The Approach to Bible Study
Our View of Scripture: The Watershed Issue
What we believe about the Bible is, according to Dr. Francis Schaffer, a watershed issue. Simply explained, by holding to differing views on the Bible's inspiration and authority we end up miles apart even though we begin at the same source.
What the Bible says about the Bible:
It is referred to as…
“the word of God” – various OT passages; Rom 10:17 ; 2 Cor. 2:17; 1 Thess 2:13
the “Scripture of TRUTH” [Emphasis Mine] Dan. 10:21; John 17:17
“HOLY” – 2 Tim. 2:15
being “tried” – 2 Sam. 22:31; Ps 33:4
being “settled forever in heaven” – Ps. 119:89
“very PURE” – Ps. 119:140; Pr. 30:5
“true from the beginning” – Ps. 119:160
“standing forever” – Isa. 40:8
that “which cannot be broken” – John 10:35
“quick” and “powerful” – Heb. 4:12
“living” and “abiding forever” – 1 Pet. 1:23
“enduring forever” – 1 Pet. 1:25
the “power of God” – Rom. 1:16
The Importance of Bible Study
Christianity is the true worship and service of the true God, humankind's Creator and Redeemer. It is a religion that rests on revelation: nobody would know the truth about God, or be able to relate to him in a personal way, had not God first acted to make himself known. But God has so acted, and the sixty-six books of the Bible, thirty-nine written before Christ came and twenty-seven after, are together the record, interpretation, expression, and embodiment of his self-disclosure. God and godliness are the Bible's uniting themes.
From one standpoint, the Scriptures (Scriptures means “writings”) are the faithful testimony of the godly to the God whom they loved and served; from another standpoint, through a unique exercise of divine overruling in their composition, they are God's own testimony and teaching in human form. The church calls these writings the Word of God because their authorship and contents are both divine.
Our relationship to the Bible
We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ – II Pet. 3:18
We are sanctified by the word – John 17:17
We are to rightly divide the word of truth – 1 Tim. 2:15
We are to be ready to give an answer – I Pet. 3:15
We do not live by bread alone – Matt. 4:4
We overcome sin by memorizing scripture – Psalm 119:11
The Goal of Bible Study
Our goal in Bible Study is always first and foremost to know God more intimately so that we may worship Him more perfectly. We never study just for the sake of gaining knowledge. After all, "knowledge puffeth up" (1 Cor. 8:1). As Christians we have a desire to please our Lord and to obey Him. In order to do that we must know what pleases Him and what He commands us to do. Thus we study the Bible - His revelation, His teaching, His admonition, His instruction, and His gift to the Church.
Christ is the Key that unlocks the Bible. In John 5:39, Jesus says, "Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me." As we read and study the Bible, Christ reminds us that we are to look for Him. He is the theme and substance of every part of the Scriptures. Jesus Himself asserts that the Bible is the revelation of Himself.
The Goal of Salvation is for us to become completely like Christ. (See Rom 8:29, I Cor. 15:49, 2 Cor. 3:18)
This is what we call "Sanctification"
The Principles of Bible Study
- Always assume a literal interpretation
- Allow Scripture to interpret Scripture
- Keep it in Context
- Know the Historical Setting
- Know the language and/or method of teaching
- Rely on the Holy Spirit
- Study how others have interpreted the passage
- Submit to the Bible's authority
The Method(s) of Bible Study
The Evaluation Method
To sharpen the application, try using a simple Bible study method created by pastor and teacher Ray E. Baughman. He suggests putting on your spiritual SPECS when you study Scripture.
The letters of the acrostic, SPECS, represent questions to guide your thoughts while reading Scripture. As you meditate on a passage, ask yourself, are there any...
- S ins to forsake?
- P romises to claim?
- E xamples to follow?
- C ommands to obey?
- S tumbling blocks or errors to avoid?
The Inductive Method (Popularized by Kay Arthur)
Observation: What are the facts? What do the words mean? What comes before and after to put the passage in context? Who is speaking? And to whom?
Interpretation: What did the passage mean to the original audience two or three thousand years ago? Are we making the mistake of interpreting the passage through our own experiences rather than those of the original audience? Is the passage using literary techniques like allegory, hyperbole, metaphor or parable to make its point?
Application: How should I apply what I learn from this passage to live a more godly life? Do I need to change my attitudes or actions as a result?
The Topical Method
Study the Bible by Topic: Examples…
The Tools of Bible Study
- Bible Dictionary
- Word Study
- Bible History
- Various Bible Translations