My Musings

Bible Study Basics

Bible Study Basics

The Beginning:

The creative handiwork of God is where the Bible begins, revealing that life is God’s gift and it is good. We build houses, cars and roads for a purpose, so why shouldn’t God be purposeful in “building” us? I know of no resource better than the Bible for understanding the purposes of God and inspiring us to pursue then at all cost. It opens the window of heaven to shed its guiding light on our lives, giving them meaning beyond mere existence.

The Book:

“Bible” simply means book. Actually, it is 66 books: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New. The OT generates hope in God’s plan for the redemption of His people. Originally written in Hebrew (and some Aramaic), it contains four sections–the books of law, history, poetry and prophecy. The NT portrays the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Messiah (Jesus) and covers the birth and growth of Jesus’ church. Originally written in first century Greek, it is also composed of four types of books–gospels, history, letters and prophecy.

The Bible is NOT….

  • Easy to read (but don’t give up).
  • An object to be worshipped in itself.
  • Just a self-help success manual or a rule-book.
  • Just a science textbook.
  • Just a tool for predicting the future.
  • Just for experts.
  • Just like any other book.

The Bible IS…

  • The written record of God’s revelation to humankind.
  • The most widely translated, published and read book of all time.
  • A work of art, literature, history, science, love and faith.
  • Inspired and “breathed” by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), making it incredibly unique, special, wonderful and mysterious.
  • A collection of genealogies, stories, treaties, law codes, prayers, hymns, poems, letters, sermons, parables, prophecies and more.
  • Written by about 40 different inspired authors and/or editors from a wide variety of lands and places over a time period of 1,000 to 1,600 years, spanning the bronze and iron ages.
  • Influenced and informed by the Sumerian, Egyptian, Israelite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman eras and empires.
  • A library of writings that represent the mores, idioms and thought patterns of many, if not most cultures from the beginning of recorded history to the introduction of our Western calendar (around AD 100).
    Profoundly relevant to this day.

Right-Side-Up:

Genesis One sets the tone for the rest of the Bible. God made light out of darkness, and brought form out of formlessness, fullness out of emptiness, order out of chaos and life out of dirt. Beyond Genesis, we see God bring freedom out of slavery, hope out of despair, forgiveness out of filth, good out of evil and victory out of defeat. When God raised Jesus up from the dead, He turned everything right-side-up, at least in terms of our destiny as His followers.

Our Response:

In addition to revealing God’s purposeful love for us, the Bible challenges us to respond to it. The bottom-line beginning point for responding to God’s invitation to love and live for Him is repentance, a mandate that pervades both the Old and New Testaments. Any authentic encounter a holy God will result in repentance. Anything we may do to reach out to God, from prayer, to baptism, to worship, and even loving our neighbor is worthless if we leave repentance behind. Repentance itself does not save us but the gift of salvation that comes from God alone cannot be received without it. No real relationship with God can begin without genuine repentance. Jesus died for sinners so that our repentance and surrender to God could be met with full forgiveness.

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About the Author:

Joel graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A., completing two majors: Art and Religion. He went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

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