Autumn/Winter 2017-18 Issue

Is Christianity a “white religion?”  In this issue, read topics about race and racism in the Bible, discover how to study the Bible effectively, and learn if you are a Christian racist.  Also, find out why it’s not that great to be a Barnabas, learn how the prosperity gospel hurts Christians, and why is it important for women to be shamefaced?  Plus, check out an article by contributing writer, Pat Jeanne Davis.

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How to Study the Bible Effectively

Estimated Reading Time: 18 minutes

Many people assume that they know how to study the Bible effectively. Usually, the process is reading it, or meditating on a ten-second daily devotion, or memorizing individual scriptures. Many people think they are studying the bible effectively, but here’s a list of things that will mess you up.

 

Randomly Plucking Scriptures

Randomly Plucking Scriptures

All types of people, believers and unbelievers, randomly pluck scriptures out of the bible for their own gain or because of false teachings. This is one reason why I write the Wrong Verses Right™ series for the believer.

Unbeliever

However, some scriptures I haven’t explained because unbelievers use them and I am not here to teach an unbeliever of the deeper things of God because their intent is to abuse. Yet, for context, here is an example of something they’ve used:

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. ~Isaiah 45:7 KJV

Notice the “create evil” part. What people see is that the Lord creates evil, but looking deeper we see that the greater sentence is “I make peace, and create evil.” God is telling you “straight up” that He is the One who brings peace in a man’s life or the One who brings the evil. For instance, if a person continues to read and know the Bible, they would eventually find out that when people sin, the devil goes to God to bargain for their soul. Though God might have patience and grant mercy, He will definitely grant punishment for sin especially when people should have known better. That designed punishment is a license for the devil to wreak havok—a.k.a. evil— in their lives. It is called a curse. This is why God sends the destroyer where sin abounds.

For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. ~Exodus 12:23 KJV

So yes, God creates the evil, but typically because a person asked for it or as in the case of the book of Job, as a test of faith.

The thief [devil] cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I [Jesus] am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. ~John 10:10 KJV

Therefore, taking scriptures out of context may seem like a smart, thinking thing to do, but it’s really very vacuous.

Memorizing Without Context

Memorizing Without Context

Memorizing random scriptures seems like a great idea. After all, our Christian kids may do this at AWANA or in Bible School. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that memorizing individual scriptures without full knowledge of the context has contributed to widespread misuse and misinterpretation.

Here’s an example:

Moment of Truth: Casting Down Lies #15

Reading It Like A Storybook

Reading It Like a Storybook

The Bible is the holy book. Having read and studied it for many years, I can safely say that it is a perfect account of historical facts in chronological order. Moreover, certain books are personal, historical accounts that correlate to other books. This throws off the chronology if a person doesn’t see that it’s an “insider account” or a book of historical records.

For instance, in the books of first and second Kings, more information about Jeroboam and Rehoboam are found in the books of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.

And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. ~1 Kings 14:19 KJV

Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? ~1 Kings 14:29 KJV

These books are actually in the Bible as first and second Chronicles. These books are records of additional acts that occurred.

However, it took me years to understand that because certain things did not unfold before my eyes when reading the Bible. It is the same for us all.

Faith and the Holy Spirit

Faith and the Holy Spirit

First, if a person does not have God’s Holy Spirit, they will not be able to fully understand God’s word. It is impossible. The Word is holy and the Word is God.

I remember when I first tried to read God’s word, it made me tired after the first couple paragraphs because my spirit was so weak. Therefore, I set it back on my coffee table undesiring to open it again for at least another seven years. Even so, I still thought I was a Christian.

If a person doesn’t believe God, God will hide the understanding of His Word. Therefore, that person must first come to God in repentance to Jesus Christ according to the scriptures.

God's Comprehension Builders

God’s Comprehension Builders

Okay, so if a Christian knows the bible really, really well, they can read it like story book. Yet, if they don’t, they are going to run into a lot of scriptures that they think are contradictions or perhaps difficult to decipher.

I’ve learned to love these type of scriptures because they are God’s comprehension builders. You have to stop, pick them apart, and meditate on what is being said, why it’s being said, and in what context it’s being said of the entirety of the passage and sometimes the entirety of the book it’s in. The Bible even has context clues.  Moreover, the context of the scripture should also measure up to similar scriptures without contradicting.

Here are examples of that:

Wrong Verses Right: Isaiah 58:9 KJV

I haven’t even mentioned deciphering the underlying Greek or Hebrew yet.

Do you get what I’m saying? As you meditate and study, get excited to further meditate and study the “comprehension builder,” which is that particular scripture that sounds like a contradiction. You will always find that the Word of God is not contradicting, only misinterpreted.

Punctuation and Specific Words

Punctuation

Furthermore, it’s important to pay attention to punctuation (e.g. Colons, semi-colons, commas, exclamation points, etc). A good example, of a verse explained, is at the beginning of the article called White Religion: Biblical Facts About Race and Racism in Christianity.

Additionally, for further understanding, we also can look to today’s definition of words and observe similarities.

Specific Words

Take note of words like shall, will, might, should, must…  

Might is not an absolute.

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. [36] For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. ~Hebrews 10:35-36 KJV

Chapters

Chapters?

Chapters, in the Bible, do not necessarily mean that a new subject is occurring. In the New Testament, for instance, the Apostle Paul is often in the middle of a speech when the chapter ends.

Read Romans one and two.

Read Romans seven and eight.

In a typical library book, a new chapter means a new scene or scenario. Not so with the Bible.

For example: Recently, I heard a pastor preach about our “hopeless” imperfection (infirmities) using this verse:

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. ~Hebrews 4:15 KJV

If the pastor would have read through the chapters— realizing that the writer was not finished— he would have come to the full understanding through chapter six.  Remember, the books of the New Testament were Paul’s letters.  Each book was one really, long letter:

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, ~Hebrews 6:1 KJV

Yes, two chapters later, we see that coming to the throne helps us to “find grace” because we seek to perfect ourselves. We are not hopeless in Christ. We are more than conquerors in Christ.  This is why people are easily misled.

Easy Translations

Easy Translations

Pulling the easiest translation of the Bible is unfortunately… unfortunate. Nevertheless, I’ve found too many bad translations. The Bible has been retranslated into modern versions because many people assume that the KJV was too difficult. Did you know that 73% of the 1611 KJV is mostly written at or below a sixth-grade reading level?1 (Right-click to open this image in a new tab.)

CREDIT: http://www.av1611.org/kjv/ESV_Intro.html

I actively study the King James Version. I trust it by the Spirit of God. I also have some study aids to discover the original Hebrew or Greek behind certain words and I use a dictionary. Not only that, the Holy Spirit leads me to obtain the understanding.

Here are examples of what that looks like:

Modesty Minute: The Beauty and the Beast of Bad Translations   (Note all the bad translations.)

Wrong Verses Right: Romans 16:17 KJV

Hebrew and Greek Interpretation2

Discover the underlying Hebrew or Greek.  I do not rely on Strong’s concordance by itself simply because certain commentary in it says falsely that the power of God ended with the apostles. Therefore, I tread lightly with it. I do add other aids such as Thayer for the NT and the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon for the OT.  Remember, when choosing a Hebrew or Greek word it is important to consider the context clues of the passage and complimentary scriptures to avoid contradictions.

Here’s the good news: If you download the Tecarta Bible KJV app, you can purchase the Strongs concordance and it contains all of these. Examining all of the meanings, and the context of the Bible passages, will help you to choose the most accurate one. As you do this, you will discover that many translations leave out important details or add to the text producing a different understanding of the original text.

Sure, anyone can read an easy translation at face-value, but oftentimes they are left with ideas like, “We’ll never be perfect.” Or “Holiness is: faith by acknowledging Christ verbally, grace abounding through sin, being nice, ...”

Misleading Additions

Misleading Additions

Another tip to remember is to try not rely on chapter headers and summaries that have been added to Bibles. They can mislead the translation.

Misleading Context:

This summary is misleading because it does not use the context of the passage.  Added summaries are not scriptures.

Be filled with all knowledge ==>Romans 15:14 KJV  and prove all things ==> 1 Thessalonians 5:21 KJV.

Misleading Headers:

This header is misleading because of its placement and because it says “Judge not others.”  The header was referencing Matthew chapter 7 where Jesus says, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”  However, Jesus is talking to the hypocrite.  “Judge not others” gives the impression that all Christians do not judge anyone.  Added headers are not scriptures.

Those who walk in the Spirit have a readiness to revenge all disobedience when their obedience is fulfilled ==>2 Corinthians 10:6 KJV.

Study the Jewish People

Jewish People are the Natural Vine

Learn about the Jewish people. Everything connects back to the Jewish people who are still God’s people. Remember, God used Jewish people (Jesus, the disciples, Paul, etc.) who turned to Him because they knew their own people well.  The Gentile is the wild vine so no one should have the idea that we are above the Jews. We are saved by God’s grace and we are the tool God uses to stir up jealousy in the Jew so that they will accept the Messiah creating a union of Jew and Gentile. We can only do this through the power of God, not by simply “being nice.”

Thinking is God-given, Studying Effectively is Required

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Anyone can read the Bible many times, but not everyone studies it. Moreover, not everyone is born-again. If they studied by the Spirit of God, they would be bursting with all of the scriptures and stories that show how the Old Testament is relevant to the fear of God, the righteousness of God, the heart of God, and the perfection of flawed people through God. They would see how Jesus completed the law of God in the New Testament, but didn’t remove it or God’s ways. Also, if they truly studied it, they would be rebuking the inaccuracies of other translations. Ultimately, anyone who truly studies God’s word cannot expel lukewarm sermons or support sin in the church body.

God wants His people to think. It is unfortunate that some unbelievers were taught that Christianity has nothing to do with thinking when it has everything to do with thinking.

[3] For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: [4] (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) [5] Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; [6] And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. ~2 Corinthians 10:3-6 KJV

This scripture tells us that we must capture every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

Moreover, God gives knowledge, wisdom, and understanding even in science.

Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. ~Daniel 1:4 KJV

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among these children.

[17] As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. [18] Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. [19] And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. [20] And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm. ~Daniel 1:17-20 KJV

Below, this warning from God to the wicked princes of Israel shows us why we should capture every thought to God’s obedience. God knows every thought in people’s minds.:

And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said unto me, “Speak; ‘Thus saith the Lord ; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.” ~Ezekiel 11:5 KJV

This scripture tells us that the godly meditate on God’s word all the time.

[1] Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. [2] But his delight is in the law of the Lord ; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. ~Psalm 1:1-2 KJV

All disciples teach whatever the word of God commands to all nations. Teaching it implies a study of it first.

[19] Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. ~Matthew 28:19-20 KJV

This instruction was from Paul to Timothy:

[10] For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. [11] These things command and teach. [12] Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. [13] Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. [14] Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. [15] Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. [16] Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. ~1 Timothy 4:10-16 KJV

Look to the prophets who were given dreams and visions and then, often given the understanding of them.

The Bible is a Free, Critical-Thinking Education

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It is clear to see that Language Arts, Spelling, and Reading Comprehension are covered in the Bible. However, did you know that Science, Social Studies, Math, Writing, and Home Economics are in the Bible? Yes, in order to study the Bible, research of names and places is involved. You can pull out your ruler and draft the ark or the temple. You can make bread by studying the recipe. Did you know that the Hebrew alphabet is in Psalm 119? On writing, if I never started a magazine, I never would have written so many articles. It was through expository writing, investigation, and application that I discovered false doctrines.

Furthermore, Christians believe in Science. Science is not only physical and metaphysical, God is the creator of its laws. Moreover, the Bible is History. It is a historical document comprised of historical documents. These documents help you to understand everything pertaining to the history of the world, life, death, God, and the power of God. That is not all. You’ll discover poetry, parables, drama, humor, music, ethics, politics, social and economic injustice, justice, racism, health, charity, and so much more!

How can anyone just pluck scriptures for memorizing? Or reduce Paul’s long letters about grace to one phrase called “unmerited favor”? Or read ten-second devotionals and think they get it?

Studying these things take mental skill, practice, commitment, and the Holy Spirit. In other words, mindful discipline and a dedicated heart. It is a free, critical-thinking education.  One thing I haven’t mentioned is writing.  If you want to write about concepts in the Bible, this will take your understanding to a much higher level.  However, it must be done properly.

God does not withhold wisdom from any believer. Certain unbelievers try to use the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as an example that Christians don’t use their brains. True, many don’t.

Yet, what they fail to understand is that the Tree of Life is really the Tree of Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding

Which is better? Think about it.

 

Cite this article: Please update the Accessed or Retrieved date (September 13, 2015).
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“How to Study the Bible Effectively” A Woman {Saved} Mag. Ed. Bobbie Chariot. Savior Sanity LLC., 1 August. 2017. Web. 13 Sept. 2015. <https://awomansaved.com/how-to-study-bible-effectively>.
“How to Study the Bible Effectively” A Woman {Saved} Mag. August 1, 2017. Accessed September 13, 2015. https://awomansaved.com/how-to-study-bible-effectively.
Chariot, B. (Ed.). (2017, August 1). How to Study the Bible Effectively. Retrieved September 13, 2015, from https://awomansaved.com/how-to-study-bible-effectively.

Thank you for reading!

Bobbie Chariot

Bio: Founding Editor

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