Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting familiar with the bible, promoting biblical literacy

There are plenty of things competing for our attention in this life, not to mention the many things that are stressed as URGENT within Christendom. I would suggest that the most vital discipline in the life of the believer is A FAMILIARITY WITH THE SCRIPTURES.
A familiarity with scripture is a safeguard from false teaching: 'Discernment' comes from rightly understanding the word of God, our minds are to be 'renewed' by the word of God.
A familiarity with scripture is the key to praying properly: Through this we learn the promises of God, we learn what is and what is not appropriate to pray for, and through this we learn from the numerous examples of bible saints.
A familiarity with scripture promotes a familiarity with God, who reveals His character through the scriptures, this is the key to growing in personal holiness.

Every believer should desire to know the word better because it's linked to knowing God better and every believer should fear what happens when we aren't familiar with the word: we take the truth we know and then we fill in the blanks by rationalism, logic, circumstances, feelings or by the norms of the day, we MUST flee from this because we were never equipped to figure things out this way. If you wish to know and serve the Lord, then you must hunger for truth!!! If you wish to influence others (family, friends, and the lost) then you MUST hunger for truth!!

This goes double for those in ministry, I have witnessed 'ministers' totally unable to answer questions with scripture (and NO, not some obscure subject), totally unable to recall biblical passages relevant to a discussion. I've sat in bible studies and even in conferences where I sat utterly puzzled at the inability to apply scripture to a subject, yet are able to spew out a theological term they learned from a book. We desperately need ministers who are more familiar with Moses, Jesus, and Paul then with Calvin, Luther and Spurgeon!!!
A solid biblical framework can ONLY come through grasping the harmony of scriptures, which doesn't come through picking out a list of subjects/topics and finding scriptures for them. Sure you might impress someone, but your unfamiliarity with the scripture WILL be evident in life, counselling, and an extended preaching/teaching ministry. The BIG PICTURE is important, which only comes through exposure to the WHOLE bible, which is acquired through personal bible study. The best expository preacher (even if you had John Calvin as your teacher who preached throughout the week) simply can't give you a familiarity with the scriptures (no matter how fast they get through the bible) and we must realize that the specific truths they are teaching you is coming from their biblical framework, which depending on the subject may be in need of correction; yet How would you be able to recognize error if you aren't familiar with the scriptures? By a weak argument, well what if they are very persuasive and emphasize a particular truth and exclude a complimentary truth that gives the proper balance? How would you catch it? The Apostle Paul told his hearers to 'follow me as I follow Christ', this can't happen if we blindly and ignorantly follow someone we admire. The Apostle Paul also gave a warning NOT to accept another gospel even IF he preached it, but then how would you recognize it?

If you suffer from this all too common malady, then I beg you to spend the bulk of your 'study' time in reading LARGE portions of the scriptures. Get real familiar with the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) then with the rest of the New Testament and then with the Old Testament (which will save you from much confusion). Perhaps you have been advised to just read something like a chapter, maybe make notes, memorize a couple verses or something, yet I would dare to say that should come secondary to reading several chapters at a time. By the grace of God and through the power of the Spirit, seek to grasp as much as you can, in fact I would not suggest limiting your reading to a certain number of passages because there may be times where you are able to supernaturally enabled to concentrate and understand large portions (even whole books) and so I wouldn't suggest you quench those times.
ABOVE that it would of course be wise to have some kind of reading plan, using various tools that can help you grasp specifics.

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