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Tips on how to study/interpret the Holy Bible
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{Mini Bible Study} Tips on how to Study/Interpret The Bible
           
            The bible covers so many topics that studying it can sometimes be an extremely daunting task. Discovering its many facets of wisdom, information and common sense can literally take a lifetime. Every time you think that you have gleaned all that you can from a certain chapter or verse you may come back to that same section at a later time in your life and see something you completely missed before or see GOD’s word in a whole new light. The Holy Bible is a living document that literally does never stop teaching us.
            Here are a few quick tips that will help you get the most from your studies.
 
1) The word of GOD can never contradict itself!
            In the book of Titus we read, “In hope of eternal life, which God, THAT CANNOT LIE, promised before the world began;” (Titus 1:2). Notice that this verse tells us explicitly that GOD cannot tell a lie. If GOD cannot lie, then GOD cannot for any reasons ever contradict HIMSELF, since a contradiction is basically a lie. A contradiction is two facts that directly oppose one another, normally one true and one false. Since GOD cannot lie and therefore contradict HIMSELF everything GOD tells us either HIMSELF or through HIS prophets has to be an absolute truth.
            So whenever you are trying to determine what GOD is telling you on a certain subject and you run into verses that “seem” to contradict one another, what you have to do is study and determine what answer, or option, would eliminate all the contradictions. Generally this method narrows your study down to a single absolute truth or answer.
            Because of the fact that GOD can never lie, you can never use one part of the bible to disprove another part of the bible.  You have to study until all the verses and criteria that you are dealing with, on the subject you are studying about, no longer contradict.
            An example of a contradiction would be the verses Gal 5:18 which reads “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” (Gal 5:18) and the verse John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). In the first verse it looks as if the apostle Paul is telling Christians that they are no longer under GOD’s law, the Ten Commandments, but in the second verse we have Jesus Himself telling us that if we claim to love Him we are to show it by keeping His Commandments.
            So how can both of these verses be true? How can we be told in one part of the bible that the commandments are no longer valid and then have Jesus Himself say we are to keep them if we love him? We know from Titus 1:2 that GOD can never lie, and the bible is the word of GOD, so both verses MUST be true. Also this means that we cannot use Gal 5:18 stating that we are not under the law to blot out John 14:15 where Jesus tells us that we are still to be keeping the commandments.
            The answer to this brings us to our next tip…
 
2) Context is KING!
            When studying any verse in the bible it is very important to keep it in the context of the chapter or book that it is being used in. Never just take a verse by itself and create a doctrine around it. You have to remember, when the bible was first written there were no verse numbers. Those numbers where put in by men simply to make it easier to research and study the bible.
            So to get back to our problem above and find out if we are still expected to follow the commandments or are we no longer “under the law” let’s study those verses in context. In order to study a verse in context, just simply go back and slowly and closely read the entire chapter it is located in. If we read John 14 we discover that we can take the verse John 14:15 “If ye love me keep my commandments” at face value, it means exactly what it says! If we love Jesus obey His commandments. But when we read Galatians 5 we discover that the law Paul is saying we are no longer under is the ceremonial law of Moses, not the Ten Commandments of GOD.
            So by going back and making sure we use our verses in context we have eliminated the contradiction and arrived at a definitive answer that makes all verses involved true. We are to continue to keep the commandments of GOD.
            This was a very small example only meant clarify how the systems of eliminating contradictions and using verses in context work together. For the sake of brevity of this article I did not go into detail on the whole process but if you would like a full breakdown of Galatians 5:18 and the argument represented here, see my article “Mini Bible Study {"But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law"}
 
3) Get a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
            One thing you need to always remember when you are reading or studying the bible is that you are never reading or studying the “actual” bible unless you are doing so in the original Hebrew and Greek it was written in. Since very few of us understand Hebrew and Greek a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance can be valuable tool for study.
            The Concordance basically takes every word of the bible, translates it back into its original language and gives you all the definitions and uses of that original word! It can be very helpful in helping you get at what the original writers of the Holy Bible were trying to convey. Don’t just rely on what some translator felt was the best translation at that time, try to do the best you can to go back to the original source!
 
4) PRAY!
            Praying is the absolutely strongest tool you have for understanding the bible! If you arrive at some issue of study that you just cannot seem to resolve, go to GOD and ask HIM to answer it for you. You may not get an instant answer as GOD still expects us to have to think for ourselves and learn, it’s what makes us stronger. But I have lost count of the times I have been road-blocked in my studies by a particularly tough contradiction or problem and I went to GOD in prayer to ask for the answer only to soon after have the answer seem to bloom in my mind out of nowhere. It’s pretty amazing, so never put off going to GOD if you need help, HE WILL HELP YOU!
 
5) NEVER take the advice of someone who is directly contradicting the word of GOD as it is presented in the bible!
            This is a very important point to remember especially now in the “end times” that we are living in. Jesus tells us that in these end times, “…there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Mat 24:24) Now since we are in the bible, the context of the “elect” would be our religious leaders. Jesus is telling us that our religious leaders from local pastors, to famous evangelists, all the way to the Pope shall be deceived. An example of these deceptions will be the teaching against GOD’s law as the bible tells us, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:19) and also “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1Jn 2:4).  The deceptions could also come in many other forms, but attacks on GOD’s law have always been a common tactic of Satan.
            There is now and will be a great apostasy in the end times as more and more people fall away from the keeping of GOD’s law and continuously teach others to do the same. Any person in a religious leadership position who does this must, by the biblical warnings just shown, come under scrutiny as to whether or not they are truly preaching the word of GOD? That is not to say these people will be evil, or uncaring or even not Christian, the bible clearly warns us that they will be “deceived”, which basically means that they will be unwittingly passing on bad information most likely passed down from generation to generation over time. We simply have to make sure that as we study the bible we do not let any one who may be a victim of these deceptions color or influence our study of the bible. You have to keep in mind that almost all of our present day pastors make a living by preaching that GOD’s commandments; especially the fourth commandment on Sabbath observance has been abolished. This unfortunately makes their preaching against GOD’s law especially biased and prone to being taught on the basis of personal need, not a desire to spread biblical accuracy. I do not fault or envy them the decisions that they have had to make on whether or not to teach the truth of GOD’s word or to collect a paycheck and be able to continue to feed their families. In the end their decisions are between them and GOD whatever that outcome may be, but YOUR final decisions must be one hundred percent bible based regardless of what anyone tells you to the contrary, you have to think of your own well being, that of your family and of your own relationship with GOD.
            I realize this particular study tip seemed to get off the topic of this article, but it was important to show how the advice of others can influence how we study the bible and also that their advice may be based on agendas, sometimes personal agendas, other than accurate study of the bible.
 
6) Shed your PRIDE!
            I never thought of pride as a bad thing until I was in my late 30’s. Then as I begin to see more and more how it affected the minds of men I truly started to realize why GOD teaches that, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” (Pro 8:13) GOD hates pride because it is as bad as alcohol and drugs to a man’s mind. Pride will shut a person’s eyes, harden their hearts and stop up their ears from learning faster than anything else!
            If you don’t pray to GOD to help you shed your pride you will most likely learn nothing new. Do not go into your studies with the hopes of just verifying whatever it is that you already believe, because what if what you already believe is wrong?
            We need to go into bible studies with the hearts and minds of children, willing to grab hold of whatever new information GOD has to tell us regardless of what we have been taught or told in the past by parents, pastors or teachers.
            If you do not shed your pride, and simply go into your bible studies in an attempt to verify what you “want” to believe, you will basically just be trying to shoe-horn your current beliefs into whatever you read, your new learning will be colored over and influence by past teachings and it will make it that much harder to get to the truth of the bible as GOD meant for you to understand it.
            I would generally pray before study: “Lord, help me shed my pride, my predispositions, my past teachings and my expectations and just help me to understand the basic truth of the bible as YOU ALONE meant for it to be understood.”
            I cannot stress enough the importance of GETTING RID OF THAT PRIDE! It will always be your biggest stumbling block to truly understanding the truth of GOD’s word. Do not ever study the bible to just “win arguments” or “prove points”, that’s not what the bible is for. Get as close to the literal understanding of every single verse that you can, and do it with GOD’s help by asking HIM directly.
 
7) Finally, be prepared to change your life if necessary!
            After all, what’s the point of learning more and more about GOD’s word if you are not prepared to use that information to make your life better and grow closer to GOD? If your only goal during bible study is to reinforce what you feel you already know to be true, then why bother to study at all? Just put down the bible, go ahead with your life as is, and come judgment day hope that GOD has agreed with you.
            Nobody knows all there is to know about the Holy Bible, the more you study the more you will learn, and the more open you are to learning new things the more you will grow and mature as a Christian and feel closer to GOD. There is no end to how close you can get to GOD if you just let yourself be open to all the information HE has to share with you.
            If you’re not prepared to use the things you learn to change your life and grow closer to GOD all the study in the world isn’t going to do you much good.
            I hope these seven short tips help you gain a deeper understanding of GOD’s word through bible study.
 
Peace and GOD BLESS!
ken elliott 2009