7/11/2013

Conclusion: Bible Study – Read the Book in Question

(This article was originally written for my local newspaper.)

Our most recent series of articles for Soli Deo Gloria has looked at the basic rules of interpretation and some practical suggestions to help understand the Scriptures.  We will close the series with a brief exhortation to read the Bible more.

We have abundant evidence to prove that the Bible is God’s Word given to us.  The books of the New Testament were written by eyewitnesses of the events they describe and their message has been accurately communicated to us through the centuries of copying and translation.  (See: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham and The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F. F. Bruce) 

Those eyewitness testimonies tell us about Jesus’ teaching that the Old Testament was true (Matthew 4:4, John 17:17) and His teaching that the New Testament would be true (John 14:25-30, 16:12-15).  They also tell of the many miracles Jesus worked, and those miracles testify to the truth of what He taught (John 10:38, 14:11). 

Above all, we have the testimony of the Holy Spirit that the Bible is true.  He speaks to us in our hearts with the words of the Bible, and we are firmly convinced that the Bible is true by Him. 

The truths of the Bible ‘trump’ any opinions of the church.  They overcome the opinions of ancient writers.  They overwhelm the teachings of mere men.  They have authority over the intuitions and feelings men have in their hearts. 

Since these things are true, how can we ignore the Bible?  Why do we not pick up the book and read it?

Some people do not read the Bible because they ‘get bogged down’ in certain books that contain long genealogies and details for temple construction.  To those, I would recommend an abbreviated Bible reading plan from R. C. Sproul’s Knowing Scripture.  That plan alone is worth the purchase of Knowing Scripture, and you will also find most of the truths shared in this series in that book as well. 

Some people do not read the Bible because they have not tried a disciplined ‘plan of attack.’  For those people, I would recommend one of the Bible reading plans at http://www.esv.org/resources/reading-plans-devotions/.  These plans feature many different approaches for reading through the entire Bible.  Most people find that the most effective plans are those that mix in a little of the New Testament with the Old Testament in each reading. 

Others fail to read the Bible because they are afraid they won’t understand it.  John H. Gerstner, a noted Presbyterian theologian, taught that a person with a good knowledge of the Bible as a whole, gained through ordinary reading, could have a great understanding of what the Bible says.  We can understand the Bible because what we need to know is said in one part of the Scripture or another so clearly that even those of us who are not theologians or experts in biblical languages can understand it.

Please do not forget the power of teamwork.  Reading the Bible together with a small group or a church is important because other people can encourage us and hold us accountable.

Lastly, no discussion of reading the Bible would be complete without the exhortation found in James 1:22, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”  As we learn the commands of the Bible and try to follow them, we will see our lives transformed into Christ’s likeness (Romans 12:1-2). 
Thank you so much for joining us in this journey through the ways the Bible can be better understood and studied.  Join us for our future Soli Deo Gloria articles starting soon. 

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