How to study the Bible

Many people know very little about the Bible.  What they do know about the Bible, they did not learn from the Bible itself.  They have learned from teachers, books, radio, or other people.  But, they never actually opened the Bible and learned from it.  They have made their opinion about the Bible from the opinions of other men and not from the Bible itself.  Many people have an opinion about the Bible, but they have not even seen a Bible.  The Bible is a big book.  A person can spend all of his life enjoying it.  I want to help you to make an opinion about the Bible from the Bible itself and to understand it.  But, mostly, I want to help you to see that it is God’s personal message to each of us.

God gave us the Bible because He wants us to know who He is.  In fact, the main subject of the Bible is God.  It’s not just a book of teachings about God.  It is a story about history as seen from God’s point of view, from the beginning to the end.  Because man is a part of history, the Bible also teaches us many things about mankind and man’s relationship with God.

When studying the Bible, you must start in the beginning and work our way it.  You should start in the book of Genesis.  Genesis is the first book of the Bible; thus, it is a very important book.  You cannot completely understand the truths about the Bible unless you understand some things about Genesis first.  If your understanding of Genesis is good, much of the rest of the Bible will easily “come into focus.”

 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

All of the Word of God was given to us by God’s inspiration. God had the inspiration to write down a message and He used men called “prophets.”  He gave them the exact message that He wanted written down.  Sometimes God spoke to them out loud, sometimes in visions, and sometimes He put the message directly into their heads.  Then, God caused them to write down exactly what He had said.  This is where critics might just say, “Then the Bible was really written by men.  So, it’s man’s ideas and not God’s.”  We can know that the Bible is not man’s idea because it tells us so in 2 Peter 1:20-21 which says, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  It is God’s idea and God’s Words.  It is not the private idea of any man.  It is the only book in the world that is written by God Himself.

God took 1,600 years to write the Bible, and He used 40 different people to write it.  But, even though God used so much time and so many people to write it, the Bible has perfect unity from beginning to end.  Why?  It has this unity because God is the one and true author of the Bible.  If many people went to a meeting, they would all see the same meeting, but would they all have the same opinion?  If we asked a person what was the most important thing that they saw in the meeting, not everyone would say the same thing.  They would each have a different story to tell about the same meeting.  Many different people wrote the Bible.  They were not all together in one place like the people in a meeting.  No!  The people that God used came from very different cultures.  They even came from different times.  Many of them never even knew each other.  But, when we read the Bible, it appears to be one story, one book.  It has perfect unity.  How can one book have perfect unity when so many people wrote it over a 1,600-year period of time?  There is only one answer – the Bible has only one author: God!

Isaiah 43:1, 10 says, “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.  10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”

The author of the Bible is God, that God caused men called “prophets” to write down His Word.  But, how did it come to be the book that we see today?  God gave us His message through the Jewish people first.  In fact, all of the people that God used to write the Bible were Jewish except one.  His name was Luke, and he was a Gentile.  (A Gentile is anyone who is not Jewish.)  God wanted the whole world to receive His message through the Jewish people.  At first, God used the prophets to write down His message.  These original documents wore out from use and old age.  So, new copies were made.  These copies were made by hand and were done very carefully.  Copies were made and given to other people.  They also would copy it and then give the copy to still another.  Even though this was all done by hand, there are more ancient manuscripts of the Bible than any other document.  These manuscripts have been found through archeology.  In fact, there are many that have been found.  All of these ancient manuscripts are almost exactly the same.  They only differ in very small details.

The original texts of the Bible were written in one of three different languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.  In the time that Christ was on the earth, the scrolls (Bible) were kept in the temple.  Only a few people were able to have copies of these texts.  Most of the time, if the people wanted to hear them, they needed to go to the temple and listen to them being read.  As time passed, God caused men to begin translating the manuscripts into other languages.  Copies of these were sent from place to place for the people to read.  Today, the Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book in the world.

Psalm 119:89 says, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.”

One study of history is called archaeology.  It is when people dig into the earth to find ancient information about ancient cultures.  Many discoveries have proved the accuracy of the Bible.  The archaeologists have found things that agree with what the Bible says, even to the smallest detail.  In fact, there are thousands of discoveries that have been found that ALL support the accuracy of the Bible.  There are still new things being discovered today, and each new discovery adds to the support of the Bible.  This can only prove that the Bible is not man’s book; it is God’s book.  Books that man has written will often change.  Even history books are rewritten.  But, the Bible has never changed because God, who knows everything, wrote it.

The Bible is not just another “religious” book.  Many people have written books trying to tell others about God.  God wrote the Bible.  In it, He tells us what He is like and who He is.  He tells us about Himself and about ourselves, about our relationship with Him.  It is a special book that answers the questions:

  • Where did I come from?
  • Why am I here on this earth?
  • Where am I going from here?

It is a book that answers the question about “Absolute Authority,” and who has it.  It teaches us what authority is and what our relationship is to it.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

It is important for us to read and study the Bible because it is God’s personal message to each one of us.  It is like God’s voice speaking to us, teaching us about ourselves. It is the only book in which God Himself teaches us how to live in the world today.  It is the only book in which God Himself tells us what He thinks, feels, and wants us to know.  God wrote it to give to each one of us:  young, old, boy, girl, man, and woman.

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