Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path.
First off, know this: Reading the Bible, going to “church”, praying, singing, and worshiping are all great things. But they ain’t studying the Bible. Studying the Bible is work, yet enjoyable.
And there are no Bible scholars. There are only higher levels of students. A real Bible teacher / author / preacher (one who believes the Bible is the true, living words of the true, living God and asks God to show him the truth) will never declare himself as a scholar. He knows better.
Only professorial Bible doubters and critics declare themselves to be scholarly or accept accolades of scholarship. They risk destroying themselves and their flock.
As also in all his (Paul’s) epistles,
speaking in them of these things;
in which are some things hard to be understood,
which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest,
as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
If you doubt the Bible, you are unlearned.
If you don’t believe the Bible, you are unstable.
You are on the eve of destruction.
Correct methods of studying the Bible are found - guess where - in the Bible. If there is one verse that tells you how to study the Bible, it is:
II Timothy 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God,
a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth.
Bible study is real work, it is required to be approved unto God, and the Bible is composed of divisions which must be understood by studying.
There is a secular book which basically
describes people who possess extremely high levels of expertise in their particular
field of endeavor. They are greatly
admired by their peers. Guess what the
common trait among these high achievers is?
It is not superior coordination or intelligence. It is hard work and taking advantage of their
opportunity to work hard in their chosen field.
There seems to be a threshold of about 10,000 hours of concentrated effort that will make you an “expert” in your field. That’s about 20 hours a week for 10 years. I’ve got my 10,000 hours in (mostly due to my age) and I am scratching just under the surface of obvious Bible truths.
So, understand that Bible study is a life-long endeavor with unspeakable rewards, blessings, and gifts to come.
1 Peter 1:8
whom having not seen, ye love;
in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing,
ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
In order to study efficiently, you also need the second greatest book ever written, a Bible Concordance. A concordance is simply an alphabetical listing of Bible words and where they are written. So, if you wanted to study the subject of hell, you look up the word “hell” in the concordance and see all the verses containing the word. You read the verses to know what the Bible has to say about hell. (If you choose to believe something different, you are unbelieving about what the Bible has to say about the subject.)
Or you can go to an online Bible search website. You input keywords or groups of words or phrases and get all the verses with those words. There are plenty of good ones and there are also mobile phone apps.
OK, let's break down II Timothy 2:15 -
As you instinctively know, reading and studying are different. Reading is only a part of studying. The other parts include re-reading, referencing, thinking, note-taking, discussing, asking, and seeking until you reach a conclusion.
You can read the
Bible in a year, but you will never finish studying it. Not to say you cannot have confidence in the
doctrines, but you can never reach the full depths.
The word “study” or a form of the word appears in my Bible four more times:
(1) Ecclesiastes 12:12
..... of making many books there is no end;
and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
Make the Bible your main study source. It is recommended to read and study honest commentaries written by knowledgeable Bible teachers. But nothing is like reading the Bible as the main source. These other books are supplements to study, not the main sources of study.
Honest commentaries provide a great efficiency in that you can glean understandings from those who have already studied and placed their conclusions on paper. But you must be able to discern truth tellers from deceivers. Otherwise, you will experience great inefficiency – spending valuable time learning harmful deceits.
The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth if you honestly seek it with a pure heart.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
The commentator should cite pure scriptures as they are written for sources of his conclusions.
Every word of God is pure:
If he changes the pure scriptures, jumps back and forth between versions, and overdoses you on Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic, watch out.
If he believes that only the original manuscripts are inspired and makes statements indicating that he is a better translator of the Bible than the Bible translators, BEWARE:
It’s a wolf!
Now, let’s say you ask your “spiritual leader” (teacher, pastor, preacher, priest, psychologist, whoever) to explain something Biblical to you. He tells you that you just have to blindly accept his church’s explanation, by faith of course.
Red flags should be waving and sirens should be going off in your head.
Find a different “spiritual leader” and continue studying the subject for yourself. Your “spiritual leader” has just informed you that he is too lazy to study for himself.
There are those who have studied and then written answers to virtually every question you have. And the Bible was given to be progressively understood, not to be a complete mystery.
If your “spiritual leader” says “I don’t know, but I will study the matter and get back to you”, great! Work with him. But never hesitate to “study to shew thyself approved unto God”.
(2) I Thessalonians 4:10-11
……but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, ……”
You must study to increase in knowledge more and more, and you must study quietly and learn for yourself. Not exclusively by yourself, but mostly by yourself.
You are involved in a spiritual transaction when you study the Bible. The Holy Ghost is guiding and teaching you (I John 2:27) and the word of God is discerning the thoughts and intents of your heart (Hebrews 4:12). This is a private transaction which you will learn to cherish.
(3) Proverbs 15:28
The heart of the righteous studieth to answer:
Answers to your own questions, and those of others who depend on you, are found by studying. The heart of the righteous wants to know what God’s answer would be.
The Bible is God’s written message to man about the issues of life, present and eternal. It contains God’s ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), which are what a righteous heart is seeking. Do not pop off answers like the wicked or unlearned or ignorant do. Study and then give the right answer from the right authority.
And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
(4) Proverbs 24:1-2
Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
In contrast to righteous men, evil men study destruction. They think they are studying how to be successful and how to take advantage of a situation with no self-damaging consequences. Actually, they are studying their own destruction.
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Why - because you are headed for destruction of some kind. Believe me, all adults know this.
Approved unto God, that is. Do
not seek man’s approval. Seek God’s approval
and let man’s approval chips fall where they may.
“Why are you always reading the Bible? Why do you go to church so much? Why do you talk like that? Why do you hang around with those people? Why don’t you like what we like? Why, Why, Why?!!!” Because you are seeking to be approved unto God.
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Others have no idea of the judgmental consequences they are headed for, but you do (or will find out in this site). And thyself’s approval unto God is eternally significant to you, significant above anything you can imagine. Keep reading!
II Corinthians 10:17-18
But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
For not he that commendeth himself is approved,
but whom the Lord commendeth.”
How do you know the Lord commendeth you? Do what he says. Follow the living instructions in the 13 Pauline epistles (Romans through Philemon) which include II Timothy 2:15. You will have no time for ungodly things and you will know you are commended by God, and therefore approved.
II Corinthians 13:7
Now I pray to God that ye do no evil
not that we should appear approved,
but that ye should do that which is honest,
be as reprobates.
Even though you are as a reprobate in your flesh alone, you have weapons to war against your flesh. Using these weapons (the Bible, prayer, assembling together, STUDYING) will keep you from evil in actual truth – not just in appearance.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
You can appear approved to man, but be totally unapproved unto God when your spirituality is only skin deep. God is interested in the actual condition of your heart, not just the appearance of your flesh.
Fairly simple concept - Get to work, man! While the world considers a workman to be somewhat lowly (see any dictionary or thesaurus), God approves of workmen. Let’s take God’s ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Almost always in the Bible, the rule of “first mention” controls later mentions. That is, the definition of a word when it first appears in the Bible is the definition of the word when it appears later.
Here is the first mention of the word “workman”:
Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.
The word “workman” in the Bible refers to people who make things with their hands. This requires desire, patience, and apprenticeship to begin with. These are followed by skill, artistry, and craftsmanship. Bible study will lead to beautiful results as long as our works are his workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).
For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The word of truth (the whole Bible) must be rightly divided. There are several distinct divisions in the Bible, the most obvious being Old and New Testaments.
By studying, you can easily recognize these divisions. By pinpointing the divisions, you will apply the appropriate doctrines to the appropriate people.
God has dealt with different people in different ages since the beginning (like Israel vs. body of Christ).
If you do not understand that the differences exist, you will probably apply wrong doctrine to the different dispensations, including your own. Wrong doctrine from a preacher who cannot rightly divide his Bible can prevent you from hearing the true gospel. That is why Jesus warned:
Take heed that no man deceive you.
Law of first mention again,
When they had made an end of dividing the land for inheritance by their coasts, the children of Israel gave an inheritance to Joshua the son of Nun among them:
When God divides something, it is a distinct division – inheritances, light/dark, old/new, Jew/Gentile, lost/saved, hell/heaven, soul/spirit.
Suggestion – learn Bible divisions by reading the Bible and studying commentaries from honest authors. Literally millions of hours of studying have been accomplished by thousands of students up to now and the divisions have been firmly established. This kind of help is like having the answers to a test ahead of time. Just make sure you are getting your answers from a reliable source. See recommended authors within this site.
Here’s the number one division for you to pay attention to: Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, chosen by the Lord in Acts 9, says:
I Corinthians 11:1
Follow me, as I follow Christ.
As the apostle of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Paul was given doctrinal truth regarding the body of Christ (that’s you if you are saved). We are to follow his doctrine as written in his books (Romans through Philemon). Whenever a different doctrine appears in other books, it is for someone else at a different time.
Be careful in all other New Testament books as much of these books is for first century Israelites and future tribulation dwellers. Just make sure of your context (for example, see Matthew 10:5-6 – house of Israel, and James 1:1 - the twelve tribes).
Here’s an example of the necessity of dividing in the New Testament:
Matthew 24:13, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
James 2:24, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
M a t t h e w - P a u l - J a m e s
Matthew 24 is about the Jew in the tribulation period. Romans is from Paul for the body of Christ. James is written to the twelve tribes of Israel (James 1:1) soon after Christ’s death. See how easy it is to just pick a New Testament verse out of context, wrongly divide it, and mislead people.
Matthew 24 is a quote from Jesus himself about Israelites in the future tribulation. James 2 to Jews in the early Acts time period is a direct contradiction to Romans 3 for Gentiles. You are to follow Paul, so Romans 3:28 is your doctrine.
Matthew 24 and James 2, obviously written to someone else for doctrinal purposes, have been and are being ubiquitously “used” by accursed preachers to mislead millions. Don’t be misled; rightly divide the word of truth.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Paul’s doctrine is your doctrine. You are an unsaved sinner after Christ was crucified and ascended; you are not a Jew before Christ was crucified and ascended or during the Acts transitional time frame. Do not try to put Jewish doctrine before Acts 28:28 into your doctrine. It won’t fit.
So here’s a truth that many cannot swallow – Paul’s doctrine for you, as given to him by Jesus, is different than Jesus’ doctrine for Israel, as illustrated above.
You are saved by believing the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-4). Jewish doctrine was to accept Christ as the Messiah of Israel and then repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
Jews and Gentiles today
all get saved the same way or not at all.
This includes you and yours.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
The Bible is divided into seven major parts:
Know these divisions and you cannot be fooled by someone who does not know the divisions. And there are plenty of them proclaiming false doctrines!
OK, a little more scripture about studying and then you can actually start studying in the manner God has instructed!
I love them that love me;
and those that seek me early shall find me.
Just a recommendation – get up early by yourself and read your Bible (coffee helps). The whirlwinds of life will twist you into a frazzled mess ready to fall asleep during the 10pm news. “Gee whiz, I already get up at 6am, what is this all about?”
The answer is easy – don’t lose any sleep, just turn off the TV and go to bed earlier. Night TV vs. Morning Bible – don’t get caught trying to rationalize that at the judgment seat of Christ.
"Early" could also mean early in life. It is amazing how easily children can be faithful and capable of learning sound doctrines which many adults have trouble understanding because they have to overcome so much exposure to unsound doctrines.
…… but to this man will I look,
even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,
and trembleth at my word.
Respect the word(s) and humble yourself before them. Then God will allow you to read with understanding.
You are not doing God a favor by reading the Bible early in the day; he has already favored you. He wrote the words before you were born so they would be ready for you. Christ died before you were born (Romans 5:8) so salvation would be ready for you.
You are now a favored child, so show your appreciation, humbly.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge:
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Fear/respect God and you can gain knowledge that you desperately need to plan your eternal path.
Only fools despise scriptural wisdom and instruction. Fools can be those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ and end up in flaming torment. Or, not as foolish, those who accept the gospel but do not study and learn, therefore suffering the loss of rewards which so easily could have been theirs.
Both fools will suffer eternal loss of some kind.
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
Milk is simple spiritual knowledge, like the plan of salvation – simple enough for young children to understand:
..... Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
And they said,
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
But you must move past the simple message of salvation. You are to move on to the word of the kingdom. A preacher that dwells on the plan of salvation sermon after sermon is feeding you baby milk and never meat. You need to move on to a preacher who knows how to grill meat, even if your mother objects. Sorry Mom, but you need to move on too.
You are responsible to God, not your mother, regarding spiritual things. Salvation is a foundation, and foundations are to be built on. When built, the building is seen in all its glory if the foundation supports the building.
The building is built brick by brick and your spiritual knowledge is built precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little (starting early in the day). If you are in total darkness and a powerful light shines in your face, you are blinded. If the light starts out soft and gradually brightens, you see clearly.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
The quick (alive) word of God discerns your thoughts and the intents of your heart when you read it. Actually, it is reading you more than you are reading it. It gives you what you need and holds back things you are not ready for (progressive revelation, it’s called).
You will not fool the live word of God and gain from using it for purposes for which it is not intended. Don’t underestimate the word of God any more than you would underestimate God himself. Why? Because - II Timothy 2:9, “the word of God is not bound” (neither is the Word of God).
It is not only quick and powerful and unbound, but it also foresees, preaches, and talks (Galations 3:8) and saves (James 1:21). The word of God helps you, you don’t help it. (Take that in the solar plexus, Mr. Scholar!)
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
..... receive with meekness the engrafted word,
which is able to save your souls.
SO: study, rightly divide, get up early, fear the Lord, tremble at his word, build on the foundation, and love Mom enough to tell her the truth.
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