Bible – ACTS

These teachings about God’s Holy Word are from the January 2000
issue of ACTS Magazine.

1.Why The Bible?

2.What Is The Bible? (3-chapter teaching)

3. The Making Of A Master Craftsman
1. WHY THE BIBLE?
From His Heart

In this teaching we are addressing one of the most important “foundation stones” of
ministry and the Christian life. We want to edify you and give you solid instruction.
Our desire is to give you principles of eternal truth that are applicable no matter how
long you have served in ministry or walked with the Lord.

Therefore, we have chosen to focus on the Word of God. This unique book, the
Bible, stands alone as the only source of God’s Word to us.

As you read and study this teaching from ACTS Magazine, we pray that your heart
will be filled with a new love and deep appreciation for God’s holy and precious
Word. He has sent His Word directly to us from one place – His heart.

He Is Not Silent

Because our God is a God of love and fellowship, He created mankind to have a
relationship with Him. He is a God that delights in revealing Himself to humankind.
He is not like the gods of the heathens, either of the past or of today. Those false gods
cannot love or feel. And they cannot communicate. (See Psalm 115:4-8.)

Because God is a God of love who desires to communicate with His people, He
needed a way to reveal Himself to us. He has done this in several ways, three of
which we will look at below:

1. In Nature
2. In Humanity
3. In Miracles, Signs and Wonders
The Light Of Creation

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being
understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that
they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20).

The Creator can be seen in the beauty and complexity of creation. God’s immense
wisdom and loving character are seen in the glory and magnificence of nature. But the
created world – even the stars of heaven – are limited in what they can show us of
God and His plan for humankind.

In the light of creation we see a warm and inviting glow of God’s presence. Yet, it is
an indirect light that can only tell us that a benevolent Creator exists. It cannot lead
us to a saving faith.

Reflectors Of Glory

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them
have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle,
over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God
created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and
female He created them.” (Gen 1:26-27).

We were created in God’s image. Our intellect, will, curiosity, emotions, creativity
and sense of beauty all reflect this. But we have been deeply broken and tarnished by
selfishness and sin. Sometimes we can barely recognize our divinely created origins,
especially when observing our behavior.

We were created to be reflectors of God’s glory; but humanity is so deformed and
disfigured by sin that only Christ can restore us to what God intends for us to be (2
Cor 3:18).

God’s Greatest Sign

Biblical history from Genesis through Revelation – and the revival events in our
world today – all are full of genuine accounts of miracles and signs from God. God
has shown Himself to mankind through these miracle workings.

But miracles have never provided the complete basis for faith in Christ. Nor have
they produced enough faith in the hearts of those who have seen them (see Matthew
16:1-4; John 6).

God’s greatest sign to all of humanity is given in His Son, born of a virgin; that
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and
that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4).

Wayward Children

God is the divine Originator, Creator and Initiator of nature, of mankind in His
likeness, and of miraculous signs. But these three forms of revelation were never
designed to fully supply all that God wants us to know about Himself and all that we
need to know about Him.

If we had only those three forms of His self-revelation, we might misunderstand Who
God is, and what we should worship.

*If God used only the created world to show us Himself, we would probably end up
worshipping nature. Mankind has historically (and currently) participated in this
confused form of worship. Today we call it Animism.

*If God had revealed Himself only by creating mankind in His image, it could lead to
extreme confusion and misinterpretation. When we see our sinful and broken state as
fallen humans, we might think that God is less than the perfect Being He is. And we
might end up worshipping ourselves. This is called Humanism.

If God had revealed Himself only through miracles, we might end up worshipping
the miracles instead of the One Who brought the miracles to pass. And Jesus warned
against believing only when we see miracles (see John 4:48).

Although miracles display God’s power and glory, and can help lead us to Christ,
they are not enough to save us. Faith comes not just by seeing miracles; faith comes
by hearing – and understanding – God’s Word.

God made Himself known in creation, in (as His likeness) and through miracles so
that all would recognize His work and seek Him (Acts 17:24-27). Unfortunately,
man’s sin and brokenness kept him from recognizing God in those three ways He had
so lovingly revealed Himself.

What else, then, must a loving Heavenly Father do to gather up and guide His
wayward and ignorant children?

God’s Highest Priority

In the beginning of creation, Adam and Eve knew the handiwork of God: they were
surrounded by the beauty of the Garden of Eden. But to know Him personally, they
needed direct communication. Therefore, God revealed Himself not only through
His creation, but directly through words. He walked and talked with them in the
Garden in the “cool of the day” (Genesis 2 and 3).

When sin entered our world, our need for help, guidance – and most importantly,
salvation – became God’s highest priority. So God’s response was to plan for
salvation and give us a Savior. But first we needed to know more of God and His
will for us, so we would know how to recognize this Savior when He came.

Faith Comes By Hearing

God began by revealing Himself to certain chosen individuals. To them He began to
speak and reveal His will. The things He spoke were written down exactly as He had
spoken them. These writings were carefully collected and assembled into what we
know today as the Old Testament. (Much more will be said elsewhere in this issue of
ACTS about the formation of the Scriptures.)

God chose to reveal Himself and His will in the sacred Scriptures of the Bible, and in
the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

A person can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ only through what the Bible
reveals about salvation, or someone telling them the Gospel message from Scripture.
“So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom 10:17).

The Foundation

It is the Word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to awaken conviction and a response of
faith in us. The words in Scripture are the words of eternal life (John 6:63,68; Rom

1:16; 1 Pet 1:23). It is no overstatement to say that the reliability and authority of the
Word of God is the foundation upon which our faith is built.

The Bible is not the story of man’s efforts to find God. Rather, the Scriptures tell us
the story of God revealing Himself and His plan of salvation to all people
everywhere.

The Bible – God Revealed

The Bible is God revealing Himself and His plan to restore mankind to Himself
through salvation; therefore we must understand as much as we can about the Bible,
the Word of God.

In this teaching we will be studying the most important and life-changing book the
world has ever known – the Bible.

Be encouraged to make the daily study of your Bible, along with worship and prayer,
your highest priority. There is no one like our God. And there is no book in the world
like His Holy Word, the Bible!

It is in the Scriptures – and in the Scriptures alone – that we find the revelation of
Who God is and all that He desires for His people.

2. THE BIBLE
God’s Holy Word

Chapter 1

What is the Bible?

God’s Special Book

The Bible, the Word of God, is God’s special book. It is a supernatural book.

The Bible is unique and unusual among all other books. It is one of the oldest books

in the world, and yet it is the most modern.

The Bible speaks clearly to every age-group, into every society and to every

individual. Everyone benefits from reading the Scritures.

Portions of the Bible were written almost 4,000 years ago, but it still tells us very
important things for today, like:

· Who is God?
· Can I know God?…How?
· Who am I?
· Where did I come from?
· What is my purpose?
· And how do I fulfill it?
· Is this life all there is?
Key To God’s Plan

Many different people were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the Bible. Yet their
writings are completely unified and consistent with each other. They all fit together
beautifully, and point in the same direction. They do not contradict or disagree with
each other.

The Bible includes history, science, law; biography, philosophy, prophecy; drama and

romance; poetry and song.
The Bible is full of the thoughts, plans and promises of God for you and for the rest
of mankind. We were given God’s Word to help us understand Who God is, what He
is doing in the earth, and how we can be active in His Kingdom plan.

Though the Bible includes many things, it actually has only one main idea: God’s

loving plan to bring mankind into a full relationship with Himself, and His plan
for how to live daily as a maturing son or daughter of God. The key to the release
of those plans is the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God Has Shown Himself

The Bible is the divinely inspired and
infallible (never wrong) revelation of God
to man. It is not merely the words of men
written to other men. [For a more complete
study on the inspiration, inerrancy and
interpretation of the Bible, see Chapter
Two of this article.]

Our God is a God Who delights in making Himself known to His creatures. He
desires to reveal Himself to us.

God has not remained silent, like the idols or gods of other religions. He is a God of
love, Who communicates His love and purposes to His people.

Man can reveal his own thoughts and ideas to someone else, but a mere man cannot
know what another man is thinking. And man could never know what God is
thinking, unless God were to reveal Himself to man. Only God can make Himself
known to us, and reveal His thoughts to man.

“For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in
him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:11

nkjv).
God speaks in order to reveal Himself. From the time of Genesis, and all throughout
history, God has spoken to mankind and shown Himself to us.

So Much More…

God’s words are powerful. With only His word, the world and all that it contains was
created. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by
the breath of His mouth” (Ps 33:6).

Some people believe that the revelation of God through His creation (nature) is
enough. They don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word, and think it is unnecessary for
knowing God.

It is true that creation practically shouts of the majesty and awesome power of God; it
is true that nature shows how incredibly wise and infinitely creative God is. A literal
translation of Psalm 19:1 from Hebrew says, “The heavens are actively engaged in
declaring to their utmost the glory and handiwork of God.”

All of creation speaks of the worthiness of God. The Bible declares that the rocks and
stones would worship Him if we did not! (See Luke 19:28-40.) He is truly that
awesome, and worthy of all praise!

But there is so much more to God than what nature or creation can show us.

What of His incredible love? His awesome Holiness? His marvelous Grace? His plan
of Salvation for mankind?
Down through the ages, God has spoken through chosen men and women to make

known His will. “God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to
the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…” (Heb
1:1,2 nkjv).

God’s greatest revelation of love was in the Person of Jesus Christ, the “Word made
flesh”. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was God…And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…” (Jn 1:1-14).

The Bible is the revelation of God Himself to mankind. Let’s look more closely at
how the many parts of the Bible fit together.

More Than A Book

The name “Bible” comes from the Greek word biblios, which means “the book”.

But the Bible is more than just a book. Paul called it “the holy scriptures” (Rom 1:2),
the “sacred writings” (2 Tim 3:15 RSV), and “the oracles of God” (Rom 3:2).
In many verses, the Bible is also called “The Scriptures”, meaning “holy writings” (Mt

22:29; Mk 12:24; Lk 24:27; Jn 5:39; Acts 17:11; Rom 1:2, and others).

Two Covenants

The Bible is divided into two major sections: the Old Testament and the New
Testament.
There are 39 books in the Old Testament, and 27 books in the New Testament, for a

total of 66 books in the Bible.
The word “testament” was originally translated “covenant”. Both the Old Testament
and New Testament represent a covenant that God made with His people.

It is important to remember that the Old Testament Law, or Covenant, has now been

superceded by the New “Covenant” (Testament) established by Christ (see Hebrews
8:6-10:18). The Old Covenant has not been cancelled out, but has been “overwritten”
by the fulfillment of Christ’s work.

The Old Testament

Jesus said, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you,
that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the
prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44).

Based upon Jesus’ words, the Old Testament has commonly been divided into three
major sections:

1. The Law
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.

2. The Prophets
Former: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings
Latter: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel; the Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos,
Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah,
Malachi)

3. The Writings
Poetical: Psalms, Proverbs, Job
Five Rolls: Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Esther, Ecclesiastes
Historical: Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles
The New Testament

The New Testament is commonly divided into 5 sections:

1. The Gospels
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
2. The Acts of the Apostles
3. The Epistles of Paul (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians,
Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon)
4. The General Epistles (Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, 3 John, Jude)
5. The Book of Revelation
Chapters And Verses
It is important to remember that the Bible was not originally divided into chapters

and verses as we have it today. These features were added for convenience of
reference only within the last 600 years.
These chapter and verse divisions are helpful for finding things, but they can be

misleading as well. Those who added these divisions in the Bible did the best they
could to keep related passages together. But sometimes the divisions can fall right in
the middle of a subject being dealt with, and the reader may think that a new subject is
being introduced. It may even be necessary to ignore the chapter divisions as you
read, in order to finish reading the subject being addressed.

An example of this can be found in Galatians 3:26-29. Those four verses would be
better understood if they had been placed at the beginning of Galatians 4, instead of at
the end of Galatians 3. This is particularly true with the New Testament writings. The
Epistles, for example, were written in the format, or style, of a letter, rather than an
historical record (I & II Kings, I & II Samuel, etc.) or poem (Psalms, Proverbs, etc.).

Occasionally the chapter and verse divisions can break up the flow of the letter.

Many Writers…

The Bible is one book, but it is made up of
many books. These books were written by
at least 40 different writers who were
inspired by the Holy Spirit. They lived
over a period of more than 1,500 years,
spanning 60 generations.

The last writer died more than 1900 years ago. Many of the writers never met or
spoke to each other. They lived in different parts of the world, over three continents –
Asia, Africa and Europe.

Many of the writers of Scripture lived hundreds of years apart. There was no way for

them to communicate with each other about the basic concepts in the Bible.

They even wrote portions of the Scriptures in different languages, depending on

where and when they lived. The books of the Bible were written in three different

languages: Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.

…But One True Author

The Biblical writers had various occupations, and many different levels of society and

education. They were kings and statesmen; soldiers and tax-collectors; theologians

and scribes; doctors and butlers; shepherds and fishermen…and more.

The Bible was written by various writers, at various times, in various languages,

from various places.

Yet the Bible is miraculously unified and consistent in its message; it is easy to

see that the Bible had one true Author – God Himself.
If you assembled 20 writers from the same generation, the same time, the same
country and the same language – and had them write about one subject – they would
inevitably have many different opinions and conflicting ideas!

Yet the Bible manages to cover many complicated and controversial subjects, and
still remain a single, unified book. This helps us to see that an all-knowing, all-loving
and all-powerful God was truly THE source of its construction and purpose.

Reaching Out To ALL

There are 66 books in the Bible. The authors of 55 of the books have been well

identified by tradition and historical study.
Scholars today are less certain as to who exactly wrote the following books: Judges;
Ruth; 1 & 2 Samuel; 1 & 2 Kings; 1 & 2 Chronicles; Esther; Job; Hebrews.

However, we can be absolutely confident that these books of the Bible are inspired by
the Holy Spirit; and that their contents are totally trustworthy as the Word of God.
Ultimately, God is the true Author of each and every book in the Bible.

Some books of the Bible cover long periods of history, such as Genesis or 1 & 2
Kings. It is possible they are a collection of several writings by several authors,
which were put together into one book by one individual chosen by God.

Psalms and Proverbs are good examples of multiple authors writing different parts of
the same book, while being inspired by the same Holy Spirit.

So then, the actual number of writers of the Scriptures could be well in excess of 40.

Most of the writers were Jews, and wrote from the context of the Jewish religion and
culture. Even so, the words of the Bible reach out to people of ALL nations, ALL
ages, ALL races, ALL social classes.

But who decided which of the many ancient writings should be included in the
Bible, and how was that decided?

HOW WERE THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE CHOSEN?

Measuring Rod

We have seen how the Bible is truly the inspired Word of God. But it is important to
not just accept this fact without a good understanding of how we have received the
Bible in its current form.

The inspired collection of books in both the Old and New Testaments is called the
Canon of the Bible.

This word comes from the Greek kanon, meaning a “measuring rod or reed”. This
signifies a rule or standard to which certain books must “measure up” in order to be
considered Holy Scripture.

“Canonization” is the process by which the church leaders gave their final approval
and acceptance to the books considered for inclusion in the Scriptures.

It is important to note that the Church or its leaders did not CREATE the Canon.
They did not give the books divine authority or power. It is the “God-breathed”
origin (inspiration) of a book which gives it anointing and then determines its
canonicity.

The early Church and its leaders merely SAW the worth in the books that came to be

included in the Bible, and RECOGNIZED the inspiration of God which the books
already contained. The Canon of Scripture was determined by God and then
discovered by men.

The American scientist Benjamin Franklin, who lived in the 1700’s, did not “invent”
electricity. He just discovered it and recognized it for what it was.

In the same way, the people of the Church did not “invent” or create the Scriptures.
They just recognized and received certain writings based on the obvious God-
breathed inspiration of those writings.

Hundreds Bear Witness

There were many false books and writings produced at the same time the Scriptures
were being written.

Church leaders carefully reviewed ancient writings, and rejected many of them. They
wanted to be absolutely convinced that a book had divine origins before it was to
become part of the Bible

It became necessary for the people of God to carefully establish a set of “guidelines”
to help determine which writings should be part of the Bible.

These principles also helped assure that what was to be included in the Bible would
not be decided by a select few. Many hundreds, if not thousands, would have to
“bear witness” that certain writings were of God.

The following principles helped to guide the selection of what writings were to be
included in the Canon of Scriptures.

Five Tests Of Authenticity

1. Divine Authority

Each book in the Bible possesses a prophetic or divine pronouncement and often
contains the phrases “Thus saith the Lord” or “The word of the Lord came to me”.

This divine authority was also shown in the telling of what God had done in the
history of His people.

2. Prophetic Authorship
The Word of God is given to His people through Spirit-moved, God-appointed men
known as prophets (Heb 1:1).

Books were considered for inclusion in the Bible only if they were written by
recognized prophets, apostles, or someone close to them.

3. Authentic Truth
A book with heresy, or false doctrine, was obviously not inspired by God, and was
therefore rejected. If a writing contradicted previously accepted biblical revelation, it
was also rejected as false. (See 2 Peter 2:1.)

God cannot lie: No book given by God would contain falsehood or contradiction.
Each book would agree with the other books God had inspired.

The Bereans “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily
to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). They wisely made sure that
what Paul was teaching matched up with God’s previous revelation in the Old
Testament.

4. Dynamic Power
Though this is harder to determine, the books of the Bible must contain dynamic, life-
changing power.

“For the Word of God is living and powerful…” (Heb 4:12), and can be used “for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).

Sound, God-breathed teaching builds up, edifies and liberates through its divine,
dynamic power (2 Tim 3:15; 1 Pet 1:23; John 8:32). False teaching discourages,
tears down and leads to bondage; it will deceive people, and lead them astray from
worshipping the One true God and His Son Jesus Christ.

5. Wide Acceptance
One more test was used to determine if a book was “God-breathed”: Was it
recognized in the churches? Was it accepted, collected, shared and used as God’s
Word by God’s people?

Communication was difficult, and transportation methods were slow in earlier times.
Thus, it took many, many years to finalize the acceptance of all 66 books in the Canon
of Scripture.

Of course, the people of God accepted many writings without delay, such as the

writings of Moses and the Apostle Paul. But other writings had to endure much

scrutiny and withstand the test of time.

The Canon of the Old Testament was completed in 400 BC by the Hebrews, and the
New Testament Canon by 170 AD.

How Can We Know the Bible is Still Accurate?

Miraculous Preservation

The story of how our Bible came to us, in the form we now have it, is a long one. It is
filled with the miraculous events of God’s preservation of His precious Word.

It all begins with the original documents being penned by holy men of

God “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:20-21; II Tim 3:16).

THE OLD TESTAMENT
Not A Single Mistake

The Old Testament Scriptures were undoubtedly written and copied onto the skins of
animals. Leather was far more available than paper when the Old Testament was
written.

Rolls were made by sewing many animal skins together. The rolls could be as short
as a few feet, or as long as 100 feet – or longer. These rolls were rolled onto one or
two sticks.

The Jews who acted as the Scripture copyists had an intense reverence for the
Scriptures. Because of this, they worked diligently with an almost fanatical discipline
to be absolutely accurate in their copying of the Scriptures.

They had a very complicated system of cross-checking their work. Every single
letter, word and verse was counted! They would even measure the spaces between
words, and knew exactly how much space was needed to copy a full book.

Using such minute measurements, they would carefully check each new copy. If the
letter or word count differed from the original, the copyists would search until the
error was located and corrected. If there was a single mistake, the entire page was
destroyed!

Complete And Undamaged

The scribes’ attention to detail was so successful that the accuracy and detail of the
Old Testament has been protected and preserved. Though we do not have the original

documents, we can be assured of the accuracy of the copies we now have.
These original documents no longer exist. The reason we do not have the remains of
the originals is due to the reverence and care of the Jewish scribes. Whenever a

manuscript showed signs of age or was accidentally damaged, it had to be either
buried or burned after a new, exact duplicate had been made.
This was done to protect the integrity of the copies made of each prior manuscript.

Can you imagine having a copy of only half the Psalms because the copy you were
reading was made from a damaged or incomplete original?! God has gone to great
effort to preserve the Scriptures for us!

Strong Confidence

Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (see chapter 2 of this article), our oldest
copies of the Hebrew text were dated around 900 A.D. These Dead Sea Scrolls
documents, written on leather, are dated between 200 B.C. and 68 A.D. One of the
scrolls is a complete copy of Isaiah – making this manuscript one thousand years
older than any previous copy scholars possessed!

The most important part of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery is the similarity between
those scrolls and the other copies already in existence.

The Dead Sea Scrolls conclusively and overwhelmingly demonstrate the
extraordinary accuracy and precision of the Jewish scribes in their task of
copying the Scriptures.

In comparing two copies of the same thing (the Scriptures) copied by two totally
different groups of Jews a thousand years apart, we find no significant or important
differences or contradictions. This gives us strong reason to be confident of the
Bible’s accuracy today as compared to the original writings from which it was taken.

THE NEW TESTAMENT
Overwhelming Evidence

All the New Testament books – written between 40 AD and 95 AD – were written on
a kind of paper. This paper was made from papyrus reeds and was used as
individual sheets or glued together to make rolls.

The manuscript evidence supporting the New Testament is overwhelming. The
Bible, in fact, has far more documentary evidence for its accuracy and reliability than
any other ancient writing.

The earliest of the more than twenty-four thousand manuscript copies we have of the
New Testament were made twenty or thirty years (within one generation) after the
originals were written . . .within the lifetime of people who knew Jesus!

Over 5400 of these copies are in Greek – the language in which the original New
Testament was written. And when these copies are compared with each other, each
copy matches the rest with an accuracy rate of very nearly 100%!

The text of the New Testament is more substantiated and verified than any other

ancient document in existence!
Praise God for His holy Word! “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of
our God stands forever” (Is 40:8).

THE BIBLE THROUGH THE AGES
Vulgate to Wycliffe

As stated earlier, the story of how we came to have our modern Bible is a long one. It

is beyond the scope of this article to include all the details. However, the following is
a brief overview of how we got the Bible we use today.

Up until 670 A.D. the only widely used Bible had been translated into Latin; it was
called the Vulgate. Jerome, in the 4th century, had translated it from the Hebrew and
Greek texts into Latin.

After Jerome’s time, many portions of Scripture were translated from Latin into Old
English. Then, in 1382, the whole Bible was translated into English by John
Wycliffe. After the “Wycliffe Bible,” many new English translations were made.

This created a great deal of discussion and argument among the English Christians as
they debated which translation was best.

King James And Beyond

In 1604 King James I authorized the translation of a new Bible. A group of 47
scholars worked for six years, using the best Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of their
day. After much painstaking work and strict attention to accuracy, the King James
Version was published in 1611. This version went through several revisions in later
years, primarily to update the English language used in it.

Today, we have many more, and much older, Greek and Hebrew manuscripts from
which we can translate the Scriptures. But there is very little difference between the
existing manuscripts, and those differences do not affect a single doctrinal issue or
rule of faith!

There are many excellent translations that can be used; personal preference is the only
deciding factor in what a person can choose. Four of the most accurate and reliable
translations of the Bible are:

1. The King James versions (KJV, 1611); poetic language, reliable
translations, but some old English vocabulary which may be obsolete or have
changed meaning.

2.
The New King James Version (NKJV, 1982); updates some of the older
vocabulary of KJV, but still retains much of the majestic language style.
3.
New American Standard Bible (NASB, 1971); based on oldest manuscripts
available, accuracy is excellent, readability good.
4.
New International Version (NIV, 1978); accuracy of this version is good, with
a fresh contemporary style and language.
Translation or Interpretation?

There are important differences between a translation version of the Bible and a

paraphrase version of the Bible.

Primarily, a translation version seeks to literally translate from the original Greek

and Hebrew languages in which the Bible was written into another language the

reader can understand. A paraphrase version frequently attempts to explain or

make commentary on the passages of Scripture. A paraphrase is more an

interpretation of Scripture than a literal translation.

As long as the Bible student keeps this important difference in mind, a paraphrase
version can be used as an additional tool of study. Some good paraphrase versions are
the Phillips Bible, the Living Bible and the Amplified Bible.

Study, Study, Study!

It is also extremely important to note that several non-Christian cults promote their
own “versions” of the Bible. Some of these almost seem like the genuine holy
Scriptures, but are twisted by misinterpretation or even outright untruths. Cults use
these to support their peculiar doctrines, which are intended to deceive and trap the
ignorant and undiscerning.

This is not a new problem. Cults existed even in the days of the original apostles.
Many of the New Testament books were written to disprove the false doctrines of
these groups.

The best safeguard for yourself and the flock you lead, is to know the genuine
Scriptures thoroughly! The only way to do this is to study, study, study with a heart
that is open to the Holy Spirit’s illumination.

The Holy Spirit And The Word Of God Agree

This ministry of the Holy Spirit is an awesome and powerful thing. It is wonderful to
see even today how the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are always in perfect
agreement.

The Bible is prophetic. It reveals God’s will through His Word and His works. It also

reveals God’s plans and predictions.
Today, through the gift of prophecy, the Holy Spirit still inspires men of God to
speak the words and will of God to others.

However, the written Word of God, the Bible, is already complete and nothing is
to be added to it (Deut 4:2; Prov 30:5,6; Rev 22:18). Modern-day prophecies should
not add to or change what is already complete in the Bible.

Since the Bible is the ultimate source of truth, all other words and prophecies

inspired by the Holy Spirit today must be compared to, or “judged” by, the
Bible.

The Holy Spirit has already inspired what is in the written Word of God, and

anything the Holy Spirit inspires today will agree with the Bible.

The Scriptures clearly tell us to judge all prophecy. “Let the prophets speak two or

three, and let the other judge” (1 Cor 14:29). But how is this done?
There is a final “court of appeal” by which all the manifestations or gifts operating in
the Church can be judged. It is the written Word of God.

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word [i.e., the

Bible], it is because there is no light in them” (Isa 8:20).
Peter calls the Word of God “a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well
that ye take heed, as a light that shineth in a dark place” (2 Pet 1:19).

The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Word of God, and His working through
others today will always agree with what is already in the Bible.

The Word And The Spirit

In Balance

It is wonderful to experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit manifesting in meetings and

ministry situations.
But it is equally wonderful and important to be balanced believers who also stand
firmly on the foundations of the Bible. We can, and should, be both Spirit-filled
AND Bible-based believers!

There are many scripture verses that show the harmony between the Holy Spirit and

the Word of God:
“The SPIRIT of the Lord spoke by me and His WORD was in my tongue” (2 Sam
23:2).

“I will pour out my SPIRIT unto you, I will make known my WORDS unto you” (Prov

1:23).
“The HOLY GHOST shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to SAY” (Lk
12:12).

“He…speaketh the WORDS of God: for God giveth not the SPIRIT by measure unto

Him” (John 3:34).
“It is the SPIRIT that quickeneth…the WORDS that I speak…they are SPIRIT, and
they are life” (John 6:63).

“SCRIPTURE must needs have been fulfilled, which the HOLY GHOST by the mouth

of David spake” (Acts 1:16).
“They were all filled with the HOLY GHOST, and they spake the WORD of God with
boldness” (Acts 4:31).

“After that ye heard the WORD of truth…ye were sealed with that HOLY SPIRIT of
promise” (Eph 1:13).

“The sword of the SPIRIT, which is the WORD of God” (Eph 6:17).
(You can use your Bible concordance to find many other verses that show the
harmony of the Word of God and the Spirit of God.)

The Holy Spirit was the inspiration for the writing of the Word of God, and His words
and works will always agree with what is already in the Bible.

The Holy Spirit and the Bible are in complete unity. It is good and right to be people
who fully embrace and live in the power of BOTH the Spirit and the Word!

We have learned that the Bible is the revelation of God Himself to mankind. But is it
“the Word of God”? And what does that phrase really mean?

Let us examine these questions and more in the next chapter.

Chapter 2
Is the Bible The Word of God?

Word of God … or Words of Men?

The Bible claims to be a unique book unlike any other. The Bible declares itself to be
the revelation of God and His Word given to men. It claims to be more than just a
book penned by human authors.

Some people find it difficult to believe that the Bible is actually God’s Word. They
wonder if it is accurate and reliable. They may question how much of it is actually
from God.

When the term “the Word of God” is used, it does NOT mean that every word
contained in the Bible is a word spoken by God. Sometimes the Scriptures are
quoting the words of men, or angels, or even Satan. For instance, the Bible contains
records of many sinful acts, but it does not commend any of these; it rather
condemns them.

Scripture even records some of the lies of Satan (i.e., Genesis 3:4). But by including

them in Scripture, it is not teaching us that these lies are true; rather, it guarantees that
The Bible is a true and accurate record of what occurred and what was said. It
does not mean that every word contained in the Bible was a word that God said with
His own mouth.

However, the Bible is the Word of God in the following way: God, through the Holy
Spirit, divinely inspired the writing of it. He was the supernatural Overseer Who
directed the Bible’s design and the recording of its contents.

But is it really the “Word of God”?
-Or is it the words of men with special religious insights?

-Are only parts of the Bible the Word of God – or is all of it God’s holy
Word?

-Can we really trust the Bible to be accurate and error free?

Three Foundation Stones

These questions and their answers are extremely important to any Christian leader.
For either the Bible is the authoritative source for guiding our life and conduct, or it is
merely a book of good suggestions which we can believe or not. Leaders must be
convinced in their hearts of the authenticity and power of the Living Word of God.

In this section of the article, “The Bible -God’s Holy Word,” we will examine three
important “foundation stones” of what the Bible teaches us about itself. Having a
correct understanding and a firm stance of correct belief regarding these three issues
will determine much about your personal walk with Christ and your fruitfulness in
ministry.

These three foundation stones are:

Doctrine of Inspiration;

Doctrine of Inerrancy;

Law of Interpretation.

Let’s look at the Doctrine of Inspiration first.

A. The Bible: Where Does It Come From?
The Doctrine of Inspiration
Key Word: Theopneustos

The term “inspiration” as it is applied to Scripture comes from the Apostle Paul’s
statement:

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Tim 3:16). Unfortunately, the
English word “inspiration” used in this passage does not accurately reveal the
meaning of the original Greek word it translates. In fact it is somewhat misleading.

The word “inspire” comes from the Latin word inspiro which means to “breathe in.”
Without a proper understanding of this word, one might incorrectly conclude that God
breathed into the writings of men, giving them a certain power. This is not what the
Scriptures teach, nor what the Holy Spirit wants us to understand.

The Greek word used here is theopneustos and is in a verb or action tense. The word
is a combination of two Greek words, theos, “God” and pneustos, which is related to
the verb meaning “to breathe or blow.” The meaning of the word theopneustos is,
therefore, “breathed out by God.”

God-Breathed Words – Spirit-Moved Men

When the Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostle Paul and said, “All scripture is given
by inspiration [breathed out by God],” he was telling us that God did not breathe a
special power into the writing or thoughts of men; instead, God breathed out His
words into the minds of men to be written down.

A similar passage in 1 Corinthians 2:13 emphasizes the same point: “These things
we also speak, not in words that man’s wisdom teaches, but that which the Holy
Spirit teaches.”

The second significant passage on the divine inspiration of the Bible is 2 Peter 1:2021,
“Know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for
prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were
moved by the Holy Spirit.”

This verse helps us understand further that none of what was written in the Bible was
the working or impulses of man. Instead, each writer was moved by (literally “borne
along by” or “led by”) the Holy Spirit. But the writers of Scripture were not robots
whose minds and hands were controlled by God.

God created man with an intellect and a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. The Lord does

not ignore how He designed mankind when He desires to speak through someone.
It is important to note that the Scripture writers certainly did NOT participate in any
sort of “automatic” writing that was somehow magical. That kind of activity is NOT
from the Holy Spirit! One should beware of any claims that such activity is from
God.

Furthermore, according to 2 Timothy 3:16, the inspiration applies only to the writing,
not the writers. It is the Bible that is inspired, not the writers.

So if we combine 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21, we find that the Bible is
inspired in the following way: “Spirit-moved” men wrote “God-breathed”
words. Any of these “words of God” are divinely authoritative for developing a
Christian faith and a Christian lifestyle.

TRUTH:
Giving It
Recording It
Understanding It

Two related and important concepts can help us more clearly understand what
inspiration is, and what it is not. These two concepts are: a) revelation and b)
illumination.

Revelation is that act of God through which He directly communicates truth not
known before to the human mind – truth which could not have been known in any
other manner except by revelation of God.

Illumination refers to influence and help given by the Holy Spirit, to all born-again
believers, in order to help them understand the truths that have been revealed.
Inspiration, as defined by the Scriptures, is not the same as either of these activities.

Then how do Revelation, Inspiration and Illumination work together?

REVELATION: the giving of truth;
INSPIRATION: the reception and recording of that truth;

ILLUMINATION: the resulting understanding of the revealed, inspired truth.

Revelation of truth, as defined in the Scriptures, can be given only by God to

mankind. It is a divine communication from God to man.

Inspiration is the means, or way, in which people chosen by God have received this
divine communication and then recorded it so that others might be exposed to it.
Illumination of the mind and heart of man must then occur, so that man will

understand what is being revealed by God. This illumination is given by the “Spirit
of truth” (John 14:17) Who has been sent by God to “teach us all things and bring to
your remembrance all things that I [Jesus] said to you” (John 14:26).

New Revelations?

Are people getting “inspired” today?
It is true that we use words like “inspired” and “inspiration” to describe anything from
a moving piece of music to a beautiful painting – or even a great athletic
accomplishment. The music, painting, or other human endeavor may be secular or
sacred, but unfortunately we still may call it “inspired”.

But it is very important to understand that NO human endeavor – including
great sermons or wonderful Christian books – is “inspired” the same way
Scripture is.

Furthermore, no one is receiving new revelation from God of heretofore unknown
truth. The fullness of all God has to reveal to men about life and salvation through
His Son is accomplished – it is FINISHED! There is no “new” revelation from God.
(See Colossians 1:25-27; Galatians 4:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Hebrews 1:1-3).

If people today claim to have a new revelation from God, it means one of two things:
a) they have received illumination (a fresh understanding of an already revealed
truth), or b) they have been deceived by a spirit other than God’s Holy Spirit.

We should not be quick to condemn or accuse others, but we must carefully “test
(discern) the spirits because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1
John 4:1-3). Jesus Himself warned us that there would come many false prophets
trying to lead astray the people of God (Matt 24:23-26).

A Solemn Warning

We as leaders must be extremely careful in what we say – because every bit of
counsel, every teaching and every sermon must agree with the whole of Scripture.
We are not allowed to preach our own opinions and tell others that God says the
same. Our preaching and teaching must be fully supported by the Word of God.

If we want to be anointed and used of God, all that we do and say must clearly and

correctly represent His Word and be found throughout Scripture.
We are not given the freedom in Scripture to add or subtract from God’s word, under
threat of judgment from God. Moses, speaking for God, tells the Israelites: “You
shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep
the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deut 4:2).

Solomon wisely states, “Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be

found a liar” (Prov 30:36).
And in the last book of the Bible, in the last chapter, in the final few verses, we are
given a final, solemn warning: “For I testify to every one who hears the words of the
prophecy of this book: if any one adds to these things, God will add to him the
plagues that are written in this book; and if any one takes away from the words of
the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from
the holy City, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev 22:18-19).

Though this passage refers directly to the Book of Revelation, it is clear from this
passage and others in Scripture that God’s Word is sacred and must not be altered.
The “canon” of the Bible is complete and CLOSED with the 66 books of the holy
Scriptures. Not one “jot” or “tittle” can be changed. For an excellent example of
God’s judgment upon “taking away” from God’s Word, see Jeremiah 36:20-32.

And just as with adding to or subtracting from God’s holy Word, if we “twist”
Scripture to serve our own selfish desires, we will be risking God’s judgment and
our own destruction (2 Peter 3:16-17).

As God has protected His holy Word in ages past, so He will guard it today!

Breath Of Life

Scripture is inspired by God: This is one of the most important statements about the

Bible. It means that Scripture is the result of God’s own creative breath.
The Bible is not words and ideas manipulated by man to try and tell the world about
God. God Himself, through the Holy Spirit, was the Author and Designer of the
Scriptures from beginning to end. He directly “breathed-out” its formation, to tell us
about Himself and His plan for mankind.

As we have shown, this does not mean that the writers were “breathed INTO by God”;
it means that the Bible was breathed OUT by God. The Word was produced by the
creative breath of God.

Just as God breathed into Adam the “breath of life” (Gen 2:7), so He breathed into the
Bible the breath of His life-giving Spirit (see John 6:63).
Therefore, because the Bible is God’s own “breath” or “utterance”, it is properly called

“the Word of God”.

God’s Word to us is a precious life-giving source (John 6:63), and is living and
powerful (Hebrews 4:12). We must treat the Word of God with a holy fear and
respect, even as we seek to dig deeply into the depths of the truth it contains through
diligent and careful study.

B. The Bible: Can We Trust It?
The Doctrine of Inerrancy
In the previous section we discussed the foundational truth that God “breathed out” –
inspired – the Holy Scriptures. Because the Bible comes from God – and is not the
invention, opinions or ideas of men – we can therefore trust in its contents absolutely.

Upon this premise we can study the Doctrine of Inerrancy.

Trustworthy And Error-Free

What does “Inerrancy” mean?

Inerrancy means this: In the original copies of each manuscript made by the Bible’s
writers (those who received the “breathed-out” word from God) there are no
mistakes or errors.

Some people use the word infallible instead of inerrant. Infallible means that the
Bible is completely trustworthy regarding its fundamental message concerning
salvation and man’s relationship to God. Inerrant means that the Bible is free from
error.

WE BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS BOTH INERRANT (WITHOUT ERRORS) AND
INFALLIBLE (TRUSTWORTHY).

To understand this better, we need to ask three questions concerning a statement of

Scripture:

1) Is the writer reporting it as a TRUE statement – or only accurately recording a
lie?

For instance, we may truthfully and accurately record a statement that is not true. In
Genesis, Moses accurately recorded Satan’s lie to Eve about eating the fruit of the tree
of the knowledge of good and evil: Satan said, “You surely shall not die!” (Gen 3:4);
yet God had already said that such an act of disobedience was punishable by death
(Gen. 3:3).

Inerrancy in this case is the accurate and truthful reporting of the deception Satan
used on Eve.

2) Is the writer speaking in literal scientific language – or using a popular figure of
speech?

Some might say that the biblical writers who spoke of “the four corners of the earth”
(Isa 11:12) had a poor sense of geography; or that the phrase “windows of heaven”
(Gen 7:11) reflected an inaccurate and fanciful view of the universe. However, when
the language is understood in a symbolic or figurative sense – as it was intended – no
confusion arises.

We often speak of the sun’s “rising” and “setting.” Scientifically, this is not literally
true – since the earth moves, not the sun. But it is figuratively true – since the sun, as
seen from earth, appears to rise and set. We do not charge our news agencies with
error when they report the times for “sunrise” and “sunset”!

2) Is the author speaking in approximate numbers – or does he mean to give an

EXACT count?

If there is a reasonable number given, there is no untruth involved. Our own daily
speech is full of such numerical approximations. This is especially common when the
exact number is not necessary to the main purpose of the account.

When dealing with the issue of inerrancy, it is important to keep in mind the writer’s

intended meaning, his reason for relating the information, and his use of the
language expressing Scriptural truth.

Evidence Of Inerrancy From Inside the Bible

Where does the Doctrine of Inerrancy come from? The answer is – the Scriptures
themselves! Let’s look at what the Bible says regarding its own accuracy.

1. The Testimony of the Scriptures
a. The Old Testament. In the Old Testament we encounter the
phrase “thus saith the Lord” and others like it over 3,800 times! The Old
Testament writers were absolutely convinced they were speaking the Word of
God! The Psalmist declares that the “Law of the Lord is perfect … the
testimony of the Lord is sure” (Ps 19:7). This is a direct reference to the
absolute trustworthiness of the Scripture. And again, “The entirety of Thy
Word is truth” (Ps 119:160), “All His precepts are true” (Ps 111:7). The
writer of Proverbs similarly states, “Every word of God is tested” (Prov 30:5).
King David declares, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was
on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the other prophets

all record similar statements.

b. The New Testament. The writers of the New Testament also
testify to the fact that God was speaking to them. Both the Gospels and the
Epistles contain many instances of Scripture validating its own trustworthiness
(See Luke 1:70, Hebrews 4:12, Romans 7:12, James 4:5).
When we take all of these statements from Scripture together in light of the Bible’s
teaching on the Doctrine of Inspiration, we must conclude that the BIBLE TEACHES
ITS OWN INERRANCY. Such a conclusion is in complete agreement with the
claims of the writers of Scripture to be speaking and writing God’s Word.

But one of the greatest testimonies to the inerrancy of Scripture is next:

2. The Testimony of Jesus Christ.
Jesus, as God the Son, bore witness to the fully divine authority and
trustworthiness of the Scriptures. He specifically confirmed the Old Testament as a
whole when He said, “These are the words I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and the
Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Lk 24:44).
In His confrontation with the Pharisees, Jesus also declared that “Scripture cannot be

broken” (John 10:35). His teaching was based on the truthfulness and reliability of
Scripture. He declares, “Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets, I
did not come to destroy, but fulfill. For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth
pass away, one jot [the smallest letter in Hebrew] or one tittle [the smallest stroke in
a Hebrew letter] will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matt 5:17

18).
Specifically, Jesus referred to many Old Testament historical events and persons. By
referring to these in His teachings, Jesus puts His stamp of approval upon them,
affirming that they are completely trustworthy. The following is a list of these
references from the Gospel accounts:

· Creation and marriage – Matthew 19:5
· The Flood and Noah’s ark – Luke 17:26, 27
· The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – Luke 17:28,29
· The destruction of Tyre and Sidon – Matthew 11:21,22
· Circumcision – John 7:22
· The Passover – Matthew 26:2
· The Law – John 7:19
· The Commandments – Matthew 19:7-9
· The Jewish law of divorce – Matthew 19:7-9
· The fact of the burning bush – Mark 12:26
· The type of Jonah and the great fish – Matthew 12:40
· The repentance of Ninevah – Matthew 12:41
· The glory of Solomon – Matthew 6:29
· The wisdom of Solomon – Matthew 12:42
· The Feast of Tabernacles – John 7
· David eating the shewbread – Matthew 12:3

· The priests profaning the Sabbath – Matthew 12:5
· The heavens shut up in Elijah’s day – Luke 4:25
· The story of Naaman the leper – Luke 4:27
· The record of the brazen serpent – John 3:14,15
· The murder of Abel and Zacharias – Matthew 23:35
· The mission of Messiah – Luke 4:16-21
· The mission of John the Baptist – Matthew 17:10-13
· The mission of Elijah – Matthew 17:10-13
· Daniel and his great prophecy – Matthew 24:15
3. The Testimony of Prophecy.
The fact of fulfilled prophecy in Scripture is a powerful testimony to the Bible’s
inerrancy. No unconditional prophecy given in Scripture about events – even
events up to the present day – has gone unfulfilled! Many of these predictive
prophecies were given hundreds – even thousands – of years in advance!
Some Bible scholars have concluded that a total of 333 prophecies concerning the

birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ have been fulfilled. The probability of that
many predictions concerning a single individual coming true by chance is calculated
at 1 out of 83 billion!

The chance of one person fulfilling only eight prophecies relating to God is incredibly
slim. This would be like covering the entire country of Zimbabwe two feet deep with
coins, then telling a blind-folded person to pick up a specially marked coin on his very

first try.

Imagine the phenomenal miracle of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection fulfilling over
300 prophecies! Truly, the Bible is Authored by God alone, Who knows the end from
the beginning (Revelation 1:17-18).

Most prophecies concerning Christ were given hundreds of years (some over a

thousand) before His birth –and yet ALL were fulfilled! Other prophecies – such as
the education and communication explosion (Daniel 12:4), and the restoration of
Israel as a nation (Is 61:4) – are being fulfilled in our times.

There are some other religious writings that claim divine authorship, but none contain
predictive prophecies. Clearly, the prophecies contained in God’s Holy Word are not
of human authorship. Only the God who knows the future and directs the course
of human events can give – and then ensure fulfillment of – such specific
prophecies.

Evidence Of Inerrancy From Outside The Bible

Because the Bible contains much historical data, its accuracy can be verified. There
are two types of evidence that can be used to verify the Bible’s accuracy:

a) The evidence of archeology; and

b) The evidence of ancient written documents.

Evidence From Archaeological Findings

It is important to note that no archaeological finding has ever proved a Bible
reference wrong. In fact, well over 25,000 sites have been located and documented
that confirm the accuracy and trustworthiness of the Scriptural accounts of events,

people groups, chronologies, etc. Archaeological research continues today; many
archeologists actually use texts from the Bible to help locate historical sites!

Evidence From Ancient Documents

Several decades ago, a young shepherd boy discovered several large urns filled with
ancient documents. These documents became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Among them were several manuscripts of both the Old and New Testaments. They
were in excellent condition. And when they were compared with the thousands of
already existing manuscripts, no important differences were found! What made this
discovery so significant was the fact that the manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls
were 1000 years older than any other complete manuscripts for both the Old and New
Testament already in possession.

Simply put, there is more ancient written evidence for the Bible than for any
other secular classic. The Bible is the best documented book from ancient times. It
can be easily said that the Bible is the most completely trustworthy and reliable of any
book or writings from antiquity. The Bible has remained unchanged and
dependably accurate for thousands of years!

Truth Without Error

These evidences from archaeology and ancient documents give indirect yet substantial
verification of the Scripture’s claim for Divine inspiration. Certainly, the
confirmation of the Bible’s accuracy in these factual matters lends credibility to its
claims regarding spiritual matters.

Regarding the doctrine of inerrancy and biblical trustworthiness, it must be

remembered Who we are dealing with when it comes to a discussion of truth.
Whatever God speaks is the truth without error. This is true because He is
preeminently “the God of truth” (Is 65:16) Who “cannot lie” (Numbers 23:19; Titus
1:2; Hebrews 6:18). Therefore, since God is true (John 3:3, 17:3), His Word is also
truth (John 17:17) and a completely trustworthy guide for our faith (belief in God)
and practice (life and behavior).

C. The Bible:
How can we Understand It?
The LawS of Interpretation
Highest Priority

So far in Chapter 2, we have discussed and established the following points:

1) All Scripture has been given to us by God Himself (God-breathed) and is not the
invention or opinion of men . . .

Therefore . . .

2) The Word of God, the Bible, is free from error, in whole and in part (inerrant)
and is conclusively and totally trustworthy for all that we need to know for salvation
and the Christian life (infallible).

Since these two foundational principles are true, we must approach the Bible –
and its application in our ministries and our personal lives – with a proper
perspective.

God has made great effort to give us His Word over the centuries. And certainly He
has given it to us for a particular purpose that is very important to Him and for us.
Therefore the study, the proper understanding, and correct application of His

Word to our lives and those to whom we minister must be of highest priority to us.

Make The Effort!

Imagine if you had an important letter from someone you loved very much, and it was
sent to you at great pain and sacrifice. Even if that letter was written in another
language, you would make great effort to understand what was written in it, wouldn’t
you?

How much greater effort should you make, then, to understand the Bible – the very

Word of God — with all its life-giving truth for your daily existence!
Unfortunately, many people interpret the Bible in many different ways. This has
caused phenomenal heartache and confusion to thousands of people. We must not
interpret Scripture just to suit our own opinions or ideas!

Keep To The Road
Scripture commands that we as leaders in the Body of Christ must “be diligent to
present [ourselves] approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). The phrase “rightly dividing” is used
for the Greek word orthotornounta, which literally means “cutting straight”. This

word was used to describe a furrow being plowed in a field, or a road that was being
built.
Paul’s idea in this passage is that a truly dedicated “worker” (from the Greek word

ergon – “toil”, “effort”) must be accurate and clear in his presentation of God’s Word
to God’s people. God’s leader must keep to the “road” of living according to
God’s Word, and help others do the same through his teaching and example. To

“divide” the Word does not mean to cut it into pieces. It means to discern the truths
and principles he finds there, apply them in his own life, and then give them faithfully
to others.

Study . . . and Apply!

– But how can we be sure we are “rightly” interpreting Scripture?
-How can we avoid the misinterpretations of Scripture that have led to
heresies and cults?

-How can we truly understand the Scripture, apply it to our lives, and teach
others to do the same?

Interpretation

In this section we will discuss how to Interpret the Bible. This is known as
hermeneutics – the science of interpretation.

Studying the various doctrines about the Word of God has only a little value – unless
this study leads us to practically applying the truths of Scripture to our daily lives.
Then we can begin to experience the awesome power and anointing that saturates
God’s Word!

In order for us to properly understand and apply the Word of God to our lives, we
must focus on three important essentials:

1. We must approach the Scripture for what it is – the
Word of Almighty God that speaks authoritatively and sufficiently to
all of life.
2. We must develop a Biblical style of hearing – which

means to heed and obey.

3. We must establish practical principles by which we can
carefully interpret the Scriptures.
Let us now look at these points in more detail.

Respecting God’s Word

1. The Authority of the Bible.
All of us look to some final authority when we make decisions about how we will
live. That final “authority” we feel we must please may be personal feelings, the
opinions of others, or even our own experiences. But we all yield to someone or
something as an authoritative source telling us how to conduct our lives.

God knows that we need objective, clear and relatively easy-to-understand guidelines
and truths to help us know how to live on earth. Because we are finite (limited in
intelligence, power, lifespan), we humans cannot be the source of ultimate truth.
Our wisdom is insufficient; our scientific learning and technological achievements
have only gotten us into more trouble. Our fleshly desires lead us into conflict and
often get in the way of making right decisions.

Therefore, God has given us His Word – the Bible – which is the final and
ultimate authority over all people of all times. It is the final Law and the only
absolute truth that we can properly live by.

Over and over again the Lord of the universe speaks to us through His Word, giving
us His objective revelation as to Who God is and what His will is for mankind. As
we have seen earlier in this chapter, the Scriptures make claim to that place of

authority as the revealed and inspired Word of God. (For further study see Isaiah 1:2,
8:20; Jeremiah 11:3; Psalm 119:120; Matthew 5:17-20; 2 Peter 3:2).

Jesus Himself accepted the full authority of the Scriptures. He quoted them
frequently throughout His ministry – which shows He had a great respect for the
Scriptures as the authoritative voice of His heavenly Father. This also meant He
was very familiar with the Word of God! Our Savior also guided His life in
obedience to the Word of God, thereby living a life pleasing to God.

Our own Christian walk must be filled with a similar acknowledgement of, and
respect for, the absolute authority of the Scriptures. The Bible is the only set of
unchanging truths that can teach us how to know God and live for Him. This
recognition of the divine source of Scripture with all of its authority is vitally
important. For through it we will grow in that healthy, awesome respect which the
Scriptures call the “fear of the Lord”. Such “fear” is the “beginning of wisdom”
(Psalm 111:10) and is a “fountain of life” (Prov 14:27).

Truly, there can be no fear of the Lord which does not include a profound
respect for and obedience to His Word. God’s Word is the “lamp unto our feet and
the light unto our path” (Psalm 119:105) that shows us how to walk successfully in
this life.

2. The Sufficiency of the Bible
The Bible does not contain all knowledge in the universe. But it does contain
everything humans need to know regarding salvation, life and godliness.
Paul tells Timothy that Scripture is not only inspired by God, but is also “profitable

for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that
the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2
Tim 3:16-17).

Specifically, the Scriptures contain all we need to know to come to Christ in
salvation and to live a fruitful and effective Christian life. The Scriptures reveal the
Creator God of the universe, His desire to know us, and His will for every living
person. Within the Scriptures, we can find time-proven and divinely-authored
answers to every human question, and provision for every human need.

Search the Scriptures! For it is in them that you will discover truth, life, hope,
freedom and joy! When we look deeply into God’s holy Word, we will discover a
mirror reflecting the state of our own soul (James 1:23-25). But we will also see
the resurrected Savior Who shed His blood on Calvary for you and me! And if you
look closely you will see the eyes of your heavenly Father looking back at you. For
He is watching over you with tender love and infinite care for your every need, and
reveals His great love for you through His Word.

Truly, the Bible is an amazing Book worthy of a respectful approach. But we do not
worship the Bible – we worship THE Word of God, Jesus, Who gave it to us, and
our Father God, Who gave us Jesus Christ!

Hearing God’s Word

Hearing something may seem like an easy thing to do. But how many times do we
hear something without really listening to what we are hearing? Sometimes we treat
our children that way. Even our spouses! Shamefully, we may treat God and His
Word the same way.

My wife and I have served in large and small churches in a variety of pastoral roles
for the past 24 years and now are serving World MAP. Many times I would observe
people not really listening to the Word when it was read, or used in counseling. They
would hear words being spoken, but were not letting the Truth bring conviction or
change in their hearts.

When they ignored God’s Word, they did so to their own destruction.
We found that it was often people who were very familiar with the things of God and
the truths of Scripture that had the most resistant hearts. As a young pastor long ago,
I was tempted to be condemning towards these “lukewarm” Christians. Fortunately,
the Holy Spirit dealt with me and showed me where I, too, was not really heeding the
voice of God in an area of my life. Then a great insight took hold of me:

What if the people of my flock were “hard of hearing” because I was also?!

When this realization came through to me, I repented immediately and things began to

change.
We as leaders can be the most easily deceived into thinking that being familiar with
the Scriptures and being able to teach them is enough. We may become very excited
about the illumination the Holy Spirit gives us, and teach the Truth with great zeal.
But if the Truth does not change our own hearts and behavior, we have missed the
most important lesson of all. Sometimes leaders are the ones who need a “hearing
check-up”!

Jesus said, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be
measured to you, and to you who hear more will be given. For whoever has, to him
more will be given, but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away
from him” (Mark 4:24-25).

Jesus is revealing a principle of spiritual growth. When we hear (take heed, receive)
the Word and put it into practice (obey), our capacity for more knowledge and
understanding will increase. Those who are hardened in their hearts and
indifferent to the Word will eventually stop growing spiritually and lose
whatever capability for spiritual understanding they once had.

Do not be deceived into believing that you already know enough or have studied
enough of God’s Word. The Bible is eternal, and is there to continually teach, convict
and encourage us regarding life and godliness.

“Hearing” the Word of God in the biblical sense means that we heed His Word,
attend to it, learn it and put it into practice. As Paul told Timothy: “give attention
to reading [the Scriptures] … to doctrine. Meditate on these things; give yourself
entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and
to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in so doing you will save both yourself and
those who hear you” (1 Tim 4:13, 15-16).

Hearing the Word also means that we obey its principles by putting them into
practice. We especially need to live according to the Word in our relationships with
others. The Word will teach us the ways to relate as:

· people to God
· husband and wife
· children to parents
· the pastor and his church
· citizens and rulers
· even our actions and attitudes towards those who hate and persecute us.
We are truly hearing God when His words are more important to us than our
happiness, comfort, and personal desires. And we can obey joyfully because we can

trust the one Who wrote it; for He knows far better than we do the path to true joy and
fullness of life.

Interpreting and Studying God’s Word

Many people feel that the Bible is too difficult to understand. Many times in history,
the church leadership denied people access to the Bible because they thought it would
confuse them. Thus, the interpretation of the Scriptures was reserved for only the
very educated theologians of the church.

But God has never intended His Word for only a select few! He wants every person

to know and understand the Scriptures.
Being able to understand the original languages the Bible was written in, as well as
having a knowledge of the culture of biblical times, is helpful. But neither are
essential, because the basic truths of salvation and our walk with our Lord and
Savior can be understood by all. And this is supported by the Scriptures
themselves.

For instance, Scripture tells us that the people themselves had the responsibility to
judge prophetic utterances (1 Cor 14:29). And this they were to do on the basis of the
truth they had received (Deut 13:1-5; Gal 1:89; Acts 17:10-12). God’s Word was
given to all peoples of all times.

Therefore, in this section we will look at ten key principles for studying and
interpreting the holy Scriptures.

1. Study your Bible thematically.
Choose a topic or a word in the Bible and look up every reference you can find using

that word or idea. For instance, the word “redeem” is used many times in Scripture.
If you have a concordance (or a copy of The Shepherd’s Staff) look up the Scriptures
that use the words “redeem,” “redemption,” “redeemer,” etc. Seeing the many times
and places a word is used in the Bible will give you a larger understanding of a
biblical theme or word.

2. Let Scripture Interpret Scripture.
Individual passages of Scripture do not exist in isolation from other passages of
Scriptures; they are part of the whole revelation of God. Therefore, each passage of
Scripture must be interpreted in relation to the truth of the whole Bible. Though
the Bible was written over many centuries, it is still a unified, harmonious book.
This is because it was authored by only One Author – God, through the Holy Spirit.

For instance, the “mark of the beast” mentioned in Revelation 13:16-18 is subject to a
great deal of speculation as to what it might be. Some think it will be a computer chip
placed in our hand or forehead. Others describe it as a tatoo.

But when we look at the whole of Scripture, we see that when “forehead” is
mentioned, it often represents our will and our thinking. “Hand” in the Bible often
represents our work or activities. To receive the “mark” is not something that can
happen accidentally, or because we are ignorant of it. To receive the “mark” we
would have to worship the beast (Rev 13:15) by a willful choice made in our minds
and shown in our actions. The choice will be clear enough that everyone will see it for
what it is.

The “mark of the beast” is more than a technological device. It will involve the
loyalty and allegiance that we give to the Antichrist, or instead reserve only for God.

We do not know exactly what the “mark” will be – but the whole of Scripture helps us
see that believers will be not taken by surprise or accidentally receive the mark.

3. Look at the surrounding verses.
When studying a particular verse of Scripture, it is very important to look at the verses
just before it and just after it. This often helps answer such questions as:

· Who is being spoken to?
· What larger issues or situations are being addressed?
· Is this verse more clearly explained by the other verses around
it?
It is dangerous to pull a verse, or a phrase from a verse, away from where the Holy
Spirit put it and apply it to another situation. This can lead to a serious
misinterpretation of the verse being studied.

There is a funny story about a young person looking for a “word from God.” He sat
down with his Bible and began to flip the pages. When he stopped flipping pages, he
put his finger on the page and read whatever his finger happened to be pointing to.
The first time, he read “Judas departed and went out and hanged himself” (Matt
27:5).

The young man was startled by this “word,” so he tried it again. This time his finger

landed on “Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37).
The young man was now frightened, and thought he would try it just once more. So
he flipped many pages (but not in Matthew or Luke!). And when he stopped, his

finger pointed to John 13:27 which said: “whatever that thou doest, do quickly.”
The young man threw down his Bible and ran out of his room screaming!
We can laugh at this silly story, but there is a serious point here. Satan is a religious

spirit and has had thousands of years of exposure to both the Scriptures and human
nature. Satan knows how to twist Scripture, and wants to play upon our human
ignorance and selfish desires. He tried it with Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:1-6)
and succeeded in bringing about the Fall of mankind. He also tried it with Jesus (Matt
4:1-11) – and fortunately Jesus was too wise in the Word to be defeated by the devil!

We need to know our Bible! We need to use it correctly, and not mix or match verses
to suit our own desires.

4. Look for repetition in Scripture.
When God says the same thing over and over, it means that it is very important and
worthy of our attention. Most often the infrequently mentioned in Scripture should
yield to, or be interpreted by, the most frequently mentioned.
For instance, in the passage in 1 Corinthians 15:29, Paul states: “Otherwise, what will

they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then were
they baptized for the dead?”

What could Paul have meant?!
This is the only place in the whole Bible where baptism for the dead is mentioned.
There are a variety of interpretations that could be discussed, but we do not have the
space to do so here.

Let it suffice to say that we should not take a single isolated Scripture with an

uncertain meaning and build an entire doctrine out of it. Paul’s discussion in I
Corinthians 15 is about the validity of the physical resurrection of the dead – not
about an unclear baptismal ritual. Many scriptures give us a clear sense of direction
about the Believers’ baptism in water (see Matthew 25:19; Acts 8:35-38; Romans 6:36;
etc.). These scriptures, plus others, provide a solid basis for a born-again person to
be baptized in water.

5. Look for clarity in Scripture.
Sometimes we encounter a passage of Scripture that is difficult to understand. For
example, justification by faith is a clearly repeated theme in Scripture in both the Old
and New Testaments. However, when you read James 2:14-26, it may seem that
James is telling us we are not justified by faith alone, but need “works” also in order
to be justified.

James, however, is not setting works against faith; rather, he is showing us two kinds
of faith. One kind is a dead faith that is merely an empty claim or acceptance of a
creed (even the devils “believe” –James 1:19)! The other kind is a saving faith that
produces an obedient life out of love for the Savior.

Our “works” show the genuineness of what we profess to believe; they are the fruit of
our faith (see James 2:17,19,26; John 15:1-8,16; Romans 6). Scripture emphasizes
over and over that true faith is not religious deeds done in order to earn salvation
without a born-again heart. But true faith results in good deeds to the glory of God
the Father (Matt 5:16).

6. Use a literal interpretation.

God did not inspire the writers of the Bible to write in some cryptic, mysterious
language. Nor are the events recorded in Scripture just stories that have some deeper,
mysterious meaning. Rather, the Doctrine of Inspiration teaches us that God used
natural human language to communicate His supernatural truth, and that we have
an accurate historical record of real events that actually occurred.

a) Concerning Language. The goal of interpretation is the “plain and obvious
meaning” understood by the original recipients of the teaching, prophecy, etc. We
should interpret a passage in harmony with its meaning at the time of the author.

This means we must pay close attention to the meanings of words and how the
words are used. Ordinary language uses words in a variety of ways. This is also
true in the Bible. We must sometimes differentiate between a literal or a
figurative use of language. (This was discussed in more detail under “The
Doctrine of Inerrancy.”)

b) Concerning Historical Events. Likewise, the historical events recorded in
Scripture were also actual events that occurred. These events took place in our
world, experienced by real people living at that time.

In seeking a literal interpretation of Scripture, we must not leave out the

supernatural!

Just because the Bible records events that have not occurred in recent human
experience does not mean they are not true. The great worldwide Flood of Noah’s
time, the confusion of languages at Babel, the plagues on Egypt at the time of

Exodus, the virgin birth of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead – all these are
miracles that the Bible records with truth and accuracy!
If God is Who He says He is, then any or all of the miraculous events of the Bible

are not beyond His ability to bring to reality, for “Is anything too difficult for the
Lord?” (Gen 18:14).

7. Biblical “types” and “shadows” should remain consistent.
A “type” or “shadow” is a person, object or event that is prophetically symbolic of
someone or something yet to come. This biblical “foreshadowing” is similar to, or
has characteristics of, that person or event.
For instance, the Passover lamb of Exodus 11 and 12 is a “type” or foreshadowing of

Christ. The redemptive and protective role of the blood of that Passover lamb
prophetically displays the redemptive role Christ would fulfill when He died for the
sins of the world. The Old Testament type – Passover lamb – foreshadows the New
Testament fulfillment – Christ, the Lamb of God.

Another example is the Old Testament laws of God, which are described in Hebrews

10:1 as only “having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of
the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by
year, make those who approach perfect.”
Because of what Christ has done, there is no more need for continual animal sacrifices
for sin. What Christ has done is the “once-for-all” sacrifice for sin and is sufficient
for the salvation of all people everywhere for all times who receive Him (John 3:16;
Heb 9:11-12, 23-28, 10:10; 1 Pet 3:18).

These Old Testament types are not complete in and of themselves. God purposely
intended it to be this way, for these types only foreshadow what was to be
completely fulfilled in the New Covenant established by Christ.

It is important for us to not try to interpret every tiny detail of the “type”, but keep to a
more general interpretation. Remember also that types should be used only to
illustrate a doctrine – not invent one!

8. Is an Old Testament type given new meaning in the New Testament?
God’s dealings with His people changed throughout history as His plans for mankind
unfolded. The Mosaic Law with its many regulations was given to Israel to prepare
them for God’s Son to come. Galatians 3:24-25 says, “Therefore the law was our
tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has
come, we are no longer under a tutor” (see also Romans 7:6). It would be wrong to
insist that the specific regulations designed for the good of Israel at a particular
time in history be imposed upon Christians today.
An example of this would be the dietary laws of Israel. They may actually be

beneficial to a person’s health, but to insist that they are God’s law for all time would
be a serious misinterpretation. Paul states in Colossians 2:20-23 that the regulations
about what we eat cannot save us, and that only justification by faith in Christ is
sufficient for salvation. (Also see Acts 10:9-16; 1 Cor 8:8, 10:3.)

Another example is the set of Mosaic laws regarding the necessity of regular animal
sacrifices in order for forgiveness to be given by God. In the book of Hebrews,
chapters 9 and 10, we are shown the absolute supremacy of Christ’s sacrifice over
the “blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer… how much more shall the
blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God,
cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?” (Heb 9:13-14)

It is very important to understand that God in history was progressively revealing

His plan of salvation. The ultimate result of this predetermined plan of God was the

sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son.
This does not mean that the eternal principles of the Old Testament are done away
with. Rather, these principles of the Old Testament have been built upon, to lead us

to God’s most important revelation – His Son Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament “type” of the repeated sacrifice of lambs is given new meaning in
the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ.

Let us rejoice in all the Biblical record preserved for us, for “all these things happened
to them as examples and they were written for our instruction.” (See 1 Cor 10:1-11)

9. Understand the cultural and historical context.
It is helpful to have some knowledge of the various customs of biblical times and their
relation to spiritual truth. Such knowledge can help us sort out a temporary cultural
expression from the eternal truth that God is speaking to us.
An excellent example of this is when Paul requires women in the Corinthian church to

wear veils. His statements occur in 1 Corinthians 11. In the Corinthian culture, a
woman who appeared bareheaded in public was considered to be immoral.
Uncovered hair or a shaved head could symbolize an immoral or unclean condition in
the Jewish culture (Num 5:18; Lev 14:8-9).

So the veil was important in that day and culture because it represented a woman

living in a godly, moral and upright way.
However, the essence of Paul’s statements does not concern a temporary cultural
expression like a veil or head-covering. Rather, it concerns a women’s moral

condition and her inner submissive attitude, especially to her husband.

Understanding the cultural and historical setting of a Scripture passage – i.e., to
whom was it written, and when – can help us avoid confusion. However, our goal in
studying the Bible is not just to gain a knowledge of the cultural and historical
background. Our greatest priority should be to discover what God is saying through

a particular text. For this to take place, we must be constantly seeking the guidance
and illuminating power of the Holy Spirit.

10. Prioritize the Bible’s Purpose
It is essential to remember that the Bible is not primarily a record of the history of
Israel and the early church. The Bible is first and foremost a witness to divine
revelation, a witness that points beyond itself to a supernatural reality. This means
that the eyes of our understanding must be opened by God’s grace through the Holy
Spirit.
It is very difficult to find something if you don’t know what you are looking for! This

is especially true when studying the Bible. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to

keep in mind the main purpose of the Bible.
Simply put, the main purpose of God’s Word is to teach us. That means that the
“teaching” portions of the Scriptures (the Law, the prophets, Psalms, Proverbs, the
New Testament) should be the primary focus of our studies.

Can we learn a great deal from the historic books? Of course! And we should study
them as well. The historic books are indeed inspired, and they accurately report
historic events. But the historic books, by themselves, are not the foundation upon
which to build doctrine. Rather, the historic events recorded in the Scriptures

should confirm and illustrate the doctrines in the teaching portions of Scripture.

We find an excellent example of this in God’s covenant promises of blessing and
cursing, as recorded in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. God promises to bless the
Israelites abundantly, overwhelmingly if they will obey His laws and statutes. But
He also promises to judge them if they disobey and are disloyal to God!

If we keep in mind these two teaching chapters from Leviticus and Deuteronomy, we
can read Kings and Chronicles – and the prophetic books as well – with a much
deeper understanding. (See 1 Kings 9:1-9; 2 Chronicles 1 and 2; Daniel 9:1-19, as

just a few examples.)
The Bible is not a random collection of various stories, teachings, events and
sayings. It is a unified whole dealing with one problem – man’s sin and separation
from God; and offering one solution – salvation through Christ and restoration of

relationship to God!

We hope that, having read this chapter, you have received a greater insight into the

trustworthiness of Scripture. We hope you have gained not only a deeper
appreciation for God’s Word – but also a growing skill in “rightly dividing the Word
of Truth”. We hope that you will appreciate the tremendous power and blessing
contained in the Living Word of God! And we hope that you will teach others to do
the same.

Chapter 3

Reading The Bible For All It Is Worth
To Give Us Himself

People read the Bible for a variety of reasons. Some read it looking for information
about God or about themselves. People will read it looking for facts about history or
about how to live successfully. They can find all these things in the Bible, but this is
not the primary reason why God gave us His Word.

When we read the Bible as God intended, we will not see just words on a page. We
will see the great and almighty God stooping low to look us in the eye or whisper in
our ear.

God’s chief purpose in giving us the Bible was not to give us information – but to
give us Himself!
Practical Instruction

Unfortunately, many Christians ignore, or take lightly, this incredible eternal
revelation called “The Bible”. Too many leaders become so busy with the demands
of ministry that they neglect this precious resource. Others are simply slothful or
undisciplined.

Some believers, however, have never received practical instruction on how to read
and study the Bible for all it’s worth. This chapter will focus on how to practically
develop a solid, life-changing Bible-reading habit.

Why Should We Read The Bible?

A. The Scriptures exhort us to do so.
Joshua is told by God, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but

you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all
that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will
have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

The Psalmist declared, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin

against you” (Ps 119:11).
The great prophet Isaiah exhorted us to “search from the book of the Lord and read”
(Is 34:16).

Paul tells Timothy, “Till I come, give attention to reading [the Scriptures], to
exhortation, to doctrine . . . Meditate on these things: give yourself entirely to them”

(1 Tim 4:13,15).
And again Paul exhorts Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a
workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim

2:15 KJV).
To the church at Colossae, Paul writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in
all wisdom” (Col 3:16).
And Luke, in writing the book of Acts, commended the Berean Jews for being “more

fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all
readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were
so” (Acts 17:11).

Since God is a God who desires to reveal Himself, He has not remained silent. From
creation, all down through history, God has revealed Himself by speaking. All of
God’s great purposes and plans for mankind are revealed only in the written Word,
“The Bible”.

But there is a second great reason why we should study the Bible:

B. The Bible is a treasure-store of wealth for our daily needs.
If we devote ourselves to a consistent, daily study of God’s Word, we will reap a
tremendous harvest. This harvest will be multifold. We will see it at a personal
level, in our family, and then in the fruitfulness of the ministry God has entrusted to
us.
Many benefits are guaranteed to be ours if only we will keep on sowing the Word of

God into our lives (see Galatians 6:2-9). Listed below are just some of the blessings
the Word of God brings to our lives.

1. The Word secures our salvation. “Receive with meekness the implanted word,
which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). “Take heed to yourself and to the
doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those
who hear you” (1 Tim 4:16).
2. It is a necessary part of spiritual growth. “As newborn babes, desire the pure
milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).
3. It provides spiritual cleansing. The Word of God has a washing effect that
purifies our thoughts, emotions, attitudes, motives and desires (see Hebrews 4:12).
Paul describes the Church being cleansed and sanctified by the “washing of water by
the Word” (Eph 5:26). Jesus pointed to a personal cleansing when He said, “You are
already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3).
4. The Word imparts spiritual freedom and liberty. “If you abide in My word, you
are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you
free” (John 8:31-32). This freedom breaks the yoke of emotional, mental and
spiritual bondage.
5. It establishes a warning safeguard against sin. “Your Word I have hidden in my

heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

6. The Word works with the power of God to transform us. “As His divine power
has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of
Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly
great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine
nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet 1:34).
7. It is a building block of faith. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by
the Word of God” (Rom 10:17). God’s Word stimulates, promotes and strengthens
our faith.
8. It gives wisdom and understanding. “The entrance of Your word gives light; it
gives understanding to the simple” (Ps 119:130; also see Proverbs 6:23).
9. The Word instructs and exhorts us. “Now all these things [the events of the Old
Testament] happened to them as examples and they were written for our admonition,
upon whom the ends of ages have come. Therefore, let him who thinks he stands, take
heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:11-12). We can learn from the example of others in the
Word the blessing of obedience to God, or the consequences of selfish, sinful choices.
10. God’s Word strengthens and edifies us. “Strengthen me according to Your
Word” (Ps 119:28). “And now, brethren, I commend you to God and the Word of His
grace, which is able to build you up [edify]” (Acts 20:32).
11. It equips us. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of
God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Do you ever feel you do not “have what it takes” to be effective for God? Then fill

yourself with God’s Word, and let it help make you ready (equip you) for anything
God would have you do.

12. It is an effectual weapon of spiritual warfare. “Andtake …the sword of the
Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Eph 6:17; see also how Jesus battled Satan and his
temptations in Matthew 4:1-11). The best way to battle against sin, temptation or
demonic activity is with the truth found in the holy Scriptures and with the Name of
Jesus.
13. It causes us to be approved. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a
worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim
2:15). The Greek word for “approved” is dokimos. It describes anything which has
been tested, thus purified, and made fit for service.
14. The Word gives comfort in times of testing. “This is my comfort in my
affliction, for your word has given me life” (Ps 119:50). Even when it is the Word of
the Lord doing the testing, we can be comforted – for it is God who is at work in us.
“Until the time that his [Joseph] word came to pass, the Word of the Lord tested him”
(Ps 105:19).
15. It imparts the peace of God. “Great peace have those who love your law and
nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps 119:165). From God’s Word we gain assurance,
security and confidence.
16. The Word imparts hope and comfort. “For whatever things were written
before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the
Scriptures might have hope” (Rom 15:4).
17. It reveals divine guidance and direction. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a
light to my path” (Ps 119:105). And, “direct my steps by your word and let no

iniquity have dominion over me” (Ps 119:130). Scriptures give a clarity of
understanding, a discernment for walking through life, an assurance of the paths of
righteousness.

18. The Word imparts practical answers to life’s challenges. “So shall I have an
answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in your word” (Ps 119:42; see also
Luke 12:11,12; 1 Peter 3:15; John 14:26).
19. It gives us assurance of physical healing. “Who Himself bore our sins in His
own body on the tree . . . by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). And, “He
sent His Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Ps
107:20).
20. The Word imparts stability in our lives. The parable of the man who built his
house on the rock, as opposed to the man who built his house on the sand, clearly
shows the stabilizing power of the Word (Luke 6:47-49; see also Psalm 1:1-3).
These are just a few of the many benefits found in the “treasure-store” of God’s
Word. These benefits are meant to be experienced in everyday life – and will be, if
we surrender to the Lordship of Christ, know His Word, and obey His word as doers,
not just hearers (James 1:22).

Remember, God has given us His Word so that we can know Him. His Word is Truth,
and should not be changed or added to. God’s Word is full of promises and benefits,
and those will remain until they have accomplished every purpose for which they

were sent (see Isaiah 55:10-11).
We can trust in the Word of God, because it is backed up with the almighty power and
unmatched authority of God Himself. What He has said, He will do! (Numbers
23:19.)

Some Practical Guidelines For Successful Study

Being very familiar with the contents of the Bible is a worthwhile objective.
However, our highest priority should be to systematically study the Scriptures for
the purpose of applying its power and truth to our everyday lives.

In the following section is a checklist of helpful steps. If you review these steps
closely, and put them into action, you will insure rewarding and life-changing times
in the Word of God.

1. Establish a consistent daily reading of God’s Word. Without
this first and most basic step, you will never truly develop a healthy and
profitable Bible reading pattern. As mentioned above, the Bereans wisely
“searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11).
Scripture tells us that we should be “redeeming the time, because the days are
evil” (Eph 5:16). A daily feeding (reading) on God’s Word is a very important
part of redeeming each day, along with our personal worship and prayer time.

Being “too busy” to read God’s Word is a trap laid by the devil, and is meant
to starve us to death spiritually (or at least weaken us so much that we are
more easily defeated by sin and temptation). All of us need to drink fluids and
eat food daily to sustain our physical bodies. It is no different when it comes
to reading God’s Word – we need the nourishment of the “meat, bread and

water” of the Word to sustain us spiritually!
In reading daily, set aside a specific time and place to read. It should be a
place free from distractions like T.V. or radio. Pick out a specific and regular
time of day. The morning is usually the best time, before distractions start and

our mind gets cluttered with activities. Also read your Bible even when you
don’t feel like it. It’s when we don’t want to read the Bible that we most need
to read.

2. Pray for “illumination”. We need the anointing of the Holy
Spirit to understand the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:10-14). Pray, which is
simply talking with God, while you read His Word. Invite the presence of the
Holy Spirit to meet with you and be with you during your reading time.
God knows what a Scripture means, and He wants to help you
understand it. We get into trouble and can have wrong interpretations if we
use only our human reasoning. If something doesn’t make sense to you, mark
it in your Bible and ask God to give you illumination as to its meaning. You
will discover over time that He will answer your request.

3. Meditate upon what you read. God commends and blesses the
man whose “delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law he meditates day
and night” (Ps 1:2).
Take time to stop and reflect upon what you are reading. The word “meditate”
actually means to “chew the cud”. When cows chew a mouthful of grass, it is
then swallowed. Their stomach is made in such a way that a cow will bring
the grass back up, chew it some more and again swallow it. We should not
hastily “gulp down” the eternal Word of God without allowing the Holy Spirit
to reveal insights to us. We should think on what we have read throughout our
day, and allow the Holy Spirit to bring it back to our minds over and over
again.

4. Make your study a “personal” one. It is so tempting for us as

leaders to study the Scriptures only for our next sermon or Bible teaching.
God wants His Word to get deeply into our soul and spirit. He wants His
Word to transform us from the inside out. If the shepherd (you) is not
feeding himself, he will never adequately feed his sheep (your church or
Bible study group). When we are personally convicted, touched and
transformed by the Word, the anointing will truly flow through our sermons.

5. Develop “comprehension aids”. Keep a journal notebook of
the insights and lessons God speaks to you through His Word, and write each
one down. This not only helps reinforce what you have learned, but will be a
rich resource for you to refer back to.
Make a “subject concordance” for Scriptures that you read. As you come
across Scriptures relating to a particular subject (such as “fear”, “sexual
temptation”, “greed”, “worship”), write them down in a notebook. You will
soon fill pages with “golden nuggets” of God’s truths!

Don’t hesitate to mark special passages in your Bible. Underline
meaningful words you are thematically studying. Make notes in the margin
about insights God gives you about a particular passage. Your Bible is a
precious tool – and it is a tool that God wants you to be familiar with through
using it!

If you have The Shepherd’s Staff, a concordance, or a Bible handbook, use
them to study the Bible. If the version of the Bible you read has study-helps,
use them! These study aids can provide a wealth of insights that will enrich
your times in God’s Word.

6. Set realistic goals for your Bible reading. Most of us would

love to read through the New Testament every week, but that would be
difficult to say the least! Sometimes we “sabotage” ourselves by trying to
fulfill a goal that is set far too high. When we fail to reach that goal, we get
discouraged.

The goal of reading a certain number of chapters every day is the wrong goal.
Our goal should be to meet with God in and through His Word. We should
desire a quality reading instead of a quantity reading. But do not develop the
bad habit of skipping around in your reading. That will lead to an inconsistent
and undisciplined style that will take away from a solid understanding of the
Scriptures.

We should read a book of the Bible all the way through to the end before

moving on to another book.
A balanced reading schedule might be to read at least a chapter from the Old
Testament and a chapter from the New Testament every day. Reading one
chapter from the book of Proverbs every day would be a good addition.

Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same way many months have 31 days. So you
could read the first chapter on the first day of the month, the second chapter
on the second day, etc. Proverbs is the kind of book that can be read over and

over again – even twelve times per year – and you will always get something
new from it.

7. Keep your Bible study plan simple. This is very important,
especially at first, while you are trying to establish a good and consistent
habit-pattern of daily Bible reading. We should use a schedule that is easy to
follow and keep track of. Even if you miss a day, don’t give up; just simply

start again where you left off in your reading schedule.

8. Memorize the Scriptures. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart,
that I might not sin against Thee” (Ps 119:11). An important part of any good
Bible study plan is Scripture memorization. The truth of the Word dwelling
within our hearts can keep us from deception and sin.
There are many helps for memorizing Bible verses. A passage can be written
on a card or paper and carried with you to read over and over again. Also, sing
the scriptures. A Bible passage set to music will be long remembered.

Key Questions To Ask While Studying The Bible

Here are two simple types of Bible study methods that can help us think correctly
about the Scripture we are reading. These studies also give the Holy Spirit maximum
opportunity to speak to us using the light of God’s Word: “For the commandment is a
lamp; and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Prov 6:23).

The Seven-Question Bible Study

a. What is happening? (or the ideas expressed or results)
b. Who is it happening to? (the people involved)
c. Where is it happening? (location, situation)
d. When is it happening? (historical setting)
e. Why is it happening? (the causes, the reasons for it)
f. How is it happening? (the process, the flow of events)

g. How can I apply it? (how it relates to me and my situation)
The Seven-Question Bible Study

1. Is there a command for me to obey?
2. Is there a sin for me to avoid?
3. Is there an example for me to follow?
4. Is there a promise I am to claim?
5. Is there an idea, principle or word I should study further?
6. Is there a truth being taught about God, or Christ, or the Holy Spirit?
7. Is there something for me to pray about? (If so, then stop and pray!)
Using either or both of these study methods can greatly assist us in opening our

understanding to the profound truths of Scripture.

We must remember that one of the primary purposes of Bible study is to change
our lives, not just increase our knowledge! You haven’t truly studied the Bible until
you have applied it to yourself! Scripture tells us that God wants us to be “doers of
the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:21), or as the NIV
puts it, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it
says.”

Therefore, make the application of truth one of your main goals in studying the
Bible.

In Your Hands . . .

Our hope is that as you have read this article, you have gained a greater appreciation

for this miraculous “Book of books” called the Bible.
We have seen that the Bible is truly THE Word of God, substantiated by
overwhelming proof. We have learned that God’s plan for mankind throughout the
ages is revealed only in the holy Scriptures. We have discussed who wrote the
Scriptures and how it was done, and then how it was all gathered into ONE Bible.
From there we have looked at how to practically develop a meaningful and life-
changing method of studying God’s Word.

The Bible is a vast storehouse of inexhaustible riches already given to us by God. It is
the only source of truth in our world that can lead us into an intimate and saving
relationship with the God of the Universe. The Word of God is eternal and has
outlasted, and will outlast, every effort of man to compete with it.

The sacred text, which God has preserved through His supervision of the copying,
collecting and transmitting for over 3500 years, has now been placed in your hands.
Countless thousands have suffered at great cost to themselves just to preserve our

Bible. Even today, millions are tortured, enslaved and abused – even killed – for
having a copy of the Bible. Yet they cannot be stopped, for only one Book has the
answers to mankind’s deepest questions – THE BIBLE!

If you are reading this article, you undoubtedly own a Bible, maybe more than one.
Then may we “stir up your pure minds by way of reminder” : take your Bible and

read it! study it! apply it! . . . BELIEVE IT!

3.The Making of a Master Craftsman

by Frank R. Parrish

During a large minister’s conference, the main speaker had introduced his topic as
“The Tricks of the Trade”. Apparently he was going to speak about quick and easy
ways to have a “successful” ministry.

As he began to share his “quick tricks”, I could not help but feel I was being cheated
and told something that only appeared to be helpful.

I suddenly realized I did not want the “tricks of the trade” type of ministry – a person
who had just a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of skill, but could act like I had
more.

Instead, I wanted to really learn the whole truth of what ministry is all about. I wanted
to be a master craftsman.

It can be tempting at times to try a shortcut on the pathway of true spiritual growth
and fruitful ministry. Never is this more true than when it comes to being a teacher of
God’s Word.

We are stewards of God’s grace and have been called to be faithful shepherds of His
flock. So it is of vital importance that we are diligent, faithful and obedient in our
preparation, teaching and preaching.

Paul exhorts Timothy along this same line of thought when he says, “Be diligent to
present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly
dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).

This scripture is a verse every church leader should know and keep in his or her mind.
It provides us with a good “check-up” list to see how we are doing as stewards of the
manifold grace of God.

Let’s look at some of the simple yet profound truths presented in 2 Timothy 2:15.

1. Be Diligent
“The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious
possession” (Prov 12:27). This verse contains a lesson about being faithful and
disciplined. It is about the importance of finishing the things set before us to do.

Eating raw meat is a dangerous practice, except under special conditions. To the
Hebrew reading this verse, eating raw meat would never even be considered. A
diligent man would follow through and fully prepare what he had taken the time to
hunt down, and then eat it.

The same should be true in the spiritual disciplines of every day life. There are many
portions of spiritual meat available to us in God’s Word. But we must be faithful to

properly prepare those and then “consume” them. We must “take them in” and let
them become part of our lives and character.

We can gather up 10, 20 or 100 Bibles, but they will do us no good if we do not pick
one up and read it, study it, apply it to our lives, and then live the Word as a witness
to the transforming power of God.

Paul told his young disciple, Timothy, about the importance of knowing God’s Word
and the doctrines it contains. “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be
a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good
doctrine which you have carefully followed…meditate on these things; give yourself
entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Tim 4:6,15).

Paul understood the importance of being spiritually nourished by taking in the rich
food of God’s Word. He told Timothy to not just read it, but to meditate on it, and
give himself entirely to it. He reminded him that the change in his life would be so
obvious, even others would notice it.

This requires the daily discipline of “reading and feeding” on the Word of God. Then
our spirit is nourished, our life is changed, and we will become useful and fruitful for
God.

“Blessed is the man [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he
meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree…that brings forth fruit in its season…
and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3).

It is true that what we think about or spend time doing we will imitate and act out in
our daily lives. Therefore, we must be full of God’s Word! We must be diligent to
pursue its treasures as often as we can.

The work of a job, ministry and other responsibilities can consume our lives and our
time. There is the constant demand of people’s needs and the tasks that need to be
accomplished. It is hard to find time to read and study God’s Word. But we must
make the time to daily feast on God’s Word, eating of the spiritual food He has given
us through the Holy Scriptures. Then we will have the grace and strength needed to
live victoriously and serve faithfully each day.

2. Present Yourself Approved
Paul also exhorted Timothy “…to present yourself approved to God…”.

There is much pressure on leaders to confuse this verse, and to present themselves in
such a way that men will approve of them. It is tempting to become afraid of people’s
opinions, and do those things that we think will please people and make them happy.
We can be deceived into thinking that if people are happy with us, then they will like
us and come to our meetings and maybe even give offerings.

We can also be so concerned with the opinions of others that we become tempted to
do and say things only to make us seem important or impressive to those we lead.
This opens the door for the terrible and blinding sin of pride to then enter our lives.

The Bible says, “The fear of man [reverence, respect or regard for] brings a snare, but
whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe [secure, set on high]” (Prov 29:25). The
desire and pursuit of man’s approval and acceptance leads us into bondage. It also
moves us farther and farther from trust in God, and causes us to be less concerned

with His approval.

It is not wrong when people like you and appreciate your ministry. But one must
never let that need for people’s acceptance be the reason for ministry to them.

As servants of the Lord we must “be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility
correcting those who are in opposition…” (2 Tim 2:24,25). Leaders are to gently
teach and train others in the ways of God. If we are too concerned with making people
happy, we may not be willing to speak the sometimes hard sayings of the Word to
them. Then they will not receive what they actually need in order to grow spiritually.

Leaders must desire above all things to be pleasing to God. But how can we be
pleasing and acceptable in the sight of the Lord?

We are most acceptable to God when we humbly present ourselves to Him. When
we give our lives completely to Him, as a living sacrifice, He always accepts us (Rom
12:1). God rejoices when we are depending only upon Him and His life-changing
power to transform our minds. He knows that kind of dependency helps us understand
what is pleasing to Him (Rom 12:2).

We must present ourselves, including our desires and our motivations, to God. We
must be willing to sacrifice the opinions of what people think is right and acceptable,
in order to be only concerned with what God tells us is right and acceptable.

Our diligent study of God’s Word will transform us from the inside out. It will
expose our desires and the motivations of our hearts (Heb 4:12). It will help us know
what is right in God’s sight. The Word of God exposes our hearts. It helps us discern
whether we are ministering to others just to be liked or feel important, or if we really
desire to serve the Lord and His Church out of a humble heart to be pleasing to Him.

It may seem that if God is pleased with us then all of His people will be, too. But a
quick study of what the children of Israel did to all of their great prophets and godly
spiritual leaders show us that this is not the case. God’s people did not always respect
His Word or those who brought it forth. Even Jesus told His disciples, “Woe to you
when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke
6:26).

Perhaps “…to present yourself approved to God” could be understood more clearly if
restated “to make yourself [through diligent study and yielding your heart to the Lord
and His Word] a gift that God would rejoice in receiving.”

3. A Worker
I have had many jobs in my life: a house builder, a logger who cuts down trees, a
truck driver, a harvester, a carpenter. In all of these jobs I had to show up every day
ready to work – it was my main occupation. Some of the jobs I liked and some I did
not, but I was required to do my best regardless.

It is for very good reason that God ordained and spoke by the Holy Spirit that, when it
comes to the study of His Word, we are called workers. Why is that?

Here are six things that are true of workers at a job that are also true of workers in the
Kingdom of God.


A good worker shows up to work every day. He rarely misses work, and gets
right back to the job as soon as possible.


A good worker comes ready to work. He is prepared mentally and physically to
work. If he has tools or skills, he brings them with him to work and applies them
diligently.

A good worker is focused on his work. He knows that distraction or lack of
discipline is not only unproductive, but can even be dangerous!

A good worker does his best for his employer at all times, even if the work
seems boring, is hard or no one else is working.

A good worker can usually expect to receive payment for his work. In the world
it is money – in God’s Kingdom it is the eternal reward of spiritual fruit, and the
present reward of God’s blessings.

A good worker usually receives advancement as he applies himself. In the world
it may be a new position or title. But in God’s Kingdom it is personal spiritual
growth, equipping for service and greater power and authority in the things of
God.
Can you see how these six things apply to reading and studying God’s Word? God
has called each of us to be a worker in His Word, and in the harvest field of lost souls.

4. Do Not Be Ashamed
2 Timothy 2:15 further says, “…who does not need to be ashamed.”

Paul, in writing to the Corinthian church, describes how he laid the foundation of
Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone of the Church (1 Cor 3:10-11). He then goes on in
verse 12 to say that each of us will build upon that foundation “with gold, silver,
precious stones, wood, hay, straw”.

Paul declares with certainty that each person’s work will be judged and it will be
obvious how well and with what we built.

God is a loving God, Who does not want His children to shame themselves before
Him or others. He does not want us to build in a sloppy fashion or to use inferior
materials. So He warns us by way of exhortation to be diligent workers in the study of
His Word.

The Holy Spirit, through Paul, is showing us we can build (minister) with durable,
strong, high quality materials (gold, silver, precious stones). Or we can choose to
build with temporary, weak and insufficient things (wood, hay, stubble).

To “build” refers to the soundness of the doctrine we teach, and if we live our lives
in such a way as to demonstrate the truth we teach. None of us desires to be shamed
or to see our service for the Lord “go up in smoke”.

We can be a “worker who does not need to be ashamed” if we will build only upon
Christ as our foundation. And if we will build using only the soundest doctrine based
only upon diligent study of the Word of God.

To build correctly we must also live faithfully and consistently with the Word of God
so that we model what we are teaching.

At times we may feel embarrassed or ashamed when declaring the truth of God’s
Word, especially if others mock or criticize us. But the more familiar we become with
the Word of God, then the better we know its Author, the Lord God Himself. And the

better we know Him, and His love, power, grace, forgiveness, righteousness, holiness,
faithfulness, strength (the list could go on forever!), the more confidence we have in
His Word.

When we’re confident of Who God is and the truth and power of His Word, we will
grow in boldness and confidence to declare the truth! Diligently spending time with
God and in His Word will help us to say with Paul, “For I am not ashamed of the
gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation..”, and “I am not ashamed,
for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I
have committed to Him until that Day” (Rom 1:16;2 Tim 1:12).

5. Discerning The Truth
“Rightly dividing the Word of truth…”. At first glance, this phrase at the end of 2
Timothy 2:15 can seem confusing. It seems to indicate that in this “dividing” of the
Word we should somehow “segment” it.

But this is not what this phrase means. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
is giving us what is called a “word picture”. The Greek language, in which most of the
New Testament was written, is a very descriptive language and very precise in its
meaning.

In 2 Timothy, Paul uses words that liken Scripture to a road being built or furrow
being plowed. Both of these things must be kept straight if they are to be most
effective.

The good workman must be both accurate and clear in his study and presentation of
God’s Word. He should help those he is teaching to see clearly and to understand
what the Scriptures are saying. This will make it easier for him and those who follow
him to “stay straight” on the highway of truth.

To “divide” the Word, then, carries with it the idea of capturing the heart or meaning
of the Word by rightly understanding and discerning its truth.

Jesus had strong criticism of the Pharisees for being experts in the “letter of the law”
while missing the point or heart of God’s intent for giving the law (see Matthew
23:23; John 5:39).

The Pharisees, like those deceived by a demon religious spirit, even went so far as to
teach the traditions and legalism of men as having more authority than the Word of
God (see Mark 7:5-13). They were experts in the laws of God, but had no
understanding of the heart of the Lawgiver (see John 5:37-39).

The making of a master craftsman in any trade takes much learning, application and
hard work. A person does not become a master craftsman quickly. But the steady,
daily practice of the study and application of God’s Word – “line upon line, precept
upon precept” – blended with a yielded heart – will shape one ever more into the
image of the Master of masters, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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