Rule #1: Ask God for Guidance
Begin all bible study with prayer, seeking the wisdom and knowledge to understand and comprehend the meaning of the inspired and unerring Word of God. Seek the topic or scripture that which God leads you to study ( as in the manner of David)
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared. Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!
Rule #2: Study the Bible for Correction
This does not refer to biblical correction of itself, but self correction of self. God will show you the error of your ways and the means for correction.
II Timothy 3:16-17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
On the subject of correction we should read Jeremiah 10:23-24: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.”
Rule #3: “Prove All Things
God works in mysterious ways. His creations are proof of that.
I Thessalonians 5:21: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
Acts 17:11: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Rule #4: God’s Word Never Contradicts Itself
“For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal. 3:6).
Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.”
Rule #5: Find Out What the Bible Really Says
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (Matthew 13:10-17 ESV)
Luke 17:20-21: “…The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Rule #6: Examine the Context
Always read the scripture before and after the text you are studying. Understanding context (time, circumstance, audience and the words spoken and by whom they are spoken) is key to understanding God’s Words.
Rule #7: “Here a little, there a little”
The Bible is written in a way that defies understanding on the physical level. With this in mind, read Isaiah 28:9-10: “Whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.”
Rule #8: The Bible Interprets Itself
Scripture interprets scripture. Use marginal cross references. Read the Old Testament with the New Testament in mind and read the New Testament with the Old Testament in mind. The New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. Always look at the full counsel of God.
Rule #9: Start With Clear Scriptures
Always use the light of clear scripture to define murky or unclear scripture. Again utilize the full counsel of God.
Rule #10: Use More Than One Translation
The closer your study bible is connected to actual Hebrew and Greek translations, the closer one can approach the revealing and unerring Word of God. Multiple bibles of different translations can clarify points of confusion in the definetions of various translated words and phrases.
Rule #11: Do Not Use Bible Helps to Establish Doctrine
Reliable commentary can be helpful for giving oneself insight into God's word. But bear in mind that the scholars that wrote these commentaries lack God's spirit, so error is unaviodable.
Rule #12: Make Notes in Your Bible
The book is not holy, just the words. Notes will help to clarify the text for you. Notes can accent what is written and reaffirm in your head what God is telling you. Notes are the sign of a studious Christian trying to be in the Word.