4/7/13 “STUDYING THE BIBLE”

INTRODUCTION

1. An important element involved in our walk with God is BIBLE

    STUDY

2. Some new Christians find difficulty getting started in this area

3. But this is an important duty, one which the Bible emphasizes

   - Ac 2:42; 1Pe 2:2

I. WHY BIBLE STUDY IS IMPORTANT

A. BECAUSE THE BIBLE POSSESSES THE POWER OF

     "SANCTIFICATION"...

     1. "Sanctification" means "to set apart"; as used in the Bible,

         to set apart for God's purpose

     2. The Word of God is the means by which God does this...

         a. As praised by David in his psalm - Ps 19:7-11

         b. As mentioned in the prayer of Jesus - Jn 17:17

    -- IF WE ARE GOING TO BE USEFUL TO GOD, THEN WE

       NEED TO STUDY HIS WORD!

B. BECAUSE THE BIBLE POSSESSES THE POWER OF   

     "PRESERVATION"...

     1. A lack of knowledge has always destroyed the people of God

         - Ho 4:6

     2. But the YOUNG can keep their ways pure by the Word of God

         - Ps 119:9

     3. And the ELDERS were exhorted to keep the church by the Word

         - Ac 20:28-32

     -- ONE OF THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD BACKSLIDING IS TO

         NEGLECT GOD'S WORD!

C. BECAUSE THE BIBLE POSSESSES THE POWER OF   

     "SALVATION" AND "CONDEMNATION"...

     1. Received properly, it can save our souls! - Jm 1:21

     2. It will be the standard by which we will be judged - Jn 12:48

[Will the Word save us, or will it condemn us?  Careful study and

application of the Bible will make the difference!]

II. WHY BIBLE STUDY IS OFTEN NEGLECTED

A. SOME PEOPLE JUST "TAKE THE PREACHER'S

     WORD"...

     1. For this reason, they do not study for themselves

     2. Most preachers are good men, but they can still be wrong

         - Ac 18:24-26

     3. It is our responsibility to "test the spirits" (1Jn 4:1-2),

         and to be able to identify "false apostles" (2Co 11:13-15)

B. SOME PEOPLE SAY "THEY CAN'T GET ANYTHING OUT

     OF THE BIBLE"...

     1. This may be because they read it so little, or because they do

         not know how to go about studying it

     2. Often it is because they do not use a modern English translation

     3. Most have simply made little effort to understand it

     4. Yet Paul assumed that people could understand it if they read

         it - cf. Ep 3:3-4

C. SOME PEOPLE SAY "THEY DON'T HAVE THE TIME"...

     1. People who DO study are busy too, but they leave off things

         that are less important

     2. As Jesus commanded, we must put the things of the kingdom of

         God FIRST - Mt 6:33

[There is really no excuse for neglecting the Word of God.  In view of

its importance, we would be foolish to do so. But how shall one study the Word of God?  There are several different approaches...]

III. METHODS OF BIBLE STUDY

A. THE "PLANNED-LESSON" METHOD...

     1. "A Closer Walk With God" is an example of this method

     2. Someone prepares lessons on a subject, then it is studied in a

         class or at home

     3. This is a good way to study, but one's study should not be

         limited to this method

B. THE "SUBJECT" METHOD...

     1. This involves selecting some subject (e.g., "baptism"), then

         collecting and studying each passage in the Bible on the

         subject

     2. This method has its advantages, but it can be easy to take

         things out of context and draw the wrong conclusion

C. THE "BOOK" METHOD...

     1. This consists of an intensive study of a single book of the Bible

     2. Since the Bible was written a book at a time, this is probably

         the best way to study the Bible

     3. DAILY BIBLE READING programs can very easily utilize this

         approach to the Scriptures

         a. E.g., following a program to read through the entire Bible

             each year

         b. E.g., taking a chapter each week to read and study daily, you

             can cover the New Testament in depth over a five year period

         -- Doing both of these will give a person an OVERALL under-

             standing of the Bible and an INDEPTH understanding of the

             New Testament

[To get more out of the studying you do...]

IV. SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR BIBLE STUDY

A. SET A REGULAR TIME...

     1. Regularity is a key to success, so set aside some regular time

         for study

         a. For "night owls", the best time may be late at night, after

             the children are in bed

         b. For "morning larks", early morning before the children

             arise might be better

     2. Family study is a good practice, but each person needs also to

         have a regular time in which he or she can come face to face

         with God's message ALONE

B. PRAY AS YOU STUDY...

     1. Begin your study with prayer - cf. Ps 119:18

     2. As you study, ask God for the wisdom and strength to

         understand and obey His Word - cf. Ps 119:5,6

     3. End your study with prayer - cf. Ps 119:10-11

C. UTILIZE VARIOUS HELPS...

     1. TRANSLATIONS

         a. Using various translations can help make understanding the

             Bible easier

         b. The more reliable translations are:

             1) King James Version (a classic, but somewhat archaic)

             2) New King James Version (my personal choice)

             3) American Standard Version (most literal, but hard to read)

             4) New American Standard Version (a wordy update to the

                 ASV)

         c. Some translations that are easy to read can be used as

             references (e.g., New International Version)

         d. One should not put much stock in versions translated...

             1) By one man (e.g., The Living Bible)

             2) By individuals from one denominational background (e.g.,

                 The New World Translation)

     2. DICTIONARIES

         a. Not knowing the meaning of words is the most common cause

             for not understanding the Bible

         b. An ordinary English dictionary can be used, but there are

             special Bible dictionaries that are more useful and accurate

         c. A good one is "Vine's Expository Dictionary"

     3. CONCORDANCE

         a. This useful work contains words in alphabetical order along

             with a list of verses in the Bible where they are found

         b. It can be a great time saver in finding verses based on a

             given subject

         c. If possible, use a concordance based upon the translation

             you use

     4. ENCYCLOPEDIAS

         a. This type of reference gives detailed articles on the

             people, places, and things mentioned in the Bible

         b. Two good sets are:

             1) Zondervan's Pictorial Encyclopedia Of The Bible

             2) The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

     5. COMMENTARIES

         a. These are books written by scholars commenting on various

             books of the Bible

             1) One must be careful, as these scholars are not inspired

                 and are subject to mistakes

             2) But their insights and the fruit of their own study can

                 be helpful

         b. It might be good to ask mature Christians what commentaries

             they can recommend

     6. These and other reference helps are often found in church

         libraries and may be available for your use; in time, you

         should gradually develop your own library of Bible study aids

CONCLUSION

1. Such aids can be a great help, but make sure that the conclusions

    you draw are based upon your own careful study of God's Word!

2. What is most important is that we are engaged in some sort of

    consistent, systematic study of the Bible so that we are ever being

    blessed by the Word of God!

SOME QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING...

1. How long do you study the Bible daily?

2. Do you study the class lessons at home (when available) that you

    have in church?

3. If you are not doing so now, are you willing to spend 15-30 minutes

    daily in Bible study?

4. What's your biggest problem in studying?