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He counted me faithful,
putting me into the ministry.
Notes on Bible Study (Part 1)
Notes on Bible Study (Part 1)
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
The verses just prior to and immediately following this one mention "words to no profit" and "profane and vain babblings". These are opposed to God's Word. One of the first and most important things we should keep in mind when studying the Bible is that it is the Word of God. Other sources take second place -- in many cases, no place at all -- when compared to the Bible. Other sources only have spiritual and eternal value as they help us to clearly understand the Bible itself and to follow biblical principles, no matter what they be: commentaries, preacher's and teacher's interpretations, or some other book, periodical (yes, even Bible Notes) or anyone else's opinion.
Therefore, let us be sure to make the Bible itself our ultimate and final authority while we endeavor to study the Bible. Some might say that this admonition goes without saying, but I am appalled at the percentage of supposedly Christian ministers these days who profess that they do not believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God.
This is not a comprehensive treatment of this subject. That would take a good-sized book. This is my attempt to share some of the things I have learned about effective Bible study.
The Spiritual Dimension
"And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, 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." (Acts 8:30-31)
The Unconverted -- As a rule, the Bible is a closed book to the unconverted. I say not that they are unable get any good out of it. I would encourage all unconverted people to read and study the Bible. In fact, many have become Christians through this activity. What I am saying is that the unconverted are spiritually blind and their spiritual understanding is darkened by sin and Satan. They are dead to spiritual things and cannot expect to understand much of the Bible, for it is a spiritual book.
This a likely reason for the Ethiopian's answer to Philip, "How can I" (understand), "except some man should guide me?" This is one of many good reasons for Christians to become very familiar with the Bible, so that they can help the unconverted to understand the simple, straightforward message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
"Jesus answered and said unto him" (Nicodemus), "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)
The Converted -- The simple word see in English can be used to mean many things, and so can the original in the Greek. Some of the meanings appropriate to John 3:3 are to "understand", "be certain", "perceive", to "know", to "be aware". Jesus is saying that in order to understand, to know, to perceive, to be aware, or to be certain of the kingdom of God one must "be born again".
We might say to fully appreciate and experience the kingdom of God we must be born into the family of God or be born into the kingdom of God, because Jesus elsewhere states that "the kingdom of God cometh not with observation", but it is "within you" -- this spoken to his disciples (Luke 17:20, 21).
When one is truly converted, born again, he is then much more able to readily understand God's Book, the Bible. It is like being able to see after having been blind. Truly, it is indeed the same; except that I am writing about spiritual blindness and spiritual sight.
The Holy Spirit's Assistance
The Spirit of Truth -- The convert, newborn in Christ, is given the presence of the Holy Spirit, "the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father", and Who also bears "witness with our spirit that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:15, 16).
Jesus says that He, the Holy Spirit, is "the Spirit of Truth" and that "he will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). As the Holy Spirit of God, He is well able to teach us the true meaning, the God-inspired meaning of His Word, the Bible. He is the very One Who inspired ("God-breathed") the Scriptures, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (II Peter 1:21) ("Spirit" and "Ghost" are generally interchangeable terms in the King James Bible)
The Gift of the Holy Spirit -- One of the things the Holy Spirit will teach the new convert, if the new convert continues to follow His guidance, is that there is a special promise Jesus left that one may be "baptized with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 1:5). Jesus also called this "the promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4). When the disciples of Jesus (120 on the Day of Pentecost) actually received this promise, they were all "filled with the Holy Ghost".
Before, Jesus said that "He dwelleth with you and shall be in you" (John 14:17), but now they had the Holy Spirit in His fullness, meaning that He fully cleansed and filled their entire being. I have dealt more thoroughly with this subject in other Bible Notes and will probably do so again. For more on this subject, please refer to these Bible Notes:
Have you Received the Holy Spirit?
The Gift of the Spirit Purifies the Heart
Three Requirements for Receiving the Spirit
For now, I just want to say that I have found that being filled with the Spirit and cleansed from the nature of sin by His cleansing power grants a tremendous clarity and growth in the study of God's Word. Whereas the pages seemed to shine with new light upon being converted, now they shine more brilliantly. I mean this figuratively, though at times of special blessing in God's presence, I have wondered if the pages in the Bible were actually physically brighter than usual.
Prayer -- Prayer goes hand-in-hand with the reading and studying of God's Word, the Bible. Since the Bible is a spiritual book that is God's message to man and prayer is a spiritual exercise by which we talk to and with God, then we should be using both means of grace together.
Are you having a hard time understanding a portion of God's Word? Try asking the Author Himself, the Almighty God, to help you understand.
Not only will specific prayers for help from God enable one to gain a better understanding, but also the very practice of honest, earnest prayer in itself will give a greater sense of His presence, a better tendency to perceive His will as revealed through His Word, and a greater readiness to listen to what He has to say.
The Mental Exercise
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Phi 4:8 ) What could be more true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy than the Word of God?
No, we are not to check our brains at the door when we study the Bible. We may or may not have a lot of feeling while studying the Bible, but we are to understand with our mind. We are to think upon the truths of God's Word. Biblical meditation involves nothing of the New Age type of meditation. New Age meditation involves passively not thinking, but rather emptying the mind. Biblical meditation involves actively thinking about or upon God's Word.
We are to use our reason, our logic, and our common sense. We should use all we know of proper language arts, including vocabulary and grammar. But, we should never dismiss any Bible truth just because it seems to be illogical or impossible. We should do our best to come at a proper understanding of what the Bible actually teaches. This can truly be mental labor.
Let us be sure that we are truly God's children and filled with the Holy Spirit; and then, let us apply our mental powers to the task of understanding God's Word, the Bible. It takes BOTH heart AND mind!
Yours in Christ,
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Last edited by BibleNote Writer, 21/Aug/2015, 12:17 pm
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
The Bible Note Writer
written to glorify God
and to help souls
on the way to Heaven.
15/Jan/2008, 1:07 am
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