1.      The Holy Bible

Doctrinal Statement: The Bible is the divinely inspired word of God.

 

The Bible is a collection of writings that are divinely inspired. No original documents exist. However, the Bible is the most well documented ancient text in existence and its remarkable lack of significant corruption is itself a proof of divine inspiration. A further proof is the accuracy of the Bible in its historically and archeologically provable content. Although from time to time scientists and others have disputed the Bible assertions, remarkably the Bible has stood the test of time. Eventually, nearly every doubt that has been cast has been shown to be false when all the facts are revealed and events are understood in the full Bible context. This does not mean that all questions have been answered. It does mean the Bible has been shown to be a reliable witness!

*   (2 Tim 3:14-17 NIV)  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, {15} and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. {16} All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, {17} so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

*   (John 5:39 RSV)  You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me;

*   (Luke 24:44 NIV)  He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."

*   (Rom 15:4 NIV)  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

*   (2 Pet 1:19-21 NIV)  And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. {20} Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. {21} For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

*   (John 17:15-17 NIV)  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. {16} They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. {17} Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

*   (1 Pet 1:24-25 NIV)  For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, {25} but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.

*   (Rev 22:18-19 NIV)  I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. {19} And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Home Study

*   Many Bibles have introductions to each book. Read the introductions.

*   Usually there are maps available as well. You might find it interesting to compare the Bible maps with today’s maps

*   Sometimes one translation will convey the message better than others. Get used to referencing alternate translations when you are looking for more insight into a passage.

*   Although the Bible is truly a “Holy Book” it is also God’s teaching tool for us. Do not hesitate to underline, highlight, or add comments and cross references in the margins.

*   There is a wealth of Bible commentaries, dictionaries, histories, and such. Many of these are free on the web or from the library. Utilize these resources.

*   Some Bible aids are so helpful that, if possible, you should acquire a personal copy for yourself. Used bookstores are sometimes an excellent place to find low cost materials. And, just snooping around in the store is fun.

A Few Closing Thoughts

There are many ideas of how to study the Bible and approaches to understanding scriptures. You will need to explore and reflect on many of these before reaching your own conclusions. Rest assured in this, God answers prayer and helps those who seek after Him. Here are a few more scriptures that illustrate the need to know what you believe and why you believe it. Do not grow weary in your search for truth and understanding.

*   (2 Tim 2:15 KJV)  Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

*   (1 Tim 4:16 NIV)  Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

*   (2 Tim 4:3 NIV)  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

*   (Titus 2:1 NIV)  You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

Let me share

I once gave a sermon I called Learning to Learn. In this sermon I pointed out that although we are expected to learn we are seldom given instruction on how to learn. It is important that we know how to learn and how to think critically. Here are a few elementary ways to learn.

*   First of all, pray. Solomon asked for wisdom and received it. Why shouldn’t you ask for knowledge and understanding and receive it? (James 4:2 NIV)  … You do not have, because you do not ask God.  (Hosea 4:6 RSV)  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; ….

*   Use repetition and memorization for fundamental concepts. This is how you learned the alphabet and the multiplication tables.

*   Learn to take notes and outline. The first allows you to review what you have received which in turn reinforces your ability to retain. The second, forces you to create order out of what at first may seem like chaos.

*   Share what you have learned. It is not unusual for the teacher to learn more from the teaching than the student.

*   Take note of what remains unclear and then take steps to resolve the matter.

*   Accept the Bible at face value unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. You will often find people make difficult explanations for things that the Bible states very clearly. Accept the simple if it works. The Bible is written for the children of God! Accept it as children.

*   On matters that are important, the Bible will have more than one reference. To clarify a passage find out what the other Bible references have to say on the subject. Try the center or margin notes found in most Bibles today. Or, try one of the reference books you bought in that used bookstore.

*   Be willing to question yourself and others. Although we should become firm in our beliefs we must be willing to allow for our fallibility. (1 Th 5:21 KJV)  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

*   Examine alternatives. Don’t dismiss a thought simply because it doesn’t fit your preconceived ideas. However, once an alternative has been resolved don’t waste time traveling the same road over and over again.

*   Be willing to accept truth as you discover it. Love God more than yourself. God is Truth.       (Prov 16:18 NIV)  Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.