In the February edition of Personal Update News Journal I pointed out that Jesus warned in His Olivet Discourse saying, “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. In both his letter to Timothy and the Thessalonians the apostle Paul warns them that “in latter times some will depart from the faith,” and “that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first.” In both references Paul is writing about apostasy.
The Antidote for Apostasy
I listed four simple steps to survive in this age of deceit you need to:
- Stay Connected
- Stay Sharp
- Stay on Target
- Stay in God’s Word
I think it is safe to say that most people who would call themselves Christians would consider some sort of Bible study an essential element of their life. To that end I wish to address two basic questions about Bible study:
- Why study the Bible?
- How should we study the Bible?
Why Study the Bible?
1. We learn how to please God.
Psalm 119:9–16 tells us, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.”
Notice the full package of God’s instructions:
- Statutes = God’s Commandment
- Judgments = God’s Rewards
- Testimonies = Biblical Examples
- Precepts = Doctrines
- Ways = Direction
- Statutes (Will) = Protection
- Word = Instruction
2. We learn about Jesus
From cover to cover, the Bible ultimately teaches us about Jesus Christ. Quoting from Psalm 40:7 the writer to the Hebrews says, “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come — In the volume of the book it is written of Me — To do Your will, O God.’” Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
3. We learn how to combat deception
The apostle Paul warn Timothy, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
How Should We Study the Bible?
There are many different methods being practiced and many different models to follow. The apostle Paul gave us an example of his style of teaching. There are three major forms of Bible teaching:
1. Teaching FROM the Bible
This is the most common form of Bible study found in the church today. It is generally topical or thematic. This is also the basis of Systematic Theology. Here the Bible is used as a resource library to find references that present a particular point of view. They start with a statement (or topic) and search the Scriptures to back up their presupposed position. The danger here is that you can specialize on only those subjects you wish to hear about and miss the whole counsel of God.
2. Teaching ABOUT the Bible
Generally these are historic surveys where the Bible is treated like any other book in the world. During these types of Bible studies they examine the “stories” of the Bible without teaching the “truths” of the Bible. The danger here is you no longer see the Bible as anything other than a cherished religious book which is comparable to many other religious writings.
3. Teaching THE Bible
This is a holistic approach to understanding the Bible. After Israel returned from their captivity in Babylon, Israel’s revival under Ezra began by reading the whole Word of God.
Before the Ephesian elders Paul states, “…You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”
Today we would understand that to mean verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter, book-by-book study of the entire Bible. Isaiah’s Indictment of Israel gives us a strong clue as to the best way to gain real spiritual insight. “Whom will He teach knowledge? And whom will He make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.”
The advantages to this type of Bible study are many:
- It is the only logical way to read a letter or book.
- It keeps the Text within its Context. Remember, “A Text without a Context is a Pretext.”
- It demands Exegesis (reading FROM the Word) rather than Eisegesis (reading INTO the Word). In other words, you let the text within its context speak for itself.
- It prevents “Hobby Horse” type Bible study. This is a real problem with false teachers that twist the Scriptures to achieve their own goals.
- It forces the Bible student to examine ALL of the doctrines in Scripture.
- It gives a balanced view of God’s Word.
May you be truly fruitful in your study of God’s Word.