TGOC Bible Class Curricula - How To Study The Bible (1st Quarter) - Lesson # 2 - Things That Help In Studying The Bible
This lesson is designed to provide things which will help the sincere seeker of God’s will to gain a greater knowledge of God's word.
Before one can understand anything, he must use what is often referred to as “common sense.”
There is the law of logic known as the law of rationality which says, “we ought to justify our conclusions by adequate evidence” (Lionel Ruby, Logic, An Introduction, p. 131).
This simply means that we must have sufficient evidence before we draw a conclusion.
Many have realized they have held to false doctrine when they were challenged to provide evidence for their belief of which there was none.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
1 Peter 3:15
God has not left man with a blind faith which proceeds on sheer wishful thinking, but rather God has left man enough evidence to draw the right conclusion that there is a God who exists and that Jesus is His Son (cf. Romans 1:18-21; Acts 14:17; John 20:30,31).
Besides the law of rationality, there is also what is known as the three laws of thought: the law of identity, the law of excluded middle, and the law of non-contradiction.
The law of identity is “A = A.” A thing is what it is. A car is a car. A bus is a bus. When it comes to propositions, then “if a proposition is true, then it is true” (Thomas B. Warren, Logic and the Bible, p. 43).
Men violate this law when they say that a certain teaching is true for one man and false for another. When the Bible teaches a given doctrine that is true, mandatory and permanent, then it is true for all men everywhere at all times.
The law of excluded middle is the law of logic that states that a proposition is either true or false. It cannot be both. “Every precisely stated proposition is either true or false.” (Thomas Warren, Logic and the Bible, p. 44).
An example of this law being violated is when Rubel Shelly spoke on the subject of the unity of the believers and labored strenuously to create three classes of actions: essentials, non-essentials, and a class of in-betweens.” (Rubel Shelly, Restoration of Liberty of Opinion, Lipscomb Lectures, June 16, 1981). It is impossible for there to be an action which is neither essential or non-essential.
The law of non-contradiction states: “No proposition can be both true and false, in the same respects.” (Thomas B. Warren, Logic and the Bible, p. 48).
There are those who have argued that faith alone will save a soul, yet when asked if it is necessary to repent (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30), a person who holds that false doctrine will concede that repentance is also necessary. This repudiates the “faith alone” doctrine.
A Sincere Desire To Know The Truth
If one has the “want to”, he can do many things. The question is how strong is that desire.
Example: How determined is someone if they want to make a journey to a city that is some distance away?
The same desire lies true with studying the word of God.
On certain occasions, some biblical truths are easily grasped, and on other occasions they are more difficult to ascertain, requiring a stronger desire on the part of the student.
2 Timothy 2:15 - “Give diligence”.
Man must have the desire before he will do anything; it is no different when it comes to the word of God. The good student of the Bible will be one with a true hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
A Clear And Open Mind
So often man approaches God's word with his mind already made up about what he thinks the Bible says about a subject.
There are two terms used in hermeneutics called exegesis and eisegesis.
Exegesis means reading “out of” a passage what is contained in that passage (nothing more or less).
Eisegesis means reading “into” a passage one’s own preconceived ideas.
An example of eisegesis: Some Latter-Day Saint missionaries asked me the question: “Did you know that the Bible predicts the Book of Mormon?” They proceeded by turning to Ezekiel 37:1-23 and stating that one of the sticks in the passaged represented the Bible while the other stick represented the Book of Mormon. They were reading into the text what was not there. I used exegesis and showed them that the two sticks of which Ezekiel was speaking were two kingdoms: the northern kingdom of Israel (the Jews) represented by Ephraim and the southern kingdom of Israel represented by Judah. The kingdoms have been divided for a long time after the death of Solomon and God wanted to reunite the kingdoms into one kingdom that would be ruled by David (which cannot be referring to the David of 1 and 2 Samuel because he was already dead). It, therefore, must be referring to the Messiah, the son of David, in His rule over the spiritual nation of Israel – the church.
Acts 17:10-12 – We must manifest the attitude of the noble Bereans.
Let us look closely at their dedication. Acts 17:11 states that the Bereans were “with all readiness.” The word “with” (meta) means “in the midst of”. The word “all” (pas) means “every kind of something mentioned.” The word “readiness” (prothumia) means “to breathe hard toward” (to show eagerness and fervor). The Bereans received the gospel message in the midst of every kind of eagerness and fervor you can imagine. They were seeking it and digesting it (1 Peter 2:2).
They also “searched the Scriptures daily”. The word “searched” (anakrino) means “to sift up”. There is also in the original language the word kata, which means “down”. One commentator states that this word is “often used in a forensic sense with regard to the preliminary questioning and examination of a prisoner.” They searched up and down the Scriptures – the written word of God (2 Timothy 3:16,17). They did so on a day by day basis.
Studying the Bible requires a readiness (Acts 17:10-12), a routine, and a reason (Acts 20:32).
Do you really love studying the Bible as the Bereans did? Does it truly exemplify itself in your life?
There are many barriers that keep us from having the heart of a noble Berean – (1) prejudice, (2) preference, (3) pride, (4) preoccupation, and (5) protest.
In regards to prejudice, people have already made up their minds in regards to subjects such as marriage, divorce, and remarriage, denominationalism, immoral activities, and will-worship.
In regards to preference, what we want the truth to be often keeps us from opening our minds to learn it. If I have strong feelings and a personal preference for a particular conclusion, it will require discipline for me to receive the word openly. Naaman preferred the rivers of Syria over the Jordan river in Palestine (2 Kings 5:9-12).
In regards to pride, it hinders a ready mind. If we must admit that we are wrong, pride may keep us from a serious study. Pride keeps us from humbling ourselves (Proverbs 8:13; 11:2) before the statements of the One whose ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Pride initially kept Naaman from doing what was necessary (2 Kings 5:13-15).
In regards to preoccupation, the truth often takes considerable effort to learn. As there are many views competing for our attention, we may find ourselves unwilling to spend the time and effort required to search for God's will.
In regards to protest, people often say because there is so much disagreement among brethren on a certain issue, then it is impossible to be certain of God's will. What did Jesus say in John 8:31,32? Did Jesus lie?
2 Thessalonians 3:1 – We are to let the word of God run free course in our lives.
If one wants to know exactly what God means in His word, he will have to read what is there and nothing more.
Should one approach the Bible in much the same way that he would approach other literature?
What is the law of rationality? Can you provide an example?
What is the law of identity? Can you provide an example?
What is the law of excluded middle? Can you provide an example?
What is the law of non-contradiction? Can you provide an example?
What part does your desire play in understanding the Bible accurately?
What is exegesis? Can you provide an example?
What is eisegesis? Can you provide an example?
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