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   Answers About The Bible.

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE Part 1.

I. SOME PRELIMINARY MATTERS (WHERE DO WE BEGIN)

A. We should start with the basic principle that we can understand God's Word.

John 8:32- ""And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.""

Ephesians 5:17- "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

B. God has given us all we need in the Bible to prepare us for life here on earth and eternity with Him.

2 Timothy 3:16-17- "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."

2 Peter 1:2-3- "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, {3} as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who
called us by glory and virtue,"

C. We must seek diligently in God's word for the truth, for it will be the measuring stick by which our lives will be judged.

John 12:47-48 "And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. {48} He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which
judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day."

2 Timothy 2:15- "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

The Bible is not a book of riddles. It is meant to be understood by the ordinary person with ordinary intelligence. When studied properly, it will prepare me for living a better life here, and a wonderful life with God. In short, the average person can understand God's word. But, it will take some effort. We have to work to get its' message. "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). 

II. HOW DO WE FIND OUT WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES?

A. The Bible teaches by a Direct statement, or Command.
Some examples

Acts 2:38- "Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

1 Corinthians 6:18- "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body."

This is the easiest to understand. When such statements are given, they are forthright. They are commands for us to obey. 

B. The Bible teaches by Approved Example.

These are examples of actions by inspired men in the New Testament which can be determined to be intended for Christians in general and not for just one time, place, or situation. It is intended to underpin and facilitate the carrying out of a specific command.

1 Timothy 5:23- "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities." This passage is NOT an approved example for us today because it does not facilitate any direct command. It was written specifically to one person (Timothy) concerning a condition that he, not all Christians, had.

Acts 20:7- "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight." This is an example of and approved example. It facilitates the taking of a commanded actions (the Lord's Supper). See Matthew 26 and 1 Corinthians 11.

C. The Bible teaches by Inference

This method logically looks at Scripture to infer certain facts.

Genesis 13:1 and 12:10- Lot went down into Egypt with Abram, even though the text does not directly state the fact.

Matthew 3:16 - Before he was baptized Jesus went down into the water, even though it does not specifically state that he did.

Inference is just as binding when properly applies. However, we must take care in reaching inferences. When our inference directly contradicts clear Bible verses we know that it is incorrect.

D. There is such a thing as Generic and Specific Authority.

Generic authority is where God commands us to do something, and does not tell us exactly how to do it.

Specific authority is where God clearly shows the exact way He wants something done.

For example, the "Great Commission" (Matthew 28:18-20) has both specific and general commands within it. It is specific as to what we are to preach (the gospel) but is general as to the methods of doing so (plane, foot, bus, TV, radio, tract, etc.)

III. SOME OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER.

A. Never change the interpretation of a clear passage to fit the personal interpretation that you have of a difficult one.

Remember, always interpret hard passages in the light of clear ones. For example, much of what we hear taught from Revelation is based on speculative interpretations that contradict clear passages elsewhere.

2 Peter 1:20- "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,"

B. Remember the Five W's of Bible Study.

Who is doing the speaking? Is it an inspired man, or is it someone like the Devil doing the speaking.

To Whom are the words addressed? Noah was commanded to build an ark but we are not.

When were the words spoken? Jesus commanded his followers to follow Moses and the pharisees in Matthew 23:1 while after his death he said that he had all authority (Matthew 28:18-20)

Where are the words found? What is the context? Look at Romans 3:8.

Why were the words spoken? Miracles were commanded in the first century, but the reasons for them were also revealed. See Mark 16:14-20 and Hebrews 2:3-4. Foot washing was commanded, but as a good work and not as an act of worship. See John 13:14 and 1 Timothy 5:9-10.

C. Remember, the Old Testament has been removed in place of the New Law.

Colossians 2:14- "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."

Hebrews 9:15-17- "And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives."

The Old Testament is of immense value. But when it comes to the commands we are to follow today, we must look to the New Testament.

D. We need to respect the Silence of the Scriptures.

The Bible does not have to say "thou shalt not" for every question. The Silence principle states that there must be authority for all that we do. 

When combined with the principle of specific authority, it means that something does not have to be specifically condemned in the Scripture to be wrong. For example, the Bible authorizes singing (Ephesians 5:19). The New Testament is silent concerning instrumental music in the worship. But since it has specified the type of music required, singing, then instrumental music in the worship is not authorized.

IV. SOME FINAL THOUGHT QUESTIONS.

A. Show some examples of specific and generic commands in God's command to Noah (Genesis 6:13-

Copyright 1999 by Grady Scott may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

MORE ANSWERS:

a. The Bible:

What is The Bible? Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,

How to Study the Bible? Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,

b. Who is Jesus? Part 1, Part 2

 

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