READ AND STUDY THE BIBLE
You can trust it-
The Bible has sixty-six books, thirty-nine books in the Old Testament and twenty-seven books in the New Testament. The Old Testament covers the period of time from the creation of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1) until about four hundred years before Christ, B.C., while the New Testament begins with the birth of Jesus Christ and projects into the future: the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21, 22). . The Bible is God's book. God is the author, although God used men to write down the words. We read in II Peter 1:21, "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." Also, we read in II Timothy 3:16, 17; "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 perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." God has both preserved his word and kept it pure, so that you can be assured that it is trustworthy without reservation (Psalm 12:6, 7).
If you have just been saved, and you were not raised in a good Bible-believing church where you received some basic knowledge of the Bible, then the following brief discussion will help you to get started in God's wonderful Book and to understand what you are reading. Let's begin by reviewing the following basic commandments from the word of God:
Desire the word--
I Peter 2: 1-3; "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." Certainly, if you have been saved by God's grace, then you have "tasted that the Lord is gracious," so there is no doubt that this verse is referring to a "newborn babe" in Christ Jesus who has been "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (IPeter 1:23). The commandment, then, is for YOU to "desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye [YOU] may grow thereby." A natural baby must have milk or he will get sick and die. A spiritual baby must also feed on the "milk of the word" or he will get sick and die (I Corinthians 11:30). The Lord Jesus said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the WORDS that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63; Romans 8:11).
The Lord said in John 10: 10, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." If you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, then you have everlasting life (this means that you will live eternally with the Lord in a new and glorified body after he comes); but the Lord wants your present life on this earth to be abundant. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). God has something for you to do in THIS LIFE, and a successful man will find out what God's will is for him and then do it. God commands you to "put off concerning the former conversation the old man ["laying aside all malice..."], which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24). How do you get "renewed in the spirit of your mind?" By continuing in God's word! The Lord Jesus Christ "loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify [set it apart from the world and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 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" (Ephesians 5:25-27). Up to now you have been brainwashed by the traditions and philosophies of man. What better thing could you do than to wash your mind with the pure words of God's truth? The Lord promised the Jews that believed on him, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32).
Study the word--
II Timothy 2:15; "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 12:12 that "much study is a weariness of the flesh." It is tiring to study and meditate on God's word, but the wisdom to be gained is "better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it" (Proverbs 8:11). Men spend long hours studying for various reasons: to learn a trade, to become a professional doctor, lawyer, scientist, or engineer; and there is nothing wrong with that, however, God's wisdom is far above the wisdom of this world, and should never be neglected and pushed aside to be replaced with the wisdom of this world, "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness" (I Corinthians 3:19).
"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding" (Proverbs 3:13). This wisdom is from the Lord: "For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly" (Proverbs 2:6, 7). This wisdom is to be found nowhere else but in the Bible. The Bible is like a gold mine of wisdom and understanding, and the child of God is instructed: "Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all they getting get understanding: (Proverbs 4:57). See also Proverbs 5:1; 8: 11; 10:21; Ecclesiastes 7:12; 9: 18.
Rightly divide the word--
The Bible has divisions. We have already mentioned the division between the time before Christ (Old Testament) and the time after Christ (New Testament). In a booklet of this size we can not go into great detail on this subject, however, the diligent student of the word of God should notice some things when studying the Bible:
1. Who is the speaker and who is he speaking to?
For instance, the book of Romans is written by the Apostle Paul. He is writing, "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints..," (Romans 1:7), and he tells "the saints" in Romans 14:10 that "we shall all STAND before the judgment seat of Christ." Because we have been watchful we know that "we" is a reference to Paul himself and the other "saints" of God. The verse clearly says that born again believers "shall all STAND before the judgment seat of Christ," By comparing this verse with Psalm 1:5 we know that ONLY born again believers will STAND in THAT judgment, for we read: "Therefore the ungodly SHALL NOT STAND in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." Again, by comparing these scriptures with Revelation 20:12, we find that the ungodly will "STAND" before the "great white throne" judgment after the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ on this earth: "And I saw the dead, small and great, STAND before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." Now, if we had not taken note of where we were reading, we might have misinterpreted Romans 14:10 and II Corinthians 5:10 to refer to all people, however, as you have seen it clearly does not.
2. What time period is the scripture referring to?
In the book of Acts we see the Lord working with the early church by giving it additional revelations as it grew in grace and knowledge of him. A good example is found in Acts chapter 2, where the apostle Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost and preached to the Jews, in Acts 2:38; "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
Later on, after God had taught Peter that he should not call the Gentiles common or unclean (Acts 10:9-16, 28), Peter went to Caesarea to preach to Cornelius, a Gentile, and to his Gentile family and friends. Peter preached a different message to them, and they got saved BEFORE they were baptized in water! Peter preached about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, saying, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word" (Acts 10:43, 44).
There are groups of people today who teach salvation by being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in order to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost! They do not rightly divide the word of truth. In addition, they ignore the abundance of scriptures which teach that salvation is by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8, 9; II Timothy 1:9; Romans 1:16; 10:9-13)!
Continue in the word--
The Lord Jesus Christ told the Jews which had believed on him, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31,32). "If~' is a big word which depends on your obedience and faithfulness to do what God has commanded you to do. The Lord Jesus clearly laid down how your live for him is measured when he said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). There is only one way to keep his commandments, and that is to know what his commandments are! This means that you must "desire," "study," and "meditate" on God's word; and that to be his disciple indeed, you must be a doer of the word and not a hearer only (James 1:22).
His promise to you who will continue in his word is that you will know the truth, and that the truth will make you free. The Lord has abundantly kept this promise to me, in that he has made me free from drugs, alcohol, lusts of the flesh, fear of man, false doctrines, fear of death, and many other things. All the glory is to God, because I was free of none of these things before the Lord saved me by his grace and began setting me apart and cleansing me by his word (Ephesians 5:25, 26)! God's word is a great treasure: continue in it. David wrote in Psalm 119:128; "Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way."
David wrote of the blessed man in Psalm 1:1,2; that "his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." David wrote in Psalm 119:48; "My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes." The apostle Paul, writing in I Timothy 4:15, instructed Timothy concerning the scriptures, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all." There is no doubt in my mind of the truth of these statements, for I have profited greatly in spirit from the precious word of God. Finally, listen to what the Lord told Joshua concerning his word in Joshua 1:8, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."