Powerful Points For Profitable Bible Study
Elder O. B. Mink
Now In Glory
People take three views of the Bible:
1. Above it,
2. Equal to it,
3. Beneath it.
People who consider themselves above the Bible, bring it into suspect. Those who consider themselves equal to it, ignore it, after all, it cannot teach them anything. Those who consider themselves beneath the Bible take it as their final authority, and practice subjection to it. It is subscription to this last point that makes Baptists different from all other denominations. Most denominations believe the Bible contains the Word of God, but Baptists believe the Bible, as originally given, to be the Word of God. Neo-orthodoxy continues to make the statement, “All scriptures which are inspired.” This is more than an implication that some scriptures are not inspired of the Lord. It is a bold assertion which denies plenary verbal inspiration of the scriptures. The Law, the Psalms, the Prophets, and the New Testament are all inspired of the Lord, and the Lord has magnified his Word above that of His own name (Psalms 138:2). Therefore, it is utterly impossible to have too much confidence in God’s Word. God’s Word is perfect (Psalms 19:7), and that which is perfect cannot be graded too high, or over-rated. However, while the Bible is the world’s only infallible book, the Christian is liable to neglect the study of it, or approach it in hap-hazard manner. It is for this reason, and to help in countering this practice that the following points for Bible study are offered.
1. STUDY THE BIBLE WITH AN OPEN MIND: Subject your pre-conceived opinions to the Word of God and not the Word of God to your opinions. Remembering, it is the gospel of Christ which God uses in calling out His elect, and not human opinions. “Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:14).
2. STUDY THE BIBLE SYSTEMATICALLY: Secular education demands a systematic approach to its every subject. A medical student could never become a doctor if he divided his study time between a dozen other courses unrelated to medicine. The same principle holds true with Bible study. The Christian will never be a skillful witness for His Lord if he takes the time allocated for Bible study, and uses it to study secular subjects. Moreover, the Bible student should not move with randomness from subject to subject in his study of God’s Word, else his study will profit him little.
3. STUDY CONTEXTUALLY: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). Many people think they can learn everything they need to know from a single text of scripture. I have heard people say, “John 3:16 is the Bible in a nutshell.” Certainly John 3:16 has much to say to the Bible student, but to study it independent of the context is to break God’s stipulated rule (2 Peter 1:20) for Bible study. The student needs to be careful lest he go too far in his effort to show how much there is in a single text. The verses surrounding the text under consideration should, without variance, be studied before forming a conclusion. The time of writing, the conditions under which the text was written, and to whom it is written should be given much serious thought. If a student could learn everything he needs to know in a single verse, chapter, or even an entire book, there would be no purpose for the rest of scripture. Interpret scripture by scripture. “All scriptureis given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
4. STUDY, ALLOWING THE LITERAL INTERPRETATION TO TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER THE SPIRITUAL: “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). No matter how many ways scripture may be interpreted, and that without doing violence to the meaning, yet the literal interpretation is to be given the primary place. There are scriptures which allow for a spiritual interpretation only, and the student is not to try and force those scriptures to accommodate a literal interpretation. We know when Christ said to His church, “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13), that He did not mean they would enhance the flavor of watermelon, but that they would be used to preserve a measure of decency in the earth.
The habit of spiritualizing scripture makes the student the potter, and the Bible the clay. By this method the scripture may be twisted and turned to suit the most fanciful imagination. Spiritualizing scripture may be interesting and attractive, but there is also a great danger lurking in this practice. That is to make the scripture bear more than God intended it to bear. The spiritualizing method, instead of helping in untangling the meshes of error has served as the hand maiden of the devil in spawning such malignant children as the cults, who spend their time in doing nothing but making a mockery of the deity of Jesus Christ. If the literal sense makes good, and it usually does, why seek any other sense?
5. STUDY THE BIBLE DAILY AND PRAYERFULLY: Of the righteous man, we read, “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doeth he meditate day and night” (Psalms 1:2). Those converted under the apostle’s preaching studied their doctrine daily and prayerfully (Acts 2:42). And it is said of the Bereans, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The Bereans were hungry for the word of God, but they studied daily to make sure it was the truth they were receiving. We should follow the “Berean” example. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). The student who studies daily and prayerfully will be blessed with ability to walk in the light of His Lord, for the entrance of His “words giveth light” (Psalms 119:130).
6. STUDY, BELIEVING THE WORD OF GOD: “.... So worship I the God of my fathers, believing all the things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (Acts 24:14). The Bible is God’s own word, and has never been found to be in error. The skeptic and the ambiguous say, “You can prove anything by the Bible.” Critical remarks about the Bible are usually made by people totally devoid of spiritual understanding. Therefore, the Bible will never by anything more than rank foolishness unto them (I Corinthians 2:14). To counter such remarks all that need be done is to lay an open Bible before the critic, and ask him to show one place where the Bible supports a lie, or once where the Bible contradicts itself. Often knowledge of what the Bible is supposed to contain, and what it actually contains are two different things. Many who have tried to break the word of God, have learned that the “Scriptures cannot be broken” and have submitted to the authority of the Bible. Truth cannot oppose truth, but is ever complimentary. “....Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). “He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son” (I John 5:10).
“I have known 95 great men of the world in my time, and of these, 87 were followers of the Bible.” (W. E. Gladstone, one of the most famous of England’s Prime Ministers).
7. STUDY THE BIBLE WITH A VIEW TOWARD APPLYING ITS TEACHINGS TO YOUR PERSONAL LIFE: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalms 119:105). A person is to study God’s word to know how to die. More importantly, he is to study it to know how to live in this present evil world. The person who lives right, dies right. It is not the knowledge of soap that helps the appearance, but the application of soap to the body. So it is with the Bible. Although it can bequoted, and many of its doctrines correctly understood, it is all to no avail until put into practice. “.... The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (II Corinthians 3:6). Study the scriptures not only to be wise, but also to be holy. It is wisdom coupled with obedience that makes the believer holy. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).
8. STUDY THE BIBLE WITH A VIEW TOWARD SHARING ITS TRUTHS WITH OTHERS: “The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it” (Psalms 68:11).
The best means of spreading Bible truth is by personal testimony, and those who have been raised up to sit in the lofty heights with Christ recognize their responsibility to bear witness to the truth of the gospel whenever and wherever possible.
The Bible student who has dug from the spiritual mine the treasures of wisdom, spreads the news of his discovery to others whom he desires to enrich. Thus it is, the truth of God’s word is consistently circulated, and is prospering in the thing where to God sends it (Isaiah 55:11). Paul said, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house” (Acts 20:20). May God give us the strength to say with this great apostle, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, far it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth …” (Romans 1:16).
9. STUDY WITH A DESIRE TO GLORIFY GOD: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom …” (Colossians 3:16).
(Sovereign Grace Advocate - December, 1978)
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