Preparation for Bible study Uncategorized by admin - January 12, 20140 There is a major difference between true Bible Study, and merely “reading” The Holy Bible. This is because God’s Word is different from all other types of literature known to man. God’s Holy Spirit as Guide is the only way to properly understand our Father’s Word, as God wants us to worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23). The writers of The Bible were inspired through The Holy Spirit, and set God’s Truth down in Letter (2 Peter 1:21). So likewise, The Holy Spirit is needed to understand His Word. Believing on Christ Jesus as our Savior, and asking Him for guidance is necessary. There is no other Way of Salvation or towards His Truth. This means the “spiritual mind”, not the “flesh mind”, must be open in order to understand God’s Word. There is very deep and profound Truth in God’s Word which will be missed by the ‘flesh thinking’. At the same time, an ordered and disciplined method of study will allow The Holy Spirit to open up our Father’s Word to you. Each person must do this for themselves. God can lock or unlock The Scriptures to you. Begin your Bible Study with a prayer to our Father asking guidance, always in Christ’s Name. Proper Bible Study will Change your Life True Bible Study is not just learning in the intellectual sense, but food for the ‘soul’. It should produce a ‘change’ in your attitude, thinking, and most importantly, the way you live. That ‘change’ will influence your outlook and personal understanding of your life, and the lives around you. It will lead you to righteousness. If you feel your life has been like a boat with no rudder, drifting on the open seas, then know that true understanding of The Word will be That Rudder for you. Then there will be direction, purpose, strength of mind, inner peace, in your being. It doesn’t mean that the trials in the flesh will cease, but you will be better prepared to overcome them. Our LORD said He would never leave nor forsake those who believe and trust in Him (Heb.13; 1 Sam.12:22; Ps.37:28). Only God’s Word can give true answers to our questions about life. There are so many in the world who look for answers, but seldom find them. The philosophers of the flesh have trapped many people away from true spiritual understanding within The Word of God. Listening to the world will keep you from understanding yourself and this world in which we live in. A compassionate attitude cannot be learned; it comes from the heart. Coming to Christ in sincereity will produce this ‘heart’ and ‘mind of Christ’. Faith is to Have Hope for Things Unseen To have ‘Faith’ is to know that this flesh time is temporary, and to have hope for eternal life and eternal peace through our Savior Jesus Christ. Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. KJV This means our belief in Jesus Christ is certain, and not just idle words of the flesh mind. Anyone can just ‘say’ they believe, but “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). That means our ‘faith’ will naturally produce ‘works’ of our attitude towards and in Christ Jesus. How is it with those who don’t seek Christ? We all must have faith in something. Whether the non-believer admits it or not, they place their faith in the world, or possibly in their own works, i.e. things ‘seen’ of the flesh. Faith in the world will produce works of the world, and not of God. Give Freely what You’ve Been Given There are many instances from The Word where sent ones who understood God’s Truth went forth to share that Truth with others. God will bless you if you’re trying to serve Him. If you have His Truth, more of It will be given to you, if you’re in the field doing His Work. If you just ‘sit’ on what Truth you have been given, then don’t expect blessings from our Father. Doing for our Father in hopes of gaining material wealth, is the wrong attitude also. Our Father knows all thoughts and all hearts. He can’t be fooled. But if you’re trying to serve our Heavenly Father for ‘righteousness sake’, because He is That True Righteousness, and also because of your love to Him and His children, then He’ll give you what you need to do His Work, and then some, and I mean that spiritually. Our Father expects us to do with what we have been given. Those who are given more, more is expected of them, but we all have the same inheritance in Christ (Luke 12:48). The Bible Language The Holy Bible is written in ‘literal’ languages, specifically Hebrew, Greek, Chaldee, and Aramaic. The rules of grammar apply to It also. Figures of speech, or idioms, are used throughout God’s Word to enhance and overcome the limitations of the literal languages. These ‘figures’ or idioms are used because man’s language of communication is limited. Understanding the ‘figurative’ sense, or metaphor, is of utmost importance. The Companion Bible is a great help in understanding these figures of speech. (See my Bible Tools section for more information.) Customs, traditions, and methods of the times are the center of reference for many key parables. For example: in Matt.9:17, Jesus describes putting new wine into new bottles. The word ‘bottle’ is askos in the Greek Manuscripts, and means a leathern, or wine flask made of skins. They didn’t use glass bottles at that time. The analogy is that if you put freshly made wine that has to ferment and expand, into an old wine ‘skin’ that won’t stretch, it will burst open. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation gives a ‘progressive revelation’ of the whole Plan of God. And because of this, The Word of God is Its Own best Interpreter in understanding. Leave out part of It, and only pieces of God’s Plan will be understood. And that sparingly. Some Messages in one Book will not be understood without the ‘key’ from another Book. God made sure we must try to understand all of His Word to gain full Truth of His Plan. And each Christian should understand God’s Plan from Genesis through Revelation. We don’t have to memorize, but know God’s Plan contained within His Word. By understanding the meaning of each Chapter and Book, we come to understand God’s Concepts. This discloses to us how our Father operated in past dispensations (God’s Plan as revealed to man in intervals), for today in this present dispensation of ‘grace’ through Christ, and yet future (Eph.1:10; 3). Agreement is present among the whole Word; all Books are in accord with each other, and all weave together. To properly understand one Book, one or more other Books must be understood. There are no contradictions within God’s Perfect Word (in this, I refer to the Manuscripts). If we feel there is apparent contradiction within The Word, then our understanding is lacking at some point and requires further guidance and study. Influence of Our Own Ideas: A Hinderance It’s difficult for us while in the flesh to prevent our own ideas from influencing our understanding. Even when studying a new technical subject, many of our own ideas and experiences help us form a bigger picture of the new subject. This is natural because it’s how we were educated in the world, and how we are taught to think. And it can be a hinderance when learning God’s Word, because His Ways are not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Reading a passage in Scripture, and then applying our own ideas as to what it means, without further study, can be a hinderance to God’s Truth. A verse belongs to a Chapter; a Chapter belongs to a Book. It would be silly if we took one paragraph out of a textbook on, let’s say, history, and then thought we knew all about the subject. There will always be found at least ‘two witnesses’ for a Truth in God’s Word. Allow The Word to interpret The Word. If a passage gives you an idea, find backup in more than one Scripture. In many cases, there will be several Scriptures verifying one of God’s Truths. Until one has learned to search the Scriptures in this way, they are not properly studying The Word. The Word will be understood according to each person’s ability through study. A well disciplined method of study with allowing God’s Word to flow in the mind, and not our own ideas, will help The Holy Spirit in giving you Truth. That is how The Holy Spirit operates in teaching us God’s Word. We must put forth the effort first. Being of a humble heart and mind is a must. 2 Tim 2:15 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV) Scholarship And God’s Word Contrary to popular belief, good scholarship and God’s Word go hand in hand. Also contrary to popular teachings, you don’t have to be a Ph.D. to handle good Biblical scholarship. A mature heart with The Lord, and patience, IS necessary. There have been some God gifted Christian scholars that have provided the English speaking student with some valuable tools. One particular tool is a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (It must have the Hebrew and Greek dictionaries in it to be a real Strong’s). Dr. James Strong took every word or phrase in the 1611 King James Version Bible, created a search concordance, assigned numbers to each word or phrase in the original languages that the King James was translated from, and gave us the original Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Chaldee definitions. In other words, with a Strong’s, you can look up the original manuscript definition for any word in the 1611 King James Bible. By doing this, you are taking God’s Word back to Its original languages, without having to read Hebrew, Greek, or Chaldee. If you can read in these languages, so much the better, but not everyone can do this. That’s the reason for using the tools available listed on my Study Resources page, which of course, is by no means complete. A word of caution: there are some so-called higher critics of The Word that have attempted to destroy the credibility of Dr. James Strong. If the sincere student uses a Strong’s Concordance for a while, the reasons will become obvious. Those critics want a monopoly on understanding God’s Word, for their own gain. Our Lord warned us about false prophets all throughout His Word. Don’t be deceived by them in paying them any heed (This does not apply to the good Churches that do teach God’s Word, especially chapter by chapter, and verse by verse). The false prophets will not show you how to study for yourself, but tell you what to believe instead. A true teacher of The Word will always show you how a particular teaching was arrived at, and also will admit to mistakes when made, and will not give you a false answer when they don’t really know. The Six Questions When studying The Word, it helps to apply the questions of ‘where, who, when, what, how, and why’. Asking yourself these questions in studying The Word will drive you to discovery of profound Truths which many hardly ever get to. As God’s Word is Perfect Truth, answers to all six questions dealing with a subject, will be found within The Word. Those answers may be spread out in other Books, but they are there waiting for you. Do Your Own Study A good Bible teacher can ‘help’ you a lot in understanding God’s Word, if both teacher and student fit the qualifications our Father requires. But man cannot study for you. As with any subject of study, we must apply ourselves to grasp it. The Holy Spirit can only guide you in The Word of God as you’re willing to study It for yourself. That means work. Group study will only produce if you go home and verify what was taught in the group for yourself. Don’t be content with just what others believe; you could be misled. Verify in The Scriptures for yourself. To do otherwise, is to believe on man and not Christ. Well if you’ve made it down to this paragraph thus far, good for you. You’re evidently serious about God’s Word. May our Father’s Holy Spirit and His Son Jesus Christ bless you in your study of His Word, in Christ’s Name, Amen. Peace be with you in Christ Jesus, Dave.