What are the essentials of good Bible study?

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Answered by: Joshua, An Expert in the Studying the Bible Category
Three Essentials of Good Bible Study

While there are a multitude of helpful tools and detailed or peripheral strategies that may aid the Bible student in his or her search for the truths taught to us in holy Scripture, there exist also a small number of essentials of Bible study without which all other helps are severely curtailed as to their spiritual effectiveness. These basic principles are indispensable to the study of God's Book of Truth.

The first of theses essentials of Bible study is the recognition of the Bible's true identity as the very breath of God. Second Timothy 3:16 states that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God," and is only one among a vast multitude of verses in which the Bible claims Divine authority for itself. The Greek has the word here Theopneustos, "breathed out by God." Now, if we are dealing with the very "breath of God Himself," then we ought approach this Book with holy awe and reverence such as we would accord to no other writing.

It is true that a man may come to understand the meaning of the Bible's words without acknowledging its authority, but such is undesirable and dangerous to his own spiritual welfare. Second Timothy 3:16 goes on to call all Scripture "profitable." What profit is it for a man to gain a world of knowledge concerning Biblical teachings, and yet lose his very soul for the lack of the knowledge that those teachings are from God and thus to be obeyed? The previous verse, Second Timothy 3:15, tells us that the Bible is "able to make you wise unto salvation." How sad indeed if the head is filled with true facts about Bible words, history, theology, etc., and yet the basic identity of the object studied is mistaken! What tragic irony for a Bible scholar to perish and lose his own soul! Indeed, recognizing the Bible as the breath of an all-wise, all-mighty creator is essential to ideal Bible study.

The second essential I will mention is the recognition of the form in which God's truth has come to us in the Bible. God spoke to man through man and in the language of man. He who is the creator of human language was not averse to using it in the communication of his most holy and valuable truths to the world. Second Peter 1:21 that the Bible came not by man's will, but that "holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." Yet the Bible is not averse to saying "David said" or "Paul said" any more than it is averse to saying "God said" when referencing holy writ.

The Bible is what it appears to be: a fully human Book. It is not written in mystical code language which only the well-initiated can decipher. The obsession of some with finding some secret code to unlock the Bible's hidden treasures is a farce. What truly needs "unlocking" is the eyes of the reader. We often fail to see what we do not expect to find. If we treat normal human language as a mystical code, then we will fail to see what is right in front of our faces. Taking the Bible at face value is the most spiritual approach: it supposes God to be a good communicator.

Last, but far from least, I mention this essential: the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Philippians 2:12-13 commands: "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Salvation from error in both belief and practice will flow from the correct understanding and application of the Bible. Bible study is work that we must do. But only if God through His Spirit is working in us to will and to do according to the teachings of the Bible can we expect such to occur. Man is helpless on his own to please a holy God. Without enough humility to recognize our need of the aid of God's Spirit, our Bible study will not accomplish the ultimate goal that it ought have- pleasing the Author of the Book we are studying.

These are three of the most important factors is Bible study. Recognizing the Bible's identity and form and seeking help from its Author will not make one a perfect Bible student, but they will surely make one a better student of the Bible than he or she otherwise would be.

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