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(TO STUDY THE BIBLE) SCRIPTURE - 2Ti 2:15                                                                 AUG, 1998

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

SUBJECT - TO STUDY THE BIBLE

For as long as I can remember, I have heard people discussing their religious beliefs concerning God, and the bible. And, for just as long, I have heard people saying things like, 'the bible contradicts itself' and 'man wrote the bible.' All of these, are usually the attempts of those that are trying to justify their actions, most of which go against God's word.

Well, here is a little capsulization of why people have these beliefs, and how you, or anyone else can get to the place, that you know, that the bible is the word of God.

As you can see, in the subject scripture, we are urged by the writer, to study. And here is where the problem of the bible apparently contradicting itself comes in. Many people, far more educated than myself, have studied the bible for far more years than I am old. They have all sorts of college degrees, and all I have is a high school diploma. So, right away, one would say, that the more educated person, with all the degrees, is the one that they would believe, when and if it came down to me saying something, versus something they would say. They have the degrees, and/or, they have the years. Therefore, if they say the bible contradicts itself, then they have to be right, you would say.

Now, while that type of thinking may hold true for other things, as far as age and education, with the bible, all of those things, mean nothing. In fact, they may prove to be the biggest hindrance to one learning about God, that there could be. Jesus once said, (Mt 18:3 - 4) ... Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. This meant, among other things, that just as a little child, needs to learn new things, we, no matter how educated or old we are, need to sometimes learn the new things of God, that may contradict what we have been taught.

The apostle Paul, who was about the most educated religious leader of his time, after the Church had just begun to take shape, went about killing those that named the name of Christ. Paul, whose name was Saul of Tarsus at the time, thought he was doing what God wanted him to do. He was an extremely educated man, that took his religion seriously. He had degrees and time, as his credentials of knowing God's word. Yet, he later found out, that what he thought he knew, he didn't (he thought he knew God, but he didn't.)

Saul, recounted two remarkable things that should wake all of us
up. First was his education and position (Phi 3:4) Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

Phi 3:5        Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Phi 3:6        Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless
. He thought he was in to something. Then, after he met Christ, and found out the 'real deal', he changed his opinion about his education, and made this statement. (Phi 3:7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Phi 3:8        Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

(Phi 3:13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

Phi 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul, discounted all that education that he had (in a sense, he threw it out), so that he could find God, through Christ. If he had to do it, then you have to do it also. Here's how.

1. In order to correctly study the bible, you either need to be
saved, or be taught by someone who is.
Otherwise, you will come up with, what seems to you, to be gobble-de-goop.

In St. John 3, Jesus, in addressing one of the premiere religious leaders of the day, told him, "You must be born again." The man's response to that statement was, "How can a full grown man, go back in his mother's womb and be reborn?? To him, what Jesus said, was gobble-de-goop. It made no sense. That's the same thing that happens to the unsaved, when they read, or try to study the bible. It looks like gobble-de-goop. I know, I've been there. Jesus, kind of embarrassed the man when He asked, (St. Jo 3:10) Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

When the unsaved read a scripture, they form an opinion on what that scripture means. Later on, they read another scripture that seems to, or does totally contradict what their opinion of the first scripture was, so they say 'the bible contradicts itself.' It never occurs to them, that maybe their opinion of the first or the second scripture was wrong. It has to be the bible, they say. I'm not that stupid. That is their education or faith in their own intellect talking.

I once thought like that. In fact, when I tried to read the bible, (King James version), it made very little sense to me. But, after I got saved, it seemed like a little light came on in my mind, and I was able to understand what I was reading. But, that is not all there is to it.

2. You need the Holy Ghost. This is something that you need personally. If you are being taught by someone that has it, what they are saying, may fly over your head. You may understand some of the simpler things in the bible, but you will have a hard time with most of it. Why the Holy Ghost??? (Jo 16:13) 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. Just as Saul had Jesus telling him what was what, and just as Nicodemus, had Jesus to straighten him out, we need Jesus to help us get it straight. But, He is not here physically, but His Spirit is. It is called the Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, Spirit of truth, and the Spirit of God, even the Comforter. As a rule, any time you see the word Spirit, with a capital 'S', it is referring to the Holy Ghost. Another word for guide, is 'teach.' How else are you going to know about God, except you be taught?? And who better to do it, than God Himself??? (Jo 14:26) But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Look at it like this. If someone wrote you a letter, and in it, there were some things that you did not understand what they meant, who better to ask for a clear understanding than the one that wrote it??? Well, the bible is God's letter to us, and who better to explain it to you than God Himself??? Relying totally on others to help you understand something about God's word, can prove to be a big mistake. Why?? Because, if they start going astray, you will not be able to recognize it, and fall in to deception yourselves. I tell people, 'just because I am a minister, or even a pastor, don't take everything I say as the whole truth. You have to do what the subject scripture says, and that is study.

3. You must pray. One thing that hinders a lot of people, especially some Christians, is that they pick up the bible, and begin to study it, without first, asking God to help them. Big mistake. When they do this, it is like saying, 'God, I don't need your help in this study, I'm able to do it on my own.' Sure God knows what you are attempting to do, and will honor what you are doing, for a little while, but be careful. You can get more from Him, if you ask His help, knowing that without Him, you can do nothing. Most of us go to bed every night and wake up in the morning, and never pray, and God blesses us anyway. It is like we take Him for granted, like He is supposed to do it, whether we ask Him or not. That type of attitude, can be hazardous to your health.

If you have been in church, you notice that they always start the service with a prayer. Before the minister brings the sermon, he or she, may pray again, asking God to direct them in their message. The message, is really God's. Sometimes, the minister may be in a back room or office, praying for guidance. Either way, they want to give God His respect, and reverence. So the same thing holds true with you and bible study. It is essential. Failure to do this, may lead you off track, because God may decide to let you go it alone, and then you wind up in trouble, and wonder why.

If you will notice the second part of the subject scripture, it talks about rightly dividing the word of truth. If it says that, then it means that you may possibly wrongly divide the word of truth, right??? You will definitely need God's help to do this. It is because of a failure to do this, that many Christians have fallen away from the Church, and gotten in to cults, and have ended up in hell. Did you know, that even denominations are cults??? They were formed by people failing to rightly divide the word of God. And that usually came about, because of a failure to pray before studying.

4. You need to meditate on what you have read. Take what you have read, and think about it, over the rest of the day, See how it applies to what is happening around you, and in your own life. Many times, life's experiences can be made clearer, when you look at them through what you have been reading in the bible.
It does good, if you pick a few verses, or a particular story, that may closely resemble what you are presently going through. In order to do this, you may need a book known as a topical bible, which lists all sorts of topics like faith, depression, consolation, humility and more. Also, a concordance is a good tool to find particular scriptures in the bible, if you know some of the main words in them.

Lastly, you need to study with others that are saved. This is necessary, so you can discuss what you believe you got from the study, as compared to what the others got from it. Consistently studying alone, or not going to church, will definitely lead you astray. God tells us, (He 10:25) 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. You and I, need the help of each other. If you think staying by yourself is best for you, when God says to assemble with others, then quite frankly, you are a fool. Because you are saying, you know what's better for you, than God does. It is for this purpose, that God never, and I mean never, reveals all things to one individual. He gives them a part, and He gives another a part, and another a part, and so on. And the only way to get the whole, each of the parts, has to come together, then you have the truth. The same thing goes for churches and denominations. No one church or denomination, is going to have all the answers. They will have to all, come together, to get the truth that God has for us. Stay away from people, churches and denominations, that try to make you stay with them only, and not fellowship with those of other denominations or churches. This does not mean to go to other religions for answers .

Well, I hope you have been enlightened a bit, about why there is so much confusion over what the bible has to say. We have made the mess, not the bible. May God bless you, as you study His word. Amen.
NEXT MONTH'S MESSAGE - ALL GOD'S CHILDREN ???
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