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Notes on Bible Study


Here I repeat the Bible Notes produced on this subject.

---
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
The Bible Note Writer
Bible Notes
written to glorify God
and to help souls
on the way to Heaven.
15/Jan/2008, 1:13 am Link to this post Send Email to BibleNote Writer   Send PM to BibleNote Writer Blog
 
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Notes on Bible Study (Part 1)


Notes on Bible Study (Part 1)

quote:

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!

Last edited by BibleNote Writer, 21/Jun/2009, 3:12 pm


---
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
The Bible Note Writer
Bible Notes
written to glorify God
and to help souls
on the way to Heaven.
15/Jan/2008, 1:14 am Link to this post Send Email to BibleNote Writer   Send PM to BibleNote Writer Blog
 
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Notes on Bible Study (Part 2)


Notes on Bible Study (Part 2)

quote:

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)



Even though I emphasized last time that one should give God's Word, the Bible, the first and absolutely authoritative place in the study of the Bible; I want to encourage all to use other sources to assist in Bible study. Other works and experienced Christians, teachers, and ministers, can be a tremendous help in the study of the Bible.

Methods of Bible Study

Reading and Re-reading

        It cannot be stressed enough that if you want to understand the Bible you must read the Bible. I have often heard people say that the Bible is hard to understand. Most often, the very same people have to admit that they have not even read any lengthy portions of the Bible, such as the whole book of Genesis or the first five books of the Bible, much less the whole Bible.

        Reading through the Bible -- The Bible should be read cover to cover. I am not saying that one should always read the Bible through from Genesis to Revelation in the order in which it is arranged, but this is a good place to begin and a good practice to continue from year to year. One may also try reading through the Bible in chronological order. The Reese Chronological Bible is useful in this regard.

        One should read the Bible with great attention. In other words, pay attention to what God has said and may very well be saying to your own heart at the time of reading. Do not treat the Bible as just another book, but read it as the Word of God; for it is indeed the Word of God.

        Re-reading the Bible -- This is similar to repetitive study of other books. If a person reads something over and over again, there is a much better chance of retaining what is read and of a better understanding of the content. With the Bible there seems to be a further dimension to this -- related to the fact that it is a Book of Divine Revelation. Many times while re-reading the Bible, one will find that truths surface that were never noticed before. This happens even though the reader may have read the same passage over one hundred times.

One good, basic technique to use is to choose a single book of the Bible and read it several to many times in succession. I once tried to write a commentary for college on the book of Ephesians. I must have read and listened to Ephesians over 50 or 60 times in about 1 1/2 to 2 months time. Such an intense reading was very enlightening! My soul was thoroughly fed and my mind was filled with the deep and wonderful truths of that little book (only six chapters).

Memorization

This is related to re-reading, which method lends itself to memorization. However, memorizing certain key passages and verses can greatly enhance Bible study. Not to mention the fact that it gives the Christian an arsenal of powerful weaponry ("the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God", Ephesians 6:17) to use against our adversary the Devil.

Again, related to reading, re-reading, and to comparative and topical studies, memorization gives the reader a powerful tool of ready Bible commentary. That's right, I said Bible commentary! The Bible is its own best interpreter and expositor (explainer). While reading passages that deal with doctrines, events, people and etc. that are related to memorized verses and passages, those memorized Scriptures provide a kind of instant biblical commentary.

One might say, "But, I just cannot memorize. I have tried, but I just can't seem to do it." I answer that perfect word-for-word memorization is wonderful, but very few of us can perfectly memorize all things all the time. I for one certainly am lacking in that ability. It is of similar value to become as familiar with the Scriptures as one can.

Often, I find that I may not recall word-for-word, but I can remember part of a verse or passage, or I can remember where it is in the Bible. This allows me to find it fairly quickly. With a Strong's Concordance or a Bible computer program with search capability, all one needs to remember is one or two meaningful words and the verse or passage can be found. Of course, the more we remember the easier it becomes.

Word Studies

One does not need to know or take a course in Greek or Hebrew to benefit from studying the meanings of words in the original languages. By using a good exhaustive Bible concordance (such as Strong's), that has a Greek and Hebrew dictionary, one may learn many good, enriching truths in Bible study. Other helps, such as Vine's word study references are also good. By checking the meanings in the original laguages, one may gain shades of meaning and a deeper understanding than is often obtained from the translated words.

Also, by finding the same original language word in other portions of Scriptures, and/or by locating other instances of the same translated word with differing original words, one can make interesting and enlightening comparisons of usage and particular shades of meaning. Note: Remember that context helps tremendously in determining the particular meaning or shade of meaning in each instance.

For example: We find that Paul and Barnabas had a "sharp contention"; but, Paul later writes to the Corinthians, "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you." (I Corinthians 1:11) On the surface, one might say, "It seems Paul is a hypocrite. How dare he reprove the Corinthians for the same thing of which he is guilty!" But, upon examining the words used in the original Greek we find that they are two different words with different meanings.

I will state it briefly. The word used of Paul and Barnabas means something like a serious disagreement or dispute. Whereas the word used of the Corinthians means a quarrel or wrangling. We may have a serious disagreement without becoming sour in spirit and without animosity for our opponent; but, to actually quarrel, or fight, with the other party is carnal (sinful).

Furthermore, Paul uses the same word (above translated as contentions) of the Corinthians later -- translated as strife. "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (1Corinthians 3:3)

Comparative Studies

    One of the best ways to study the Bible is to compare passages of Scripture (Bible) with one another. Especially those that tell the same story from a different viewpoint or those that deal with the same topic.

    Parallel Passages

The reader may be familiar with a Harmony of the Gospels. There are some scholarly efforts that have produced these helpful study guides that offer a comparison of parallel passages through the Gospels and the life of Christ. However, this method of study need not stop at the Gospels. There are other parallel passages and similar passages in the Bible.

When you come accross different portions of Scripture that talk about the same events and/or same people, it can be rather enlightening to compare them with each other. Sometimes Old Testament events are retold and commented on in the New Testament. Other times various Old Testament Scriptures are explained and used for further Spirit-inspired reasoning. Many times, these occasions will give the Bible student a much better balanced and accurate understanding of divine truths.

     Topical Studies and Cross References

This type of study method I use to obtain a more complete picture of all the Bible has to say about various things.

          Topical Studies -- Pick a biblical topic of interest, or even one you need to know more about. Then follow that topic through the Bible to learn how it is addressed and portrayed throughout God's Word. There are various sources one may use to assist in this type of study.

Obviously, an exhaustive Bible concordance (like Strong's) can be used to locate many Scriptural references by looking up words related to the topic of study. Nave's Topical Bible and others like it can be used with this method. Thompson's Chain Reference Bible (and other reference Bibles) offers quite an extensive topical index and outline with Scripture references.

If one has the time and motivation, he could work out his own growing topical reference notes. With organizational software programs available, this need not be as tedious as in the past. For instance, one might use a database program to keep track of various topics and the Scripture references that touch on them.

Some Bible study software actually let you enter your own notes/commentary and bookmarks. Perhaps this would be useful in organizing some of your topical studies. I have a program that allows me to have several ongoing "desktops". They can be used to keep track of exactly where one leaves off with all the internal electronic resources laid out. I use a program called Bible Explorer, probably others offer the same functionality.

          Cross References -- This is so much like topical studies that it fits here. My first "study Bible" after my conversion at fourteen years old was a Nelson Bible that had cross references down the middle of each page.

As I would read along, I noticed very many superscripted letters throughout the Bible text. Each letter referred to Scripture references in the middle column. So, being naturally curious and hungering after the knowledge of the Lord, I began following many of the references.

Then I would follow the references found in those verses touching on words and topics of interest. Ultimately, I would nearly exhaust the references in search of what more the Bible had to say about various things.

The Thompson Chain Reference Bible and others can be used in similar fashion. But, for some reason, I am much more sentimental about that first Nelson Bible that I wore out learning the wonderful things of God.

     Comparison and Contrast

Sometimes, Bible personalities can be profitably compared and contrasted with one another. What I mean is that they either lived during the same circumstances (in same time period) or lived in similar circumstances (in different time periods) and that we may profitably compare there likenesses and contrast there differences.

For an example of this method one may want to refer to the Bible Note entitled Noah & Lot, A Comparison and Contrast (currently clicking will take you to another website). This example compares and contrasts two people of different times, but in similar circumstances.

For a suggestion (may show up in a Bible Note) of two people in the same circumstances, I recommend a comparison and contrast of Judas and Peter during the time immediately prior to and during the crucifixion. A good Scripture text to apply to the study would be, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (2 Corinthians 7:10).

(More Bible study methods to be mentioned in part 3.)*


* Note: I am afraid that part 3 had never been produced up to the time of this posting. I still intend to send it out -- or at least to post it here in the message board once it has been written.

Last edited by BibleNote Writer, 14/Feb/2009, 10:29 pm


---
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
The Bible Note Writer
Bible Notes
written to glorify God
and to help souls
on the way to Heaven.
15/Jan/2008, 1:15 am Link to this post Send Email to BibleNote Writer   Send PM to BibleNote Writer Blog
 


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