The Bible is a complex library of books, but its basic lessons can be understood by following these seven helpful rules.
1. SEARCH FOR GOD'S WAY
We must desire to know and obey God's will. Jesus said, "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority" (Jno 7:17). We should not expect to understand the Bible if our intentions are not good. Jesus said His parables were not understood by some because they did not have the proper motives (Matt. 13:13-15).
2. FOLLOW THE BIBLE ONLY
Beware of the traditions of various religious groups. There is a tendancy to assume these traditions are from the Scriptures. In many instances they are contrary to the Scriptures. For example, clergy - laity distinctions are contrary to the instructions of Jesus who said to His disciples, "...You are all brethren" (Matt. 23:8). See also 1 Peter 2:9. Careful study is required in order to distinguish between the traditions of men and the instructions from God.
3. AVOID THOUGHT SYSTEMS
Systems of thought cause us to interpret the Scriptures to fit the system of thought. Dispensationalism, Premillennialism, and Calvinism involve systems of thought. For example, Calvinism will lead us to read the idea of inherited sin into Psalm 51:5. David was simply expressing his deeply felt repentance for sin. Sin is something we do; not something we inherit. It is essential that we open our Bibles to learn what God has revealed. We must allow God to speak to us through His word.
4. NOTE THE TESTAMENTS
Specific instructions for those who follow Christ are found in the New Testament. For example: Christians were instructed to remember Christ's death in the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine (1 Corinthians 11:23-29). In the Old Testament, the Israelites were instructed to observe the Passover (Exodus 12:3-12). Although we learn many lessons from the Old Testament, we follow the instructions found in the New Testament.
5. TAKE NOTES
A notebook is a valuable aid to Bible study because we tend to remember what we write down. If we forget, a notebook helps us to remember. When we study a passage of Scripture it is good to ask, "Who is speaking?" "To whom was this spoken?" "What was the purpose?" "Where was it spoken?" and "When was it spoken?" Also, write down main thoughts, central characters, word meanings, things alike and unlike, and references with parallel thoughts. It is helpful to read a passage in various translations, making careful comparison. Figures of speech should be studied. Word study books give helpful information and a Bible atlas is useful.
6. CONSIDER ALL VERSES
Read every verse on a given subject. Beware of one verse answers. The question, "What must I do to be saved?" should not be answered with one verse. For example: Romans 10:9 mentions confession and belief. Romans 10:13 mentions calling on the name of the Lord. Romans 10:14 mentions hearing. Romans 6:3-4 mentions baptism. Romans 6:17 tells of obedience from the heart. All are necessary.
7. DO AND TEACH
We should want to share the good things we find in the Bible. Our friends may not always accept what we say, but they will believe what we do. Jesus "...began to do and to teach" (Acts 1:1). As we teach others, we will understand more fully the truths of the Scriptures. We should be thankful God did not leave us without a guide. The Word of God is "...a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path" (Psa. 119:105). Go to Index.
Published 1994 by Robert L. Schales. This data file may be copied for personal use only. All copies must contain this notice. This file may not be copied in part, edited, revised, nor included in products for sale.