Treasures New and Old
Elkmont Baptist Church
I was asked about personal Bible study. Let me briefly share some things to remember:
May God bless you all!
Start with Prayer.
No study will be profitable without first going to the Father in
prayer and asking Him to guide your study through His Holy Spirit. Start each session, whether alone or in a group, with prayer. God promises us wisdom when we ask, and we are admonished to study, to show ourselves approved, ". . . a workman that needeth not to be ashamed . . ." (2 Timothy 2:15). We must first ask for His help.
Ask a question.
Nearly all serious Bible studies start with a question. In the
defense industry, we call that a need to know. At best, we just flounder if we attack the Word without purpose, and we often get discouraged and quit. Some of my best studies and times in the Word were based upon a deep need to know something, often an answer to some problem, prayer, or doctrinal issue. Some sample questions include:
What does the word
Compare Scripture to Scripture.
Always. Too narrow a focus can cause us
to take a verse or phrase out of context or draw the wrong conclusion. The world is full of cults today who have taken a word or phrase and, ignoring all of the Scripture around it, have developed false doctrine or religions.
Get the Context.
Always read the passage or passages in context. Get the
historical or background information as you conduct your study. Verses like don't muzzle the ox (1 Timothy 5:18) make more sense when compared against the background of the law in respect to allowing the working animal to eat while he works. Paul then took this principle and applied it to paying a pastor his due. On the surface, it looks like a mismatch, but as we investigate the law, it is a perfect application.
Seek One Interpretation.
Remember that when it comes to Scripture, there
is only one correct interpretation, but many applications. I remember years ago being in a situation where I stood to lose a lot of money. I sought a word from the Lord, and in prayer He gave me, "take cheerfully the spoiling of your goods." I knew it must be from Satan, so I sought to prove that that verse didn't exist. What I found was, ". . . and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods . . ." (Hebrews 10:34). The interpretation is a reference to those in Thessalonica who gave liberally of their material wealth to help poorer believers in Jerusalem. The application is also clear. My money is not mine. It is God's, and He can do what He wants with it, even give it away.
Take Written Notes.
You will either quit, lose what you've learned, or confuse
the facts if you don't. A well-worn log will mean volumes to you and your children in later years.
Follow Chains When Found.
The Bible is full of chains. Follow them. Subjects
and words become richer as we add additional verses to the study of specific words or subjects. All that the Word says about marriage, or clothing, or baptism are best answered by following the entire chain of references.
Scripture is Always Right.
Something confusing? Found a contradiction?
An error. Some translations may have introduced what appear to be errors as they attempt to follow copyright laws and and move to more modern English. However, a deeper study will reveal that the Word is not in error, and that we have simply missed something somewhere. Dig deeper. God will show you if you seek Him diligently.
Take it Literally.
The Bible has poems, anagrams, parables, allegories,
symbolism, and stories. However, the overwhelming majority of the Bible is simply literal truth. When John says he saw 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe, then that is what he saw, not some symbolic special group of Jehovah Witnesses. Unless it is blatantly obvious, take it literally.
Law of First Mention.
Trace a chain down to the first mention of a subject,
doctrine, or truth. God has His core reasons for establishing a law or precept at the location. Why do we wear clothes? Why do we marry? Why do we tithe? Seek the first mention of a topic and allow the context to extablish a root cause.
What kind of fools are there, and how are we to minister or deal with them?
What is dangerous about being an angry man?
What does the Bible say about baptism?
What is the secret to Daniel's success?
What does the letter to the Romans have for us today?