If you are a Christian, wouldn’t it be insulting for someone to ask you if you actually read your Bible? Surely you’ve read your Bible, right? Most Christians do, I would assume. Or, should I assume that? I’ve always been told that assumptions are bad things, and in this case, perhaps it is as poor an assumption as any. Continue reading “Most important thing to successful Bible study”
Voracious readers learn the proper strategies to maximize the pleasure of the story. We must be honest and fair with writers and allow them their own stories. When we run ahead or afield, our wayward minds ruin the hard work of the storyteller.
As readers of Scripture, the rules become magnified because God’s Word contains the words of eternal life (John 6:68). We must do our best to understand the truths contained in the Bible, so we can go to heaven (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6).
Training our minds to do so is crucial.
When we pick up an adventure novel, we race through the pages captivated by the plot. As the author maneuvers the characters through scenes of danger, the reader ignores everything around them.
While the Bible isn’t fiction, it’s a tale of breathless adventure. Humans are placed in the Garden and when they sin, they’re banished from the pristine paradise (Genesis 1-3). In time, the sin of the world leads to a total destruction of life, save eight souls and a boatload of animals (Genesis 6-9).
Through the pages of God’s Word we find stories of high adventure and intrigue. Unlike a novel, we know the outcome of all the stories. The plot has been unraveled, and the spoilers fully analyzed.
The seasoned Bible student must be attuned to that reality. We can’t take the words of Scripture for granted and shortchange the morals.
When we come to a chapter like Esther 4, we smooth over the Queen’s shocking dilemma and the palpable tension of her spiritual challenge, because we know the outcome.
Paul’s arrest and harrowing voyage to Rome as a prisoner suffers when we breeze through the details. Instead, we need to slow down and feel the roll of the waves and the volatile emotions of the passengers.
When familiarity breeds contempt, we lose God’s message and we cannot make application to our lives as God desires.
The fear and uncertainty of Biblical characters becomes real when we read the story as the Holy Spirit intended. We should feel the vibrancy of their decisions and the consequences of their actions so we can integrate the lessons into our own lives.
As writers and preachers, we must dig deep within the text to find the details to make the common come alive. Each of us as readers must come to the Word and allow it to breathe God’s message of redemption.
Our souls are at stake when we read the Bible. We can’t read it as literature where we judge its authenticity based on human parameters. God is limitless and can accomplish super-human things and our faith must travel alongside him (Isaiah 55:8).
Reading the Bible is like no other book. With reverence, humility and respect, let’s take up the greatest adventure story ever written as soon as possible.
Nicolas Carr’s 2008 article in “The Atlantic” entitled, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” caught a lot of people’s attention.
To even ask such a question is audacious, one might think. Isn’t the purpose of Google to help us find information on the Internet? How could finding new information make us less intelligent?
Carr intensifies his argument in a new book, “The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains.” In a nutshell, here is what Carr claims: The way we browse items on the Internet changes the way we focus on information. We are acquainted with a greater array of information, but becoming less able to maintain a focus on that information. Continue reading “Give Attention To Reading”
by J. Randal Matheny, editor
“You have surely noticed what these people are saying, haven’t you?”
Jeremiah 33:24a NET
When the Lord calls attention to what people are saying, it is usually to point out how wrong they are.
The people of Jeremiah’s day thought Israel and Judah were goners, so they had “little regard” that God’s people would ever again be a nation (v. 24b). The Lord contradicted that belief with a promise never to reject the descendants of Jacob and to restore them with mercy.
When Jesus asked his disciples what people thought of him, his purpose was to reveal the truth — so far from popular opinion — about himself to his followers.
It is good to note what the crowd is saying, in order to contrast it with the teaching of God. Following or heeding the majority leads to evil (Exodus 23:2).
When we watch television, read a newspaper or book, surf the Internet, we’re listening to others.
When we pipe music in our ears, gossip at the barber or beauty shop, follow the updates on Facebook, we’re listening to others.
When we bow to peer pressure, go with the flow, vote with our pocketbook, we’re listening to others.
Only when we hear the promise of the Lord that cuts across the opinions, predictions and prejudices of the crowd, will we stop giving weight to people’s pronouncements and buck the crowd.
Yet another reason to be often and long in the pages of Scripture.
?What is written in the Law? How do you
read it?? (Luke 10:26) Jesus asked this question
to the lawyer who asked what he should
do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered the
question by citing Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus
19:17 and telling him the story of the
Whatever the context is, Jesus? questions
are good ones: ?What is written in the Law?
How do you read it?? Knowing what God says will settle many issues. Many of
the divisions and religious issues of our day come from assumptions and traditions
rather than from a study of the will of God. The Word of God is a precious
treasure that will immeasurably bless the lives of those who will take the
time to study it (Ps. 19:7-14).
It takes more, however, than merely reading God?s word to get the most
out of it. How do you read it? Good Bible students will explore the context and
background of the passages they read. The old saying is still true: ?A proof-text
taken out of context will become a pretext.? Many have found a passage that
says what they want to say and used that passage to support their desire rather
than listening to what the passage actually means.
Merely quoting a passage without thought to the author, the intended recipients,
the context, or the intended purpose of the message will lead to error
Peter complained about the ignorant and the unstable twisting the Scriptures
to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16-17). His advice was for each Christian
to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (3:18). Let us not only
read the Scriptures but also pay attention to how we read them.
In school I was asked to read, “The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Text.” One chapter by S.V. McCasland, entitled, “Matthew Twists the Scriptures,” was filled with outlandish statements. McCasland said, “Matthew felt free in changing and distorting the Scriptures.” /1 Someone was indeed “distorting,” but it was not Matthew!
Far too often people read the Bible and miss the truth completely. Strangely, there are atheists and agnostics who call themselves Bible “scholars.” They come to the Scriptures with completely different presuppositions. They lower the Bible down to the level of any other book and presume it is filled with errors.
Peter said of the abuses of the writings of Paul, “that those who are untaught and unstable twist (them) to their destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16, NKJV). As Solomon said, truly “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
We should understand that, when we approach Scripture, we must keep three rules in mind.
First, God is always good (Exodus 34:6). His “goodness endures continually” (Psalm 52:1). He is eternal, all powerful, all knowing, “awesome” and incomparable (Deuteronomy 33:27; Jeremiah 32:17,27; 1 John 3:20; Psalm 66:3; Psalm 86:8).
If we presuppose that God is good, it will help us avoid the pitfalls of blaming God for things he is not responsible for. Many times people leave God because they believe he killed their child, spouse, or parent.
Remembering that God is always good will lead to more thought and study and possibly prevent a soul from being eternally lost. While suffering and death are difficult, complex subjects, we must study them through the lens that says, “God is always good.” The Psalmist said, “As for God, His ways are perfect” (Psalm 18:30). With these backdrops in mind, we can come to conclusions more in line with God’s will.
Second, God is always right (Psalm 18:30). While this second rule may seem redundant, it nonetheless contains a nuanced difference. God’s ways are perfect and will always lead to what is best for us (Romans 8:28).
When we read Scripture and we are given a path by God to take, it will always be the right path. Too often when we face a difficult decision, we assemble various options. We speak to our friends, family, co-workers, the latest self-help guru, and we also pray. We line all these options up as equal, and we pick the one that is most beneficial. The problem is that we are making God’s choice equal with everyone else’s. Instead, we should take God’s way because he is always right.
Third, Scripture is always right (Psalm 19:7,8). We cannot discount how empowering this rule would be to millions of people. To come to the Bible presupposing that it is inspired and perfect (2 Timothy 3:16,17) would prevent so many problems.
People will read two passages and dispense with one because they think it contradicts the other. Rather, they should realize that Scripture is perfect and they just have not figured out how the two passages agree. “The benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not unjustly assumed by the critic to himself.” /1
For example, some have said that the book of James should not be in the Bible because they could not rationalize Ephesians 2:8,9 with James 2:24. This misinterpretation is the fault of the reader, not the Scriptures. These two passages agree completely.
With these three rules in mind, we will have a happier and healthier study of the word of God.
1/ Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 408-409.