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*#4-Overview of the Bible and Bible Study Methods

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  • Brother Bob...<><
    How to Study the Bible- Lesson #4 Overview of the Bible and Bible Study Methods {edited by Brother Bob from many sources} STUDY THE BIBLE INTELLIGENTLY BY: 1.
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 16, 2006
       
      How to Study the Bible- Lesson #4     
       Overview of the Bible and Bible Study Methods
      {edited by Brother Bob from many sources}

      STUDY THE BIBLE INTELLIGENTLY BY:

      1. Letting the Bible speak for itself. Leaving preconceived ideas behind, if the Bible over-rules them.
      2. Being open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in studying the Bible; studying  in an attitude of prayer and teachableness.
      3. Learning to use Bible Study toos such as a Bible Dictionaries, Concordances, Hebrew and Greek language helps, topical Bibles, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge Cross-Reference Concordance, and others.
      4. Letting the whole Bible speak to a topic, not just one verse.
      5. Not altering the inspired meaning of a verse by isolating a fragment of the verse and not considering the context of the verse with the verses surrounding it, or the light of cross-referenced passages.
      5. Allowing the historical context to help in clarifying difficult passages where applicable,
      6. Keeping a written record of your studies for future use. Taking notes as you study. Developing a plan of future study as you uncover interesting information.
      7. Applying the study to your life. Being prepared to share what you learned with others.
      8. Asking the questions as you read:      
       a. What does this chapter teach concerning Christ?
       b. Is there any example here for me to follow?
       c. Is there any error for me to avoid?
       d. Is there any duty for me to perform?
       e. Is there any promise for me to claim?
       f. Is there any prayer for me to pray?
      -------------------------------------------------------------------
       
      The Origin of the Bible
       
             (1) The Bible is the Word of God and is the primary and authoritative means by which He reveals Himself to human beings.
             (2) The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible writers with thoughts, ideas, and objective information; in turn they expressed these in their own words. Therefore the Scriptures are an indivisible union of human and divine elements, neither of which should be emphasized to the neglect of the other (2 Peter 1:21)
             (3) All Scripture is inspired by God and came through the work of the Holy Spirit. However, it did not come in a continuous chain of unbroken revelations. As the Holy Spirit communicated truth to the Bible writer, each wrote as he was moved by the Holy Spirit, emphasizing the aspect of the truth which he was led to stress. For this reason the student of the Bible will gain a rounded comprehension on any subject by recognizing that the Bible is its own best interpreter and when studied as a whole it depicts a consistent, harmonious truth (2 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:1, 2; )
             (4) Although it was given to those who lived in an ancient Near Eastern/Mediterranean context, the Bible transcends its cultural backgrounds to serve as God's Word for all cultural, racial, and situational contexts in all ages.
             
      The Authority of the Bible      

              (1) The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are the clear, infallible revelation of God's will and His salvation. The Bible is the Word of God, and it alone is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested (2 Tim. 3:15, 17; Ps. 119:105; Prov. 30:5, 6; Isa. 8:20; John 17:17; 2 Thess. 3:14; Heb. 4:12).
              (2) Scripture is an authentic, reliable record of history and God's acts in history. It provides the normative theological interpretation of those acts. The supernatural acts revealed in Scripture are historically true. For example, chapters 1-11 of Genesis are a factual account of historical events.
              (3) The Bible is not like other books. It is an indivisible blend of the divine and the human. Its record of many details of secular history is integral to its overall purpose to convey salvation history. While at times there may be parallel procedures employed by Bible students to determine historical data, the usual techniques of historical research, based as they are on human presuppositions and focused on the human element, are inadequate for interpreting the Scriptures, which are a blend of the divine and human. Only a method that fully recognizes the indivisible nature of the Scriptures can avoid a distortion of its message.
              (4) Human reason is subject to the Bible, not equal to or above it. Presuppositions regarding the Scriptures must be in harmony with the claims of the Scriptures and subject to correction by them (1 Cor. 2:1-6). God intends that human reason be used to its fullest extent, but within the context and under the authority of His Word rather than independent of it.
              (5) The revelation of God in all nature, when properly understood, is in harmony with the written Word, and is to be interpreted in the light of Scripture.
       
      Principles for Interpreting Scripture
       
          a. The Holy Spirit enables the believer to accept, understand, and apply the Bible to one's own life as he seeks divine power to render obedience to all scriptural requirements and to appropriate personally all Bible promises. Only those following the light already received can hope to receive further illumination of the Spirit (John 16:13, 14; 1 Cor. 2:10-14).
          b. Scripture cannot be correctly interpreted without the aid of the Holy Spirit, for it is the Spirit who enables the believer to understand and apply Scripture. Therefore, any study of the Word should commence with a request for the Spirit's guidance and illumination.
          c. Those who come to the study of the Word must do so with faith, in the humble spirit of a learner who seeks to hear what the Bible is saying. They must be willing to submit all presuppositions, opinions, and the conclusions of reason to the judgment and correction of the Word itself. With this attitude the Bible student may come directly to the Word, and with careful study may come to an understanding of the essentials of salvation apart from any human explanations, however helpful. The biblical message becomes meaningful to such a person.
          d. The investigation of Scripture must be characterized by a sincere desire to discover and obey God's will and word rather than to seek support or evidence for preconceived ideas.
       
      Methods of Bible Study

          a. Select a Bible version for study that is faithful to the meaning contained in languages in which the Bible originally was written. The King James Bible is the Bible recommeded as a basis for study, owing to its completeness and closeness to the original Greek and Hebrew. The words and sentence structures are sometimes awkward to modern readers, however these peculiarities reflect the conformity to the Hebrew and Greek sentence structures and the English meanings of the words in the 1600's when the translation was made. Modern translations can lose this richness of detail.
       
              b. Choose a definite plan of study, avoiding haphazard and aimless approaches. Study plans such as the following are suggested:
         (1) Book-by-book analysis of the message
         (2) Verse-by-verse method
         (3) Study that seeks a biblical solution to a specific life problem, biblical satisfaction for a specific need, or a biblical answer to a specific question
         (4) Topical study (faith, love, second coming, and others)
         (5) Word study
         (6) Biographical study
          c. Seek to grasp the simple, most obvious meaning of the biblical passage being studied.
          d. Seek to discover the underlying major themes of Scripture as found in individual texts, passages, and books. Two basic, related themes run throughout Scripture:
      (1) The person and work of Jesus Christ; and (2) the authority of God's Word, the fall of man, the first and second advents of Christ, the exoneration of God and His law, and the restoration of the divine plan for the universe. These themes are to be drawn from the totality of Scripture and not imposed on it.
         e. Recognize that the Bible is its own interpreter and that the meaning of words, texts, and passages is best determined by diligently comparing scripture with scripture.
          f. Study the context of the passage under consideration by relating it to the sentences and paragraphs immediately preceding and following it. Try to relate the ideas of the passage to the line of thought of the entire Bible book.
          g. As far as possible ascertain the historical circumstances in which the passage was written by the biblical writers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
          h. Determine the literary type the author is using. Some biblical material is composed of parables, proverbs, allegories, psalms, and apocalyptic prophecies. Since many biblical writers presented much of their material as poetry, it is helpful to use a version of the Bible that presents this material in poetic style, for passages employing imagery are not to be interpreted in the same manner as prose.
          i. Recognize that a given biblical text may not conform in every detail to present-day literary categories. Be cautious not to force these categories in interpreting the meaning of the biblical text. It is a human tendency to find what one is looking for, even when the author did not intend such.
          j. Take note of grammar and sentence construction in order to discover the author's meaning. Study the key words of the passage by comparing their use in other parts of the Bible by means of a concordance and with the help of biblical lexicons and dictionaries.
          k. In connection with the study of the biblical text, explore the historical and cultural factors. Archaeology, anthropology, and history may contribute to understanding the meaning of the text.
          m. Various commentaries and secondary helps such as scholarly works may be consulted to see how others have dealt with the passage. Then carefully evaluate the different viewpoints expressed from the standpoint of Scripture as a whole.
         
      Interpreting Prophetic Passages
       
       In interpreting prophecy keep in mind that:
          (1) The Bible claims God's power to predict the future (Isa 46:10).
          (2) Prophecy has a moral purpose. It was not written merely to satisfy curiosity about the future. Some of the purposes of prophecy are to strengthen faith (John 14:29) and to promote holy living and readiness for the Advent (Matt 24:44; Rev 22:7, 10, 11).
          (3) The focus of much prophecy is on Christ (both His first and second advents), the church, and the end-time.
          (4) The norms for interpreting prophecy are found within the Bible itself: The Bible notes time prophecies and their historical fulfillments; the New Testament cites specific fulfillments of Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah; and the Old Testament itself presents individuals and events as types of the Messiah.
          (5) In the New Testament application of Old Testament prophecies, some literal names become spiritual: for example, Israel sometimes represents the church, Babylon apostate religion, etc.
          (6) There are two general types of prophetic writings: nonapocalyptic prophecy as found in Isaiah and Jeremiah, and apocalyptic prophecy as found in Daniel and the Revelation. These differing types have different characteristics:
          (a) Nonapocalyptic prophecy addresses God's people; apocalyptic is more universal in scope.
          (b) Nonapocalyptic prophecy often is conditional in nature, setting forth to God's people the alternatives of blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience; apocalyptic emphasizes the sovereignty of God and His control over history.
          (c) Nonapocalyptic prophecy often leaps from the local crisis to the end-time day of the Lord; apocalyptic prophecy presents the course of history from the time of the prophet to the end of the world.
          (d) Time prophecies in nonapocalyptic prophecy generally are long, for example, 400 years of Israel's servitude (Gen. 15:13) and 70 years of Babylonian captivity (Jer. 25:12). Time prophecies in apocalyptic prophecy generally are phrased in short terms, for example, 10 days (Rev. 2:10) or 42 months (Rev. 13:5). Apocalyptic time periods stand symbolically for longer periods of actual time.
          (7) Apocalyptic prophecy is can be highly symbolic as well as literal, and should be interpreted accordingly. In interpreting symbols, the following methods may be used:
          (a) Look for interpretations (explicit or implicit) within the passage itself (for example, Dan. 8:20, 21; Rev. 1:20).
          (b) Look for interpretations elsewhere in the book or in other writings by the same author.
          (c) Using a concordance, study the use of symbols in other parts of Scripture.
          (d) A study of ancient manners and customs of Bible lands and peoples may throw light on the meaning of some symbols used in scripture, although what is revealed about these things in the scriptures takes precedence over secular sources of information.
        (8) The literary structure of a book often is an aid to interpreting it. The parallel nature of Daniel's prophecies is an example. Psalm 119 is divided into clusters of 8 verses each beginning with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Many more examples could be cited. 

      Comparing Parallel Passages
       
       Parallel accounts in Scripture sometimes present differences in detail and emphasis while covering the same events. (for example, cf. Matt 21:33, 34; Mark 12:1-11; and Luke 20:9-18; or 2 Kings 18-20 with 2 Chron. 32). When studying such passages, first examine them carefully to be sure that the parallels actually are referring to the same historical event. For example, many of Jesus' parables may have been given on different occasions to different audiences and with different wording, resulting in differing details.
          In cases where there appear to be differences in parallel accounts, one should recognize that the total message of the Bible is the synthesis of all of its parts. Each book or writer communicates that which the Spirit has led him to write. Each makes his own special contribution to the richness, diversity, and variety of Scripture. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet 1:21) is self-explanatory.
          When parallel passages seem to indicate discrepancy or contradiction, look for the underlying harmony. Keep in mind that dissimilarities may be the result of differing emphases and choice of materials of various authors who wrote under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit for different audiences under different circumstances.
          It may prove impossible to reconcile minor dissimilarities in detail which may be irrelevant to the main and clear message of the passage. In some cases judgment may have to be suspended until more information and better evidence are available to resolve a seeming discrepancy.
         
      Historical Passages of the Bible 
       
          The Scriptures record that God accepted persons whose experiences and statements were not in harmony with the spiritual principles of the Bible as a whole. For example, we may cite incidents relating to the use of alcohol, polygamy, divorce, and slavery. Although condemnation of such deeply ingrained social customs is not explicit, God did not necessarily endorse or approve all that He permitted and bore with in the lives of the patriarchs and in Israel. Jesus made this clear in His statement with regard to divorce (Matt 19:4-6, 8).
          The spirit of the Scriptures is one of restoration. God works patiently to elevate fallen humanity from the depths of sin to the divine ideal. Consequently, we must not accept as models the actions of sinful men as recorded in the Bible in historical passages, but defer to passages which deal directly with sins and doctrinal issues.
          The Scriptures represent the unfolding of God's revelation to man. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, for example, enlarges, explains and expands certain Old Testament concepts. Christ Himself and His teachings are the ultimate revelation of God's mind and character to humanity (Heb. 1:1-3).
          While there is an overarching unity in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and while all Scripture is equally inspired, God chose to reveal Himself to and through human individuals and to meet them where they were in terms of spiritual and intellectual endowments. God Himself does not change, but He progressively unfolded His revelation to men as they were able to grasp it (John 16:12; ). Every experience or statement of Scripture is a divinely inspired record, but not every statement or experience is necessarily normative for Christian behavior today. Historical passages should not necessarily be used for doctrine, and both the spirit and the letter of Scripture must be examined to understand God's intent.
       (1 Cor. 10:6-13; ).
        
      Apply the Lessons to Your Life
       
       As the final goal, make application of the text. Ask such questions as, "What is the message and purpose God intends to convey through Scripture?" "What meaning does this text have for me?" "How does it apply to my situation and circumstances today?" In doing so, recognize that although many biblical passages had local significance, nonetheless they contain timeless principles applicable to every age and culture.
       
      Conclusion
       
          The Bible, with its God-given truths expressed in the language of men, presents the revelation of God's intentions for the lives of men. The nature of Christ, who was the Son of God and the Son of man, is the full expression of this revelation. Thus it is true of the Bible, as it was of Christ, that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." John 1:14. 
          As it is impossible for those who do not accept Christ's divinity to understand the purpose of His incarnation, it is also impossible for those who see the Bible merely as a human book to understand its message, however careful and rigorous their methods. To consider the Bible as only "literature",  ignores its Divine Origin and that it is a Living Book full of the Power to change the lives of men. 

              Heb 4:12 (KJV)
      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.
       
      2Ti 2:15 (KJV+)
      Study{G=make a diligent effort} to shew thyself approved unto God,
       a workman{G=a toiler, a teacher} that needeth not to be ashamed,
      rightly dividing{G=to dissect cleanly, correctly} the word of truth.
       
       

       
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      In Christ.....brother bob.......<><
    • Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
      Brother Bob s posts are not appropriate for this list. He is being removed from membership. --Rob Bowman
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 16, 2006
        Brother Bob's posts are not appropriate for this list. He is being
        removed from membership.

        --Rob Bowman
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