How to succeed in the Christian life, Your Life in God And Reasons For Bible Study
There is nothing more important for the development of a Christian’s spiritual life than regular, systematic Bible study. It is as true in the spiritual life as in the physical life, that health depends on what we eat and how much we eat. ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matt. 4:4). The soul’s proper food is found in one book, the Bible.
Of course, a true minister of the gospel will feed us on the Word of God, but that is not enough. He feeds us only one or two days in the week, and we need to be fed every day. Therefore, we must learn to feed ourselves. We live in a day in which false doctrine is everywhere, and only the Christian who studies his Bible for himself, daily, will be safe from being led into error.
Through the study of the Bible, one will be sound in doctrine and led to see his sins and to put them away. He will find discipline in the righteous life and be equipped for all good works. Our spiritual health, growth, strength, victory over sin, soundness in doctrine, joy, and peace in Christ come from study of God’s Word. Cleansing from inward and outward sin and fitness for service all depend on daily study of the Bible.
The one who neglects his Bible is bound to be a failure in the Christian life. The one who studies his Bible in the right spirit and by a constant method is bound to make a success of the Christian life. This brings us face to face with the question, ‘What is the right way to study the Bible?’
A regular time should be set aside each day for Bible study. I do not think it is wise, as a rule, to say that we will study so many chapters a day, because that leads to undue haste, skimming, and thoughtlessness. But it is good to set apart a certain length of time each day for Bible study. Some can give more time to Bible study than others, but no one should devote less than fifteen minutes a day.
I set a short time span so that no one will be discouraged in the beginning. If a young Christian planned to spend an hour or two a day in Bible study, there is a strong probability that he would not keep the resolution and would become discouraged. Nevertheless, I know of many very busy people who have taken the first hour of every day for years for Bible study. Some have even given two hours a day.
It is important that one choose the right time for this study. Whenever possible, the best time for study is immediately after waking up in the morning. Of course, it is good to spend a little time just before we go to bed reading the Bible so that God’s voice will be the last voice we hear.
As you read, mark in your Bible what impresses you most. One does not need an elaborate marking system, simply highlight what impresses you. Think about what you mark. God affirms that the man who meditates on God’s law day and night is blessed (Psalm 1).
Memorize the passages that impress you most. ‘Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee’ (Ps. 119:11). When you memorize a passage of Scripture, memorize its location as well as the words. Study your Bible comparatively. In other words, compare Scripture with Scripture. The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself. Wherever you find a difficult passage in the Bible, there is always another passage that explains its meaning. The best books to use in this comparison is The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, or Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. These books gives a large number of references on every verse in the Bible. You may want to take a particular book of the Bible and go through that book verse by verse. Look up and study every reference given in them dealing with that book. This is a very fruitful method of Bible study.
Study your Bible and believe it. The apostle Paul, in writing to the Christians in Thessalonica, said, ‘For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe’ (1 Thess. 2:13). Happy is the one who receives the Word of God as these believers in Thessalonica received it, as the Word of God. In such a person it is especially effective. The Bible is the Word of God, and we get the most out of any book by acknowledging it for what it really is.
It requires a prompt and unquestioning acceptance of, and submission to, its teachings. These teachings may appear unreasonable or impossible. Nevertheless, we should accept them. If this book is the Word of God, it is foolish to submit its teachings to the criticism of our finite reasoning, or what people on Face – book may say.
Correct Bible study includes absolute reliance on all its promises in all their length, breadth, depth, and height. The one who studies the Bible as the Word of God will say of any promise, no matter how vast and beyond belief it appears, ‘God who cannot lie has promised this, so I will claim it for myself.’ Mark the promise you claim. Each day look for some new promise from your infinite Father.
You must also study God’s Word in obedience. Nothing goes further to help one understand the Bible than resolving to obey it. Jesus said, ‘If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine’ (John 7:17). Many passages that look obscure to you now would become as clear as day if you were willing to obey everything the Bible teaches, remember studding the Bible is a lifelong endeavor.
It is remarkable how soon one loses his thirst for the Bible and how soon the mind becomes obscured to its teachings when we disobey the Bible at any point. Nothing clears the mind like obedience; nothing darkens the mind like disobedience. To obey a truth you see prepares you to see other truths. To disobey a truth you see darkens your mind to all truths.
Cultivate prompt, exact, unquestioning, joyous obedience to every command that clearly applies to you. Be on the lookout for new orders from your King. Blessing lies in the direction of obedience to them.
Personal Companionship with God
Studying the Bible as the Word of God involves studying it as His own voice speaking directly to you. When you open the Bible to study, realize that you have come into the very presence of God, and that He is going to speak to you. Nothing gives more freshness and gladness to Bible study than the realization that, as you read, God is actually talking to you.
Bible study then becomes personal companionship with God Himself. What a wonderful privilege Mary had one day, sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His voice. If we will study the Bible as the Word of God and as if we were in God’s presence, then we will enjoy the privilege of sitting at the feet of Jesus and having Him talk to us every day.
This approach makes what would otherwise be a mere mechanical performance of a duty become a wonderfully joyous privilege. One can say as he opens the Bible, ‘Now, God my Father is going to speak to me.’ Reading the Bible on our knees helps us to realize we are in God’s presence. The Bible became in some measure a new book to me when I took to reading it on my knees.
Study the Bible prayerfully. God, the author of the Bible, is willing to act as interpreter of it. He does so when you ask Him. The one who prays the psalmist’s prayer with sincerity and faith, ‘Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law’ (Ps. 119:18), will have his eyes opened to new beauties and wonders in the Word.
Be very definite about this. Each time you open the Bible for study, even though it is only for a few minutes, ask God to give you an open and discerning eye. Expect Him to do it.
The Holy Spirit as Teacher
How often we think as we puzzle over hard passages, ‘Oh, if I only had some great Bible teacher here to explain this to me!’ God is always present. He understands the Bible better than any human teacher. Take your difficulty to Him and ask Him to explain it. Jesus said, ‘When he the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth’ (John 16:13). It is the privilege of the humblest believer in Christ to have the Holy Spirit for his guide in his study of the Word. I have known many very humble people, people with almost no education, who got more out of their Bible study than many great theological teachers. This happened because they learned it was their privilege to have the Holy Spirit for their Bible study teacher. Commentaries on the Bible can be valuable. But one will learn more from the Bible by having the Holy Spirit for his teacher than from all the commentaries ever published.
Use spare time for Bible study. Time is lost in almost every man’s life while waiting for meals, riding planes, going from place to place, and so forth. Carry a pocket Bible with you and use these golden moments to listen to the voice of God.
Store Scripture in your mind and heart. It will keep you from sin (Ps. 119:11) and false doctrine (Acts 20: 29-30, 32; and 2 Tim. 3:13-15). It will give you victory over the evil one (1 John 2:14), and it will give you power in prayer. ‘If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you’ (John 15:7). The Word will make you wiser than the aged and your enemies. ‘Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple’ (Ps. 119:98, 100, 130). It will make you ‘thoroughly furnished unto all good works’ (2 Tim. 3:17).
Chapter 1: Reasons for Bible Study
The Study Guide
The Bible, which is the Word of God, reveals God’s plan for every person. The plan is for our redemption or salvation by accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. As soon as we do this we are saved.
Once we have chosen to follow God’s plan for our lives, we are responsible not only to conform our own lives and characters to Christ’s image, but to share Christ’s love with others so that their lives can be transformed. We can fulfill our responsibilities as we respond to the Holy Spirit who reveals God to us when we study the Bible.
The study of God’s Word demands our best attention. The Holy Spirit teaches us, but we must apply ourselves as well. It takes careful study of the Bible to understand its deep meanings.
This course will present basic facts about the Bible and give you a few methods by which to organize your study. Without a plan of action it would be very difficult to build a house, sew a dress, or graduate from school. But a plan of action makes any task more enjoyable and profitable. A modern method of teaching yourself helps you to learn the principles easily and put them into practice immediately.
Your Study Guide
Try to set aside some time every day to study this course.
Be sure to study carefully the beginning of each lesson. This prepares your mind for what follows. Next, study the lesson section-by-section and take notes to help you remember the important truths the Holy Spirit is revealing to you.
You will notice that objectives are given at the beginning of each lesson. The word objective is used in this course to help you know what to expect from your study. An objective is something like a goal, or a purpose. You will study better if you keep in mind your objectives.
How to Answer Study Questions
There are different kinds of study questions in the quiz at the end of each chapter.
The Bible tells us:
Listen to what is wise and try to understand it. Yes, beg for knowledge; plead for insight. Look for it as hard as you would for silver or some hidden treasure. If you do, you will know what it means to fear the Lord and you will succeed in learning about God (Proverbs 2:2-5).
You may have known times when there was no rain for your crops or water for your animals and yourselves. You perhaps dug deep into the ground looking for a hidden stream. When you need something as important as water you try very hard to get it.
When you study God’s Word to gain wisdom and knowledge of God, you will have to work hard, digging deep into the Scriptures, just as you would search for water. When you work at studying the Bible, you will find life-giving water.
Jesus used water, which we need for physical life, as an illustration of our need to have Christ in our lives. He said:
Whoever drinks the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring which will provide him with life-giving water and give him eternal life (John 4:14).
In order to have this experience of drinking living water, a person must keep studying the Bible day after day. This lesson tells why we study the Bible.
In this lesson you will study …
This lesson will help you …
- Explain why Bible study is necessary.
- Describe how Bible study meets our needs.
- Approach your Bible study with the proper attitude.
Objective 1. Recognize why Bible study is necessary for the Christian.
If you love someone, you want to be with him. You want to know everything about him. You want to understand his thoughts and share his feelings. You want to please him. As your love for that person grows through close contact, you become more complete, more satisfied and more productive.
God’s will for us is that we love Him above all else. When we truly love God, we want to spend time getting to know Him. We can do this by reading and studying His word. Then, our love increases.
Our relationship to God depends upon our obedience to His commands. The only way we can obey Him is to know what His commands are. The Bible tells us to give full attention to our work so that we can understand the Word of God and be able to teach it to others (2 Timothy 2:15). Jesus noted the importance of knowing God’s Word. He said, “Man cannot live by bread alone, but needs every word that God speaks” (Matthew 4:4). As we use our minds to search for the meaning of God’s Word, we are fulfilling part of God’s great command: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). In other words, in order to do God’s will, we must study His Word. In this way we learn of His commandments and come to love Him more.
In Psalm 119 King David writes about learning God’s law. The word law in this Psalm means the advice and commands given in Scripture. David repeats over and over the idea that learning and obeying go together. He says, “If I pay attention to all your commands, then I will not be put to shame” (v. 6). Obedience produces understanding and wisdom to know the meaning of God’s Word. Then we can apply it to our lives, and teach it to others.
We are told in 1 Peter 2:2, “Be like newborn babies, always thirsty for the pure spiritual milk, so that by drinking it you may grow up and be saved.” As we study the Bible it gets inside of us in the way that Colossians 3:16 describes: “Christ’s message in all its richness must live in your hearts.” Just as food has to get inside our bodies to give us strength, God’s Word has to get inside our spirits to cause us to grow spiritually. Only when we feed our spirits with the rich nourishment of the Word will we grow spiritually.
Studying God’s Word is easier when we ask the Holy Spirit to help us. God expects us to study His Word. Thus, He gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us. Jesus told His disciples:
When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own authority, but he will speak of what he hears and will tell you of things to come (John 16:13).
Objective 2. Recognize how our needs are met through the study of God’s Word.
God made us. He is concerned about us. He knows our needs better than we know them.
A master craftsman knows his product better than anyone else does. If a product does not work, we send it back to the craftsman to have it repaired. He makes it work again.
Our lives are broken. We are bitter or sad. We have bad habits. We do not follow God as we should. We need repairing — teaching, correcting, and reshaping. The Word of God is the only instrument equipped to make the repairs. We read in 2 Timothy 3:16, 17:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed.
God begins to repair our lives when we accept Christ as our personal Savior. He cleanses us from sin and gives us a new start. He instructs us how to become like Jesus. The teachings of the Bible guide us in our growth. They describe God’s will for us in our daily living.
As God’s Word makes repairs, it fulfills many needs in our lives. It helps us know the truth about our salvation. It teaches us what our heritage in Christ is. It gives us strength and power through Christ. It discusses how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It provides joy and peace that come from God. It directs us to live holy lives. Hebrews 4:12 tells us:
The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of man’s heart.
The Word of God shows us when our desires are against God’s will. It helps us shape our thoughts to be like His thoughts. Our desires and thoughts are at the center of our spiritual life in the same way that joints and marrow are central to physical life.
The more we read and study the Bible and listen to the Holy Spirit teaching us, the more we are able to know and do God’s will. We have purpose in life and the wisdom to make the right choices. The Bible discusses God’s Word: “The explanation of your teachings gives light and brings wisdom to the ignorant” (Psalm 119:130). This light guides us in our daily lives. It gives us understanding about Christ’s return and our eternal life in heaven.
The light of God’s Word changes us into the image of Christ. As we study, we “put off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self.” (Colossians 3:9, 10). Then the likeness of Christ can shine through us to a lost world who needs Him.
When we truly know God, our spirits are joined with His Spirit, which is the source of life. In this way our greatest need is met — the need for life itself.
Objective 3. Select statements describing attitudes that affect the results of Bible study.
The Bible is different from all other books. Just as you can understand a letter from your own family better than an outsider can, true Christians can best understand the Word of God. This is possible because we become God’s children when we are born again through salvation. We have His Spirit as I Corinthians 2:6-16 tells us.
Being born into God’s family is only a beginning. As we take God’s Word, we become hungry for more of His truths. As young children who come daily to their parents to be fed, we must come to God to have our spiritual hunger satisfied (see 1 Peter 2:2).
Also, we must approach God’s Word in an attitude of obedience. The child who gets the most from his parents love and receives an inheritance is obedient. He listens to his parents commands. The Apostle Paul was concerned about the disobedience of the church in Corinth and wrote them a letter (1 Corinthians) to counsel them. He explained that because of their arguing and other bad attitudes, they were not growing spiritually. He said:
I could not talk to you as I talk to people who have the Spirit; I had to talk to you as though you belonged to this world, as children in the Christian faith. I had to feed you milk, not solid food, because you were not ready for it. And even now you are not ready for it, because you still live as the people of this world live (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
Our attitude must include discipline. We cannot expect God to reveal things to us unless we make a real effort to learn. The Scripture says, “Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). This means we need to spend time in careful study.
Now, in order for our study to change our lives, we must be teachable. We must be willing to receive our Heavenly Father’s instruction. Too often we try to live life our own way. Both King David and the prophet Isaiah admitted to God their need and desire to be taught.
I have not neglected your instructions, because you yourself are my teacher. How sweet is the taste of your instructions — sweeter even than honey (Psalm 119:102, 103).
The Sovereign Lord has taught me what to say, so that I can strengthen the weary. Every morning he makes me eager to hear what he is going to teach me (Isaiah 50:4).
When we are teachable, we approach God’s Word humbly. There may come a time when we think we are very wise spiritually or self-righteous. But we must remember not to boast. God has made us what we are, as 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31 tells us.
But God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ to be our wisdom. By him we are put right with God; we become God’s holy people and are set free. So then, as the scripture says, `Whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done.’
We can never learn everything in God’s Word. But we continue to learn as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth to us. Our learning will go on even in heaven for God’s Word will not pass away.
Now, test your knowledge by taking this short quiz covering what you have just read.
1. God’s will for you is to _______________________.
a) have a relationship with Him built on love.
b) always be very religious.
c) become educated about the format of the Bible.
2. The study of the Bible is necessary for you to _______________________.
a) become a Christian.
b) know God’s will.
c) prove your goodness.
3. Obedience to God’s will depends upon _______________________.
a) responses you make when you are saved.
b) learning what God’s commands for you are.
c) knowing that God will punish you for disobeying Him.
4. You can best accomplish the task of studying the Bible when you _______________________.
a) ask your friends to help you.
b) spend much time at it.
c) allow the Holy Spirit to teach you.
5. Who is best qualified to meet our needs?
a) We are.
b) Our parents are.
c) God is.
6. The Word of God is like _______________________ because it guides our way and brings life to us.
a) a book
b) a light
c) a story
7. The Bible teaches us _______________________.
a) how to earn special favors.
b) God’s will for us personally.
c) the major religions of the world.
8. God’s Word meets our needs by _______________________. (Choose all that are true)
a) teaching the truth.
b) condemning us.
c) correcting our faults.
d) giving instruction for right living.
9. Read I Corinthians 2:10-12 and choose the correct answer to this question: People who aren’t Christians can’t fully understand the Bible because they _______________________.
a) are not teachable.
b) do not have God’s Spirit.
c) are not hungry for truth.
d) are given instruction for right living.
10. Our attitude toward studying God’s Word should include all the following except _______________________.
11. The proper attitude toward God’s Word develops when we _______________________.
a) think we are wise.
b) open our hearts to receive His Word.
c) have learned everything.