This post is to provide a place for students to find lessons we have had in Sunday School/Bible Fellowship, Worship, or other studies.
How can we be doers of the word and not just hearers?
1. Be familiar with the Bible – it is not enough to know a few stories and a smattering of principles, we must know the overall story of the Bible and how its pieces fit into the whole.
When a man learns to fly he needs to know about the engine and elevators, lift, drag and thrust, and the other principles, but he must also know how it all fits together.
This is just as true for God’s revelation. In His general revelation, He created the world. The general revelation is immediately available to everyone on earth and proclaims Him to them (Psalm 19:1). The Bible is His special revelation. It in He chose a man (Abraham), then a people (Israel), then a man (Jesus), then a people (Christians), who must then proclaim Him to the world. God’s pattern for His total revelation is therefore: World – man – people – man – people – world. That is the story of the Bible.
We usually learn stories and principles without any idea how they all fit together. These are good but are like ornaments on a Christmas tree, they only have meaning in the structure of the Bible
What about the objection “the meaning of the Bible depends on the reader?”
This makes as much sense as saying that the meaning of your bank statement, or a traffic ticket, depends on the reader. The meaning of any communication depends on the intent of the author. With hard work and the influence of the Spirit, we can discern the intent of Bible authors.
2. Read the Bible
A would-be pilot must know a lot to fly – aircraft, terrain, weather, airspace, communication. Reading is the only way garner a lot of this information
Reading opens the door to understanding God’s word. God chose to reveal Himself through a book, and we must learn to meet Him through the medium of a book. Neither television nor the Internet affect the brain in the same way.
The very act of reading, of mentally transforming abstract symbols into cogent thoughts in a linear, logical manner, changes the mind. We become capable of greater concentration and learn how to develop an argument.
In addition to the medium, the content of the Bible must be digested through reading.
3. Study the Bible
When you read an aviation manual, there will be times when you do not understand what you are reading. You might not understand the concept of stalling an airplane, which is very different than stalling a car. If you do not figure out the difference, and yu fly anyway, you will die.
How many times have you read a Bible passage and had no idea of what you just read? How many times have you ought that you understood only to be completely wrong?
Bible authors did not consciously write for us; they wrote for their immediate readers. God intends His word to benefit all Christians for all time, but we are figuratively looking over the shoulders of our forebears to find out what each passage means for us.
1. We discover what the author meant to communicate
2. We discover how the audience understood it.
3. We apply the author’s intent to our culture, our language and our times.
Example – John 6 – the feeding of the 5000 and the bread of life discourse.
The Jews wanted Jesus to do something bigger than Moses had done to prove that he was the Messiah. As good as feeding 5000 was, it was not as impressive as feeding all of the Hebrew exiles for 40 years in the wilderness. If we don’t understand the background, we will not understand the question.
4. Memorize the Bible
When flying a plane, things will happen that you cannot anticipate. You only have time to react. To get out of a stall, or even a spin, you must
1. Yoke forward
2. Full throttle (stall), idle (spin)
3. Level wings
4. Step on the heavy rudder
Temptations arise and trials come when you don’t have time to think about what to do; you must react as Christ would. When that happens, the Christian’s reaction must be instantaneous. These times requiring rapid and even reactive responses might include pressure from peers to go somewhere or do something that as a Christian you should not, or A fleeting chance to witness or do good.
5. Do the Bible
No one truly learns something until he has done it. In sports we develop muscle memory to enable us to perform
Screwtape advised wormwood –
“The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Believers must then develop the habit of doing good. Obeying God becomes easier once it becomes a habit.
We cannot live the life that God has for us if we do not hear and do. We must
Be familiar – read – study – memorize – and do
Why Christians and others should understand the Bible correctly.
Cherie, a highly trained professional, sat at the table in an Adult Sunday School class. We were discussing Samuel, and she mentioned what she thought was an important biblical truth about the passage. Was she said wasn’t true by biblical standards and others in the class were confused and troubled by her error.
A preacher used Hebrews 3:8 as his sermon text. After reading it briefly, he spent the next 30 minutes using pop psychology and faux-medicine to convince his parishioners that they shouldn’t harden their hearts. He never again referred to the Word of God, an eternal opportunity lost in the lives of his people.
Cherie and this preacher were both intelligent and well meaning Christians, but had misunderstood the Bible by taking a small passage, failing to study it carefully in the context of the entire word of God, and explaining the passage with shallow information from some secular article, book, TV show or conversation. We often acquire “knowledge” the same way, and we are often wrong.
Most people do not consider how we acquire knowledge. Our senses continually feed information into our brains, but being lazy by nature (Emerson spoke truly when he said that “man is as lazy as he dares to be”), we poorly control the sources and often don’t deeply study the sources that we allow.
Merriam Webster Online defines exegesis as “the explanation or critical interpretation of a text”, usually religious texts. There are many reasons to critically study the Bible.
First, we must carefully study the Bible because God commands it. He is glorified on earth by those who are like Him. An exegesis of God’s word allows us to identify and understand Him so that we can be more like Him. He is the Lord, the Almighty, magnificent, infinite, all-loving, holy God who is worthy of our praise, our devotion, and our obedience.
Second, we must critically study the Bible to gain the riches therein, for ourselves and for others. The Bible is the true, unchangeable, and powerful word of God. Through it we enter into relationship with the Word of God (John 1:1-4), and without it we are consigned to eternal separation from Him. The Bible holds the key to success, as defined by God, in this world (Joshua 1:8-9) and the next. The Lord working through His word makes us effective in ministry (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and grows in us the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). His word can comfort the afflicted (Psalms 119:50), rebuke the arrogant and reproachful (Psalms 119:42, 51), revive the exhausted (Psalms 119:25), and give wisdom to the young and uneducated (Psalms 119:99-100).
With superficial study, these benefits are lost to us. We can easily be led astray, even by our own backgrounds and psychological needs, and we can lead others astray as well (Matthew 18:6). People who claim the name of Christ have done terrible damage to His reputation, and not just the famous ones such as Tomas de Torquemada in the Inquisition. Average folks like those above, even those with the best of intentions and an honest Christian faith, can drive others away from Christ.
Gaining anything which is good is hard, and deeply studying the word of God is no exception. Indeed, with the intransigent opposition of the Evil One and our own sinful natures, and without the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible. Guided by our Lord, however, exegesis of the Bible leads to a fear of God and a knowledge of Him (Proverbs 1:7), and is the most profitable thing any man can do (Proverbs 3:13-26).
Each of us has 24 hours in a day, and so often we use our discretionary hours watching television, playing video or internet games, or otherwise doing things of little benefit to ourselves and no eternal significance. Spending a little time relaxing is certainly important to us all, but the purpose of man on earth is to glorify, serve and enjoy God; it is not to amuse ourselves. Careful study of God’s word changes us, and changes our world, in good ways that last forever.