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Thursday, 16 December 2010

How To Study The Bible and Why. Learning How To Avoid Deception

Added To and Edited 18 Dec 2010 and 18 Jan 2011

After you read this please read the following article (which will re-enforce why we should read the Bible) by clicking on this shortcut link: How The Bible Was Put Together and Proving Why It IS The Inspired Inerrant Word Of God  

The first reason we should read the Bible is because it is our spiritual food. Jesus said "no one lives by bread (physical food) alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. God, the prophets, Jesus and the Apostles all declared that the scriptures were the WORD OF GOD. They are our spiritual food. In Hebrews it states that "the Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing between soul and spirit". The Word is powerful and transforms us. It also protects us from false teachers or false prophets because we should compare what they say with what the Bible ACTUALLY says.

When I mention the Bible, of course I mean Bibles which are translated directly from the original manuscripts of the Bible. I do not mean "false" bibles which are NOT direct translations from the original manuscripts, such as paraphrases. 

These original manuscripts were recognised by all (as explained within that shortcut link above) as the inspirational writings (canon) of truth (note: the canon does not include the apocrypha). So, the "false" bibles (like the paraphrases) are simply the author's personal and biassed interpretation which cannot be considered as inspirational or THE BIBLE as they are not direct translations from the Holy Spirit inspired Manuscripts, but have been contaminated by human (not divine) interpretations.

Therefore, please do not consider "The Message", "Living Bible" "New Living Translation" or any other paraphrase or interpretations of the Bible (which were not from the original manuscripts) as your BIBLE because they actually distort the true message. Note: many use these paraphrases to support their ungodly agendas. For example "the Message" has been written by an author who is seeking to bring the occultic New Age, teaching into the Bible. Please check out my article about "the message" within this shortcut link

Showing Why The Bible Version "The Message" Is Blasphemous  

So what versions can we trust?
Those versions which can be used (reliably) as accurate translations of the WORD OF GOD are as follows: KJV,   NIV 1984 version only,  NKJV, NASB. I like to use these in combination to compare with each other so as to arrive at the correct meaning on the difficult passages.  There is actually virtually no difference (in meaning) in the translations of these apart from slightly different words being used to describe the same thing. By comparing the different versions it helps us to understand the true meaning better.  By the way, the NIV is very easy to read, so we really do not need paraphrases anyway! Please note that the NIV versions 2005 and 2010 have been changed to be more politically correct but no longer as trustworthy. 

We should all study the Bible (eg, NASB,  NIV 1984 version only,  KJV, NKJV) direct and do not use paraphrases or versions not directly translated from the original manuscripts. I also advise that these 4 versions be compared and read together to ensure you arrive at the correct meaning of the text. It is first vital to get to know the whole Bible first: verse by verse, passage by passage, chapter by chapter, book by book.

You cannot properly  study the Bible (comparing scripture with scripture) until you have read it through first.
Therefore, I will now pass on some tips which have served many thousands of biblical Christians well (over the last century) on how to read and then study your Bible.

How To Study The Bible

It is good to read the gospels first, then Acts to become familiar with Jesus and the early church, then read Genesis and Exodus to become familiar with how God first dealt with man and sin. The New testament letters could then be read. Reading like this will help to understand the easier elements of our faith first. Once you become familiar with the easier Books of the Bible, the harder ones become easier to read and make more sense in the light of what you have already learnt. Then, continue through the Old Testament in sequence, maybe (at first) skipping over Books like Levticus, Numbers Lamentations etc. The Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel etc are excellent once you get a grasp of the first parts of the Bible.

So, once you become familiar with the whole Bible, the next step is to study it properly. You can use a concordance or an online Bible to "word search". This helps to find many scriptural verses on a given subject. Using a concordance is excellent if you want to find a specific verse (you have already read before) and want to compare that verse with other similar verses. Many advise a systematic way of reading through the whole Bible. Some use tools to read through the Bible in a year. However, if you read the passages too quickly it is possible that you won't give yourself enough time to digest the words. As James said, it will be like looking at a mirror quickly without really looking. As soon as you turn from the mirror you immediately forget what you saw. Do not read the verses too quickly or you TOO will forget what you have read.

Therefore, to help you know the Bible more and improve your relationship with God, I  especially advise (as was first advised to me) that you study and meditate on the chapter, passage and verses thoroughly - not just reading it but allowing time to digest what it is saying. This is the best way of  remembering scripture and enabling the Holy Spirit to remind you later of specific verses. Ask yourself questions about the passage and search for the answers.

For example: who is speaking? what is the passage saying?, why is it saying it?, how does it fit in with the preceding verses, chapters and the succeeding verses and chapters (context), who is it written to or spoken to?, how does it fit in with other passages of scripture that discuss these points?, does it apply to us or me? why does it apply to us/me? How does it apply to myself? what is God saying to me?  At this point it is good to pray, asking God to show you what He is saying to you.

Note: there are other questions you could ask. I have given just a few examples. By asking the questions it focusses your mind in answering your own questions with the help of God through the Holy Spirit.

Learning How To Avoid Deception
In other words: we should all be Bereans (see Acts 17:11 "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true")  ie study the scriptures regularly (while we STILL have the Bible available to us)  always checking out what our leaders say with the Bible to see if what they are saying is scriptural.

By the way, checking the scriptures is more than just checking out the verses the church leaders quote (in their sermons) because they could be manipulating or twisting these verses to fit their own agenda. Rather, check those verses by comparing them with other verses (which they have not quoted) and check out the context of the chapters surrounding those verses to get those verses in complete context. This is what it means to be a Berean ie correctly check out what the leaders are saying.

Does that mean that we should not go to church or Bible Studies? Of course we should still go!!! However, we need to be careful HOW we listen. God may have planted and anointed that leader within your church (as a good pastor) for purpose of training and equipping believers for the ministry.

However, even the good leader is human and may make mistakes or even be deceived (themselves) for a period of time. We are not to soak up everything they say as absolutely true but should "test all things". The Scriptures teach us to test or check out what is said. The way we do this is by checking out the scriptures. It is easier to spot error if you thoroughly know the scriptures. If you do not know the scriptures it is easier to be deceived. Therefore, if you do not want to be misled, then it is essential NOW to start in getting to know the Bible yourself.

So (if we are going to check things out) why do we need to listen to pastors? You have probably heard "iron sharpens iron". By listening to the teacher it SHOULD stimulate us to check out the scriptures for ourselves. The teacher should be a stimulant to get us "into" The Word and to encourage us to study the Bible on specific topics. If we just simply listen, without checking the scriptures we could become deceived, so ALWAYS check out what the pastor says later. It is also good to consider what other "experts" say about the same subject, so that we do not have just ONE biassed opinion.

I always encourage every Christian to NEVER put their trust in man but in the ONLY one who can be 100% trusted ie Jesus. By doing this we will not get caught up in false organisations.

As a follow up to this article, please read this article written on 14 Dec 2014:

How to Get Close To God, Pray and Walk with Him In These Last Days


John Chingford said...

For the benefit of those who get my updates, I just want to let you know that I have made quite a number of changes to this article by adding more helpful tips on reading/studying the Bible.

I would value your feedback as follows:

was it helpful to you? have I overlooked anything? do you have anything else to add?

Thanks and God bless

Expected Imminently said...

Hello John

I fear tis me again – it isn’t because I like the last word – honest!

Paul is speaking to the church at Corinth in Ephesians 5:25 ‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26.That he might SANCTIFY and CLEANSE it with the WASHING of water BY THE WORD,
27. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish’.

From vs.26, I consider God’s Word washes us, preferably on a daily basis. What I mean is, we are washed and cleansed from all sin by the shed blood of Jesus Christ! We are not OF the world, but we are IN the world. In our daily walk with Jesus, our spiritual feet come in contact with the grubby, dusty old world where sin and unrighteousness abounds.

In John 13:4-17 Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, reluctant Peter eventually asked Jesus to wash his head and hands as well. Jesus said to him, "He who IS BATHED needs only to WASH HIS FEET, but is completely clean; and you are clean..." vs. 10.

Because the blood of Jesus has bathed us, we are made clean, but the effect the world has on us means we need a daily wash in the ‘water of the Word’. Not only for our own benefit; but to ‘wash’ the brethren with Scripture to refresh one another, giving comfort, encouragement, even healing from the trial of our faith.

The Word of God is like a sharp, two edged sword to defend ourselves from, and to use as an attack weapon against, the enemy of our souls.

Ephesians 6:17 … and the sword of the Spirit, which is THE WORD OF GOD.

A Bible Dictionary is helpful.

Pray for guidance and understanding.

Oh yes, we must never, ever forget CONTEXT! CONTEXT! CONTEXT! Isolating a scripture from its rightful place in a sentence, paragraph, chapter and book is how CULTS are born.

God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I understand that the Living Bible is a paraphrase, but I think the New Living Translation is close to the NIV in its translation-reliability. I have a copy somewhere but I do not know where, but if I remember correctly, my above statement is fairly accurate. But these days I mostly use NASB or NKJV, sometimes the OKJV (the O stands for Old KJV- haha), or YOUNG'S, or online ASV. Sorry, did not mean to write a book about it.


John Chingford said...

Thanks Anonymous

I bought a copy of the NLT and noticed that it was a "politically correct" version. It is not a direct translation from the original manuscripts and changes words to make them more politically acceptable.

For example, check out manuscriptural references to brothers or brethren.

In the NLT it appears as "brothers and sisters". Actually some commands were specific to the men in the church but the "politically correct" NLT states brothers and sisters and therefore distorts the original meaning.

Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever. It is heretical and seriously wrong to tamper with the word of God to make it relevant to todays society.

"do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your minds" ie DO NOT EVER m,ake the bible politically correct!

Ed said...

Does not the word of God (Matt 7:1) say "do not be judged less you be judged yourself?" and does it not expect that you be judged by the very means or manner by which you judge others?
The Word also states in Romans 3:10 that "there is no one righteous" which means we all fall short but we do so, thankfully, before The Cross of Christ.
However, your list is quite damning and unforgiving.
Interestingly, you do not include the Pope in your list. Can you explain your view of those teachers?
While we all might wait for a 'correct teachers' list from you to balance your claims there are many who feel that such a list may never appear.
Before then, be aware this day, writer, of 1 Corinthians 6:10 (quoting the most reliable translation; the NASV) "nor thieves, nor coveters, nor REVILERS, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (Caps for emphasis).
You might like to look up the word 'reviler'.
Go in Peace.

D Willems said...

ED -
Yes, the Word of God says 'Do not judge, lest Ye be judged...' - of course, the Word of God also says Eph 5:11
'And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.' Please understand, this is not JUDGEMENT. This is exposition. We ARE to RIGHTLY DIVIDE the Word and to TEST everything. We ARE to do this! Read on:
Eph 5:12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.
But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.
Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.