Use Your Toothbrush For Bible Observation [BIBS]


Start With Your Toothbrush

Some tools—dentist drills, for example—are used only by specialists. I would not recommend drilling out your own cavities.

However, other tools—toothbrushes, for example—are for everyone. I do recommend you use a toothbrush daily. Do not leave your teeth cleaning up to your dentist. Your annual checkup does not count as good hygiene. Use the tools you have.

A specialist’s tools might do incredible work, but only the specialist knows how to use them. Sure, anyone can learn dentistry over time, but it makes sense for everyone to just start with a toothbrush.

If you are a Christian, you do not have to be a specialist—like a pastor, missionary, evangelist, or other kind of minister—to use the tool of God’s Word. Use your “toothbrush.” Know the basics of Bible study and you will have a great head start.

Personal hygiene does not happen at the annual cleaning; it happens in the day-to-day brushing. Personal hygiene is incremental—a little bit every day.

The same is true with your Christian walk with God. A Bible specialist’s tools—a huge library, fancy Bible software, etc.—will not make sense to you if you are a beginner. Start simple, and grow incrementally.

The following are a few tools that you might already have:

Study Bible

A study Bible will give you an overview of the book before you begin reading. The overview might include several of the points previously mentioned including background information, date, author, themes and cultural references. Further, the Bible might include cross references, maps and further explanations as you are reading through a text.


A concordance such as Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance will allow you to look up any word in the Bible and see the reference to every verse that word is in. In addition, it will define the word in its original language. This resource is helpful to see how ideas relate to one another and how words are defined within a context.

Online Bibles

Concordances and other reference materials are available free online. Advantages include speed and availability. Examples of online sources include NetBible or Each website (and several others like them) allows you to click on a word to view the definition and uses within Scripture.

Bible Software

If you prefer to download software, consider as a free option. Good dictionaries such as Webster’s 1828 can be downloaded for free through E-Sword, as well as several commentaries, maps, devotionals and more. On my Mac I use the Olive Tree Bible App and purchase study books that sync with my iPad and iPhone. I have access to hundreds of resources and use them almost daily.


Other people have out-studied you, so glean from their brains. You can do this through books. I love hearing from men and women who are smarter than me. I listen to a lot of what they tell me through their books. I gain a lot of background information about the Bible when I read after people who have devoted their lives to other languages, cultures and histories. I do not have time to become an archaeologist, so I read about archaeologist’s findings. I do not have time to become a historian with a focus on the Babylonian Empire, so when I am studying Daniel (who lived during the Babylonian Empire), I read what the experts wrote.

Survey books such as Bible handbooks, Bible atlases, and Bible dictionaries will help you understand cultures, people and other background information. Whole-Bible commentaries such as King James Bible Commentary will not only provide an overview of each book but will also explain trouble sections through the Bible. Commentaries are volumes dedicated to each book of the Bible. A complete commentary will deal in depth with every word and phrase of every verse of the Bible.

Your Pastor

Your pastor has a spiritual calling as a man of God. He is placed in your life to help you. He is a specialist, so to speak, and he has plenty of tools to help you. Ask him if you can see his library. If he allows, ask him if you can borrow books. Get his recommendations on what books to study. If you are studying Romans, see if he has any background or survey books available. If you are doing a topical study on purity, see if he has any books on that topic.


Use man’s wisdom sparingly! Your goal is to hear from God directly, so do not rely on these Bible study tools as a crutch. You are not after the right answer, as if you are taking a test in school. You are hearing from God, so spend most of your time in His Word! Books, commentaries, concordances, articles and your Pastor are fallible—they have errors. God is infallible. His Word is inerrant. Man’s writings (including this post you are reading right now) are filled with error. God is perfect, so trust God more than men.


This post was adapted from the book BIBS: Big Idea Bible Study, available from Calvary Baptist Publications.



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