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Following Jesus -- Course A

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How to Study the Bible -- Part 1
Following Jesus -- Course A, Lesson #2


Introduction:

After baptism, people should be taught to observe all things Jesus has commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). Learning God's will is just as essential after baptism as before. Conversion should be the beginning of a lifetime of study. However, in order to benefit from Bible study, we must know how to study properly. The purpose of this lesson is to present basic Bible principles about proper study.


I: Proper Attitudes in Study


Ezra "prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord" (Ezra 7:10). Right methods of study must begin with right attitudes.

A. Appreciate the Importance of Study

Diligent study requires motivation. Christians have all the reasons they could possibly need to study the Bible. Consider a few. As you do, note the emphasis on regular, frequent study.

#1: Study so you can obey God and grow in His service.

>>> Read Joshua 1:8. <<<

*1&2* What was Joshua told to do so he could succeed in God's work? Answer: He was to ______ on God's law day and ______.

>>> Read 1 Peter 2:2. <<<

*3&4* What do Christians need, and why do they need it? Answer: We should desire the spiritual ______ of God's word so by it we can ______ to salvation.

Think: Do we long for the word like a baby longs for milk if we neglect to attend assemblies or to study at home? (See also 2 Tim. 2:15; Rom. 10:17; Matt. 4:4; John 6:44,45; 2 Peter 1:12-15.)

#2: Study so you can avoid error and false teaching.

>>> Read Hosea 4:6. <<<

*5* Why were God's people destroyed? (a) they studied too hard, (b) they lacked knowledge, (c) they didn't pray to Mary, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

>>> Read Acts 17:11. <<<

*6&7* How did the Bereans distinguish truth from error? Answer: They searched the ______. How often? ______.

(1 John 4:1,6; Gal. 1:8; Matt. 22:29; 15:14; Prov. 2:1-20; Rom. 10:1ff)

#3: Study so you can teach others.

>>> Read Deuteronomy 6:6-9. <<<

*8* What must parents do so they can teach their children? (a) have God's word in their hearts, (b) attend a seminary, (c) see visions. Answer: ______.

>>> Read Hebrews 5:12. <<<

*9* What should Christians become? What problem did these have? Answer: Christians ought to become ______, but these needed to be taught again themselves.

Think: Why should teachers study? Why should people who are not teachers study? Is there an excuse for us if we do not study? (See also 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Tim. 1:7; 1 Peter 3:15; Col. 3:16; Rom. 15:14.)

#4: Study to express love for God and His word.

>>> Read Psalm 1:2; 119:47,48,97-99. <<<

*10&11* What will we do if we delight in God's word? (Cf. Psalm 19:7-11.) Answer: We will ______ on God's law day and ______.

Think: If people truly love God, will they complain about "having to go" to worship services or prepare for Bible studies? (Cf. 1 John 5:3.)

>>> Read John 14:15. <<<

*12* If we love God, what will we do? (a) say the rosary, (b) sing in the choir, (c) keep God's commands, (d) practice celibacy. Answer: ______.

Think: Suppose a young lady is separated from her boyfriend, who writes to her every day. She displays his letters on the coffee table, but they sit there for days before she opens and reads them. Does she really love him? What application can be made to Bible study?

Do people usually learn about subjects that really interest them (sports, hobbies, etc.)? What does our Bible study indicate about our interest in God's word?

(Note: If you would like more information about the importance of Bible study, see our links at the end of this lesson.)

B. Study with an Open Mind and a Love for Truth.

>>> Read Matthew 5:6. <<<

*13* How can we be filled with righteousness? (a) hunger and thirst for it, (b) work miracles, (c) confess to the priest, (d) it doesn't matter. Answer: ______.

>>> Read Matthew 13:14,15. <<<

*14&15* Why did some misunderstand truth? Answer: Their hearts had become (or waxed) ______ and their eyes were ______.

If we do not have a burning desire for truth, God will not force us to accept it. He will let us be lost.

(See also Acts 17:11; 2 Thess. 2:10-12; 2 Tim. 4:2-4; John 3:19-21; 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Thess. 5:21,22; Prov. 18:13; 23:23; 15:10; Luke 8:15.)

C. Respect the Bible as Being Verbally and Infallibly Inspired.

If a person doubts that the Bible is God's infallible word, he is much more likely to disagree with it or reject it.

The Bible is from God.

>>> Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13. <<<

*16* What is the source of Scripture? (a) people thought it up, (b) it came on golden plates, (c) Mohammed wrote it, (d) it is God's word. Answer: ______.

>>> Read Galatians 1:11,12. <<<

*17&18* What was the origin of the gospel Paul preached? Answer: He received it by ______ from ______.

Think: If we reject a Biblical command, whom have we rejected?

(2 Tim. 3:16f; 1 Cor. 14:37; Eph. 3:3-5; Luke 10:16; 2 Peter 1:20,21.)

The Bible is verbally inspired.

Verbal inspiration means that every word written by the inspired writers was exactly the word God wanted. Some people believe that God just gave the inspired men ideas, then let them explain them as they saw fit. This belief leaves room for error in the way the men expressed the ideas. Consider these verses:

>>> Read 1 Corinthians 2:10-13. <<<

*19* How did inspired men know what to speak? (a) they chose the words, (b) they spoke their own ideas, (c) the Spirit gave them the words. Answer: ______.

>>> Read Deuteronomy 18:18,19. <<<

*20&21* What would God do for this inspired prophet? Answer: God put His ______ in the prophet's ______.

(Cf. Matt. 10:19f; 2 Sam. 23:1,2; Ex. 24:3,4,7; Isa. 51:l6; Jer. 1:5-9.)

The Bible is infallible.

Infallible means the message of the inspired writers cannot possibly be wrong, because God does not make mistakes.

>>> Read Psalm 119:128. <<<

*22* What can we know about God's precepts? Answer: All God's precepts are ______.

>>> Read Titus 1:2. <<<

*23* What can God not do? (a) He can't predict the future, (b) He can't lie, (c) He can't live forever, (d) He can't do miracles. Answer: ______.

Think: Consider Matthew 22:31,32. Note that the Scriptures are so accurate that we can rely even on the tense of the verbs. What does this teach about verbal and infallible inspiration?

How will it affect our Bible study if we are not convinced that every word is true? (Cf. John 17:17; Psalm 33:4; 19:8; 147:4,5; Rom. 3:4; Job 37:16; Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18; Deut. 18:20-22).

(Note: If you would like more information about the inspiration of the Bible, see our links at the end of this lesson.)

D. Believe that the Bible Can Be Understood.

Some believe that the Bible can be understood only by specially trained clergymen, not by the average person. As a result, they approach the Bible convinced they will never understand it.

>>> Read Mark 7:14. <<<

*24* What did Jesus expect the multitudes to do? Answer: The multitudes were to hear Jesus and ______.

>>> Read 2 Timothy 3:16,17. <<<

*25* For what are the Scriptures profitable? (a) teaching, (b) reproof, (c) instruction in righteousness, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

Think: Would they be profitable if we could not understand them?

Remember that the Bereans (Acts 17:11) did not just accept what preachers said, but used the Scriptures to check out the preachers!

Think: If a person is convinced he cannot understand the Bible, what will most likely happen if he tries to study it?

(See also Eph. 5:17; 1 Cor. 14:33; Eph. 3:3-5; Isa. 55:11; 35:8; John 20:30,31; 8:32; Prov. 2:1-12; Psalm 19:7-11; 119:105; Col. 1:9-11.)


II: Principles of Bible Authority


Luke 8:18 warns us to take heed how we hear. Likewise, we must take heed how we study the Bible. To know how to study, we must understand the principles God uses to teach us. [2 Tim. 2:15]

A. God's Commands for Us Today Are Revealed in the New Testament.

Old Testament laws are not binding authority today.

The fact that a practice was acceptable under the Old Testament does not prove it is acceptable today.

>>> Read Hebrews 10:9,10. <<<

*26&27* What did Jesus do to the first and second wills (covenants)? Answer: He ______ the first and established the ______.

>>> Read Galatians 5:1-4. <<<

*28* What is our condition if we try to be justified by the old law today? (a) we fall from grace, (b) God is pleased, (c) it does not matter. Answer: ______.

Think: Are the laws of Great Britain still binding in America? How is this like the Law of Moses? What consequence follows for Old Testament practices like animal sacrifices, special priesthood, tithing, seventh-day Sabbath, circumcision, instrumental music, feast days, etc.?

(Gal. 3:24f; Rom. 7:1-7; Eph. 2:11-18; Heb. 8:6-13; 9:15-20; 7:11-25)

However, even though the Old Testament is not binding as law, still much good can come from studying it.

Old Testament Scriptures were written for our learning (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6,11). We can learn how to use the Old Testament by considering Bible examples of how first-century Christians used it.

History - Notice the Old Testament events referred to in passages like Genesis 1, Acts 7, and Hebrews 11.

*29* Would we understand these events without the Old Testament? Answer ("yes" or "no.") ______.

Evidence - God's existence, the Bible's inspiration, and Jesus' Deity are confirmed by such evidences as the following: (1) The accuracy of the Bible in history, geography, and science; (2) Fulfilled prophecy (see John 5:39; Acts 3:24); and (3) The unity of the Bible. Each of these requires an understanding of the Old Testament.

Unchanging Principles - Although God's laws have changed, many facts about the universe, the nature of man, and the nature of God do not change (Heb. 13:8).

>>> Read Romans 3:10-12ff (cf. v23). <<< [Cf. 1 Cor. 10:1-12.]

*30* What principle can we learn from the Old Testament? (a) we should keep the sabbath, (b) all men sin, (c) we inherit Adam's sin. Answer: ______.

Appreciation and Understanding of the New Testament -Differences and similarities between the old and new laws help us understand and appreciate the new.

>>> Read Hebrews 10:3,4,9-12. <<<

*31* Why should we appreciate Jesus' New Testament sacrifice? Answer: Because animal sacrifices could not take away ______.

Think: Should we neglect to study the Old Testament just because it is no longer binding as law?

(Note: If you would like more information about our relationship to the old law, see our links at the end of this lesson.)

B. In the Bible, God Uses Three Basic Methods to Reveal His Will.

We often use various methods to communicate or teach others. Likewise God uses the following methods:

1. Commands and direct statements

>>> Read 1 Corinthians 14:37. <<<

*32* What did Paul write down? Answer: Paul wrote the ______ of the Lord.

Think: Name some commands recorded for us in the New Testament. Consider Acts 10:48; Matt. 22:37-40; 1 Cor. 11:23-25; 16:1,2.

(Cf. John 14:15,21-24; 15:14; 1 John 5:3; 2:3,4; Matt. 28:18-20.)

2. Examples and illustrations

Instead of directly commanding us to do something, God sometimes tells us indirectly by giving an instance in which Christians acted by His guidance. We are expected to imitate these examples.

>>> Read 1 Peter 2:21,22. <<<

*33* Who left us an example to follow? (a) the Pope, (b) Mohammed, (c) Buddha, (d) Christ, (e) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

>>> Read Philippians 3:17; 4:9. <<< [Cf. Acts 15:5-11.]

*34* How should we use Paul's example? (a) ignore it, (b) follow it as our example, (c) we may consider it but we don't have to follow it. Answer: ______.

Think: Specifically, what can we learn from the following Bible examples? Heb. 11; James 5:10,11; Acts 8:35-39; 20:7; 14:23.

(Cf. Phil. 2:5; Matt. 10:24,25; 16:24; 1 John 2:6; 1 Cor. 11:1; 10:1-12; 4:16; 1 Tim. 1:16; 2 Thess. 3:7,9; Heb. 6:12; 4:11; Luke 10:30-37.)

3. Logical necessary conclusions ("necessary inferences" or "Scriptural reasoning")

If someone tells you his date of birth, can you determine how old he is? Likewise, some truths are not directly or expressly stated in the Bible, yet they necessarily follow as a logical consequence of what is stated.

>>> Read Acts 17:1-3. <<<

*35* How did Paul demonstrate that Jesus is the Christ? Answer: He reasoned from the ______.

Think: Do Old Testament prophecies directly state that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ? How could people know from them that Jesus is the Christ? (Acts 2:22-36; 18:4,19; 19:8,9; 28:23; Isa. 1:18; 1 Peter 3:15)

>>> Read Matthew 19:3-9. <<<

*36* By referring to God's marriage plan in Gen. 2, what conclusion did Jesus reach about divorce? Answer: What God has ______ let not man separate.

Think: Was this conclusion directly stated in Genesis 2?

(For other examples see Hebrews 7:11-18; Acts 11:1-18; 15:6-21; Gal. 3:10-12; 1 Cor. 15:12-19; Matt. 22:23-32; 21:28-46; 22:41-46.)

Think: How would you use John 6:44,45; Mark 16:15,16; and Acts 2:38 to prove babies should not be baptized? Eph. 1:22,23 with Heb. 8:1 to prove the church has no earthly headquarters? Heb. 10:25 to prove the church may provide a place to assemble? Are these conclusions directly stated in the passages?

Mature Christians must use wisdom to apply the principles of God's word to specific situations (Heb. 5:14). As in a math problem, we "add up" the information given to reach a conclusion.

C. God's Word Completely Reveals His Will for Us.

Some people think we should believe religious doctrines that are not found in the Bible. They think we can appeal to other authorities (such as church councils, human creeds, preachers, tradition, or modern revelations) to validate religious acts that are not found in the gospel.

>>> Read John 16:13. <<<

*37* How much truth did the Holy Spirit reveal to the apostles? Answer: The Spirit revealed ______ truth to the original apostles.

Think: What does this prove about doctrines people claim are from God but are not found in the Scriptures?

>>> Read 2 Peter 1:3. <<<

*38* What had God's power granted to people in Peter's day? (a) some truth, (b) all things pertaining to life and godliness, (c) a promise that new truths would be revealed later. Answer: ______.

All good works have been provided to us in the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16,17). If so, can people today invent or reveal new truths or new ways to please God that are not found in the Scriptures? (Cf. Acts 20:20,27.)

Scripture may not answer every speculative question men may have (Deut. 29:29), but they tell us all we need to know and practice in order to be pleasing to God.

Our next study will discuss more principles about Bible study along with guidelines for learning for ourselves what God's word teaches.

Personal application questions:

(These questions are for you to ponder. Your answers will help us understand your thinking, however they will not affect your "score.")

*39* How important is Bible study in your life? ___________

*40* Do you agree that the Bible teaches by examples and reasoning to necessary conclusions as well as by commands and direct statements? _________

*41* Do you accept the Bible as the perfect, complete, and understandable revelation of God's will? _________

When you have carefully studied this lesson and written down answers to all the questions, click on this link to submit your answers.

(C) Copyright David E. Pratte, 1999 (click for copyright information)

Topics for further Bible study

The Importance of Bible Knowledge
Bible Inspiration: Infallible, Inerrant, Verbal
Has the Bible Been Accurately Preseved through the Centuries?
Must We Keep the Law of MosesToday?

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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.

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