STUDY THE BIBLE

"The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the  mouth of the wicked pours out evil things" (Psa.15:28 KJV).

The word of God is not like any other book in the world,  it  is unique  in  authorship and purpose, and it is a  book  of  mysteries, secrets, and revelation. It is through  diligent Bible study that we can learn its true purpose and unlock its  many mysteries and secrets.

Paul  encourages Timothy to study the word of God in order to  be equipped to perform a work for God:

"Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God. But shun profane babblings:   for   they  will  increase  to   more ungodliness" (2.Tim.2:15-16 KJV). See also 1.Thes.4:10-12; 2.Pet.3:13-18.

Proper knowledge and understanding of the Bible  is necessary for the spiritual growth and fulfillment of a  person's calling to salvation and one's responsibilities to God the Father.

Because all who are called to salvation in this age are required to study the word of God, it is important to know some things  about how to approach the study of the Bible.

Bible Contradictions

The first thing to firmly fix in one's mind prior to studying the Bible,  is  that God's written word is truth and  there  are  no contradictions in what he has caused to be written.

In speaking of the word of God, Jesus says, "Your word is  truth" (Jn.17:17) and "The scripture cannot be broken" (Jn.10:35).  God inspired the Bible to be written and it is  impossible  for God to lie (Heb.6:18; Tit.1:2); therefore,  God's word will always be  true, even if every person that wrote it were a liar (Rom.3:4)!

The problem with seemingly contradictory scriptures is never with what God has inspired to be written, it is always with  people's perspective  or understanding of what has been written  or  with how  it  has  been translated or interpreted  from  the  original writing.

Consider this for a moment:  If God is  a God of truth who cannot lie,  and he has said that he inspired and instructed his  prophets, servants,  and  apostles to record all that is his  sacred  word, there cannot be any errors, lies, or contradictions in his  originally inspired written  word.

Solving Contradictions

Seemingly  unsolvable scriptural contradictions are normally  the product of the following:

Because the above conditions may exist, doctrine should never  be established by using vague or difficult to understand scriptures. All  major teachings of the Bible, such as those  concerning  God and his plan of salvation, are expounded with clear, concise statements that prove their validity to anyone whom  God is calling to salvation.

No Original Text Available

It is important to remember that there are no original copies  of the various writings which comprise the Bible available for use by Bible scholars or the general public. Therefore, it is  impossible to confirm or deny what was originally written with  physical evidence.  What  we have today are copies of the  originals  and translations of those copies.

Textual Errors

A major error that should be avoided when studying the Bible  and related  documents is the belief that the more ancient  a  manuscript  or document is, the more accurate it is. This is  a  very dangerous assumption to make. Just because a document is ancient, does  not make it accurate. The test of accuracy is the  test  of truth  and the  continuity of truth. If an ancient  writing  does not conform to proven Biblical truth, and departs from the  overall  theme and continuity of the Bible, it should not be used  to establish doctrine.

Because no original writings of the scriptures are available and centuries have passed since their writing, all modern translations and interpretations of the original text contain some error, due to one or more of the following:

The King James Version

The  1611  King James version of the Old and the New  Testaments  was translated  from the Masoretic text and the Received  text.  From the  historical  evidence and the continuity of  truth  that is revealed through these texts, it appears that both of  these are reference works through which God is  conveying his truth and his will today.

Truth Will Endure

God  has  promised that his truth will never  be  lost.  Although there  may  be copy errors or translation errors of  the  original writings, the truth and the will of God can still be  understood  by those to whom he chooses to reveal it. See Jer.33:3;  Lk.11:9-13; Jn.14:26; 16:12-13; 1.Cor.2:9-16.

The Bible Interprets Itself

Trying  to  justify preconceived ideas and beliefs  are  a  major obstacle to gaining a correct understanding of any biblical  subject.  The proper approach to understanding the Bible  should  be an  open-minded,  unbiased attempt to understand what  is  truly written  and not what a person thinks is written. However,  this is  very  difficult  to do because of the vast  amount  of  false teaching about God and the Bible today:

"We  have also the sure word of prophecy, whereunto you  do  well that you take heed, as to the light that shines in a dark  place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing  this first,  that no prophecy of the scripture  is  of  any private  interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in  old  time [at  any time] by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke  as they were moved of the holy spirit" (2.Pet.1:19-21 KJV).

Because of the way the Bible has been written, it will  literally interpret  itself  if a person is willing to collect all  of  the relevant facts and references and let the holy spirit guide one's mind into truth.

Precept upon Precept

Those who think that the Bible sometimes contradicts itself have failed to understand that the Bible is a complex book, which must be studied as a whole, if its mysteries and secrets are to be understood.

One of the fascinating and inspiring  aspects of the Bible's construction  is the way various subjects are interwoven  throughout  its pages. Because of this,  it  is  sometimes necessary to collect all of the references to a subject before  one can begin to understand what is being taught:

"For  precept  must be upon precept, precept upon  precept;  line upon  line,  line upon line; here a little, and there  a  little" (Isa.28:10 KJV). Read also Isa.28:9-13.

Continuity of Truth

There is a continuity of truth throughout the entire Bible, which is  very  helpful in separating truth from error.  Each  specific teaching  or  doctrine of the Bible will conform to  the  overall theme  and purpose of the entire Bible. If any teaching  or  doctrine is found to be in conflict with another, one or both of the teachings may be based  upon  false assumptions or incorrectly  understood  scriptures.

A PROMISE OF JESUS

Many feel that a person must be highly educated or very  intelligent to understand the Bible. However, this is not true. All those whom the Father calls to salvation can understand  what he  has caused to be written for their  inspiration,  correction, and  edification. Because the  Father wants his children to succeed  in their calling and to perform his will in their lives,  he has provided a way for them to  learn and understand his truth.

One of the many promises Jesus makes to those who believe in  him, is that he will send the holy spirit as a teacher  to guide them into truth. See Jn.14:26; 16:12-13.

One way that the holy spirit carries out teaching and guiding  is through  the written word of God. The  acquisition of truth, spiritual knowledge, and understanding with  the help of the holy spirit requires effort, on the part of the one being called,  to study the Bible and related information.

WHOM SHALL GOD TEACH?

"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to  understand  doctrine?  them that are weaned from the milk, and  drawn from the breasts" (Isa.28:9).

Just  as  there is a physical growth process from  infancy  to  adulthood, there is a spiritual growth process in the acquisition of spiritual  knowledge  and understanding. The more a person learns  and the more one practices what they have learned, the more spiritually mature they  become, and the more spiritual knowledge and understanding God can reveal to them. See Isa.66:1-2.

STUDY FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

If  a person only studies the Bible for information, very little understanding that is profitable for spiritual growth will be gained. However, if  a person studies the Bible to gain knowledge and understanding in order to do the following things, their study will become profitable, and God will honor their request for him to reveal the secrets of the Bible that will benefit them and others with whom they come into contact:

PREREQUISITES AND REQUIREMENTS

The Bible itself reveals the prerequisites and requirements that are  necessary in order to be successful in its study. Listed below are some of the major things that one can do in order to acquire more knowledge and a deeper  understanding  of God the Father, Jesus  Christ,  and  their awesome plan for humanity:

Remove Obstacles to Learning

The  Apostle  Peter lists some things that  hamper  spiritual growth, which should be replaced with a desire to understand  the word of God:

"Wherefore  laying aside all malice, and all guile, and  hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the  sincere  milk  of  the word,  that  you  may  grow thereby" (1.Pet.2:2 Para.).

The writer to the Hebrews makes a number of very important observations about growing in spiritual knowledge  and understanding:

"About  whom [Melchizedec] the word to say is much, and  hard  to interpret,  since  you have become dull in  hearing.  For  indeed because of the time you are due to be teachers, you need to have someone  teach  you again the rudiments of the beginning  of  the oracles of God, and you having become in need of milk, and not of solid food; for everyone partaking of milk, is not skilled in the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the full-grown ones, who through habit have exercised the  faculties for distinguishing both good and bad" (Heb.5:11-14 Para.).

Notice the following about these verses:

"But  whosoever keeps his [God's] word, in him truly is the word  of  God perfected . . ." (1.Jn.2:5 KJV).

Ask for Truth and Guidance

The  Psalmist and Jesus reveal that a person should ask  God  for guidance  into his truth so that they can obey him  with  their whole  being and be thoroughly established in his way of  righteousness:

"Teach  me,  O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I  shall  keep them  to  the end. Give me understanding, and I shall  keep  your law; yes I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of your commandments; for therein do I delight.  Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn  away my  eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken you me in  your way. Establish your word to your servant, who is devoted to your fear. Turn  away my reproach which I fear: for your judgment  is  good. Behold,  I  have longed after your precepts: quicken me in  your righteousness" (Psa.119:33-40 KJV). See also Jer.10:23.

"Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled" (Matt.5:6 Para.).

Luke 11:9-13 KJV

"And  I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and  you shall  find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.  For  everyone that  asks  receives; and he that seeks finds; and  to him  that knocks it shall be opened" (vs.9-10).

Here,  Jesus reveals a major key that will help unlock the  great truth to be found in the Bible. Not only must a person desire  to understand God's word, a person must also take positive action in order to acquire it.

First, a person must go to the Father and ask to be given  knowledge  and  understanding. Second, a person must  diligently  seek knowledge and understanding by making a sincere effort to study:

"If a son shall ask bread of you that is a father, will you  give him  a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him  a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy spirit  to them  that  ask him" (vs.11-13). See also Matt.7:7-8; Jn.14:4;  15:7; Lk.12:6-7, 23-31.

When  asked for food, will any father who truly loves  his  child give them harmful things instead of the food they need to sustain their  life? Of course not! A loving father will give  them  what they need and more, if it is within his power to do so.

God the Father is more than willing to give knowledge and understanding  of  the  things that will benefit those he  has  called  to salvation.  It is his desire to give us the spiritual nourishment that is necessary for spiritual growth. See 1.Pet.2:2.

Meditate on God's Word

"Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor  stands  in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat  of  the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law  does he meditate day and night" (Psa.1:1-2 KJV).  See  also Psa.119:115-148; 1.Tim.4:12-16.

There are tremendous blessings for those who perform the will  of God  in their life. The  person who is being blessed loves  God's law (i.e., God's way of life) and is constantly thinking about it.

Prove all Things

"Test  all  things;  and  hold  fast  that  which  is   good" (1.Thes.5:21 Para.). See also Rom.12:2.

This statement is in the context of a person doing the will of God in  their life.  Paul refers to the testing or examining of what  one is  doing in their life and comparing it  against  the  righteous standards  of  behavior that God has established. Notice that Paul says  to "hold fast that which is good". A person can  only  know what  is  good if they understand the word of God.  Therefore,  a person  must study God's word in order to fulfill Paul's  admonition.

Speaking of those at Berea, Luke says,

"These  were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures  daily,  whether these things were so. Therefore,  many  of them believed . . ." (Acts 17:11-12 KJV).

Many of the Bereans were serious about the things of God; therefore,  they seriously studied the scriptures in order to prove  to themselves what was correct before God, and because of this, many of  them  believed.  The kind of true enduring  belief  that  God desires  for his children to have is based in the  knowledge  and understanding  of him and his ways. The only place this  kind  of knowledge and understanding is available is in the Bible.

SUMMARY

The  Bible  was  written to be understood, it is not  a  book  of theory,  philosophy,  or  meaningless stories; it  is  a  logical factual presentation of the things that God wants people to  know and understand.

The  Bible  is also a witness to the greatness of its  author,  a warning  to  those who will not obey the law of God, and  an  instruction manual for those who have been called to salvation.

By B.L. Cocherell, file b3w6              home.gif (1487 bytes)