How to Study the Bible
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Since the Church was founded it seems that Christians have had great difficulty in agreeing on what doctrines that Christians should believe in. What doctrines you believe in are largely based on how you interpret the Bible. Below are some suggestions that should enhance your understanding of God's Word.
  THE WORD FIRST

Read the Word first before you read any books, commentaries, etc, or before listening to tapes or watching videos about it. Sadly, not everyone who teaches or preaches the Word does it out of a pure heart.

LET THE HOLY SPIRIT BE YOUR TEACHER

Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit into the world to be our teacher, helper and guide. Lean on His understanding as you read God's Word.

READ ALOUD

The blessing of the Word comes from HEARING it. The Bible was meant to be read aloud. Reading aloud helps you concentrate on each word and brings greater understanding.

MEDITATE

Meditate (meletao) in the Greek means to "attend to, practice, be diligent in, to ponder". Mull over what you've read and let the Holy Spirit be your teacher, speaking to your heart about each passage.

FRESH BREAD

Search for a fresh vision of God's Word. Don't be bound by what you've heard in the past. Come to the Word with an open heart and mind, asking the Lord to renew your mind and transform your spirit.

TAKE IT AS IT IS

Over 90% of the Bible is about everyday issues and should be taken literally. Only when it's obvious that it can't be understood that way, such as a prophecy or metaphor, should you look for a "hidden" meaning.

LEARN CUSTOMS

Study the history and customs of Old Testament and New Testament life to get the full meaning of the text. Don't use your culture and customs to try to understand what difficult texts mean.

CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT!

Scripture was meant to be read IN CONTEXT that is, with the verses that surround it. Each book of the Bible is a unique package that must be understood in itself before you can relate it to the whole Bible. Don't be guilty of taking a scripture here and there and tossing the lot together to form your favorite doctrine.

AVOID "PROOF TEXTS"

Some people get hung up on a verse or two and use those verses to try to beat other people up about a certain doctrine. They give their own private interpretation to these texts and fail to grow because of it.

USE THE "2 or 3 RULE"

Any doctrine that you trust in should be supported by two or three scripture passages, or "witnesses".

NT OVERRIDES OT

We are taught in the book of Hebrews that we are now living under a New Covenant or Testament that is superior to the Old Covenant or Testament. So for any matter of faith or practice, what the New Testament says is primary.

SEEK MERCY, NOT JUDGEMENT

Be careful of your attitude and motive for studying God's Word. Are you doing it to draw closer to Jesus and be more like Him? Or are you just looking up "proof texts" to show you are spiritually superior to someone you are having an argument with? Are you trying to condemn others so that you can justify yourself?

QUESTION, QUESTION, QUESTION

Question any doctrine you've been taught that doesn't line up with the Word of God. Don't get under the bondage of legalism, or false doctrine.

DOUBTFUL DISPUTATIONS

There are many "gray areas" in life that the Bible gives you options on, such as the day of worship, eating meat, drinking wine. There are also many areas the Bible doesn't address that pertain to modern life, such as smoking, watching TV, going to the movies, etc. Study the Bible for guidelines, let the Spirit guide you into what YOU should do, and keep your opinions to yourself. Don't use your conclusions to judge your brother for whom Christ died. See also separate study on Doubtful Disputations.

BUILD UP, NOT TEAR DOWN

Use whatever wisdom you glean from the Word to build up (edify) the Body of Christ, not to tear it down or cause division. Party spirit, quarrels, and gossiping are all works of the flesh.

SEEK TO DRAW CLOSER TO JESUS

The goal of Bible study should be to draw closer to Jesus and to become more like Him. Any other motive is not from God and should be examined closely and discarded.

MEMORIZE

Every child of God should try to commit scripture to memory. This helps follow God's instructions and make us better able to witness for Him.

PUT IT INTO PRACTICE

The Bible clearly states that we are not saved by our works, but without good deeds following our faith, we are unfruitful for God. Whatever you read in the Bible, put it into practice in your everyday life. Ask God for wisdom in making His Word alive in your life.

 

 

"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 15:5-6)

 

These guidelines will not eliminate all controversy, of course, but perhaps if we look at God's Word in the same way, we can more easily come into areas of agreement.

 

 

Father God, help us to be loving in all our ways, and to be tenderhearted towards our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Speaking the truth in love, let us draw together in the unity of the spirit as members of the Body of Christ, encouraging one another as Your coming draws near.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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1998 Karleen Page Cole, all rights reserved.