John 8:31-32 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you remain in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Only if we remain in the truth of God’s Word, can we be freed from a false faith, false teachings, false relationships, false religion, and false righteousness. Those who are truly disciples of Jesus Christ, have the mind of Christ, which encompasses humility. As a Christian grows in knowledge and understanding of God’s Word, there will be times that he or she will have to adjust conclusions that were based on a previous understanding. Yes, more knowledge, or accurate knowledge of what may have only been known partially, may mean that we will have to adjust our thinking, which, again, requires humility. Those who are truly Christian will remain in his word, and they will, therefore, be set free by the truth of that word.
One day, Jesus and his disciples were passing through Samaria, when they came to a town called Sychar, where the well of Jacob was. Tired from the journey, he decided this would be the place to rest. A woman from Samaria came to draw water, and a conversation ensued, which ended with Jesus saying, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) We will take a deeper look at this verse in a moment, but for now, this is a clear indication that there is a form of worship, which is acceptable and there are forms of worship, which are unacceptable. Jesus made this all too clear when he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23, ESV) Toward the end of his life and ministry, Jesus prayed to the Father,
John 17:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
If there is a form of worship that is acceptable, it must be in harmony with God’s Word. God’s Word contains the truth about him, his will and his purposes. “The realm in which the disciples’ consecration is to be realized is the truth of God’s word and of his name (see 17:11). This involves the work of both Son and Spirit; association with them, the one who in his person is the truth (14:6), and the one who is the “Spirit of truth” (14:17; 15:26; 16:13) who will lead believers into all truth (16:13), will so sanctify believers that they will be equipped for service of God. Critically, such service is ultimately grounded in divine revelation and predicated on an accurate understanding of and response to such revelation (Morris 1995: 647).”
Psalm 119:142 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
and your law is truth.
When we compare the laws of man in the lands throughout the world, which in essence are under the control of Satan the Devil, whom Paul called “the god of this world,” with the laws of God, we can agree with the Psalmist, “Your law is truth.”
2 Samuel 7:28 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
28 And now, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, you are God, and your words are truth, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.
On this verse, the Holman Old Testament Commentary has that “David began the conclusion to his prayer of gratitude with a bold command. He ordered God to keep forever the promise he had made about his servant, the promise to build a house–i.e., a dynasty–for David. In addition, the king asked God to bless the house of his servant, that it might continue forever in his sight. David’s courage to make these brash requests rested squarely on the word of God. The king knew that God’s words are trustworthy. And since the Lord had revealed that he would build a house for him and that it would last forever (v. 16), the king found the courage to make these requests.”
Psalm 19:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
7 The law of Jehovah is perfect,
restoring the soul;
the testimony of Jehovah is sure,
making wise the simple.
In the Bible, we find answers to life’s most difficult questions. Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? If there is a God and he is good, why so much suffering? What is the purpose of our existence? What is right and wrong and who should determine it? Will world peace ever be achieved? Will poverty ever end? How can we be happy? What is true freedom and does it exist? What happens after we die? Is there such a thing as absolute truth? Therefore, we discover that we have a Creator and why such a loving Creator would allow sickness, old age and death, with much suffering all throughout our limited lives. We also learn the truth about why we are here, what our Creator expects of us, and how his decisions in our behalf have been for our good. – Isaiah 48:17.
Proverbs 2:6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 For Jehovah gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
If it is the truth, which sets us free, how can we know what the truth is? The most basic rule of biblical interpretation in arriving at the correct meaning of a text is; the text means what the author meant by the words he used, as should have been understood by his intended readers. While we will not take the time to be bogged down in how to correctly interpret God’s Word, we will touch on it briefly below, by first offering the Bible advice as to the level of effort needed, and recommending the best book for learning the truly conservative evangelical way of interpreting Scripture, that is, grammatical-historical method of interpretation.
Proverbs 2:1-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1 My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to discernment;
3 For if you cry for discernment
and raise your voice for understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5 then you will understand the fear of Jehovah
and find the knowledge of God.
God has chosen to convey an extremely important message to the human family, one that is a matter of life and death. In his book of 66 smaller books, we find God’s will and purpose for us, as well what role we need to play in his purposes. Sir Matthew Hale, lord chief justice of England, once said, “The Bible is the only source of all Christian truth; the only rule for the Christian life; the only book that unfolds to us the realities of eternity.”
If we are to know God, it only makes sense; we must know his Word, the Bible. Jesus Christ makes this all too clear for us when he said in prayer to his Father: “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent–Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3, HCSB) Therefore, here we see that “eternal life” is closely related to our knowing (having a relationship with) God and his Son, Jesus Christ. It is the apostle John who answers the why: “And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.” – 1 John 2:17, HCSB
In order to know “the will of God,” we must recognize and trust that the Bible as our only guide in this matter. Each Christian should “. . . be filled with the knowledge [lit. accurate or full knowledge] of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge [lit. accurate or full knowledge] of God; (Col. 1:9, 10) Is it possible to “walk worthily” of God without fully knowing his will? Is it possible to know his will without first understanding the Bible?
Below are several things that the Bible offers us. The list is in no way exhaustive, but the points help us choose between the wisdom of man as opposed to the knowledge of God.
The Bible gives us answers to questions about this life and the one to come, which can be found nowhere else, and offers illumination to its readers. Those that take in this life-saving knowledge are freed from the misunderstandings of life that dominate billions of others. For instance, here is one that might come as a shock. We are all Mentally Bent toward Evil. See verses below.
Psalm 51:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
King David had his adultery with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband exposed, for which he accepted full responsibility. His words about the human condition give us one reason for the evil of man. He says, “I was brought forth in iniquity.” What is iniquity? The Hebrew word awon essentially relates to erring, acting illegally or wrongly.
David stated that his problem was a corrupt heart, saying; surely, I was sinful at birth. He entered this world a sinner in nature long before he became a sinner in actions. In fact, this internal corruption predated his birth, actually beginning nine months earlier when he was conceived in the womb. It was at conception that the Adamic sin nature was transmitted to him. The problem of what he did, sin, arose from what he was, a sinner.
David is not here casting the blame onto his mother, as God never intended mothers to conceive and give birth to children who would sin. Nevertheless, when Adam and Eve rebelled, were expelled from the Garden of Eden, they lost their ability to pass on perfection. Therefore, every child was born missing the mark of perfection. The Hebrew term translated “sin” is chattath; in Greek, the word is hamartia. Both carry the idea of missing the mark of perfection.
The verbal forms occur in enough secular contexts to provide a basic picture of the word’s meaning. In Judges 20:16, the left-handed slingers of Benjamin are said to have the skill to throw stones at targets and “not miss.” In a different context, Pro. 19:2 speaks of a man in a hurry who “misses his way” (RSV, neb, KJV has “sinneth”). A similar idea of not finding a goal appears in Pro. 8:36; the concept of failure is implied. Moses tells us in the book of Genesis,
|Genesis 6:5 (AT)
5 When the LORD saw that the wickedness of man on the earth was great, and that the whole bent of his thinking was never anything but evil, the LORD regretted that he had ever made man on the earth.
|Genesis 8:21 (AT)
21 I will never again curse the soil, though the bent of man’s mind may be evil from his very youth; nor ever again will I ever again destroy all life creature as I have just done.
All of us have inherited a sinful nature, meaning that we are currently unable to live up to the mark of perfection, in which we were created. In fact, Genesis 6:5 says we all suffer from, ‘our whole bent of thinking, which is nothing but evil.” Genesis 8:21 says that ‘our mind is evil from our very youth.’ Jeremiah 17:9 says that our hearts are treacherous and desperately sick.” What does all of this mean? It means that prior to the fall, our natural inclination; our natural leaning was toward good. However, after the fall, our natural inclination, our natural leaning was toward bad, wicked, evil.
We should never lose sight of the fact that unrighteous desires of the flesh are not to be taken lightly. (Rom. 7:19, 20) Nevertheless, if it is our desire to have a righteous relationship before God, it will be the stronger desire. Psalm 119:165 says, “Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble.” We need to cultivate our love for doing right, which will strengthen our conscience, the sense of what is right and wrong that governs somebody’s thoughts and actions, urging us to do right rather than wrong. It is only through studying the Bible that we can train the conscience. Once it is trained, it will prick us like a needle in the arm, when we are thinking of doing something wrong. It will feel like a pain in our heart, sadness, nervousness, which is the voice saying, ‘do not do this.’ Moreover, if we ignore our voice, it will grow silent over time, and will stop telling us what is wrong. – Romans 2:14-15.
James 1:14-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
We have a natural desire toward wrongdoing, and Satan is the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3-4), and he caters to the fallen flesh. James also tells us that “each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15) We resist the devil by immediately dismissing any thought that is contrary to God’s values found in his Word. We do not entertain it for a moment, nor do we cultivate it, causing it to grow. We then offer rational prayers in our head, or better yet, in an undertone, so we can defeat fleshly irrational thinking with rational biblical thinking. The Apostle Peter, referring to the Devil wrote, “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Pet. 5:9) While the Bible helps us better to understand the gravity of our fallen condition, this should not cause us alarm as the Bible also shows us how to control our mental bent toward evil. We can renew our mind (Rom. 12:2), acquire the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16)), take of the old person and put on the new person (Eph. 4:20-24; Col 3:9-10), among other things.
Another facet of benefiting from the Bible is that it shows us the way to get the best out of life now, even in imperfection. Again, one basic rule of interpretation is this, there are verses that sound like, “if you do A, you will get B.” This has created some difficulty in many churchgoers because they are treated like absolutes or guarantees; if we do A we will get B. Scriptures are not to be applied in this sense in an imperfect world, with imperfect people. The best phrase that we can put before the proverb is “generally speaking.” Let us look at Proverbs 22:6 as our example, it says, “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (ESV) Let us look at a easy version of this, “direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (NLT) Is this an absolute guarantee that, if I raise my children in the best way, when they get older they will not leave it? No. Let us place our phrase in front of it. ‘Generally speaking,’ if you direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.’
|1 Timothy 3:2 (UASV)
2Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
|2 Corinthians 7:1 (UASV)
1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
|1 Corinthians 6:18 (UASV)
18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
What do we discover in these three texts? Is there any doubt that if we possess the quality of self-control that we will not have better health and better relationships. Through ‘cleansing ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit,’ we evade damaging our health. Finally, the marriage is on safe grounds by our ‘fleeing from sexual immorality.’
Another aspect of the Bible is that it will help us to find true happiness in this imperfect world that we live in, with the hope of even greater happiness to come. Bible knowledge helps us to discover the innermost harmony and satisfaction that this imperfect life offers, and gives us faith and hopefulness of an even greater one to come. It assists us to develop such pleasing characteristics as empathy, love, joy, peace, kindness, and faith. (Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 4:24, 32) Such characteristics will help us to be a better spouse, father or mother, son or daughter, or friend.
Another facet of the Bible is its prophecies, which will help us to understand where we are in the steams of time, and what is yet to unfold. Notice the conditions that are coming in the text below.
Revelation 21:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and he will dwell among them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be among them, 4 and he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Romans 10:13-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how will they hear without someone to preach? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!”
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
“The spiritual man is one who walks by the Spirit both in the sense of Gal. 5:16 and in that of 5:25, and who himself manifests the fruit of the Spirit in his own ways …” (Vine 1996, Vol. 2, P. 595) The apostle Paul wrote, “But a physical man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he is not able to know them, because they are examined spiritually.” (1 Cor. 2:14) It should be noted that Paul, nor any other biblical author ever says that the physical man cannot understand God’s Word. If they could not understand it, why would we ever pen books that are geared toward them as an audience? If they cannot understand it, why would we ever spend time evangelizing them? The physical man can understand the Word of God, it is just that he sees it as foolish, i.e., having no significance or value, so he places not trust in it.
Matthew 4:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 5:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
In any century, a poor person has little reason to be happy, based on outward circumstances. Jesus, however, clarified in the first words of his sermon that he was not speaking of physical poverty, but spiritual poverty–poor in spirit. The beginning of repentance is the recognition of one’s spiritual bankruptcy–one’s inability to become righteous on one’s own. The blessing or happiness that belongs to the poor in spirit is because such a person is, by his admission, already moving toward participating in God’s kingdom plan, acknowledging his need for a source of salvation outside himself. Old Testament uses of this concept would have been familiar to Jesus’ listeners and Matthew’s readers. (Familiar Scriptures would have included Pss. 40:17;69:29–30, 33–34; Isa. 57:15; 61:1; 66:2, 5.)
Yes, we need to be aware of our spiritual needs. We were created with the need of developing a friendship with our Creator. One thing is for certain, humans may fail us, but God never will. Therefore, we can feel secure in that friendship, like no other.
When we enter the pathway of walking with our God, we will certainly come across resistance from three different areas. Our greatest obstacle is ourselves, because we have inherited imperfection from our first parents Adam and Eve. The Scriptures make it quite clear that we are mentally bent toward bad, not good. (Gen 6:5; 8:21, AT) In other words, our natural desire is toward wrong. Prior to sinning, Adam and Eve were perfect, and they had the natural desire of doing good, and to go against that was to go against the grain of their inner person. Scripture also tells us of our inner person, our heart.
Jeremiah 17:9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 The heart is more deceitful than all else,
and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Romans 7:21-24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 I find then the law in me that when I want to do right, that evil is present in me. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and taking me captive in the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
1 Corinthians 9:27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Paul is describing his approach that he used to correct himself. He disciplined his imperfect human nature with well-directed blows of counsel in the Scriptures. Initially, seeking God’s direction in applying the Scriptures, he would go to God in prayer; thereafter, he would work in harmony with the Scriptures to improve himself. We can follow this example to remove any inclinations we might have.
Ephesians 4:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
We need to walk in a way that evidences we are truly Christian. Many times, we know that long-suffering will be involved. However, we must fully understand what long-suffering is. It means more than simply suffering some kind of pain, discomfort, or difficulty for an extended period. If someone has chronic pain from arthritis, he will suffer for a long period, but it is not as if he has a choice. The Christian, by his biblical choices, his conscience, makes decision that willfully places him in a position to face mistreatment for indefinite periods. All the while, he does not retaliate or get irritated. He is slow to anger because he has measured control.
Ephesians 5:15-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 buying out the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
There are horrific dangers and deceptions that lie within the world that is under the influence of Satan. God recognizes that we are imperfect, knowing that we have human weaknesses that he originally did not intend, meaning that he is aware of how difficult it is to walk in godly wisdom. He is aware that we are all missing the mark of perfection, and that we are all mentally bent toward evil. He knows that our natural desire is to do wrong, and our heart (inner self) is treacherous and we cannot even know it. It is for this reason that he makes allowances for our imperfection. Jesus Christ offered himself as a ransom, covering our Adamic sin and our human weaknesses when we stumble at times, but only if we demonstrate trust in him.
We need to walk not as unwise but as wise. What does Paul; mean by ‘wise’ and ‘unwise’ in this text? God has made known to us his plan of salvation, which was a mystery up until the time of Paul’s writings. At that time, he had lavished upon them/us, “in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.” (Eph. 1:8-9) Yes, God has afforded his people wisdom, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.” (Eph. 1:17-19) It would take a wise person to understand and appreciate the mystery of salvation, and the fact that they are required to bring their life into harmony with God’s magnificent plan of saving the world of mankind who are receptive to accepting Christ. To be wise also means that these ones fully grasp the will of the Father (Matt. 7:21), and are carrying that out to the best of their ability. Therefore, the wise accept, value, and see the significance of wisely walking worthily with God. On the other hand, the unwise are those of the world of humankind who are alienated from God, living their life in the moment, walking in the desires of the flesh, because they see God’s Word as foolish.
Turning our attention to verse 16 of Ephesians chapter 5, we see that the wise knows how to buy out the opportune time from the world, by living in the world, but they do not use it to the fullest extent, unlike the unwise. Why, because they know that the world of wicked mankind is passing away. The wise one buys time back from this wicked world. Some of the areas that can be bought from are watching less television, less time playing on the computer, other forms of entertainment, not always working overtime, or maybe even not taking a promotion that would cause him to miss Christian meetings, so he can focus on the better things. Some of these better things are personal family time, family Bible study, personal Bible study, religious services, sharing the Good News with others, congregational responsibilities, and so on. Notice below that we were formerly the unwise, but are now the wise.
Ephesians 2:1-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1 And you being dead in the trespasses and your sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among whom also we all formerly lived in the desires of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
The irony is that hundreds of millions of Christians are humble enough to recognize that the Bible is difficult to understand, it is a deep and complex book. There are tens of millions, who believe they understand everything they read, and for them, the Bible is easy to understand. The sad part is that many of the latter do not understand it any better than the former; they are simply putting a modern-day twist on Scripture and having it say what they want it to say. Even Peter in the first century, one of the pillars of the early church, an apostle of Christ, viewed the Apostle Paul’s letters as difficult to understand.
2 Peter 3:15-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
If we are to appreciate and apply the Bible in our lives, we must first fully understand it. We must know what the author of a Bible book meant by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his original intended audience. Then, we will be able to attach the significance that it has in our lives. If we are unaware of the correct way of interpreting the Scriptures, grammatical-historical interpretation, then we are going to be one of those ones who Peter spoke of as, “the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction.” Hundreds of millions of Christians unknowingly share an incorrect understanding of Scripture, because they are not aware of the principles of interpretation, and how to apply them correctly.
Our first step is observation, to get as close to the original text as possible. If we do not read Hebrew or Greek; then, two or three literal translations are preferred (ESV, NASB, HCSB). The second step is interpretation, i.e., what did the author mean by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his original audience. A part of this second step would be what are the differences between the biblical audience and us? As mentioned above, the Christian today is separated from the biblical audience by differences in culture, language, situation, time, and often covenant. The third step is the implications or principles in this text? This is perhaps the most challenging step. In it, we are looking for the implications or principles that are reflected in the meaning of the text we identified in the second step. Part of this third step is making sure that we stay within the pattern of the original meaning when we determine any implications for us. The fourth step is application. How should individual Christians today live out the implications and principles?
Certainly, no one would suggest that God intended such division and confusion. If each of us can give our own meaning to a text; then, it has no meaning at all, and has lost all authority over our lives.
What does the Bible really teach? For example, is the Bible completely without errors of any kind, or is it only error free on matters of faith? (Inerrancy) Was the universe and man created within the past 6,000 to 10,000 years, or are the days creative periods. Or rather, is there a large gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, or the literary framework view correct that asserts that God was not having Moses address how He created the world, nor the length of time in which to do such? This view holds that this account in Genesis 1 is merely a literary outline that summarizes a theology of creation. (Creation Account) Is God sovereign over all things, or does God limit his control by granting freedom? (Providence) Is the image of God our soul, or is the image of God our God-given authority, or is it our relations? (Divine Image) Are we made up of a body and soul, or body, soul and spirit, or are we the person a soul? (Human Constitution) Did Christ die in our place, or is it that Christ destroyed Satan and his works, or that Christ displayed God’s wrath against sin? (Atonement) Did God from eternity in the past predestine some to salvation, and others to eternal damnation, or is it that God loves everyone, and we can choose to accept or reject that love, with God not coercing them, while they must maintain an approved standing? (Salvation) Is sanctification a declaration by God, or a holiness in Christ and personal conduct, or resting-faith in the sufficiency of Christ, or is it entire sanctification in perfect love? (Sanctification) Do we retain our security in the Power of God, or do we need to persist in faith? (Eternal Security) Are infants to be baptized, or are only believers to be baptized? (Baptism) Is speaking in tongues a true sign of faith, or did speaking in tongues die out after the first century C.E.? (Gifts) Is there to be a rapture before the reign of Christ, or are we working toward and waiting for a coming reign of peace, or is the thousand-year conquest of Satan symbolic? (Millennium) These sorts of questions could go on for hundreds of pages.
If we are to fulfill the great commission, that Jesus gave to every Christian, to proclaim and to teach the Good News, we must accurately understand it ourselves first. It was in the spring of 31 C.E., and Jesus was about to speak to a very large, mixed crowd on a mountainside, who were anxiously awaiting what he would teach them. He did not let them down in the least, as he was nothing short of astounding in what and how he taught them. “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching.” What was special about his way of teaching, in comparison to what they had been hearing from the Jewish religious leaders? He taught with authority from the Scriptures. He quote or referred to the Old Testament, to support what he was saying. The Jewish religious leaders referred to other Rabbis as their authority.
At the end of his ministry here on earth, he told all of his disciples that they too were to be teachers. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV) The apostle Paul also exhorted Hebrew Christians of their responsibility to teach when they were trying to slide by on doing the minimum possible. “Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Hebrews 5:12, NIV) Paul also told Timothy, “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, table to teach, patiently enduring evil.” – 2 Timothy 2:24, ESV.
What about us? Sadly, survey after survey over the last 35 years has shown that 93 percent of Christians today are in the same position as what Paul had said to the Hebrew Christians. “Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”
Joshua 1:8-9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid, and do not be dismayed, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.”
Let us test just how much we can pull from a verse that is informing us of what was said in the opening paragraphs. First, we see that we need to meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1). The day and night is really hyperbole for reading it every day. The Hebrew word behind meditate (haghah) can be rendered “mutter.” In other words, as we read, we are to read in an undertone, slightly out load, like muttering to oneself. The process of hearing the words increases our retention of the material dramatically. As Bible students we read to understand and remember what we read, and we are obligated to share this good news with others. Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (translated by S. Tregelles, 1901, p. 215) says of haghah: “Prop[erly] to speak with oneself, murmuring and in a low voice, as is often done by those who are musing.”—See also Ps 35:28; 37:30; 71:24; Isa 8:19; 33:18.
The last phrase in verse 8, “you will have good success” can be rendered to “act with insight.” How was Joshua to acquire this ability “to act with insight”? He was to meditate on God’s Word day and night. What is the equation of Joshua 1:8? If Joshua were to read meditatively (in an undertone) from God’s Word daily, applying it in his life, he would be able to act with insight, resulting in his prospering. Of course, the prospering is not financial gain. It is a life of joy and happiness in an age of difficult times. It is avoiding the pitfalls that those in the world around us suffer daily. Moreover, it does not mean that we are to prosper or be successful in an absolute sense because bad things happen to good people. We must add the qualifier, “generally speaking,” if we follow God’s Word we will have success.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 and that from infancy you [Timothy] have known the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through trust in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be fully competent, equipped for every good work.
Today we have self-help books by the tens of thousands. We have magazines that offer advice on healthy living, fitness training, parenting, the family, men only, women only, and everything else imaginable. We have mental health doctors on television, offering counsel on everything from dieting, to bipolar disorder. We have professional counselors, covering a variety of walks of life, even Christian counselors. We also have the social worker, psychologist, and psychiatrist, to mention just a few. Nevertheless, tens of millions of people still look to a book, made up of sixty-six smaller books, which were written over a 1,600-year period, by forty different authors, who were inspired by the Creator of all things, THE BIBLE. Where do we go for guidance on the everyday decisions (where to eat), to the major decisions of life (which school to send our kids to)?
Step 1: What is the historical setting and background for the author of the book and his audience? Who wrote the book? When and under what circumstances was the book written? Where was the book written? Who were the recipients of the book? Was there anything noteworthy about the place of the recipients? What is the theme of the book? What was the purpose for writing the book?
Step 2a: What would this text have meant to the original audience? (The meaning of a text is what the author meant by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his readers.)
Step 2b: If there are any words in our section that we do not understand, or that stand out as interesting words that may shed some insight on the meaning, look them up in a word dictionary.
Step 2c: After reading our section from the three Bible translations, doing a word study, write down what we think the author meant. Then, pick up a trustworthy commentary, like Holmen Old or New Testament commentary volume, and see if we have it correct.
Step 3: Explain the original meaning down into one or two sentences, preferably one. Then, take the sentence or two; place it in a short phrase.
Step 4: Now, consider their circumstances, the reason for it being written, what it meant to them, and consider examples from our day that would be similar to theirs, which would fit the pattern of meaning. What implications can be drawn from the original meaning?
Step 5: Find the pattern of meaning, the “thing like these,” and consider how it could apply in our modern day life. How should individual Christians today live out the implications and principles?
We know that Scripture makes it all too clear that there is only one acceptable way of worshiping God, the way outlined in God’s Word. Everything that we believe and do needs to be based on that Word, and our understanding of that Word needs to be accurate. There are 41,000 different Christian denominations, and clearly not all are on the path of doing the will of the Father as outlined in the Bible, for Jesus said, in that day he will say to some, “depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt 7:23) Either we can place our trust in man, who bickers and argues over what the Word of God means, or we can take the Bible’s point of view itself. After all, it is the inspired Word of God, which is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) We cannot build our hope for the future on the unstable foundation of human promises; however, we can trust the Word of our loving Creator.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 Trust in Jehovah with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Milton H. Terry wrote, “It is an old and oft-repeated hermeneutical principle that words should be understood in their literal sense unless such literal interpretation involves a manifest contradiction or absurdity.” Robert L. Towns writes, “The Bible is the best interpreter of itself. As we study the Bible, we should learn to compare the Scriptures we are studying with other relevant passages of Scripture to interpret the Bible.” These are a couple of the principles, which this series of books will live by, so that we can trust that these Basic Bible Teachings are from the Word of God, not the Word of man. Moreover, what is offered herein will live by the rules below. Lastly, we can take advantage of the book we recommended by Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation or A BASIC GUIDE TO BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION Understanding the Correct Methods of Interpretation by Edward D. Andrews (Apr 22, 2014), so that we are not entirely dependent on the interpretation of others. In other words, we will be able to do as the Bereans did with the Apostle Paul, and for which he commended them,
Acts 17:10-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
Paul and Silas in Berea
10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
Note that they (1) “received the word with all eagerness,” and then went about (2) “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” If the apostle Paul was to be examined to see if what he said was so, surely uninspired commentators must be examined as well.
The Rule is to Remember Context
As we know, the context is the surrounding verses and chapters, to the text under consideration, as well as the book, and the entire Word of God. Is the interpretation we have come away with, in harmony with the context? Does this interpretation fit the pattern of meaning (see Image 1, below), of the historical setting? For example, Psalm 1:1-3 tells us that if we do not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the path of sinner, nor sit in the seat with scoffers, but delight in the Word of God, ‘whatever he does, he will prosper.’ Is that how we are to understand this, WHATEVER we do, we will prosper, if we only follow that counsel? No. again, this is important, in psalms, proverbs, and other genres, there is an invisible “generally” before these absolute statements. In other words, ‘generally speaking, whatever we do, we will prosper, if we follow the counsel correctly.’
The Rule is Know the Whole of the Word of God
Below, we have repeated a basic interpretation principle for the third time. This is for emphasis because millions violate it. One needs to be familiar with the whole of the Word of God, to not be misled when someone presents us with Scriptures that are out of context. Too many people take a verse by what it says, without looking at what comes before or after it. For example, Jesus said at John 15:7, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” This brings up to immediate questions: (1) can we simply ask for anything and God will give it to us, (2) and even if it is according to His will and purposes, are we guaranteed of getting it? First, the context of the first part of that verse qualifies what is being talked about here, as Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you . . .” Thus, you must be doing A to get B. Second, this is not an absolute, which has the invisible “generally speaking” before it. In other words, “generally speaking,” if we are abiding in Jesus and his words, the Father will answer our prayer if it is in harmony with His will and purposes.
The Rule is to Remember that Scripture Will Never Contradict Itself
If something is said in one place in Scripture that is at odds with another text in Scripture, it is being misinterpreted, or the context is being violated or misunderstood. There are verses that say the earth will be here forever, and then 2 Peter 3:7 says “the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire.” This would seem like a contradiction to the many other verses that say the earth will be here forever. However, if we look at the second half of that verse, it lets us know who is going to be destroyed, “destruction of the ungodly.” Therefore, two rules: Scripture will not contradict itself and the context will help us.
The Rule is to Not Hang Our Doctrinal Beliefs on Texts that are Hard to Understand
Do not be ashamed of struggling with passages that are hard to understand, because the apostle Peter even felt this way about some of the Apostle Paul’s letters. “. . . Our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” – 2 Pet 3:15-16.
The Bible is to be interpreted literally, in accordance with what it meant to the original audience at the time of its being written. We are to seek the obvious meaning of the words that the author used, and in the context, he used them, as well as the language he used. This rule does not mean that we are to be ignorant regarding idiomatic, hyperbolic, symbolic or figurative language, where Jesus says he is a door, and Jehovah says he is a rock. Herein, we still take it literally, as to what the figurative language means. In other words, we get a correct understanding of the idiomatic, hyperbolic, symbolic or figurative words, and this is what we take literally. For example, if Jesus meant that he is the way, it is through him that we receive life, we take that message literally, not that we actually believe he is literally some movable barrier used to open and close the entrance to a building, room, closet.
The Rule is what the Author Meant by the Words He Used
This rule will be stressed throughout this book. The meaning is what the author meant by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his readers, at the time of writing. We must understand that descriptive history to move the text along is not necessarily prescribing what we should do. For example, in Judges Chapter 6, Gideon, desiring evidence that God was with him, requested that a fleece be exposed at night on the threshing floor and be wet with dew the next morning but that the floor be dry. This does not mean that we follow this as an example, to see if God wants us to do something. This was descriptive not prescriptive.
The Rule is that Not All Commentaries are Created Equal
Sadly, not all commentaries are equal. Sadly, theological bias affects us all, some more than others do. Therefore, it is good to find a few dependable companies and rely on them, until we discover others just as dependable.
John 4:24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
24 God is spirit, and those worshiping him must worship in spirit and truth.”
What does it mean to worship in spirit? In spirit is not a reference to the Holy Spirit, but more of an attitude, a mental disposition, a way of thinking, or a mindset. We worship in “spirit” when we following our hearts, which are filled with faith and love of God and his Word. We worship in “spirit” when the inspired Word of God, trains our Christian conscience, the inner law that helps us to determine what is right, and leads us to recognize what is wrong. We worship in “spirit” when our worship is pure, based on an accurate knowledge of God’s Word, having grateful hearts. We worship in “spirit” when we apply God’s Word in our lives, having our spirit; mental disposition in harmony with the Holy Spirit’s leading.
What does it mean to worship in truth? It means honestly, biblically, centered on the Word of God. In other words, we study the Word of God, having biblical truths revealed to us through the study, and then we worship according to that truth. In addition, it means that we are to be obedient to the truths revealed. This would include “truth of the gospel,” which focuses on Jesus Christ and his efforts in the vindication of the sovereignty of his Father. (Galatians 2:14) God will allow a strong delusion to fall on those that “refuse to love the truth,” ‘condemning those who do not believe the truth.’ (2 Thess. 2:9-12) Therefore, salvation only belongs to those, who upon hearing the Gospel, accept it as truth, and begin to walk in that truth. – 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; Ephesians 1:13-14.
All true Christians should strive to be “fellow workers for the truth.” They would certainly want to follow in the steps of John and Gaius as they defend the truth (Jude 1:3; 1 Pet 3:15), and like “children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 3-8) They are doing so by going out into the community, proclaiming the Gospel, bringing people into the truth. They were to stay committed to the Gospel that they had heard in the beginning when they were first brought into the truth.
We need to strengthen ourselves spiritually, recognizing our spiritual needs. Our spiritual strength needs to grow stronger each day, because if we can be steadfast in the small trials, we will endure the more difficult trials that may lie in our path.
Imagine the faith it must have required for those Israelites, who celebrated the first Passover and then took some of the blood and smeared it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses. (Exodus 12:1-28) Even after their firstborn sons surviving that night, many lost their faith shortly thereafter when the Pharaoh’s army was closing in on them at the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:9-12) However, after they walked the night through on the dry seabed to the other side of the Red Sea, then they looked back as the 80 feet walls of water fell in on the Egyptian army, killing them all. “Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.” (Psa. 106:12) Yes, once again, they had faith. These Israelites were truly unsure about their relationship with God, whether he was truly with them or not, which caused them to be unstable. Certainly, they could not have any peace of mind, as in one moment; they would have a surge of hope, and in the next, a moment of despair.
James 1:5-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproaching, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man should not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
If we tire our or grow weary in our walk with God, we can develop an uncertainty of belief that leaves us struggling or worse still, stumbling. Let us not be “double-minded” and “unstable” in prayer or in other ways. We should pray sincerely, with a steadfast sureness that God will hear our entreaties and that he will answer them in his own good time, in his way, and according to his will and purposes. Keep in mind that the answer may also be no answer.
5 How great are your works, O Jehovah! Your thoughts are very deep.
10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
There is no doubt that God’s thoughts are deep, these deeper things of God are very complex at times, and as Peter tells us, they are not easy to understand. Therefore, we must dig deeper by the use of the many wonderful tools on the market, along with prayerful reflection as we carry on in our studies. It is not a speed-reading contest, to see how many books we can read. Please, ponder the section below on hot to read/study a book. It may seem slow moving at first but in the end, it is worth it.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.
160 The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous judgments endures forever.
As was true of the Psalmist, we should view God’s sharing His thoughts as very precious. We should be very thankful and appreciative that we have access to ‘the sum of God’s Word’ as being truths that He has revealed to us, and therefore, we must dig deeper in the sum of God’s Word.
All of God’s commandments, as recorded in his written Word, are for our living by and faithfully defending the truth. They are given for keeping us in accord with the truth. To receive God’s blessing we should make the truth our own and share it everywhere to his glory and praise.
1 My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to discernment;
3 For if you cry for discernment
and raise your voice for understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5 then you will understand the fear of Jehovah
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For Jehovah gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
Deep Bible study is like digging in a mine, it takes much effort on our part if we expect to find the treasure. Please, reread the above proverbs again, and this time, look for the active verbs, which emphasize the effort needed, to acquire divine knowledge, wisdom, and discernment.
Spiritual, educational study also requires a good study process. Solomon wrote, “If the axe is dull, and one does not sharpen its edge, then one must exert more strength; however, the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success.” (Eccl. 10:10, HCSB) If a worker uses a blade that is not sharp or if he does not use it proficiently, he will squander his power and his work will be substandard.
When an artisan begins his workday, he will get out the tools needed for the task and place them before him. In the same way, when we embark on a period of study, we should decide on which tools we will need in our individual library. Recall too that study is a mental task and requires effort; therefore, it is also best to assume a fitting posture. The idea is to stay mentally attentive, so being at a table in a chair would be more prudent than a recliner, or lying on a bed. It is best to take a short break every 20 minutes or so, walking in another room, stretching or getting some fresh air from outside.
Many great study tools are also available to us today, because of software programs. Foremost among these is the Bible, God’s Word. It is recommended that we use a literal translation (ASV, ESV, NASB, HCSB, and UASV in 2016), as well as a couple dynamic equivalent translations (NIV, NET, NLT). The tools listed here are the bare basics that any Bible student should have: several Bibles, concordance, Bible dictionary, Bible handbook, Old and New Testament survey or introductions, wordbooks (Mounce), Bible encyclopedia, and at least a one or more volume commentary, a Bible atlas, and a one-volume commentary on Bible backgrounds.
Progressing in our personal study requires us to become skilled at how to study. First, it would be best to write a schedule on our calendar, seven days per week that will not interfere with life’s responsibilities, buying out the time to study, possibly at least a half hour each time, twice a day. Better yet, it might be best to have one hour of study, in the early morning, to start our day. Second, we will need to decide beforehand what we will study during the time we have set aside. By setting reasonable goals down on paper and in our mind, we will be much more apt to make the study time far more beneficial than if we had no goal. As an aside, we do not want to sidetrack ourselves by trying to dig deeper for the curiosities that come up during our study. Write these down and do them outside of our regular study.
In order to bring our study to the next level, we must become skilled at using our tools. As is true with everything, skill will only come about by use, use and more use. We will need to acquire skill at searching for background information from maps and Bible dictionaries. Also, using our concordance to see how a word is used throughout the Bible book we are studying, or throughout the New or Old Testament. It can be very helpful in directing us to supplementary information.
When we come upon Bible locations, it is time to use our maps to have a mental picture of Bible lands. An example would be Paul’s missionary tours, or the exodus of the Israelites. Seeing where the Israelites were held captive in Babylon, how the huge cedar logs were gotten from the Mountains of Lebanon to Jerusalem, can add meaning to our study. Consider cases when the text says, for example, Samson ripped out the gates of Gaza, which likely weighed several hundred pounds, and then it states that he carried them to the top of Hebron. Our in-depth study will discover that was a 37-mile hike, uphill! – Judges 16:3.
These suggestions will be of no advantage to us unless we have a wish to learn. Without that longing, we will not be motivated to seek the wisdom of God’s Word. We will not be motivated to dig for knowledge and understanding. This desire should be the possession of all dedicated Christians. If we are a newly interested one, a desire for a better understanding of God’s Word, a longing for it, can be developed. We should crave to be taught about our Creator and about the things, he caused to be written in his Word. As we take in knowledge and understanding, our thirst for these deeper things should grow. “A discerning mind seeks knowledge.” – Proverbs 15:14.
An environment that breathes study is very important as well. Some people have convinced themselves that they can study with the radio blaring, or even playing quietly in the background. Silence is the best friend for serious study. This gives our mind the opportunity to meditate and ponder whatever we are considering. If we have children, it may be best to choose a study time when they are in school, or at an activity. The phone should be ignored during this time, not allowing outside distractions.
It is only by being absorbed in our material that we can really profit from the hard effort that we have put forth in our study. While it is true, we live in stressful times, we should follow Jesus’ advice to ‘seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these others things will be taken care of’ by applying the very Bible principles that we are learning, by not having a divided mind that is attempting to compete with today’s troubles. It is no easy task to dismiss the world around us, but with prayerful efforts, it will come in time. Otherwise, we will find that we have read five pages and have no idea what we just read. Poor concentration is the killer of an advanced study. Yawning, feeling sleepy may not be because we tossed and turned last night, but because we are simply not interested in what lies before our very eyes. However, interest can be achieved by knowing just how we want to use the information that we are studying: our personal life, to help our child, to strengthen our relationships, to grow and mature, to defend what we believe. If we can find a reason for the information, the interest will peak, our concentration will improve, and our study will come to the point where it is not only interesting but also exciting and captivating.
We have just purchased a new book; it has just come in the mail or downloaded to our Kindle or Nook. How should we go about studying our new book? The first thing is to read the back cover that will give us an overview of the book. Stop for a moment and consider what we know about this subject area. Now, as we would walk around and kick the tires before buying a car, we should investigate before we get into the study of the book. Open the book, and look at the table of content and read the list of chapters and headings, see the progression the book is following, its line of thought. Now, turn to each chapter and look at the subheadings that run through each chapter, to get a feel for the depth that we are going to go into, to be excited by this subject area.
First, read the preface and introduction of the book. Now that we are ready to begin, turn to chapter one. Each topic sentence usually is a summary of the whole paragraph and it generally is the first sentence, so pay special attention as we read in an undertone [slightly aloud], each sentence throughout the chapter. After reading those first sentences, attempt to see how the paragraphs build on that sentence, and the following ones as well. As we work our way through the chapter, look for the topic sentence, and underline it, this way we are mentally outlining the chapter.
As we are reading, do not just read each word individually, but in a group of thought content. This will not only speed up our reading but will help us to take hold of the content. As we grow in knowledge and understanding, we will encounter terms and subject matter that are new. Initially, this will be quite often and will taper off as our knowledge deepens. New terms and subject matter is not an area where rapid reading should continue. It is here where we should slow down, because we are attempting to grasp each word at a time and how the joining of them together makes sense. In addition, we may wish to have a dictionary handy as well. After we feel we have grasped this new thought, look up from the page and restate it in our own words.
We may wish to view subheadings as stop signs. At each one, we should give thought to, ‘what did I just cover?’ Can we recall the whole of what was shared, or is it too muddled? If we feel that, it is too foggy, go back and reread the topic sentences that we had underlined, and it should restore our memory. When we read something that sounds worth repeating, as it may be used to help another, overturn false reasoning, or expounding on a Scripture, attempt to explain it aloud in our own words. If we stumble in expressing it, reread the point, and attempt to explain it again aloud. Before the day is out, share it with another, which will help us retain it. Now we are off to the next subheading, following the same process, as we continue throughout the chapter, keep the title in mind, former subheadings and a progression of what we have taken in. This process should be followed throughout the whole book.
If this is a book that we bought not a library book, hold a pencil (or highlighter) in one hand as we read, underline our topic sentences, exceptional bits and pieces of information, and any key words that may catch our attention. Do not overdo this, as it will defeat the purpose. After each chapter, take a moment to read the subheading, to see if we recall what we have read. If we have, a point that we believe we will need in the future; go to the front of the book, and create a small phrase that captures the essence of that material, and put the page number where it can be found later. Two years later, we may want to find it again, so we recall what possible books, then we simply look in the front and the phrases will be there. The most important study principle is looking up Scriptures. The rule is if it is not quoted in the book we are studying, look it up every time unless we can quote it verbatim. If we ever stumble in quoting it, look it up every time we come across it, until we do not stumble in quoting it. Below is a quick overview of how to read/study a book.
STEPS TO READING/STUDYING A BOOK
- Ponder the title and subtitle for a moment
- Read the book description on the back as we keep the title and subtitle in mind
- Read the Table of Content, considering how it relates to the title and subtitle.
- Read the Preface, which will tell us the author’s intentions
- Read the Introduction that will help break us into what is coming
How to Read the Chapters
- Ponder the chapter title
- Read the headings and subheading of the chapter and see how it relates to the chapter title
- Get out a legal pad and write the headings and subheadings on the legal pad as questions, which will be our review questions
- Read the next heading and paragraph(s), asking ourselves the heading as a question and answer it in our own words.
- Read the next heading and paragraph(s) and do the same. Continue this until we are done with the chapter.
- Close the book and go through the heading questions. If there are any that we stammer on, reread that material.
- Finally, read the chapter title, the headings, and subheadings to refresh the mind, and then write a summary paragraph of the entire chapter
An active mind while reading will enable us to retain so much more at the end of the book. Attempt to picture the material, as we are moving through it. Pay special attention to the basic truths that we are learning. As we work our way through any book, see if we can look into ourselves, to see if there are areas that the information could be applied our lives. Ponder over the material, looking for information that we can use in our ministry of preaching and teaching others.
A motivating factor is the simple fact that one could never teach another if he does not fully understand the subject matter himself. Worse still, it will only alienate those we are preaching to because they want the confidence that a person teaching them is not stumbling through their answers. If we fully understand something, we will be able to give reasons for it, in our own words. Therefore, the more we know and understand the better will be when the time comes to share that information, giving reasons for the hope that we possess. Moreover, it may be information that we need to personalize, something that will help us to make better decisions. In addition, we will be building our faith up to withstand the agnostic, atheistic, liberal, progressive skeptics and critics that wish only to tear down. As we grow in our understanding of God’s Word, it will enable us to have the confidence to speak to others, to grow spiritually, and get on the path that leads to everlasting life.
The objective of our study is to give a half hour each day to Bible reading as laid out in this book, as well as a half hour to the book reading program as explained herein. We can give a half hour to each them in the morning, or we can split it up: one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, or evening. It is recommended that we do both in the morning.
FOOTNOTES ARE BELOW BOOK IMAGE
 Barrett (1978: 510) rightly contends that “truth” here “means the saving truth revealed in the teaching and activity of Jesus.” Earlier references to the word in this chapter are 17:6 and 17:14 (see also 17:20, and 14:23–24; 15:3, 20, earlier in the farewell discourse). The present phrase is similar to Ps. 119:142: “Your law is true” (cf. 119:151, 160). David likewise acknowledged, “Your words are trustworthy” (2 Sam. 7:28; cf.Ps. 19:7). D. M. Smith (1999: 315) perceptively observes that the reference to God’s word here seems sudden, since according to the prologue it is Jesus who is the Word. As Smith duly notes, however, the difficulty is alleviated by the fact that “after Jesus is named (1:17), he is never again called the Word in the Gospel.”
 Andreas J. Köstenberger, John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 495–496.
 Andrews, Stephen J.; Bergen, Robert D. (2009-06-01). 1, 2 Samuel (Holman Old Testament Commentary) (p. 246). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.
 Suffering & Evil – Why God?
 “The words of His mouth are contained in Scripture. It is there that God speaks (cf. Heb. 1:1, 2; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21). True wisdom comes only by revelation.” – MacArthur, John (2005-05-09). The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 24777-24778). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
 The Hebrew word rendered here as “discernment” (tevunah) is related to the word binah, translated “understanding.” Both appear at Proverbs 2:3.
 See 2.2 ftn.
 Edward, Tyrone (1966). The New Dictionary of Thoughts: New Delhi: Standard Book Company, p. 40
 Iniquity “signifies an offense, intentional or not, against God’s law.” (Vine 1996, Vol. 1, P. 122) Really, sin is anything not in harmony with God’s personality, standards, ways, and will, which mars one’s relationship with God.
 Anders, Max; Lawson, Steven (2004-01-01). Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms: 11 (p. 266). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.
 G. Herbert Livingston, “638 חָטָא,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 277.
 Or “own lust”
 Godly attitudes that characterize the lives of only those who belong to God by faith in Christ and possess the Spirit of God. The Spirit produces fruit which consists of nine characteristics or attitudes that are inextricably linked with each other and are commanded of believers throughout the NT. – MacArthur, John (2005-05-09). The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 56586-56588). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
 Lit he will tabernacle
 Some mss peoples
 One early ms and be their God
 Quotation from Joel 2:32, which reads, “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah shall be saved.” In other words, Paul was referring to the Father not the Son.
 Paul’s main point in this series of rhetorical questions is that a clear presentation of the gospel message must precede true saving faith. True faith always has content–the revealed Word of God. Salvation comes to those who hear and believe the facts of the gospel. – MacArthur, John (2005-05-09). The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 52264-52265). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
 Romans 10:15 : Cited from Isa. 52:7; [Nah. 1:15; Eph. 6:15]
 Quotation from Isaiah 53:1, which reads, “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of Jehovah been revealed?”
 Deut. 8:3
 I.e. fortunate or prosperous
 “Blessed are those who [are poor in spirit] recognize they are spiritually helpless …” (GOD’S WORD Translation) The Greek word ptochos means “beggar.” The “poor in spirit” is an alternative literal rendering. The meaning is that the “beggar/poor in spirit” is aware of his or her spiritual needs, as if a beggar or the poor would be aware of their physical needs.
 (an idiom, literally ‘to redeem the time’) to do something with intensity and urgency (used absolutely)–‘to work urgently, to redeem the time.’–GELNTBSD
 Brephos is “the period of time when one is very young–‘childhood (probably implying a time when a child is still nursing), infancy.” – GELNTBSD
 Pisteuo is “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance—‘to believe in, to have confidence in, to have faith in, to trust, faith, trust.’ – GELNTBSD
 Robert L. Thomas. Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (p. 280). Kindle Edition.
 Towns, AMG Concise Bible Doctrines (AMG Concise Series) (Kindle Locations 1011-1012). AMG Publishers. Kindle Edition.
 “Flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8)
 “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt. 23:24)
 “… Israel committed adultery …” (Jer 3:8-9) How does a nation commit adultery? Adultery is symbolic of idolatry.
 Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14)
 Without criticizing
 Or “indecisive,” i.e., wavering in mind
 The Hebrew word rendered here as “discernment” (tevunah) is related to the word binah, translated “understanding.” Both appear at Proverbs 2:3.
 See 2.2 ftn.
 The beauty of the Kindle PC software that allows us to download eBooks is threefold: (1) We can highlight the important thoughts, (2) we can add notes right into the book, and (3) it has a dictionary that pops up when we right click a word, which will save us a tremendous amount of time, not to mention convenience. Moreover, the stopping to pick up a dictionary and locate a word will cause us to lose the flow of thought, and many times, we will have to reread the section again. This is avoided with the Kindle PC.