"HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE"
TO BETTER KNOW OUR GOD
A Study on the Practice and Methodology of Effective Bible Study
The Problem of InterpretationHow do we know if we are interpreting the Bible correctly? Is there even such a thing as a "correct" interpretation?
Cross - References
The Most Essential Tool - An open and willing heart. Without this most important tool we will never profit from our study, no matter how much we may learn. We must be willing to be taught whenever we approach the Bible, allowing it to be an instrument of change in our lives rather than bending it to support our treasured ideas. The word of God possesses great power but only if it is studied honestly and with a willingness to allow God to speak through it to us.
As we read the Bible we must constantly be thinking of what the Bible is telling us, not what we want it to tell us.
- "Dusty Bibles lead to dirty lives. In fact, you are either in the Word and the Word is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, or you are in the world and the world is squeezing you into its mold."
Henry Ward Beecher wisely said that...
- "The Bible is God’s chart for you to steer by, to keep you from the bottom of the sea, and to show you where the harbor is, and how to reach it without running on rocks or bars."
As D. L. Moody said...
- "The study of God’s Word brings peace to the heart...light for every darkness, life in death, the promise of our Lord’s return, and the assurance of everlasting glory."
Phillips Brooks said that...
"The Bible is like a telescope. If a man looks through his telescope, then he sees worlds beyond: but if he looks at his telescope, then he does not see anything but that. The Bible is a thing to be looked through, to see that which is beyond; but most people only look at it; and so they see only the dead letter."
Cross Reference - A system of cross references, like those found in most modern reference Bibles or in dedicated works such as "The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge," (which contains over 600,000 cross references, several different indexes, and a comprehensive note system) can refer you to other passages that relate to the one being studied. Cross references are quite possibly the single most important and useful Bible study tool available as they operate on the foundational principle of allowing the Bible to be its own interpreter. When purchasing a study Bible it is a good idea to review the type of cross referencing system it employs as well as the quantity of references printed. Many of today’s study Bibles have an average of 50,000 cross references. A concordance, such as those mentioned above, is useful in cross referencing specific words and phrases so that methods of usage of a specific word sequence may be discovered. A good cross reference system allows you to follow concepts and ideas throughout the Bible as well as specific words and phrases.
Below is a portion of the entry for Genesis 1:1 taken from "The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge," edited by Jerome H. Smith: I used the old Treasury of Scripture
1. beginning. Pr *8:22-24. 16:4. Mk 13:19. Jn 1:1-3. 15:27. Ac 1:1, 22. He1:10. 1 J 1:1. Re 3:14. God. Heb. Elohim. S#430h. Ge 2:2 +19:29. Ex +2:24. Ps +45:6. 89:11, 12.5p 3:9. Col *1:16, 17, 18. He *1:2. Created. Ge 1:21, 27. 2:3……
As you can see, there are entries keyed to each major word (in bold text), allowing you to follow specific themes, ideas, and usages through the entire Bible. In certain instances the Hebrew or Greek original meaning is given (in italic text) and numerous topical entries are also catalogued and extensive notes are included as well. A complex but understandable system of symbols allows you to determine which cross references you wish to follow.
Cross references, either in a study Bible or in a stand alone resource, will indicate to which words the cross references apply by a letter, symbol or some other method.
Give yourself a lot of time to properly explore the cross references, especially if using a resource such as The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (which contains several hundred thousand cross references).
Avoid distraction. As you explore the cross references you will come across verses which seem to require follow up (this is especially true if you are using a computer based study Bible). Stay close to your primary area of inquiry and follow the side trails as time permits.
If possible use two Bibles, one to keep open to the passage you are studying and the second with which to look up the various cross references.
EXAMPLE USED FOR CROSS REFERENCES IN THE STUDY OF A MESSAGE USED FROM I PETER 1:13-20. Used in a sermon preached at FBC in 1994. This article is SIX pages thus I will post over several days. Charles E. Whisnant
THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST
Drafted by Charles E. Whisnant, Proof Read by Charity Whisnant