Essential Christian Instruction, Part Three

BY PGF
4 months ago

Part One

Part Two

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” – Acts 17:11

This is Part Three of several posts about growing and maturing in Christ to accomplish the works that He foreordained for you to walk in. In later posts, we’ll look at serving within the body of Christ (church) and then specific technical instruction in how to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with lost sinners. Here we’ll discuss personal Bible reading and study.

If you say that you’re saved by the grace of Holy God and have never read the book that He left for you, shame on you! Men died to write it. Men died to make it a household item. Jesus died that it might all be fulfilled. Jesus said in Matthew 24:35 that “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” God has preserved His word supernaturally by His will that you might know Him and have specific instruction on how to proceed to implement His kingdom while we anticipate His return. Please read the book; it’s all in there! You’ll answer to God one day. And we’ll leave it at that before this turns into a much-justified tirade.

If you love the Lord that saved you, the Holy Spirit should fill you with the desire to be salt and light, in His strength and righteousness, to the wicked and depraved world. Christians should change the environment they are in. This is the mandate of the Great Commission; to conquer the world in the name of Jesus Christ by effectively wielding the sword of God, which is His word; you have no right to settle for less. How can you wield His sword if you don’t know it?

Read for comprehension by examining the text with singleness of purpose; that you might know Him and His mind toward you. You should do personal Bible reading and study time daily. It’s best to set a specific time for this each day.

When reading the Scriptures, pray and ask God for at least four things: To reveal what is happening in the text. To reveal what He needs you to learn from it. To teach you what He wants you to learn. And ask Him to reveal personal application for your church, family, and self.

Context is king. Many religions claiming to be Christian have taken just a handful of verses and made a religion from them. There are 66 books within the Holy Bible. You must seek to know who wrote the individual book you are reading and studying and the overarching purpose of God in giving us that book. All Scripture is given us for instruction (2 Timothy 3:16), but knowing who the intended audience was and the occasion of the writing is critical to understanding sound doctrine as applied to the church today. The Holy Bible is not a book of mystical, vaguely knowable sayings. You can understand it when studied in context.

Let’s start at the beginning. For brand new Christians and other infants, the book of John in the New Testament is a great place to begin personal reading and study. It lays out the simple fact of who Jesus is, how much God loves you, what He’s done for you, and who you are to God.

Here is how to grow; challenge God to prove His word. Now, don’t take that wrong; we don’t confront God or seek a duel of sorts, desire for God to show you that His word may be proven true. Our topic verse in Acts 17:11 at the top says: “…searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Don’t be afraid to tell God that you can’t hear the text, don’t understand it, and need His help to show you His purposes in judgment, grace, and instruction in righteousness.

Interrogate the text. Don’t take any man’s word for what the Bible says. Search the Scriptures daily for yourself! Are these things so?

A goal in reading and study should be to have family Bible study, but how can you teach your children if you are still ignorant? How can you know what your pastor teaches is accurate if you refuse to grow in the faith and knowledge of God by reading His word? How can you be a mature Christian soldier serving our King while remaining in darkness and ignorance?

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:17-18

After reading John, read the whole New Testament. It’s ok not to understand it all at first. Read from Matthew to the end of Revelation, asking God to reveal His word to you. The reason to start in the New Testament is that what happened two thousand years ago when Jesus was here is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. The books of the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament were fulfilled in (by) Christ Jesus. Reading the New Testament is like reading the answers to the test before taking it. We have the answers to the prophecies of the coming of the Son of God to save His people, raise up a church, restore righteousness in the earth, and end the curse of sin and death since the fall in the garden.

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – Jesus in John 17:17

Next is some practical reading and study instructions for anybody. Although God’s word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11), those ‘read the Bible in a year’ plans are essentially a waste of time. After reading the whole New Testament (perhaps twice?), start back in Genesis and begin your reading cover to cover. There is no end to the growth in grace and knowledge of God as He reveals His holy word to you. There is no goal; read and study for the rest of your life to know Him that loves you and saved you from eternal torment. You’ll never attain to the end of the knowledge of God in this life; it’s an ongoing relationship with Jesus that matters.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

Study a book going verse by verse, writing down what God reveals. The first book to do this with, again, is John. While studying in this manner, at times, you may simply be paraphrasing the word, but at others, God will bring the Scripture to life, and you’ll end up writing half a page about one verse that God is showing you. Pray for understanding and write down every thought working your way through the book a little at a time. Not only will God show you very personal things, but in writing about what you read, you’ll have to think and justify your understanding of the word of God and its meaning. If you have the Holy Spirit, you will grow very quickly doing this. Of course, without the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit of God, nobody can understand the word of God to any helpful degree of truth, especially the deep things of God.

You must be serious about reading and studying God’s word. This way, when you come under the sound of preaching, the Holy Spirit of God connects sections of Scripture, concepts, and related verses which will bring the word of God alive during the preaching. Otherwise, you sit there, not even knowing if what’s being said is true! If you know the word of God, no man can lie to you about God by soft-peddling perversions of the true and living God who is mighty to confound and destroy by His judgments, merciful and loving in His graces; for He is the only righteous One that exists.

Here are just three good reasons to study Scripture:

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Psalm 119:130

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” – Psalm 119:11

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

The word of God brings us into the light of truth and will change your simple mind to maturity. Coming into the knowledge of Christ consistently rebukes us from sinning against God that we may be steadfast in the faith unto the end. The word of God brings faith; we are to walk by faith, not by sight.

You must read and study the Scriptures to gain an in-depth understanding of God and the ministries He would have you serve in.

Note how not one extra-biblical text or course is mentioned here. Personal prayer with reading and study is done on top of any instructor-led or guidebook-driven studies. Personal prayer and bible study do not replace church going. And going to church does not replace personal prayer and bible reading & study time. You must do both.


Comments

  1. On March 3, 2022 at 8:42 am, blake said:

    Thanks again, Hershel.

    Amen.

  2. On March 3, 2022 at 9:37 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Make sure to thank the writer, PGF, for his hard work putting all of this together.

    I’ve taken on a writer to help out.

    Because this isn’t a money making venture and no one will give me $200,000 / Yr for writing.

    Ha!

  3. On March 3, 2022 at 11:31 am, blake said:

    Herschel, I still thank you, because many bloggers are afraid to wear their Christianity on their sleeves, so to speak.

    And yes, thanks to PGF for putting this together.

  4. On March 3, 2022 at 12:56 pm, PGF said:

    @Blake, thanks be to God who has been faithful to continue bringing to fruition the covenant He and I made from the start. If only I were as steadfast as He if faithful. May the Lord find you fulfilling your covenant.

  5. On March 3, 2022 at 5:03 pm, Bjorn Again said:

    Hello Mr. Smith. Much thanks to both you and especially PGF, who has a wonderful way with words.

    I enjoyed the series very much, and just in time for Lent :-)

    God bless you and thank you for your witness!

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