The God who cares and who has provided salvation for man has also taken care to spiritually nourish the New Man. This spiritual food is the Word of God, the Bible.
How To Study Bible 1
I. Introduction: The God who cares and who has provided salvation for man has also taken care to spiritually nourish the New Man. T his spiritual food is the Word of God, the Bible.
“What is the Bible?” is a question generally asked by many. What they really mean is: what is so special about the Bible?
Our English word ‘bible” is the ordinary Greek word for ‘Book’. It contains words in several human languages. Historical events in real places are recorded in it. But it is unique among other books of the world, because it claims to be a revelation from God. Bible is not actually a single book, but a library of 66 books – a book of both unity and diversity. It was originally written in three languages, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
Its authors number over forty and they lives during a life span of over 1500 years. Therefore, of course it was not possible for many of them to meet one another. These books reflect the literary styles of the different authors and of their times, yet in this diversity there is a perfect unity. The Bible’s claim that one God communicated a unified message centered on the cross to humanity is the reason for this perfect unit.
II. How did the Bible Come to Us: When God spoke to them, the human authors utilized different sources of material, viz. Their memory, oral traditions, eye witness accounts or written documents, without affecting the role of the Holy Spirit in supervising their activity in any way. The disclosure from God came to them through dreams, visions, direct writing, messages through the apostles and prophets etc. These revelations were inspired of God. Though it is possible for us to know certain truths about God from nature (Ps.19.1-6; Rom.1.19, 20), and from our conscience (Rom.2.15) it was through special revelation that we have the knowledge of God and his purposes for humanity and the universe. The wisdom and science of man are powerless to solve with any amount of certainty/accuracy questions about our souls. So the Bible began as stories about patriarchs in history, commandments by God, Psalms, proverbs, prophecies, history, letters etc. These many works were later collected under God’s direction. God so led the authors to ensure that His words were properly remembered, recorded, preserved and collected (To know more about this read “Bible – The Book of books” by the same author).
The Book assumed a final written from under His direction. There were scribes and secretaries who played important roles in writing the inspired words but God was behind them all.
When the Bible was written there were no printing presses as we now have and copies of these documents had to be made by hand. The papyrus and vellum and other materials used were of high quality. Today we do not have any of those original documents but only copies. We now have copies of NT documents less than thirty years from the date they were written. We know that God preserved for us reliable texts of both of these Old and New Testaments.
Conservative Protestants consider the present sixty six books of the Bible as canonical, and spiritually authoritative. The Bible carries with it its authority. It is produced by the inspiration of God.
The Church did not create the Bible. Rather, it is the Bible, which has supremacy over the Church and is the basis for the Church. The Bible has authority. No man or institution vested it with such authority, but men were led by God to recognize what He had already placed by revelation as authoritative. The Book had received immediate recognition, i.e. were accepted as canonical, by the faithful as soon as they received them. It was not necessary for any council to approve them nor did any council approve them as such then.
God communicated in various times and in various manners (Heb.1.1). We all have the need to know from God, our Creator. And whatever God wanted to speak and whatever we need have been given to us in the Bible. In other words with the 66 books the revelation is complete. How do we know this?
The Bible, which claims divine origin, says holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet.1.21). The N. T. apostles and prophets had a foundational ministry (Eph.2.20). The Church began the process of assessing what were the canonical books on the assumption that revelation was complete. The present canon was accepted in the west by AD 397.
We believe God is True and He has spoken. If so, He would surely have preserved those words, otherwise revelation itself becomes useless. Therefore, there cannot be any conclusion other than that the Bible was without error and completely trustworthy in the original autographs.
God has made us. God has saved us. God has authority over us. And the Word of God, the Bible, claims authority over our lives. Therefore it is incumbent upon as children of God to listen to God and understand what He has spoken to us in His word.
2. Is there any practical application of what you have read that youmay want to expound on?
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Bible is like a mirror. It shows the dirt that in us while we look at it. But many that know this fact refuse to read and study the Bible. They don’t want to change.
Some of them look at it only to see if they can find any mistake in it. There was a critically ill atheist lawyer frantically leafing through the Bible in his hospital room. When asked the reason, he replied, ‘Looking for loopholes.” Such men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself, but because it contradicts them. There are thousand of men who don’t like the Bible because it cramps their lifestyle.
Then there are those who say that the Bible was written centuries ago and is not relevant for the times, and therefore they refuse to study it. The Bible is not a book on science, but every scientific statement made in the Bible is correct, and it was not necessary to change them. So is the case on every subject mentioned in the Bible. It is not a textbook on astronomy, arithmetic, Allopathy or any other subject. But it is as relevant today as it was on the day it was written.
“I am not a theologian or a pastor of the church. I am just a layman. Therefore I need not study the Bible”, is the argument of some. Bible is for every man. It is not for some particular class of people. It is the word of God to humanity in general. Therefore we should study it.
I am a very busy man. I don’t have time to study the Bible. I leave it to those who have sufficient time. I am not very religious. So goes the argument of some. The only question that will affect our life in eternity is whether we know the Author of the Bible and what is our relationship to Him. As the Bible affects our life in the eternity to come we should study the Bible.
“I am told that there are many errors in the Bible and that the Bible contradicts itself. Therefore what is the use of studying a book in which there are many errors”? Ask some people. Though many critics allege that there are errors in the Bible, none has conclusively demonstrated any error so far. Not only so, but to be honest with ourselves we should study and see for ourselves whether the Bible is true or not, before we judge it. Then we will find that it is the Bible that judges us.
Above all these let me give you three very important reasons why we should study the Bible. We should study the Bible because it is needed for our spiritual growth.
When a person is born again, he is a new creation. In a believer there is the old self and also the self. They are contrary to one another. One of them will be stronger than the other. The strength will depend upon what we feed them and how they grow.
Our physical body needs food to grow. In one sense we can say that our physical body is the sum total of all that we have eaten in the past. As the physical man needs food to grow, the spiritual man, i.e. the new man, also needs food to grow. The word of God is the food for the new man. Apostle Peter says: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that by it you may grow to salvation (1 Pet.2.2).
When a child is born, the mother applies some medicine to the palate of the child. This is to sharpen the taste and thus enable the child to suck the breast milk. A newborn child’s appetite is to be cultivated.
Peter teaches that we have to lay aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking before we desire the word. We should avoid anything that will weaken our appetite for spiritual food.
Bible is not given to us to increase our knowledge, though Bible study will definitely increase our knowledge. The purpose is to change our life, and to make us grow. Regular Bible studies will transform our lives.
The Bible is called by different names and we have many names which are characteristic of the food we eat. It is milk for the babies It is bread for the young ones It is hard meat for the grown ups It is water for the thirsty It is food for the hungry It is honey for all We should study the Bible to become spiritually mature.
While milk is for the children, hard meat is for grown-ups. When Paul was teaching about the high priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, he told the Hebrew Christians, that they are not in a position to take this hard food. Those who use only milk are unskilled in the Word. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, i.e. mature, that is those who by reason of use or practice, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb.5.11-14).
Constant use of the scripture makes one mature. It is the Bible that makes a person to distinguish between good and evil. The mark of maturity is not how much scriptural knowledge you have, but how much you make use of it and how you make use of it.
We should study the Bible because it thoroughly equips us for good works. Partial study of the Bible could be dangerous. Some believers have their favorite passages of scriptures, and they neglect other portions to their own downfall. Some study only psalms. Some study only New Testament. Some study only prophecy.
All scripture is inspired of God and is profitable. Any imbalance in the study of the Word only brings imbalance in doctrine and life and this will only engender envy and strife. The whole of the Bible is good for doctrine. And when you go wrong, the word reproves, and thus brings you back to the original path. This is the correction by the word. And when you are brought back to the original path again the same word instructs you to continue in the correct path 92 Tim.3.16-17).
The whole of the Bible, when we apply it to our life, changes us, transforms us and thus equips us for the work that God has for us. It is futile to enter the service of God with partial knowledge of His will. We need to learn the Bible.
The best place to learn is at the feet of the Lord, as Mary did (Lk.10.39) The best attitude is to be attentive always (Lk.9.48) The best time is daily (Acts 17.11) The best preparation is readiness of the mind (Acts 17.11) “Master speak, they servant hearth”(1 Sam.3.10). The best reason is, it teaches us, trains us. (Tit.2.12) The best person to learn from is the Lord. He has the words of eternal life (Jn.6.67) The best model is the also the Lord (Matt.11.29) “Learn of me” he said.
IV. Preparation for study: We have seen earlier that Bible study is necessary for Christian growth, maturity and usefulness in His service. As we are now ready to study the Bible we shall see quickly how to prepare ourselves and what are the tools we need to study the Bible.
You have heard the famous story of a person who wanted to read the Bible and know the will of God. But he has very little time. So he read the Bible at random:
“A bit of John or Mathew Now a snatch of Genesis Certain chapters of Isaiah Certainly Psalms (the twenty-third) Twelfth of Romans, first of Proverbs Yes, I found a through reading Was a different thing to do And the way was unfamiliar When I read the Bible through’.
So when the crucial time came for him to find the will of God, he opened the Bible at random and put his finger on a verse: “Judas went and hanged himself”, he thought, definitely that is not God’s will for him. So he closed his eyes and opened the Bible again, and put his finger on a verse and read: ‘Go and do likewise”.
He was very upset and knew definitely that this was not God’s will for him. So he closed his eyes and opened the word a third time; and his finger pointed “whatever you have to do, do it quickly”. He was so upset afterwards, and never went to the Bible again, wondering what it will tell him next.
We should study the Bible systematically, and the following points may be carefully noted: Have a regular time for Bible studies: This is not the quite time we have. The quite time that we have is for fellowship with the Lord. We need of course practice the presence of God with us, but this is not a substitute for Bible study.
When the quite time may be for 10-30 minutes in a day, do not be satisfied with half an hour every day for Bible study. As the physical body need food every day, and we take it regularly at meal times, Bible study should be scheduled in such a way that nothing will rob you of this time. It is for each individual to assign the time convenient for him.
Prepare Spiritually: Pray to the Lord of the Word to give you a receptive heart. The Spirit of God Himself is the teacher of the Word that He inspired. Confess any known sin in your life. Let the Lord open your eyes to see the wondrous things in the word. Any bias and prejudices should be avoided when you go to the Bible.
Prepare a place: It must be well-lighted area and a place you will not be disturbed. Nothing but emergencies should distract you from the privilege of studying the word.
Prepare your mind: The Bible was written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic languages. What you have in your hand is only a translation. A translation involved interpretation. So it would be good to read the Bible in different translations. “You do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and that anointing is read” (1 Jn.2.27). Yet we have teachers and commentaries to help us understand the context and meaning of a passage. Commit yourself to good, valid intellectual guidelines, but at the same time see that none of them become a substitute for the Bible itself.
Select the right tools: Bible study today is a pleasure that you can enjoy. Unlike the earlier centuries, today we have sufficient tools so that even without knowing the original languages you will be able to understand what the original writers meant with a large amount of accuracy.
2. Why do you think the Bbile is really significant to our life and living?
3. Write an essay that will prove the world, the bible is number one in your life.
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Bibles: The New Scoffield Reference Bible. This is complied from a dispensational point of view and is “based on the assumption that the best approach to the Bible is one that allows the reader to understand the greatest portion of the Bible. The dispensational framework does this”.
Thompson Chain Reference Bible. This study Bible combines the Analytic and Synthetic systems of Bible study and is easy to use.
The International Inductive Study Bible. Specialized instructions for personal study help you to delve into the Bible yourself.
Nave’s study Bible
The NIV Study bible
The Believers’ Study Bible
Newberry Reference Bible
Dakes Annotated Reference Bible
The Open Bible
Disciples Study Bible
Nelson Study Bible
There are many more study Bibles available on my desk, but I would still prefer a Wide Margin Center Column Reference Bible for my study. This helps the student to make plenty of notes on the margin itself.
There have also been many translations after the King James Version. Some of these translations are:
a. The Revised Version The Revised Standard Version New English Bible New King James Version New International Version New American Standard Version The Amplified Version The Living Bible etc.
Concordance: There are two popular exhaustive concordances available today. They are Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Young’s analytical Concordance. Cruden’s Concordance is more concise and easy to use.
Bible Dictionary/Encyclopedia: These tools explain to us many of the words, topics, customs and manners of Bible lands etc. They also give historical, geographical, cultural, and archeological information.
New Bible Dictionary Unger’s Bible Dictionary International Standard Bible Encyclopedia The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the bible
Topical Bible: Nave’s Topical Bible. All the verses on a particular topic are mentioned together in this Bible. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge.
Bible Handbook: Halley’s Bible Handbook Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible Unger’s Bible Handbook
Old Testament: Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies Girdlestone’s Synonyms of the Old Testament Dictionary of old Testament Words for English Readers by Aaron Pick
New Testament: Englishman’s Greek concordance of the New Testament Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament Interlinear Greek English New Testament The Complete Word Study New Testament The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words* Expository Dictionary of Bible Words* Synonyms of the New Testament by RC Trench Word Meanings of the New Testament by Ralph Earle (* contains both Old and New Testament)
Note Book: The student always has his Notebook ready while attempting his study and note down the insight he receives. It is not always possible to retain all information in memory and many have lamented afterwards, that they were not able to recall what light God have given them in the Scriptures.
No Bible student need be perplexed by the plethora of tools available today, but should consult his church leaders to help him select the few he needs for his study. Afterwards he himself will be able to add to the list as he continues his study and further need arises.
VI. Different methods of Bible Study
There are different ways or methods of Bible Study. The following among them may be noted.
1. Thematic or Doctrinal Method: In this method you select a theme or a doctrine. Care should be taken to see that the questions you ask are selected and not too many. Try not to get bogged down and discouraged. Even before a theme is selected prepare the questions you intend to ask, five or six at the most. A Topical Bible will be very useful for this study. Disciple’s Study Bible lists 27 major doctrines and gives the major divisions and all the scripture references concerning each doctrine it deals with.
Topical study also actually is a thematic study but deals with more scripture references and more questions about the topic.
2. Studying a book of the Bible: This is one of the basic units. Any verse in a book should be interpreted only in the context of the entire book. Any verse taken out of context is only a pretext. Even in studying a book, you may study a particular doctrine/doctrines contained in that book or practical application of that doctrine or both.
Continuous, uninterrupted reading of a book will help you to understand the purpose of the book. In the early stages of your study you should avoid all commentaries or other help/tools available. Let the Bible alone speak to you direct. One reading is not sufficient. On your further reading you may note down your observations.
After your last reading make a summary of the chapters and of the whole book. This would help you to outline the book. Note down all the doctrines that are immediately applicable to you personally. You can add to this as you continue to study.
3. Studying a Bible Character: With the use of a concordance pick out all the verses that mention the Bible character. Then try to classify these references into the person’s environment, family, the meaning of his name, significant events in his life, his contemporaries, his witness and statements, his influence, his strength and weakness etc.
4. Studying a word: List all the reference both in the Old and New Testament. Segregate it. Understand the meaning both in Hebrew and Greek. Read different translations to get the different shades of meaning. In the case of the New Testament with the help of the Englishman’s Greek Concordance, find out the different Greek words used to translate your English word, and also as to how that particular Greek word has been variously translated. This is one of the most interesting studies and you find the riches of the word as you dig deeper.
Look up the context to see what possible meaning(s) of the word do not fit the context. Does the word have any special religious meanings?
There are other methods of study like verse by verse analysis, Devotional method, Biographical method etc.
VII. Symbols, Types and Allegory
The Bible is written in plain, understandable languages and is to be understood literally. At the same time there are certain portions of the Bible where symbols and types are prominent. These should be particularly noted.
1. Symbols: Though neither the words ‘symbol’ nor ‘symbolism’ occurs in the Bible, they have an essential place in the Bible. Though symbols are signs, signs communicate directly and symbols metaphorically. Symbols in the Bible convey to human mind ideas about eternal things.
There are symbols drawn from nature (sun, moon, stars, desert, springs, valleys etc.) animal creatures (lion Wolf, lamb, eagles dove etc.) Inanimate things (tree, flowers, grain etc.) shoes, helmet, crown etc. made by man; colors, metals, precious stones etc. Numbers and persons are also used as symbols. In interpreting symbols first we need to note the qualities of the object or persons. Then try to understand the purpose for using the symbol. Sometimes the symbols are explained. Then we are able to draw the connection between the symbol and the truth it teaches easily. If it is not explained look to the context or other parts of scripture where the symbol is mentioned.
Sometimes the symbols would have been very clear to the original reader but the meaning is obscure to the modern reader. Scriptural background and culture may be looked into with the help of Bible dictionary or a commentary in such cases.
2. Types: A type is a divinely purposed illustration of some truth. It may be (a) a person Rom.5.14; (b) an event 1 Cor.10.11; (c) a thing Heb.10.19-20; (d) an institution (Heb.9.11-12) or (e) a ceremony (1 cor.5.7). Types occur most frequently in the first five books of the Bible, but are found more sparingly elsewhere also. The anti type, or fulfillment of the type is found generally in the New Testament.
Two warnings are necessary. (1) Nothing may be insisted upon as a type without explicit New Testament authority; and (2) All types not so authenticated must be recognized as having only the authority of an analogy, of scriptural congruity.
3. Allegory: An allegory is more than a parable. A parable has only one main thrust. It is a similitude used to teach a truth. Our Lord said that he spoke in parables because his disciples may know the mysteries of the kingdom, and those with hardened hearts may not understand. But an allegory is a story having several points of comparison. By an allegory a truth can be legitimately taught, but allegorizing is that method of taking any narrative which was not meant to teach truth by identification. This method of arbitrarily handling any narrative should be avoided.
2. Which of the foregoing methods of Bible Study do you find most effective and appealing to you?
3. What do you recommend others to adopt in their own personal Bible study?
4. Why do you think the Bible has to be interpreted literally. Rev. Pedro Narvaez once said, "Remember the KISS principle in interpreting the scriptures: Keep It Simple Stupid!"
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VIII. Inductive Bible Study
The word ‘induction’ means, the drawing of a general conclusion from a number of known facts.
Man does not have definite spiritual facts and he can only know it if it is made known to him. In His word we have an objective body of literature and God has spoken this to man.
We need to listen to the scripture instead of speaking to it. A subjective approach to the Bible is very dangerous. Traditions and experience should not be forced into the scripture and subjective deductions made from it. The correct approach to studying the scripture is first to examine the particulars and to then base any conclusion on it. In inductive Bible study we observe, interpret and apply scripture to our life. Therefore we would look at the three skills needed for this method of Bible study.
Observation: Many see but do not observe. Observation is taking notice of the scripture as they really are impartially and intensely. This is to enable one to be saturated with the particulars of a passage. Observation supplies the raw materials to interpret. ‘Discoveries are missed each day, By men who turn too soon away”. Interpretation without observations colors our understanding by our presuppositions. We need to come to the Bible with an open mind.
What to observe? Observe the terms, forms and the atmosphere. A word may have different meaning in different contexts. But a given word can be used only with one meaning in a given context. In the sentence “I carried my trunk to the Railway Station”, the ‘trunk’ could only mean a box to carry clothes etc. and not the main stem of a tree, or the proboscis of an elephant.
In observation we need to ask the six questions: Who? What?, Where?, Why?, And How? For example, let us look at Acts 1.8. But, you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
When we observe the above text, we may ask such questions, such as: What contrast does the word, ‘but’ suggest? Who is speaking? Who will receive power? What is power? Why is power needed? What is power meant for here? Who is Holy Spirit? Why should you be witnesses? What is the subject of this verse? What were they pre-occupied with? When will the Holy Spirit come? When did this happen? Where did this happen? Will this happen again? How did the disciples react to this? How should I react to this? What is the meaning of this verse to me?
When we ask questions to the scripture, the scripture itself will give us the answer. But let the questions be pertinent. When you observe, mark the key word, or key phrase(s), When you remove a key word from a sentence, the sentence itself will become meaningless. Look for words used repeatedly. Is there any comparisons or contrast to be noted?
Interpretation: In observation we see what the scripture says, and in interpretation we discover what it means?
Holy Spirit Himself is the author of the Scriptures; and He does not lie, but is the Spirit of Truth. Therefore we conclude that scripture does not contradict scripture. But scripture interprets scripture. You can take an isolated verse from the Bible, and make the Bible say what you want to say. This is wrong. Never interpret the scripture out of its context. Sometimes the meaning is obvious in the verse itself; or you may have to study the whole paragraph or the whole chapter to understand it; or it is even possible that you need to study the whole book before you can come to any definite conclusion. Seek the full counsel of the word of God.
In interpreting scripture care should be taken to see that no obscure portion is used on which to base your convictions. A clear passage or passages often throw light on an unclear passage.
Whenever possible interpret scripture literally. Scripture contains simile, metaphors, poems, prophecies, history, and biographies but don’t look to any hidden meaning first, but to the literal meaning.
See what the author had in mind when he wrote and also how the recipient understood it. You can twist any portion out of context. But don’t do this.
Application: Here we ask the question: What does it means to me? When we stop with interpretation we may gain knowledge but the Word of God will never benefit us. The Bible is given not to increase our knowledge but to change our life. I should not only be a hearer but a doer of the Word.
Earlier we saw from 2 Timothy 3.16 that the Bible is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. In applying scripture to our personal life we are concerned with the above four aspects.
What doctrine is it teaching? Am I following it? If not why I did not? Does this rebuke me? Am I taking the rebuke? Am I willing to correct myself? What should I avoid/ What should I follow? Is there an example for me here? What sin do I need to confess? Do I need to get right with my brother? What commands do I need to obey? What promises can I appropriate? What warnings should I take heed of in future? Is there a prayer I need to pray? Is there a challenge to face?
In learning the Bible we may be given answers to one or more of these questions.
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a) We need to listen to the scripture instead of speaking to it.
b) A text taken our of context is a pretext!
c) There is a need to answer the interrogative pronouns: What, Who? Where? When? How?
d) When we ask questions to the scripture, the scripture itself will give us the answer.
e) Therefore we conclude that scripture does not contradict scripture.
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IX. Reading God’s Word
Under the heading ‘Observation’ it was mentioned that this is to ‘take notice of the scripture s they really are impartially and intensely.’ Bible is the revelation of God’s mind to us. And God Himself is the best interpreter of the scripture. The Spirit of God who breathed out the scripture is the one who is able to illuminate our minds concerning the truth of the Word.
The Word of God is not only miraculously revealed (1 Cor.2.9-12) and miraculously inspired 91 Cor.2.13) but can be understood only by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.2.14-16). This is the miracle of illumination, the divine process whereby God causes the written revelation, the Bible, to be understood by the human heart. We need to pray: ‘open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from your law’ (Ps.119.18).
The Study Edition of the Open Bible gives 8 strategies on how to read the word of God. (Pages 564-565).
Read the Bible prayerfully Read the Bible thoughtfully Read the Bible carefully Read the Bible repeatedly Read the Bible extensively Read the Bible regularly Read the Bible faithfully Read the Bible obediently
In their book: “Living by the Book” authors Howard and William Hendricks adds a few more:
Read patiently Read selectively Read imaginatively Read meditatively Read purposefully Read acquisitively Read telescopically.
X. Memorize and Meditate
We also need to memorize the Word of God. This helps us especially in times when the Bible is not readily available to gain insights into the meaning of the Word. When we memorize scripture we can also meditate on it. Both these exercises become a process of engrafting the word into our lives.
The Book of Proverbs gives many steps to understand the word. Prov.2.1-11.
Receive the word. (v.1) The Word of God is living and powerful. We should accept it as such. Hide the word in the heart (v.1) The psalmist says: Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (Ps.119.11). This is the process of memorization where our mind is involved. One person said: ‘memorization is to your mind what exercise is to your muscles’. In the beginning it may seem difficult and uninteresting. It requires mental effort and valuable time: and you also find many excuses not to do I You may also feel that just reading and studying the scripture will be enough. But the more you memorize the more you will increase your capacity to memorize.
God gives blessing to those who read His word (Rev.1.3). We have also rewards in studying the word (2 Tim.2.15). But God’s guarantee of personal success is to those who meditate on His word day and night (Josh.1..
Meditation is communing with the Lord through His word, and memorization is the pre-requisite to this. This is not a mechanical but meaningful exercise. As you memorize and meditate remember these biblical presuppositions:
The Word is inspired by God (2 Pet.1.21) It is profitable for instruction (2 Tim.3.16-17) God wants me to understand his word (2 Tim.2.15) & he will speak to me (Heb.2.1) The Spirit of God Himself is our teacher (Jn.16.13) The word is deep and I cannot exhaust the riches of this (Rom.11.33) His thoughts are always higher than mine (Isa.55.8-9) There is the possibility of my bringing worldly ideas into the word (Col.2.
Meditation has it rewards. The following promises to those who meditate the word may be noted:
We will enjoy success (Jos.1. Whatever we will do will prosper (Ps.1.2-3) We will be wiser than our enemies, & teachers (Ps.119.97-100) We will be filled with joy (Ps.63.5-6) Our success will be obvious to all (1 Tim.4.15) We will have victory over sin (Ps.119.9,11) We will be able to give wise counsel (Prov.22.17, 18, 21).
Apply the heart to understanding (v.2) Here we ask key questions and do word studies etc. Cry for discernment (v.3) Our emotions are involved here. We meditate and pray. Discretion shall preserve thee (v.11) This happens when we finally obey the word.
The earlier exercises are of no value without obedience. Obedience of the word is enjoined on us in all situations. This is the only way a child of God can please the Lord. Obedience to the Word brings many blessings to the believer. The following may be specially noted.
We shall be a special treasure to God Ex.19.5 We shall avoid the evil way Ps.119.101 We shall be free from fear and anxiety Prov.1.33 We will bear fruit unto God Mt.13.23 We will enjoy the presence of God Jn.14.23 We will have assurance of salvation 1 Jn.2.3 We will anticipate His coming Rev.22.7
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The sixty-six books of the Bible are a perfect unity. God himself is its author. This is a body of truth communicated to man. But this was communicated progressively and it is complete.
“In the Old Testament we have an interpretation of human need and the New Testament is a revelation of Divine supply. In the Old we have unveilings of the human heart. In the New we have the unveiling of the heart of God, and the way in which He has answered humanity’s need in Christ” (G. Campbell Morgan).
The Old Testament, in its four successive compartments i.e. the organizational, the historical, the philosophical and the prophetical, is a book of (1) unexplained ceremonies, (2) unachieved purposes, (3) unappeased longings and (4) unfulfilled prophecies; but the New testament is the completed masterpiece (J. Sidlow Baxter).
We do have the New Testament in the Old Testament, but only in a bud form. The full-grown flower we find in the New.
Therefore when we study the Bible we need to distinguish between the things that differ and rightly divide the Word (2 Tim.2.15). Right from the time the first man was created, God tested him in the matter of the revealed will of God. Since revelation itself was progressive man’s stewardship in each time period differed. These different time periods are called an age, or a dispensation. God’s earlier revelation was not negated by any new revelation given, but this became cumulative. But unregenerate man failed in every dispensation.
We find seven major dispensations in the Bible. They are:
Innocence (Gen.1.28 Conscience or moral responsibility Gen.3.7 Human Government Gen.8.15 Promise Gen.12.1 Law Ex.19.1 Church Acts 2.1 Kingdom Rev.20.4 (New Scoffield Reference Bible P.3)
In His pamphlet, “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth” C.I.Scoffield, the Editor of Scoffield Reference Bible indicates the following divisions:
The Jews, The Gentiles and the Church of God (1 Cor.10.32). In the Old Testament we have the dealings of God with the Jews. Jesus Christ came as the king of the Jews, but they rejected Him. Since the King was rejected, the kingdom offered to them was postponed. From then onwards, God started dealing with individuals, whether Jew or Gentile. Today He is taking out a bride for His son, the Church (which comprise of Jew and Gentile). God is going to deal with the Jews as a nation again when Jesus Christ returns. The Seven dispensations. This was mentioned earlier. The Two advents. The Old Testament prophecies were mainly concerned about the coming of the ‘seed of the woman’. The Spirit of Christ that was in the prophets prophesied of his sufferings and the glory that should follow (1 Pet.1.10, 11). These were the subject matter of his first coming and Second Coming. Though they prophesied of His first and second coming in their Old Testament prophecies, they were not marked as such in them. He came and He is to come again. Those who prophesied of these ‘mountain peaks of prophecies’ were not able to see the valley between them, which is the Church age. This was a mystery hidden in God but now revealed to his apostles and prophets (Eph.3). He appeared to put away sin. Now He is appearing on behalf of his saints in the Holy of Holies. He will appear again a second time to consummate salvation (Heb.9.24-16). His Second Coming also has two aspects. The first is His coming for the Church. After the Church is caught up in the air, he will start dealing with the Jews as a Nation and come again to establish the Kingdom and rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem. The Two resurrections.
All those who are in the grave will hear the voice of the Son of God and rise again, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting judgement (Jn.5.24-25). The New Testament believers and the Old Testament saints and the Tribulation saints have part in the first resurrection and the unbelievers in the second resurrection.
The Five judgements.
The believers’ sins are judged on the Cross. There is therefore no condemnation to them (Rom.8.1-3) The believers’ sins in the present are judged in the present age. This is the chastisement by the Father. Sometimes this may end in physical death also (Heb.12.6; 1 Cor.11.30) The believers’ works will be judged when Christ comes again. This is to receive the reward (2 Cor.5.10) When Christ appears in glory the nations will be judged (Matt.25.31-32) All the wicked in every age will be judged at the Great White Throne (Rev.20.11-15). They will be cast into the lake of fire.
The Law and Grace.
The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (Jn.1.17). It contains both moral and civil and ceremonial laws. Law asked man to do certain things and not to do certain things, but did not give him power to perform its requirements. Law only condemned him when he disobeyed. Grace freely forgives a repentant sinner, because of the punishment meted out to Jesus Christ, who suffered on his behalf.
Believers’ two natures.
He has two natures – the Old and the New, i.e. the flesh and the spirit. They are contrary to one another (Rom.8.6f). Believers are exhorted to mortify the old nature and live in the spirit.
The believer’s standing and state.
The believer’s standing is perfect before God. But his state is not so. This is because of the flesh. One day Christ will present every believer perfect before himself.
Salvation and rewards
Salvation is a free gift from God. But reward is for the service rendered. Salvation is never going to be lost, but many may lose their rewards.
Believers and professors
There are only believers in the body of Christ. But there may be many professors in the local churches. Every believer is one who is saved i.e. whose sin are completely washed in the blood of Christ but the professors claim they are Christians while they are not. They will only be condemned.
2. Why do you think the study of the periods of dispensations is very important in Methods of Bible Study?
Last edited by Admin on Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:32 am; edited 1 time in total
Test: How To Study Bible I
Q1. Explain the major methods of studying Bible
Q2. Why is systematic Bible-study essential for a believer
Q3. What are the advantages of using bible-study tools
Q4. Develop an outline for Psalms 23 and explain each point
Q5. Develop an outline for Daniel chapter 1 and explain each point of the outline
Q6. Develop or discover an outline for the book of Jonah and explain each point
Q7. Develop or find an outline for the Epistle to Galatians. Give the outline, and also a brief explantion of each point of the outline.
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