"A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD" Studying The Bible INTRODUCTION 1. An important element involved in our walk with God is BIBLE STUDY 2. Some new Christians find difficulty getting started in this area 3. But this is an important duty, one which the Bible emphasizes - Ac 2:42 ; 1 Pe 2:2 I. WHY BIBLE STUDY IS IMPORTANT A. BECAUSE THE BIBLE POSSESSES THE POWER OF "SANCTIFICATION"... 1. "Sanctification" means "to set apart"; as used in the Bible, to set apart for God's purpose 2. The Word of God is the means by which God does this... a. As praised by David in his psalm - Ps 19:7-11 b. As mentioned in the prayer of Jesus - Jn 17:17 -- IF WE ARE GOING TO BE USEFUL TO GOD, THEN WE NEED TO STUDY HIS WORD! B. BECAUSE THE BIBLE POSSESSES THE POWER OF "PRESERVATION"... 1. A lack of knowledge has always destroyed the people of God - Ho 4:6 2. But the YOUNG can keep their ways pure by the Word of God - Ps 119:9 3. And the ELDERS were exhorted to keep the church by the Word - Ac 20:28-32 -- ONE OF THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD BACKSLIDING IS TO NEGLECT GOD'S WORD! C. BECAUSE THE BIBLE POSSESSES THE POWER OF "SALVATION" AND "CONDEMNATION"... 1. Received properly, it can save our souls! - Ja 1:21 2. It will be the standard by which we will be judged - Jn 12:48 [Will the Word save us, or will it condemn us? Careful study and application of the Bible will make the difference!] II. WHY BIBLE STUDY IS OFTEN NEGLECTED A. SOME PEOPLE JUST "TAKE THE PREACHER'S WORD"... 1. For this reason, they do not study for themselves 2. Most preachers are good men, but they can still be wrong - Ac 18:24-26 3. It is our responsibility to "test the spirits" (1 Jn 4:1-2 ), and to be able to identify "false apostles" (2 Co 11:13-15 ) B. SOME PEOPLE SAY "THEY CAN'T GET ANYTHING OUT OF THE BIBLE"... 1. This may be because they read it so little, or because they do not know how to go about studying it 2. Often it is because they do not use a modern English translation 3. Most have simply made little effort to understand it 4. Yet Paul assumed that people could understand it if they read it - cf. Ep 3:3-4 C. SOME PEOPLE SAY "THEY DON'T HAVE THE TIME"... 1. People who DO study are busy too, but they leave off things that are less important 2. As Jesus commanded, we must put the things of the kingdom of God FIRST - Mt 6:33 [There is really no excuse for neglecting the Word of God. In view of its importance, we would be foolish to do so. But how shall one study the Word of God? There are several different approaches...] III. METHODS OF BIBLE STUDY A. THE "PLANNED-LESSON" METHOD... 1. "A Closer Walk With God" is an example of this method 2. Someone prepares lessons on a subject, then it is studied 3. This is a good way to study, but one's study should not be limited to this method B. THE "SUBJECT" METHOD... 1. This involves selecting some subject (e.g., "baptism"), then collecting and studying each passage in the Bible on the subject 2. This method has its advantages, but it can be easy to take things out of context and draw the wrong conclusion C. THE "BOOK" METHOD... 1. This consists of an intensive study of a single book of the Bible 2. Since the Bible was written a book at a time, this is probably the best way to study the Bible 3. DAILY BIBLE READING programs can very easily utilize this approach to the Scriptures a. E.g., following a program to read through the entire Bible each year b. E.g., taking a chapter each week to read and study daily, you can cover the New Testament in depth over a five year period -- Doing both of these will give a person an OVERALL under- standing of the Bible and an IN-DEPTH understanding of the New Testament [To get more out of the studying you do...] IV. SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR BIBLE STUDY A. SET A REGULAR TIME... 1. Regularity is a key to success, so set aside some regular time for study a. For "night owls", the best time may be late at night, after the children are in bed b. For "morning larks", early morning before the children arise might be better 2. Family study is a good practice, but each person needs also to have a regular time in which he or she can come face to face with God's message ALONE B. PRAY AS YOU STUDY... 1. Begin your study with prayer - cf. Ps 119:18 2. As you study, ask God for the wisdom and strength to understand and obey His Word - cf. Ps 119:5 ,6 3. End your study with prayer - cf. Ps 119:10-11 C. UTILIZE VARIOUS HELPS... 1. TRANSLATIONS a. Using various translations can help make understanding the Bible easier b. The more reliable translations are: 1) King James Version 2) New King James Version 3) American Standard Version (most literal, but hard to read) 4) New American Standard Version (a wordy update to the ASV) c. Some translations that are easy to read can be used as references (e.g., New International Version) d. One should not put much stock in versions translated... 1) By one man (e.g., The Living Bible) 2) By individuals from one denominational background (e.g., The New World Translation) 2. DICTIONARIES a. Not knowing the meaning of words is the most common cause for not understanding the Bible b. An ordinary English dictionary can be used, but there are special Bible dictionaries that are more useful and accurate c. A good one is "Vine's Expository Dictionary" 3. CONCORDANCE a. This useful work contains words in alphabetical order along with a list of verses in the Bible where they are found b. It can be a great time saver in finding verses based on a given subject c. If possible, use a concordance based upon the translation you use 4. ENCYCLOPEDIAS a. This type of reference gives detailed articles on the people, places, and things mentioned in the Bible b. Two good sets are: 1) Zondervan's Pictorial Encyclopedia Of The Bible 2) The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 5. COMMENTARIES a. These are books written by scholars commenting on various books of the Bible 1) One must be careful, as these scholars are not inspired and are subject to mistakes 2) But their insights and the fruit of their own study can be helpful b. It might be good to ask mature Christians what commentaries they can recommend 6. These and other reference helps are often found in church libraries and may be available for your use; in time, you should gradually develop your own library of Bible study aids CONCLUSION 1. Such aids can be a great help, but make sure that the conclusions you draw are based upon your own careful study of God's Word! 2. What is most important is that we are engaged in some sort of consistent, systematic study of the Bible so that we are ever being blessed by the Word of God! SOME QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING... 1. How long do you study the Bible daily? 2. If you are not doing so now, are you willing to spend 15-30 minutes daily in Bible study? 3. What's your biggest problem in studying?