many others, here are just some of the features of the Olive Tree software: the ability to highlight text in any color, the option to create a note on any verse or even on any word (most Bible apps don’t allow you to create a note on a single word), and the option to add note categories. If you want to have a category of notes on prayer or New Testament principles, you just add a category.
The Olive Tree iPad app is also preacher friendly. You are able to split your screen and have notes on one side and the Bible on the other side. The split screen is also very useful for taking notes and using the resources that are available. The resources are also very valuable. You can get Bible maps, different commentaries and Bible tools such as dictionaries and cross-references.
One of the first potential drawbacks to this form of study that I thought of was, “what would happen to my notes years from now if I get a new computer or iPad?” With Olive Tree however, everything is synced over the Internet so the migration of my notes to a new device is not a problem. All you need is an e-mail address and a password to access your content. If you do not have an Apple device, don’t worry— Olive Tree is also available for Windows and can sync from your PC to your iPad as well.
Any good thing comes with a price, however. The Olive Tree app itself is free– but the only version of the Bible you get for free is the KJV and the ASV. The ESV, NIV and NKJV do cost extra. I personally purchased the ESV with Strong’s numbers. It cost $28 but it is money well spent. I have found there are numerous other benefits to using an iPad over a traditional Bible for study other than the Olive Tree app, however you can research those on your own.
As I continue my journey to become a student of the Word, I feel comfortable with the Bible I am using. I started out with a wide-margin, moved to a journaling Bible with lines and ended up digital. It is not to say any one Bible is better than the other. It is all the inspired Word of God. You need to use what works for you. The real issue is finding what helps you become a student of the Word. May you be challenged to commit yourself to studying God’s Word so “you may be competent, equipped for every good work.”