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Friday, August 10, 2012

How I Study the Bible.

If you are an firm believer in Christ and desire to learn more from your Bible this article is for you.  First of all  please remember that studying is not interpretation.  Studying is research that can lead you to the proper interpretation of the Bible.  This is called in scripture "rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15) There are several different ways to  study the Bible.  The one the few ways I love to study the Bible is by topic or theme, but I do not limit myself to that way of study.  Here are a few other ways to study the Bible

A) Chronologically- This type of study respects time and history in relation to the subject or person you are studying in the Bible.

B) Thematically-This type of study respects the idea or subject  the student is inquiring about in the Bible.

C)  Memorization- This is the simplest form of study which requires certain passages  or verses of the Bible to be retained in the students memory.

D) Inquiry- This type of study is the most adventurous, it asks questions and seeks answers within the Bible.

E) Character- This type of study focuses upon a Bible character of interest. It like doing a biographical study, following a person's life or relationship with God from beginning to the end.

F) Self application- This type of study takes what the student finds applicable in the Bible to his or her own
life. It is a "how to"  study. If you understand the directions and follow what the Bible prescribes you should receive the benefits of obedience to its principles..

G) Model- This a study that seeks a role model from the scriptures. Another way to look at it is to ask yourself the question, " Who is you greatest Bible Hero, other than Jesus?.  Model studies help the student seek attitudes to emulate from various Bible characters that was acceptable behavior to God.

H) Book- This is a study that allows you to look at each book of the Bible and discern its parts.  It allows you to understand, in part, the human author's intention when he composed the book and why.

One thing I do when studying the Bible is always study any interesting verse, passage or character in the context and in respect of the context where the verse and passage is in the Bible.  This is a safeguard against drifting way out of the textual limitations of what the scriptures present.  Some people get some strange ideas about what the Bible says about a matter because they never consider the context of the verse or passage of the Bible they are citing from.

After I decide which way I am going to study the Bible, I get some 6 X  4 blank index cards or pieces of paper and use a concordance to search out the proposed scriptures that is in line with that study.  Anything of interest or anything that is illuminating I note on those cards or pieces of paper.  It could be a statement, a idea, a concept it could be anything.  I stopped using highlighters, and marking bible passages with a pen because using such devices can damage the pages of the Bible.  By writing the verse address, phrase or the address of the passage down on a separate piece of paper, I am able to look at all the verses on a given study  and glean eternal truths from them in relation to the study topic.

The next thing I do is look up related material to the verse or the passage I am studying.  This is material that is not necessarily  found in the Bible, but is Bible related.  It can be Historical information, Archaeological information, Inspirational information, Scientific information, the list goes on and on.  There is a lot of information that is Bible related.

I then write them down in a outline format.  This keeps me on track to the most sensible and logical conclusion based upon Biblical truth.   Now after I develop my outline.  I write my Study out in such a way that I can come back and review it.  Now some studies last for years, some for days and some for hours. It largely depends on the broadness of the study.  That is why I say that Bible studying is research because it can go on for days. Now if you want to keep your studies short, limit them to what you really want to understand or what you really want to know.  This will keep you from drifting from one degree or dimension of the study to another. Focus on one dimension ask one to three direct or pointed questions to guide you in your study. You can make cross reference notations in your study to be investigated later.

The danger to all Bible studying is prejudice.  When studying the Bible you must be free of preconceived ideas. Which is the root of prejudice in the study of scripture.  If you have a preconceived idea about something that God does, God allows, God prohibits that was not found it the scripture or anything related to it, it can be the idea that you substituted for Biblical truth instead of doing the research.  This is why I always say that the worse kind of deception is self deception. If a preconceived idea came from a preacher, studying it in the Bible is the only way to verify whether it comes from that preacher's personal opinion or from the Bible.  That is why it is good to take notes when someone preaches. If you find that the preacher is not adhering to Biblical truth but is preaching from personal opinion. I strongly suggest that you leave that church and find one that the preacher bases his teaching upon biblical truth.

You don't need a chain reference Bible to study or a Study Bible to perform any of the studies listed in this article.  They are what we call Bible aids, they are good for clarification purposes and it is very good to have access to at least two or three of them.  Do not get caught thinking that what that Chain reference Bible suggests in your own private studies.  Treat them as someone giving their opinion of what the scripture of interest refers to.  You do need however an very good concordance.  I love Strong's Exhaustive with Greek/English and Hebrew/English dictionaries in them because I could look up everything, even to where a comma is placed. I can find the Hebrew or Greek word that was translated into English and increase my understanding of the scriptures.

Finally you do not study the Bible in order to show how intelligent you are in the matters of scriptural understanding. You study the Bible to guard yourself from false teachings, false preachers and from self deception.  Let the word of Christ grow in you richly.  The richer you grow in your understanding of Christ and the Bible, the richer you really are.

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