How to Study the Bible, Pt. 2

Scripture: John 5:39, Romans 10:17
Many Christians do not study the Bible, yet the word of God teaches us about every aspect of salvation and knowing the will of the Lord. This broadcast discusses Bible translations.
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw as they open the Bible and talk about themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's word.

John Bradshaw: Welcome to Bible Talk, where we talk about the Bible and how the Bible affects us today. I'm John Bradshaw and with me is Gary Gibbs. Hi, Gary.

Gary Gibbs: Hi, John. What are we going to talk about today?

John: We've been talking about vital principles for successful Christian living. We know that studying the Bible is an integral part of the Christian work. Jesus told us to search the scriptures. He said, "In them you think you have eternal life, they are they that testify of me." He said search the Bible, as opposed to merely casually reading the Bible. Why do you think Bible study is so vitally important? Now, I'm going to ask this question based on my own somewhat unscientific research. It appears to me that the majority of Christians are not studying their Bibles, which means the majority of everybody not studying the Bible. Why is it so important to be into it, eating it, studying it?

Gary: Well, Jesus said that you have to study the Word of God to have eternal life. John 5:39, "Search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life and they are they which testify of me." The word of God is what teaches us how about salvation, how to live the Christian life, how to overcome temptation, every aspect. It's the manual that teaches us how to find eternal life. If you're not reading it, you're not getting it.

John: It's the revelation of God, of the will of God, and of the character of God, and I'm reminded of a few verses in the Bible that outline how important or underscore how important it is to study the Bible. You'll read in the Book of Romans 10:17 that faith, now wait a minute, we are saved by grace through faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. We gain faith as a direct result of being involved intimately with the word of God. Ain't that right?

Gary: If we're not studying the word of God then our faith is diminished. We will not know how to live for God's glory and how to be blessed by Him. I think there are a number of reasons why people don't study the word. It's a complicated book. It's a difficult book to understand.

John: Now, wait a minute. There's nothing complicated about "Love thy neighbor as thyself." There's nothing complicated about "A sower went forth to sow." Nothing complicated about "If you love me, keep my commandments."

Gary: But what you're outlining there though are just a few Bible texts. You get into all these Old Testament places and names, you can't pronounce half of them. If you're reading a King James Bible, you think everybody back then talked with a lip lisp. You wonder what it's all about?

John: That lisp... I'm going to differ from you a little bit there. You read the Gospel of "In the beginning was the word. The word was with God. And the word was God." You don't need a PhD in anything to understand that. You can grab it. You can make it part of you, you go and read... Now, some of it is difficult. I'm going to warn you even Peter wrote about Paul and said that Paul said some things that were hard to be understood. They also said a whole lot of things that were dead easy to understand. If we don't get intimated by what appears to be the difficulties and perhaps the language of which we're not accustomed to that kind of language, just dive right in and grab what you can grab. Folks are going to grow in leaps and bounds spiritually.

Gary: I agree 100%. I was actually just kind of arguing that point because a lot of people say that. They say, "We can't understand it. It's an archaic book. We need somebody else to teach us." We do need teachers. We benefit from one another but we have to study the book ourselves. Let's talk about Bible translations, John. I made a comment. I was being a little facetious but there's a great degree of truth in what I said. You get into these, the Old King James Bible and I have one right here in front of me. I started in Old King James. I still study it today. I like it. I understand it.

But quite frankly, a lot of people find it a stumbling block. Is it the only Bible? Some people say the King James is the only Bible. All the others are corrupt translations. What do you have to say about this?

John: I think, if I may say so, I possess a qualification that enables me to talk about this. I enjoy the King James version of the Bible. To my thinking, I think it's the best. That's what I think. Now if you disagree with me, well, that's OK. I didn't start on the King James Bible when I first started studying the Bible. Man, I didn't know one Bible from another and someone plucked a newer translation of the Bible in my hand and it possessed enough of the presence and the power of God to lead me all the way to the cross and to connect me with Jesus.

I found salvation in another Bible, other than the King James Bible. Today, that's the one I like to study. I think we got to have a little bit of an open mind and know that people can meet Jesus and understand the principles of successful Christian living in more than one translation of the Bible. And wait, if the King James Bible were the only one, the only one, what about people who speak German or French or Korean or Japanese? They're not going to read the King James Bible.

Gary: Maybe they read a translation of the King James Bible.

John: Which is what some other modern English language Bibles today are.

Gary: If it's a translation of the King James then it's a new translation. And so, this idea of the King James only, I think it's really missing the point. The real point behind this is that there are different manuscripts...

John: From which the Bibles are translated.

Gary: That's right. Can you talk to us about that a little bit?

John: Well, you find, without getting all complex or detailed, there are two main streams of manuscripts that have been passed down through time. The King James Version of the Bible stems from a translation of one of those streams of manuscripts. Some of the newer translations generally come from another stream of manuscripts. Now, can you say that one is more reliable than the other? Yes, you can, and I think that's true. But I don't think we ought to go to war with each other over translations. "It's got to be my way or the highway." There's a little room for having a little respect for somebody else and trusting that the Holy Spirit is leading.

You said before it pays to have teachers. Man, the teacher we all need to have is the Holy Spirit. And he has proven time and time again that he can teach somebody out of the new King James, someone out of the King James, someone out of the New American standard Bible.

I know this is a perfectly good way to start a war with some folks, to start talking about Bible translations. The key is to pick up something that speaks to your heart and be open and pray that if God wants you to be in another translation, He'll lead you to one. But start where you are, and start with something that's going to speak to your heart. God will lead you.

Gary: I'll tell you, what I find interesting is the Dead Sea scrolls go back to the time of Christ. When those were discovered here, 40 or 50 years ago, and they've been translated now. They have found that these ancient manuscripts of the Bible that were older than anything that have been found up to that time, are very, very accurate. Or I should say, our translations are very accurate. They follow very closely to what these Dead Sea scrolls have. And so, these different manuscripts that we've had and the multiple translations, they're not far off. The differences between this and these very ancient manuscripts are just so minute, they're not even anything anybody ought to fret about. The word of God is trustworthy. Like you said, use whatever translation works best for you. I like the New King James because I find the King James Bible, the prose in it, the way it's written, makes it easier to memorize...

John: The King James?

Gary: The King James or the New King James makes it easier to memorize and I find it's an easier study Bible because there's some consistency in the translation from the Hebrew to the English.

John: Right.

Gary: Where we get into some other Bibles, NIV, Revised Standard, some of these other Bibles are nice reading Bibles. If I want to read a Bible I like to sit down and read something like the New International and just read through because it gives me the story. But if I want to study, I really go to my King James or my New King James. That's a personal preference, obviously. The best translation is the Bible a person is going to use.

John: That's absolutely right. If I was going to recommend a Bible, I'd recommend the King James Bible, that's what I like and that's what I think is the most solid and reliable. But listen, if it doesn't fit you, start with what does. Get in there, study, and hear the voice of Jesus speaking to you. Now, on this subject, we've got an offer that we want to make today. A Bible study lesson called "Back to Jerusalem." It's going to introduce you to the principles of Bible study, and help you understand how reliable and trustworthy the Bible really is. Call the number we're going to give you. Write to the address we're going to give you. Be sure to ask for today's offer, a Bible study lesson called "Back to Jerusalem". It will bless your soul.

Now, on the idea of the Bible, Paul wrote to Timothy and he said this, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God. And it's profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the mantle, the woman of God may be perfect, thoroughly or thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

See, that's what the Bible is for. If you're not studying the Bible, studying, you're not learning doctrine, you're not being reproved, you're not being corrected, you're not being instructed in righteousness. What does it say in the Bible? "Thy word is a lamp under my feet and a light unto my path." We need to be busily digging into the word of God.

Gary: The Bible tells us everything we need to be able to live a very good, happy, Christian, productive life. But what amazes me is that, here we are, we call ourselves Christians, and yet we have thousands of different denominations and churches who often have diametrically opposed beliefs. Yet we're reading the same Bible. That actually discredits Christianity, I'll tell you, with a lot of the other non-Christian religions out there. How is it, John, that we can read one book and come up with thousands of different contradictory beliefs?

John: Well, I would say that it is proof that someone is not being led entirely by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide you into all truth. Now, we come to the Bible with prejudices, preconceived ideas. We are shaped by our upbringing. I would challenge anyone, if you come to the Bible, and you put aside your preconceived ideas, God will be able to guide you in all truth. That might be a little simplistic. We're people. We're complex people. Two different people may see something two different ways, the Bible or something else. Hey, I had a stab at it. What's your answer to that question?

Gary: I think that's right. The attitude with which we come to the Bible is very important but I think another thing, you have to know how to study the Bible.

John: True enough.

Gary: When I first began studying the Bible, my sister gave me a Concordance and she was already a Christian. She said, "Here's a book that has every word in the Bible in it." And she says, "If you want to look up what the Bible teaches about baptism, you just look up all the Bible texts on baptism."

John: Sure.

Gary: Then you have got God's mind on it, versus taking one Bible text on baptism and building your whole doctrine around that. One of the doctrines that I think is really misunderstood within Christianity is what happens when a person dies.

John: Sure.

Gary: It's commonly believed that soon as you die, you go straight to heaven or hell. And that you have a conscious living state in there, in one of those two places. Now, very few people ever end up in hell, according to most funeral servants. But if you take the Bible and look up every text that deals with death, spirit, and soul, you'll find that death actually is a sleep until the resurrection at which time you either go to heaven or hell. But here's a doctrine that most churches don't have correct. It's because we're not looking at every Bible text. We pick out one or two Bible texts, and we build our whole doctrine around this.

John: The Bible says we ought to study line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little, get everything you can on the subject and then, allow Jesus to shape your belief on whatever that subject is that you're considering.

Gary: Bible Talk wants to facilitate people studying the Bible and understanding it and so I hope, John, that people will write or call and get our Bible study that we're offering today.

John: And be sure to join us next time. We've had a good time talking today. There'll be more next time here. I'm John Bradshaw with Gary Gibbs. This has been Bible Talk. [music]

Male Announcer: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide we'd love to share with you that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we've just discussed and expands on the subject, including information you'll want to know. To receive this free informative Bible study guide, simply call, write, or email and ask for "Back to Jerusalem". The toll-free number is 866-BIBLE-SAYS. That's 866-242-5372. You can write to us at Bible Talk, P.O. Box 1058 Roseville, California, 95678.

Or email us at Bible Talk is being produced in association with Amazing Facts in the studios of Live Talk Radio.

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