Study with Purpose

Good day! I know, it’s been a while. It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve started working a part-time job, in addition to my full-time position, and I’ve just been really tired, lately. So, I apologize.

A few weeks ago, I posted on my Facebook wall, that we must beware confusing faith with superstition and that I would write more on this at a later date. Well, today is that day…lol.

I’m always left speechless when I see/hear things about people flipping randomly through their Bible and expecting to land on the perfect passage for their current state of life. While there may be a few instances when the Holy Spirit leads you to the perfect passage for the particular moment, this is not usually the case. We should not be randomly flipping through the Scriptures to find our daily passages of study. There’s a specific way to study the Word and it’s not randomly selecting verses or passages.

I’ve heard it said that you should always read 12 verses before, and 12 verses after, when reading any particular verse or passage of Scripture, so as to read the verse within context; but I feel like this is too simplified, and while this may help, there’s still a better way. Let’s take a look at a few things we need to take into consideration when we study the Bible…

Motives

In my Multiply: Week 7 post we talked about our motives for studying the Word. We talked about studying the Bible so that we can learn more about who God is, as well as learn more about ourselves and the world we live in. We talked about studying the Word so that we can be changed by it, and exalt Jesus in our daily lives; so that our relationship with God is strengthened; and so that we are prepared for our God-given mission. If we’re randomly choosing Scripture to study, we’re not exactly going to grasp the full meaning and purpose behind the text. How can we recognize and understand the heart of God, without reading the rest of the book and comparing the passages?

Prayerfully & Obediently

Many people complain that the Word of God is too difficult for the ordinary believer to understand. I usually respond by repeating, “Make sure your praying for understanding from the Holy Spirit, when studying the Word.” The only way we’re going to grasp the meaning of Scripture is by allowing the One who wrote it, to reveal it to our hearts. As 1 Corinthians 2:9-14 states:

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

We are absolutely dependent upon the Holy Spirit to reveal the wisdom found in the Word and to help establish it in our lives. Francis Chan puts it this way, “Perhaps the strongest reason for saturating our Bible study in prayer is that we desperately need the Spirit to make our lives align with the truths we are studying” (Multiply). The truth of the Word means absolutely nothing if it doesn’t change us and we don’t apply it to our lives.

Study Logically

We study logically by considering the context of the scripture. We ask questions such as:

  • Who wrote this passage?
  • To whom was it written?
  • What was going on during this time period?
  • Where was this taking place?
  • Why did this happen?

We study logically when we recognize that there’s a difference between interpretation and application. Interpretation means that we ask what the passage actually says and means. Whereas application means we apply that meaning to a specific situation. “Ultimately, each passage has one meaning, but it might have many different applications…We should all read the same passage and walk away with the same meaning” (Chan, Multiply).

Sometimes there are passages in Scripture that contain metaphors, parables, poems, prophecies, and other literary devices, and when that’s the case, it’s simply stated. However, for the most part, we should be looking for the plain meaning of the Scripture and take the Bible literally, rather than allowing our personal agendas or assumptions divert us from what God is saying in a passage. “We need to learn to take Scripture at face value” (Chan, Multiply).

Lastly, two of the most important aspects of studying the Scripture is to let go of our presuppositions, and allow the Word of God to transform our way of thinking, our lifestyle, and actions.

*For more on how to study the Bible, I highly recommend Francis Chan’s Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples.
Advertisements

How Do I Know Jesus Even Existed?

Good evening,

I was reading my Apologetics Study Bible and came across this article that I wanted to share…

Was Jesus an actual person  or just a legendary character? Philosopher Bertrand Russell spoke for radical skeptics everywhere when he said, “Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed all, and if he did we do not know anything about him” (Why I Am Not a Christian). Is Russell correct? Is it doubtful that Jesus lived?

In reality we have very good proof that Jesus existed. First, we have writings from early non-Christians. Flavius Josephus, the prolific Jewish historian of the first century, reported about major historical events of the era, including the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Josephus was not a follower of Christ. Nevertheless, he said the following about Jesus.

“At this time there as a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good and he was known to be virtuous. Many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.” ~ Josephus quoted by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek in  I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

In an essay about evidence for Jesus outside the New Testament, Dr. Edwin Yamauchi concludes that even if we did not have any Christian writings like those of the apostles, we would have the following facts from Roman sources such as Pliny the Younger, a philosopher, and Tacitus, a historian, as well as Jewish sources like Josephus and the Talmud:

  • Jesus as a Jewish teacher.
  • Many observers believed that He performed healings and exorcisms.
  • He was rejected by the Jewish leaders.
  • He was crucified under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.
  • His followers believed that He came back to life, and spread the news beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of Christians in Rome by A.D. 64.
  • All kinds of people (rich and poor, urban and rural) worshiped Jesus as God by the time the second century began (see “Jesus Outside the New Testament: What is the Evidence?” in Jesus Under Fire by M.J. Wilkins).

Second, we have reliable evidence about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection from eyewitnesses. Some of the New Testament authors followed Jesus personally. Others, like Luke, wrote within a generation of Jesus’ life and were familiar with eyewitness accounts (Luke 1:1-4). These authors were well aware of popular myths and false teachings about Jesus. They wanted to set the record straight in their own writings. The apostle Paul said over 500 people saw the resurrected Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:6). The apostle Peter said, “We did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). In conclusion, we have excellent, reliable, and abundant accounts that help us know who the real Jesus is.

Sterrett, D. (2009).  How Do I Know Jesus Even Existed?. The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. Holman Bible Publishers: Nashville, TN.