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These studies examine the scriptures in a search for the truth on various subjects. Although I was reared in the Church of Christ and have been preaching since 1968 in the Church of Christ, I attempt to study to know the truth, not merely to validate "church doctrine". My desire is that we walk righteously before God, not according to traditions of men. Bernie Parsons
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How To Study the Bible
A Scriptural Guide To Personal Bible Study
Copyright ©1998 by Bernie Parsons - revised 11-12-2009
There are some who question the necessity of studying the Bible at all. I have known folks who hold the belief that what they do not know about Gods will and word will not be held against them. Others say that God will just interject into their minds all that they need to know. These are dangerous and mistaken notions.
Acts 17: 24-31: "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."
God no longer winks at -- or turns a blind eye to -- mans ignorance. He expects us to study His word, learn His will and follow His leadership. There is a day of judgment in which the ungodly shall suffer for their continued rejection of His love and mercy. The apostle Paul lamented the lack of knowledge of his fellow Jews, and how that ignorance led them into a state of self-righteousness.
Romans 10:1-3: "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
It is Gods desire that we learn the truth. He does not want to destroy us, but rather to save us. It is not our religious zeal that saves us, but rather, knowing and doing God's will.
I Timothy 2: 3-4: "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
2 Peter 3: 1-6: "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
God desires our salvation, but that salvation depends upon our willingness to learn of Him and keep His instructions. By being willingly ignorant, man subjects himself to the wrath of Gods judgment.
Matthew 12: 41-42: "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here."
Colossians 1: 9-10: "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
The wise seek to understand the Holy words of God, so that they might know how to please Him and accomplish His will. The apostle Paul wrote of the importance of knowing Jesus in:
Philippians 3: 7-11: "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. "
Paul knew that nothing matters except the salvation of one’s own soul. He willingly gave up fame, wealth and power to learn of Jesus, that he might be resurrected to eternal life. Jesus reminded His followers of the gravity of this situation when He spoke these words in:
Matthew 16: 26-27: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works."
John 8: 31-32: "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
The Bible, that Holy Book: the Word of God!
Here is the fountain of life! Here is that which will set us free; give us life everlasting; and save our souls from eternal destruction. It is recorded in of Jesus in:
John 7:38: "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
And in John 4:14: "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
Oh, give us that water that we may drink! Something this important must be understood. We take up our Bibles in pursuit of the word of the Living God, reading diligently. But in all the quaint language of the King James Version (my favorite), and in the twist and turns of the sentences (not to mention the mysterious prophecies), it sometimes becomes confusing.
We find ourselves perplexed, mystified, confused and a little tired trying to make sense of these "books" of the Bible. We begin to feel inadequate, unable to understand. We pray -- and we should! -- for understanding. Well, we shouldnt feel alone. We are in good company.
Acts 8: 26-31: "And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him."
This devout worshipper of God was on his way back from Jerusalem, and like us, was diligently reading from the scriptures. From the prophet Isaiah, he was reading a prophecy about Jesus, the Christ. Yet this humble and studious fellow confessed that he could not understand what he was reading! He was in need of someone to guide him in his study of the scriptures.
Romans 10: 8-17: "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have no all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
It is necessary that we listen to the word of God. Fortunately, we have it written down so that we can read it anytime we desire. This was part of the plan of God, to make this word available to all of us: rich and poor, educated and uneducated. It matters not. It is there for us to read, study, meditate upon and examine thoroughly. Those courageous preachers of old, the apostles and early disciples wrote their lessons down in letters and dissertations that we now call the New Testament.
Which brings me to an important question: What part of the Bible should one study first? Many people do not know where to begin their Bible study. Some try to start in Genesis, some in Matthew. Others just open up their Bibles and begin to read wherever it happens to fall open.
Jesus said in Matthew 4:4: "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Every word that God has spoken is important. You might ask, "How do we know what is the word of God?"
In Hebrews 1:1-2: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;"
So, we know that God spoke through the prophets in the Old Testament, and through His son Jesus in these later times.
The law of Moses was also from God, as Jesus points out in:
Matthew 5:17-19: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Now it is becoming clearer! The law given to Moses, written on tablets of stone on the holy mountain, was in preparation for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior! The prophecies of the Old Testament pointed the way to Him! When He arrived upon the earth He was the fulfilling -- the completion, the fruition -- of all the law of Moses, and the prophets! John said in:
John 1:17: "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
And again in:
John 1:45: "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
There is no conflict between Old and New Testaments, as some suppose, but perfect harmony! We must understand that the entire plan of God from the beginning is one continuous plan that unfolds over time. It is all the word of God. In fact, the Old Testament is the scripture from which the Jesus and the apostles preached and taught! Jesus himself instructed His Jewish brethren in:
John 5:39: "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
Romans 15:4: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
Jesus knew that a careful, honest study of those scriptures would reveal Him as the promised Christ. The whole reason for the preservation of the nation of Israel under the law of Moses was so that God could be shown to have kept His promise to Abraham that through his offspring all nations of the earth would be blessed.
Genesis 22:18: "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."
Genesis 26:4: "And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;"
Genesis 28:14: "And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
So this promise made centuries earlier and recorded in the Old Testament scripture is fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. This is verified by the Apostle Paul in:
Galatians 3:8-9: "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."
The prophets spoke in terms of the nation returning to righteousness in preparation for our Lords coming; they also referred to the bringing in of all nations (Gentiles) to be the people of God.
Romans 15:8-12: "Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust."
The "Gentiles" were the "peoples" or the "nations" that were to be blessed through a descendant of Abraham -- his seed. This is explained by Paul in many of his writings, notably Romans and Galatians. He quite clearly clarifies the relationship between the promise to Abraham, the law given through Moses and the appearance of Jesus as Savior in Galatians 3.
Galatians 3:1: "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye
should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been
evidently set forth, crucified among you?
Pay particular attention to verses 16-19, 24 and 29. In verses 16-19, Paul describes how the promise was first made, then the law was given 430 years later because of the Israelites violation of Gods previous instructions. The law was given to preserve Abrahams pure bloodline until the promise to bless all nations through the one seed, Christ, should be fulfilled. Verse 24 shows us that the law was intended to be in force until Christ should arrive on the scene. Verse 29 lets us know the promise to Abraham was kept in the birth of Christ. The old law -- the Old Testament -- served as a schoolmaster, verses 24-25, until the arrival of Jesus. But now we no longer follow this schoolmaster, for the Savior has come!
This Savior, Jesus of Nazareth -- and Galilee and Bethlehem! -- came for the benefit of the entire world.
John 3:14-18: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
He broke down the wall of separation between the former chosen people known as Israel -- later, the Jews -- and the rest of the world, known as Gentiles. Thereafter, anyone of any nation became beneficiaries of the promise to Abraham if they followed Jesus as the promised Savior.
Ephesians 2:10-22: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
The apostle Paul writes that Jesus broke down the wall of partition, or separation, between the two groups, Jew and Gentile, by abolishing -- removing, through the fruition or fulfilling of -- the law of commandments given to Moses on the holy mountain. He combined the two groups into one body, the church, by offering His one body for the both, and sending one Holy Spirit into them all. The resultant church is one body, one building firmly joined together to provide a holy temple -- place of worship -- where God can live through the Holy Spirit.
Romans 3:21-30: "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith."
Paul here writes that man is justified without the deeds of the law of Moses. In Romans 7:6 he declares that the law is dead, and we are freed from it. He compares this situation in Romans, the 7th chapter, to a woman freed from a dead husband, free to marry another.
Romans 7:6: "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."
Jesus death upon the cross finished the purpose of the law of Moses.
Colossians 2:8-15: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
Hebrews 7:19-22: "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. "
Hebrews 8:4-9: "For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord."
Hebrews 10:9-10: "Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
These, and many other scriptures, including the entire book of Hebrews, show that the law of Moses and the words of the prophets were until Christ came. In the unfolding plan of God, we readily see that the whole point is to listen to Jesus. He is the whole reason for the promise to Abraham, the institution of the law of Moses and the words of the prophets!
We should not confuse ourselves as did Peter, as is recorded in:
Luke 9:28-36. "After all, he had just awakened from a deep sleep! Luke 9: 28-36: And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen."
Peter wanted to construct three places of worship: one for Moses, signifying the law of
commandments; one for Elias (Elijah), representing the holy prophets; and one for Jesus,
the Son of God. The voice of God instructed them to hear Jesus, the Son! The lawgiver and
the prophet had both disappeared, and Jesus alone of the three remained on the mountain
with his disciples! By this we know that our primary study is to be in the New Testament
scriptures, the gospel of Jesus
John said that Jesus is the Word of life made flesh! Therefore, we conclude that Jesus, the man, was the embodiment of God’s very word -- that is, He taught and lived it each day of His life.
1 John 1:1-5: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
Here John informs us that the apostles and other New Testament writers were simply writing down what Jesus taught in His speech and life. Jesus taught lessons that He learned from His heavenly Father -- God, the Creator.
John 7:14-18: "Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him."
John 8:26-32: "I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Jesus, like any good child, learned from being with His Father, and listening to Him, observing the example that He set. Jesus, in turn, did the same to His disciples, instructing them verbally and through the example of His lifestyle. After fully instructing His followers, He then charged them with the responsibility of carrying those teachings to the whole world.
Matthew 28:18-20: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
They were to teach the world (all nations) everything (all things) that He had commanded. And lest they forget, He also sent the Holy Spirit to remind them what He had taught them.
John 14:23-26: "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
It is important that we study the scriptures on a daily basis. The Jews at Berea studied the Old Testament scriptures daily, and were therefore easily able to see that they spoke of Jesus. By studying the scriptures daily we become familiar with them. Our understanding is increased, and our ability to locate particular passages is improved. When we have a Bible question, we are able to quickly turn to the relevant scriptures and find Gods answer to our question. When we hear others proclaim that the Bible teaches a particular subject, we will know if they are telling the truth. Also, when we are faced with difficult decisions, we will know what God expects us to do.
Acts 17:10-12: "And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 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. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few."
2 Timothy 3:14-17: "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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, throughly furnished unto all good works."
The Apostle Paul told Timothy that the scripture is able to completely supply us with all we need to know in order to do all the things that God wants us to do.
When we become Christians, we are born again, becoming spiritual newborns, as Jesus told Nicodemus in:
John 3:1-8: "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
This rebirth in the water and the spirit makes us a new creature in Christ.
Romans 6:3-6: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
We can grow and mature in the Lord by studying the scriptures. Peter supports this truth in:
1 Peter 2:2-3: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious."
It is not enough to merely become a Christian, but one must continually study in order to grow and mature. Just as a natural human child is stunted and undeveloped if it never grows beyond a certain point, so it is with a child of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3: "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"
Hebrews 5:12-14: "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
Spiritual milk is fine for the newly born-again child of God, an infant in the Lord. But like all infants outgrow their easily digestible milk, it is finally time to move on to stronger fare. Without the additional vitamins and minerals found in more varied and complex food, a child would never properly develop. In order to develop to the point of becoming skillful we must feed upon the word of God, and grow thereby. This feeding consists of more than reading. We must read to understand, then adopt this new understanding into our lifestyle.
Paul instructed Timothy to study, even though he had known the scriptures since he was a child. He told him to study carefully, correctly understanding what God intended in the written word. He also warned him against arguments and useless discussions.
2 Timothy 2: 14-16: "Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness."
We do not study in order to pick a fight, or win an argument. We study to grow spiritually to become the strong Christian God wants us to be. We must also be careful about studying merely to support a doctrine that we have already been taught, or have believed.
2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."
Ephesians 4:11-16: "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
As Christians, we are members of the Lords church, which apostle Paul calls the body of Christ.
Colossians 1:12-24: "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:"
As members of that body of Christ -- which in Greek is called the ekklesia, and which we call the church -- we have an obligation to grow up to the mature size that matches the size of the body's head, which is Jesus. Not only is growth good for us as individuals, it is absolutely necessary, because the body of Christ cannot be a stunted body!
That is why Paul told Timothy to study to show himself approved unto God! There is an expectation from the Lord that we study, grow and mature.
James 4:8: "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."
As I indicated previously, study is different than merely reading. Study involves thinking about what is being read, and asking the questions: Who? What? Where? When? and Why? It requires a frame of mind, a prayerful attitude of longing for the truth. Our minds are too often bogged down with thoughts of the world and the cares of the flesh. We worry about food, shelter and clothing. We worry about things not going as we planned. We worry about our families, and our jobs.
Luke 10:40-42: "But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
Philippians 4:6: "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God"
Mark 4:19: "And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful."
We do well to consider these cautions about being full of cares, or "carefulness". The cares of this world can hinder our spiritual growth and development. They interfere with our study and absorption of the great and wonderful word of God! The answer to this difficult problem is found in the Word!
Matthew 6:19-34: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto he day is the evil thereof."
I Peter 5:6-7: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
Give these burdens up to the Lord and turn your attentions to the spiritual realm. Sure, we have to work and carry out daily tasks and obligations. But we need to get the worries off our minds, trusting that the Lord will take care of us! The Lord is well aware of our needs, and is willing to meet those needs. He does not necessarily give us everything that we want, but He does give us what we need at the time. Trust Him!
Our attention needs to be directed toward that which will save our souls. Remember what Jesus said in:
Matthew 6:33: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Jesus also said in:
Matthew 7:7-11: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
Along with your study, be prayerful. Jesus promised that God is aware of our needs; will meet our needs; and will give what we need, when we ask.
James 1:5: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
Ephesians 1:15-20: "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,"
Philippians 1:9: "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;"
Colossians 1:9-11: "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;"
It is scriptural to pray to God to increase our knowledge. This is why I say we must study in a prayerful attitude. God, the holder of all knowledge, will share that knowledge with us as we seek and ask for it. But we need to have it in our hearts continually. David wrote in:
Psalms 1:1-3: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Christianity is not something we do on Sundays, it is a way of life. Therefore, we must keep our hearts in the spiritual realm, as Paul said in:
Colossians 3:2: "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
Questions, everyone! By inquisitive study we begin traveling the path to understanding. We already showed you this concept by answering questions about the Old and New Testaments. Only by questioning can we reach the conclusions that God would have us reach.
What was the law of Moses (the Old Testament law)?
Answer: The instructions given to Moses from the Lord on Mt. Sinai.
Exodus 24:12: "And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them."
Exodus 31:18: "And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God."
How was it given?
Answer: Written on tables of stone by the finger of God. (Same scriptures as above.)
To whom was the Old Testament (the law & prophets) given?
Answer: To the children (offspring) of Israel (Jacob). Read Exodus 1:1-12; 2: 23-24; 3: 4-10; 19:1-6; 20:1-17.
From whom did it come?
When was it given?
Answer: 430 years after the promise God made to Abraham.
Galatians 3:16-19: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."
Where was it given?
Answer: In Mt. Sinai.
Exodus 31:18: "And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God."
Why was it given
Answer: To preserve the seed (offspring) of Abraham as a nation until the promise would be fulfilled.
Galatians 3:13-19: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it as ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."
Romans 4:13: "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,"
We see that by being inquisitive and asking the proper questions we can unearth the answers in the Holy Scriptures. As I wrote at the beginning of this study guide, the word of God contains the answers to all the important questions in life.
Now we can use what we have already learned so far to engage in further study of the scriptures.
I recommend three main tools in studying the Bible. They are:
The Holy Bible, containing both Old and New Testaments. I personally prefer the King James version (KJV). Some say that it is too difficult too understand. I do not find that to be the case. Approached correctly, the KJV will reveal Gods will to you as well as any version, and better than most. Although the language is from a different era, it is explicit. The punctuation and sentence structure are usually so good that it is easy to understand the intent. Many newer versions have been deliberately rendered to support particular manmade doctrines. Be wary of using them.
A good Bible concordance. I am presently using The New Strongs Exhaustive Concordance. In the past I have used Crudens Complete Concordance. Any good concordance will do. Dont worry about all the helps and aids. Use the main body of the concordance itself. This is the part that has the words of the Bible listed alphabetically and directs you to the particular Bible verses where they can be found..
The concordance is handy when you want to run down all the references for a particular word. For instance, should you want to know what the Bible has to say about pride, look up the word pride in the concordance. The concordance is set up alphabetically. To get the full range of context, think of related words such as proud, haughty, haughtiness, arrogant, arrogance, etc. Also, consider opposite words such as humble, humility and humiliation. For an even more comprehensive search, think of other phrases or words that are similar, such as abase, lifted up, brought down, stand and fall. The concordance will refer you to book, chapter, and verse.
A good dictionary. Be careful, because many dictionaries contain only modern definitions of words. Search for a good dictionary that indicates the root words from different ancient languages, and what those root words meant. It should also show obsolete meanings of the word. Several good examples are: suffer, which usually means allow in the scriptures; the word conversation, which generally refers to manner of living; communication/communicate which usually refer to sharing; and other similar ones.
Use the dictionary whenever you find a word that you do not know, or for which you are not sure that you have the correct definition. Even look up words that you assume that you understand -- you may be surprised at what they really mean! If you have a good dictionary with root words and their origins, pay particular attention to those. Many times they are closer to the original KJV meaning, shedding light on the intended use in the Bible.
A good set of maps of the Old and New Testaments may be of benefit to the serious Bible student. Although there are many commentaries and "Bible" dictionaries, it has been my experience that many are laced with manmade ideas and doctrines. Any use of such books should be done cautiously and suspiciously. Anyone can write a commentary, including you or me. They contain the comments of men and may be full of error.
About The Holy Bible
As shown already, it is best to start in the New Testament rather than the Old Testament. But where should one start in the New Testament? It is important to understand some basic things about the Bible, and the New Testament in particular. First, none of it was originally written as chapters and verses. These devices are manmade to make study of, and quotation from, the scriptures easier. Although they make study easier, one would do well to remember as we read that each "book" of the Bible is a continuous writing. Thoughts and ideas generally carry throughout the "book" rather than ending with a chapters end.
What is a New Testament "book", as we often call them? They are not actually books, but writings of different types. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are named for their purported authors. Some refer to them as the "four gospels", because they detail the life of Christ. These are often a good place to begin to study, as they will inform you as to what Jesus taught and did.
Acts, or "The Acts of the Apostles", describes events in the lives of the apostles and the early church. This is also a good place to begin to study, as one can find many stories of people hearing the gospel of Christ and moving in obedience to it.
If you are already a Christian, born of the water and the Spirit, as described in:
John 3:5: "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God),
you may wish to study from some of the other writings first.
There are the letters the apostle Paul wrote to the churches, Romans through 2 Thessalonians; and the ones he wrote to individuals, like 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. There are also letters written by others, and named for their authors, including 1 & 2 Peter; James; 1, 2 and 3 John; and Jude. And then, there is Hebrews, author unknown -- some suspect it was the Apostle Paul, but that is not known for certain; and the Revelation, also written by John.
Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians are good places to study to get an idea of how Christians and local churches are to behave in general. Within these letters written by the apostle Paul is also a rallying cry for Christians to be alert, and to be armed with the spiritual armor to do battle with spiritual wickedness in high places.
Romans and Hebrews are good places to spend time when you want to contrast the Old and New Testaments. Romans gives good descriptions of differences between the two laws, and the reason for the first one. It also shows that salvation is found only in the second one. It was written primarily for the benefit of converted Gentile Christians.
Hebrews outlines many similar points, showing the law of Moses as a time of preparation for the law of Christ. It states that the first law served as an example and pattern, preparing the hearts of the Israelites and Jews for the true universal law of God in Christ Jesus. Hebrews was written for a Jewish readership at the time of the apostles and early disciples.
Peters letters serve as calls to courage and patience in the face of adversity. He urges the readers to fully gird their minds for the suffering that they shall endure. He notes that suffering for one's Christian beliefs should lead that person to cease from sins of the flesh.
The letter by James is a call to holiness and purity. He urges the relief of the needy, pointing out the brevity of life, and the fact that accumulated riches don't save us -- God does!
Jude warns of the impending wrath of God upon the ungodly.
The Revelation to John is a discussion of events that were taking place in the relationship between Jerusalem and Rome, Judaea and the Roman Empire. It warns of the then-impending wrath of God upon the disobedient nation of Israel, and encouraged the church to persevere through the rapidly approaching tribulations and troubles. The lesson that we take away from this is two-fold: God does not put up with people who claim His mercy, yet disobey His instructions on how to live; and, the righteous are to be patient and longsuffering during times of trouble.
Pauls letters to Timothy and Titus are the words of an elderly, wise ambassador of the heavenly kingdom to those young men of the next generation who would shoulder the burden of the gospel. They contain messages of caution, warning and encouragement.
Pauls letter to the owner of the runaway servant Philemon pleads mercy, compassion and forgiveness.
Study in context, which means to understand who wrote the particular things that you are studying, to whom they wrote, why they wrote, the time period in which this was taking place, and what they hoped to accomplish. These are all relevant to truly understanding the Holy Bible.
May God bless you in your studies!
My intention in writing this booklet was to make the study of Gods Holy Word a little easier and more fruitful. I purposely drew heavily upon the scriptures, rather than so much on my own words. After all, the Bible tells us that it is that which is able to save our souls, James 1:21: Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
I hope that this article has increased your understanding of God's truth. There are other informative and interesting articles on Christian Universe.
Copyright © 1998, 2009 Bernie Parsons
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