BibliologyHow To Study God's Word, Correctly.
How to Study your Bible
You might ask, “Why should I study God’s word?” Can we find in scripture the command to study God’s word?
Eccl. 12:12 But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body.
Acts 26:24 As he was making his defense this way, Festus exclaimed in a loud voice, “You’re out of your mind, Paul! Too much study is driving you mad!”
There is not a direct, positive command to study. We do have these exhortations:
Job 23:12 12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.
Psalm 119:148 My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.
Psalm 1:1-2 “Blessed is the man
who a walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of f scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.”
Deut. 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Luke 10:27 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
Meditate, ponder, think on these things…..Show us your glory.
Sanctification comes as we study God’s word. It is one of the ways the Lord refines His people. The Holy Spirit, in unison with the words of scripture brings about righteousness. In this, studying your bible is important; God cannot refine His people apart from the word. If you don’t study, you stagnate. Notice that the Christians life is often called a walk. Walking is a type of progress. It is a movement from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ etc. No Christian stays in one spot. It is a race, a journey. No one goes on a journey and remain static.
Tim Challies writes:
“Illumination is what separates believers from unbelievers when we read the Bible. An unbeliever may read the Bible and view it merely as a religious or historical document, much like I would read the Koran or the Book of Mormon. But when a Christian reads the Bible, the Spirit guides him to see not merely history and religion, but the very words of God. And even more important, He allows the person to apply the great truths of the Bible to his life. He initiates change through the words of the Scripture. Being a Christian, then, is a necessary prerequisite for the Spirit’s illumination.”
1Cor. 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are vfolly to him, and whe is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
In 2 Timothy, it reads:
2Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
What this passage says is that God’s word, His Holy Bible, is divinely inspired. Scripture is actually the words of God; it is breathed out. It gives life. God breathed into Adam and he lived. He spoke and there was creation. This passage in 2 Tim is a promise to the saint;
The word of God is ‘profitable’ for the believer; All of scripture-not just some of it! God’s word teaches us doctrine, it corrects error by its truths. It teaches the man of God how he can pursue, successfully, righteousness and ultimately equipping the saint for the good works that should flow out of our conversion.
David Engelsma writes:
“Spirituality is born of sound doctrine, for spirituality is the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart and the soul of the child of God. And the Spirit works no otherwise than by sound doctrine. The shallow devotional writing so popular in our day, avoiding sound doctrine like the plague, is mere emotionalism.”
In the initial stages of my walk, I was fortunate enough to have Christians around me who understood these promises. We were routinely exhorted to search the scriptures, much like the Berean’s of old; You know the scripture:
Acts 17:10 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
It is not that the Berean’s were skeptical and trying to find fault with God’s word, but hungry for more truth. It says that they were more ‘noble’ than those in the area of Thessalonica. They received the preached message willingly. The Thessalonians were a bit hardened and were a harder nut to crack. The Berean’s would take what was told to them by the apostles and compare it to the Old testament scriptures. These Bereans are a great example to us in how we should approach our studies of God’s word. I like to think of it as a surgeon operating.
Heb. 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The word of God dissects ‘soul and spirit’, ‘joints and marrow’. The writer of Hebrews uses these terms that are akin to a surgeon’s scalpel. Some people believe the book of Hebrews was written by the Apostle Luke who’s profession was a medical doctor. It would seem a bit strange for the Apostle Paul to use such terms, but who knows.
Having established this idea, we can move forward. You might ask, “Scott, where does one begin?”
I suggest you start reading from the front to the back and practice deduction. Since scripture carries God’s message, it is acquired by deducing the text of these words.
1) the act or process of deducting; subtraction.
2) something that is or may be deducted: She took deductions for a home office and other business expenses from her taxes.
3) the act or process of deducing.
4) something that is deduced: His astute deduction was worthy of Sherlock Holmes.
a) a process of reasoning in which a conclusion follows necessarily from the premises
presented, so that the conclusion cannot be false if the premises are true.
b) a conclusion reached by this process. Compare induction ( def 4 ) .
Think along the lines of being a crime scene investigator or reporter. Observation, interpretation and application. You interview the person and then look for clues to support a hypothesis. You then take this hypothesis and pursue proving that hypothesis by gathered facts on the case. It is like building a bridge.
‘The way to deal with God’s Word is not merely to contemplate it, or to study it, as a student does; but to live on it.’
You get that? Study for the sake of study is useless unless it is applied in our walk.
All believers should have a regular routine of reading through the scriptures. Most people read one chapter from, say Genesis, one chapter from the Psalms and then one chapter from the New Testament, daily. It is beneficial to journal as you move through the books. Years later you can look at your views at an earlier time in your walk and actually see God’s sanctification as you refine the things you have learned. My wife has journaled the pastors sermons for years. I have these books stacked up in our garage! It is typical that once you finish this cycle that you begin over.
One of the first things you need to do is decide on a particular interpretation of God’s word that you are comfortable with. Many scholars have their favorites. Most of these choices are based on the original languages, manuscripts, historicity etc. You are not going to have to deal with all of that stuff, so just pick one! I suggest using the same translation that is utilized from the pulpit when your pastor teaches as it will assist in the your understanding. You won’t have to read between the lines, no pun intended.
Types of Bible studies:
All bible study falls under the term exegesis. Like a surgeon who cuts, the believer is called to dissect God’s work in like manner to understand it better and grow in grace.
critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible.
This is essentially a letter by letter, word by word, verse by verse and passage by passage consecutive study of God’s word.
A study on a particular subject, i.e. The Holy Spirit
The study of God’s word arranged in order of time.
A study on a specific biblical character
A study on a specific word
Bible Study Aids:
1) Dictionary-Bible and Word
2) Bible Concordance-Strong’s
4) Biblical Encyclopedia
5) Online Study tools
6) Bible Atlas
7) Hebrew and Greek Lexicon-Zodhiates
8) Software programs: Accordance or Logos
Most all of these things above can be had online. Although it is always a good thing to have hard copies of these study aids, it is not imperative. Use your browser history to save the links as you surf for future reference.
Interpretation of data:
Someone once asked me, ‘Scott, how do you know that your interpretation of scripture is the correct interpretation?’
“20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Scripture never comes to us by an interpretation that is private; in other words, the conclusion we come to must be supported by the history. The church universal validates the message from God. In the Proverbs it says:
Prov. 11:14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
Prov. 24:6 For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.
Since the Holy Spirit teaches us all things, if your interpretation is actually of God, it will coincide with the other great men of faith throughout the ages. It will not be something new as ‘there is nothing new under the sun’.
[hur-muh-noo-tik, -nyoo-] Show IPA
of or pertaining to hermeneutics; interpretative; explanatory.
1800–10; < Greek hermēneutikós of, skilled in, interpreting, equivalent to hermēneú(ein ) to make clear,interpret (derivative of hermēneús an interpreter, itself derivative of Hermês Hermes) + -tikos -tic
D. A. Carson writes:
“Hermeneutics is the art and science of interpretation; biblical hermeneutics is the art and science of interpreting the Bible.”
A flawed hermeneutic changes everything; this is why it is important to take your treatment of the data you have mined and weigh it against the church.
Much can be said in regards to warning you of all the aberrant junk out there in regards to our faith. Most of the mainstream stuff is faulty and loaded down with error. Joyce Meyer, John Hagee, TBN, Joel Osteen, books like ‘The Prayer of Jabez’ or ‘Heaven is for Real- A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back’.
“A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven.
Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn’t know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.
Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us.
Told by the father, but often in Colton’s own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.”
The scriptures say that no man has seen God and lived:
John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
1 John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time.
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
How does one reconcile these biblical facts with the account from this young man? We must stick to what God’s word says no matter what our sensitivities might attempt to accomplish.
Notice how these mainstream bestsellers appeal to the masses; they are extra biblical theologically speaking. The tickle our ears and prey on emotions. Are they harmful? Yes. They are leaven and we should reject them if they do not coincide with truth. Error is insidious. It is a tool of the devil to create doubt. If we compromise at one point on truth, it destroys all truth. There is only one truth and one path; it is narrow and few are they that find it. The young believer does not know how to discern yet, truth from error. Yes, the Holy Spirit will guide God’s elect into all truth, but not all at once. The Holy Spirit uses the body of Christ in accomplishing that. For instance, this church refers its people to reputable sources. Its pastors teach truth. That truth coincides with the bible and is spelled out clearly in our confession. Most of these mainstream false teachers do not generally have a confession of faith. They are just flying on the seats of their pants.
Heb. 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…
Jesus is the Logos. He is the Word!
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Since Christ is the Logos, it is through this word that we gain all our knowledge and wisdom from. It is not open to opinion. The case was closed when God ordained that the canon is complete. If it is not complete, the barn door swings wide open and we are in for a world of hurt.
So what should we do in relation to these facts? This church has a plethora of reputable teachers that we refer our people to. Some are venerable dead, others contemporary. Their work has stood the test of time and stood up to ample scrutiny. These can be made available to you if you inquire. Remember, garbage in, garbage out.
I recall placing a post on Facebook a while back and a member of this church immediately referred to Pastor Drew: “Is this person reputable-can he be trusted?” Initially I was a bit offended, but in light of what I know, I was encouraged. This person gets it!
Rick Walston, President of Columbia Evangelical Seminary writes:
“Most gain knowledge faster than they gain the wisdom to know how to properly use that knowledge. This often leads to arrogance and smugness. A kid just out of high school can become a doctor in any field in 6 to 8 years, but at 24 to 26 years old, he is still a youngster. For every year of knowledge, it easily takes two or three (or more) years of living to gain the wisdom to know how to properly use that knowledge. Wisdom germinates in the soil of deference, and deference challenges our egoism. True deference does not even appear in many people before they are in their 40’s.
Knowledge is like a fully loaded gun. Wisdom is knowing when and at whom to shoot. Often, those with great knowledge but who lack wisdom shoot indiscriminately, and they justify it by simply pointing out that they are right. Right they may be; wise they are not.”Joshua 10:14
1 Cor 8:1 We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.