Q: #58. I am a new Christian. What study materials do you recommend to help me grow?
By: Steve Shirley
A: I believe three study materials are a must for all Christians. First, of course, you need a good Bible. We discussed this at length in the previous question, so please check this out.
Secondly, you should have a good Bible dictionary. These take most of the people, places, and things found in the Bible and help you understand them more clearly. The two Bible dictionaries that I use the most are the "Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible," and "The New Unger's Bible Dictionary." Both are great, very thorough, and quite easy to understand. The Nelson's Dictionary has pictures of many things found in the Bible, which is pretty awesome. A good dictionary can be found for about $10 - $20. While I don't like them quite as much as the two mentioned, two good classic Bible dictionaries can be found online to use for free: Easton's Bible Dictionary and Smith's Bible Dictionary.
Third, you should have a good concordance. With a concordance, you can look up any word in the Bible and find every place it is used. In addition, with many you can also look up what the word means in the original Hebrew and Greek if you so wish. In the back of some concordances, you will find a topical index where you can pick a subject or topic you are interested in studying, and they will list verses all through the Bible that pertain to that topic. Strong's concordance is by far the best selling concordance today, and it is excellent. You can usually get one for around $20. While I recommend getting it in book form, Strong's is also available online for free. (***Note: Strong's is only made for a few versions of the Bible, so you might want to make sure it is made for your version.)
I would also recommend, down the road, that you consider getting a good commentary or two. Commentaries function just like the notes found in a study Bible, but they often go into much more depth on many verses. There are hundreds of commentaries out there, some good, some I wouldn't recommend at all. The commentary I use most often is called "The Believer's Bible Commentary" by William MacDonald. I LOVE this commentary. It is very thorough and easy to understand. It has helped me immensely.
I also have a "Wycliffe Bible Commentary," a "MacArthur Bible Commentary" (same notes as his study Bible), and "Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown's Commentary" (free online). All of these I recommend. Vernon Mcgee, an old time Bible preacher from the 1980's, has a series of Bible commentaries, one on each book of the Bible, called Thru The Bible. He was a good Bible teacher.
These study aids should get you well on your way to a deeper walk with the Lord.