Search Results: how to read the bible
There’s not one door in the world closed where you want to witness for Jesus…Show me a closed door and I will tell you how you can get in I won’t however, promise you a way to get out…Jesus didn’t say, "Go if the doors are open," because they weren’t. He didn’t say, "Go if you have an invitation or a red carpet treatment." He said, "Go," because people needed his Word…We need a new approach to missions — an aggressive, experimental, evangelical, no-holds-barred approach…A pioneering spirit… I’m afraid we’ll have to go through a deep valley of need and threatening situations, blood baths; but we’ll get there. God will take away what hinders us if we mean business. If we say, "Lord, at any cost" — and people should never pray that unless they truly want God to take them at their word — He will answer. Which is scary. But we have to go through the process. This is how it has worked in the Bible for the last two thousand years. So we face potentially hard times, and we have to go through that…We play church and we play Christianity. And we aren’t even aware we are lukewarm…We should have to pay a price for our faith. Read 2 Timothy 3:12: "Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." The church has been much purified in countries where there was lot of pressure…All I can say is to be ready.
Men would sooner believe that the gospel is from heaven, if they saw more such effects of it upon the hearts and lives of those who profess it. The world is better able to read the nature of religion in a man’s life than in the Bible.
Sink the Bible to the bottom of the ocean, and still man’s obligations to God would be unchanged. He would have the same path to tread, only his lamp and guide would be gone; the same voyage to make, but his chart and compass would be overboard!
Not that you are to read no book but the Bible. All that is true and good is worth the reading, if you have time for it. All, if properly used, will help you in your study of the Scriptures. A Christian does not shut his eyes to the natural scenes of beauty spread around him. He does not cease to admire the hills, or plains, or rivers, or forests of earth because he has learned to love the God that made them; nor does he turn away from books of science or true poetry because he has discovered one book truer, more precious, and more poetical than all the rest together.
Avoid works that jest with what is right or wrong, lest you unconsciously adopt a false test of truth and duty, namely, ridicule, and so become afraid to do right for right’s sake alone, dreading the world’s sneer and undervaluing a good conscience and the approving smile of God. Let your reading be always select; and whatever you read, begin with seeking God’s blessing on it. But see that your relish for the Bible be above every other enjoyment, and the moment you begin to feel greater relish for any other book, lay it down until you have sought deliverance from such a snare and obtained from the Holy Spirit an intenser relish, a keener appetite for the Word of God (Jer. 15:16; Psm. 19:7-10).
Usually we think of methods of intake as falling into four categories – hearing the Word taught by our pastors and teachers (Jeremiah 3:15), reading the Bible ourselves (Deuteronomy 17:19), studying the Scriptures intently (Proverbs 2:1-5), and memorizing key passages (Psalm 119:11). All of these methods are needed for a balanced intake of the Word… [But] we must do more than hear, read, study, or memorize Scripture. We must [also] meditate on it (Joshua 1:8).
Bible reading enables us…to enjoy communion with God as He speaks to us from His word, encouraging us, instructing us, and revealing Himself to us.
Because we are sinful by nature, we have developed sinful patterns, which we call habits. Discipline is required to break any habit. If a boy has developed the wrong style of swinging a baseball bat, he cannot just decide to change instantly. He has developed a certain habit, and much discipline – much correction and training – is required to break that bad habit and develop a new one. In the same way, our patterns of disobedience to God have been developed over a number of years and are not broken easily or without discipline. Discipline does not mean gritting your teeth and saying, “I’ll not do that anymore.” Rather, discipline means structured, planned training. Just as you need a plan for regular Bible reading or study, so you need a plan for applying the Word to your life.
The amazing thing is that everyone who reads the Bible has the same joyful thing to say about it. In every land, in every language, it is the same tale: where that Book is read, not with the eyes only, but with the mind and heart, the life is changed. Sorrowful people are comforted, sinful people are transformed, peoples who were in the dark walk in the light. Is it not wonderful to think that this Book, which is such a mighty power if it gets a chance to work in an honest heart, is in our hands today?
We need revival:
-when we do not love Him as we once did.
-when earthly interests and occupations are more important to us than eternal ones.
-when we would rather watch TV and read secular books and magazines than read the Bible and pray.
-when church dinners are better attended than prayer meetings.
-when concerts draw bigger crowds than prayer meetings.
-when we have little or no desire for prayer.
-when we would rather make money than give money.
-when we put people into leadership positions in our churches who do not meet scriptural qualifications.
-when our Christianity is joyless and passionless.
-when we know truth in our heads that we are not practicing in our lives.
-when we make little effort to witness to the lost.
-when we have time for sports, recreation, and entertainment, but not for Bible study and prayer.
-when we do not tremble at the Word of God.
-when preaching lacks conviction, confrontation, and divine fire and anointing.
-when we seldom think thoughts of eternity.
-when God’s people are more concerned about their jobs and their careers, than about the Kingdom of Christ and the salvation of the lost.
-when God’s people get together with other believers and the conversation is primarily about the news, weather, and sports, rather than the Lord.
-when church services are predictable and “business as usual.”
-when believers can be at odds with each other and not feel compelled to pursue reconciliation.
-when Christian husbands and wives are not praying together.
-when our marriages are co-existing rather than full of the love of Christ.
-when our children are growing up to adopt worldly values, secular philosophies, and ungodly lifestyles.
-when we are more concerned about our children’s education and their athletic activities than about the condition of their souls.
-when sin in the church is pushed under the carpet.
-when known sin is not dealt with through the biblical process of discipline and restoration.
-when we tolerate “little” sins of gossip, a critical spirit, and lack of love.
-when we will watch things on television and movies that are not holy.
-when our singing is half-hearted and our worship lifeless.
-when our prayers are empty words designed to impress others.
-when our prayers lack fervency.
-when our hearts are cold and our eyes are dry.
-when we aren’t seeing regular evidence of the supernatural power of God.
-when we have ceased to weep and mourn and grieve over our own sin and the sin of others.
-when we are content to live with explainable, ordinary Christianity and church services.
-when we are bored with worship.
-when people have to be entertained to be drawn to church.
-when our music and dress become patterned after the world.
-when we start fitting into and adapting to the world, rather than calling the world to adapt to God’s standards of holiness.
-when we don’t long for the company and fellowship of God’s people.
-when people have to be begged to give and to serve in the church.
-when our giving is measured and calculated, rather than extravagant and sacrificial.
-when we aren’t seeing lost people drawn to Jesus on a regular basis.
-when we aren’t exercising faith and believing God for the impossible.
-when we are more concerned about what others think about us than what God thinks about us.
-when we are unmoved by the fact that 2.5 billion people in this world have never heard the name of Jesus.
-when we are unmoved by the thought of neighbors, business associates, and acquaintances who are lost and without Christ.
-when the lost world around us doesn’t know or care that we exist.
-when we are making little or no difference in the secular world around us.
-when the fire has gone out in our hearts, our marriages, and the church.
-when we are blind to the extent of our need and don’t think we need revival.
I am acknowledging that [the Bible] is not an ordinary Book I am about to read but a supernatural, and, therefore, I need the assistance of its Author.
The Bible clearly models a plurality of elders in each local church. Though it never suggests a specific number of elders for a particular congregation, the New Testament refers to “elders” in the plural in local churches (e.g., Acts 14:23; 16:4; 20:17; 21:18; Titus 1:5; James 5:14). When you read through Acts and the Epistles, there is always more than one elder being talked about.
If you already know what the Bible says about homosexuality, don’t forget what the Bible says about all of life and godliness. We can be right about marriage and still wrong about everything else that matters. And if you like most everything else the Bible says, why would you on this matter of homosexuality decide the Bible suddenly can’t be trusted? If you won’t count the cost here, what else will you be willing to sell? The support for homosexual behavior almost always goes hand in hand with the diluting of robust, 100-proof orthodoxy, either as the cause or the effect. The spirits which cause one to go wobbly on biblical sexuality are the same spirits which befog the head and heart when it comes to the doctrine of creation, the historical accuracy of the Old Testament, the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, the resurrection, the second coming, the reality of hell, the plight of those who do not know Christ, the necessity of the new birth, the full inspiration and authority of the Bible, and the centrality of a bloody cross.
If you want to be Christlike you need to have communion with Christ, and if you want communion with Christ you need to do it on His terms with the channels of grace He’s provided [prayer, Bible reading, church fellowship, Lord’s table]. And that means the only way to extraordinary holiness is through ordinary means.
Oftentimes in reading [the Bible], every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt a harmony between something in my heart, and those sweet and powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light exhibited in every sentence, and such refreshing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading; often dwelling long on one sentence, to see the wonders contained in it; yet almost every sentence seemed to be full of wonders.
When buying books remember the following:
1. Buy only the best books since you will only read a few hundred in your lifetime. When possible seek a recommendation first.
2. Don’t excessively fret over the price, since the cost of a book is always small if it impacts your life for good.
3. Buy to preserve the truth for your family or some deserving friends or institution in the future, for they will inherit your library when you die.
4. Never let the reading of books replace the reading of the Bible. Instead of one or the other, do both.
5. Let a good book humble you and not make you proud, by seeking God in what you read.
Except in rare cases, the experience of direct interventions of God’s guidance in the lives of various Bible characters was not indicative of normal discipleship and they are likely recorded precisely because of their unusual nature. Due to the compressed makeup of the Bible it appears to its reader that God is speaking directly more often than He actually does.
Helpful [items] to consider when seeking God’s will in matter of guidance:
1. Begin by prayer for wisdom. Do not doubt that God has a wise course of action for you and will make it known.
2. Intentionally seek God’s face even more than His answers. “In Your light we see light” (Psalm 36:9).
3. Seek to be willing to take any course that God would have for you. Be thorough in your work on yourself. Often people miss God’s will because they are not fully willing to be submissive to God whatever He leads them to do.
4. Carefully seek to discover if there are any directives already given in Scripture which could guide you. Are there illustrations, commands, principles, which speak to this issue? Meditate on these and see if Scripture promotes or rules out any action you are considering. Try to find not only what God permits and does not permit, but what God likes, what is dear to His heart. Go directly to any passage which deals with the general subject to see if there is help to be found which you had not discovered before. Always read the Bible in context.
5. List each possible course of action, and in a prayerful frame of mind write out what are the pros and cons of each option. Put these options before the lens of Scripture one by one to see if God has spoken on these issues in some way. You will find more being said about most issues than you might first believe.
6. When helpful, seek objective counsel from godly and wise men or women you can trust.
7. Finally, examine your will again. If you are willing to do anything God might direct and that is certain in your mind, then you are free to pursue what God may be placing in your thinking related to the issue. Is there a long-term righteous desire in you?
8. Now, act in faith. If God in His perfect cadence intervenes so as to cause everything to turn again, this is His business. For your part, you are required to take action along the lines of the wisest choice you can biblically make. Rejoice and do God’s will!
Here are some good reasons for what man thinks is bad:
1. Pain and death help man comprehend the power and awfulness of sin. The entrance of sin brought destruction and decay into the world. It is a good thing to be wary of the effects of evil… By seeing how bad results come from sin, we might learn to avoid it to whatever degree possible.
2. Pain and death are sometimes used by God to judge sin. The Bible is full of stories of God’s use of physical pain and death to accomplish judgment.
3. Pain and death help us know the importance of Christ’s death… Christ took sin on Himself at the cross in order to deliver people from the consequences of their sin. We should be thankful that God has made a way to escape the consequences of sin through Christ. The more I know about evil, the more I should want to be freed from its power, and the more I should be appreciative of the only way of ultimate escape through Christ’s death.
4. Pain sometimes brings people to Christ. When a person realizes that he is weak and needs Christ, he is most willing and ready to come to Him. Sometimes God is good in removing our self-sufficiency through suffering.
5. Pain and conflict with evil does the authentic Christian good. The Bible actually says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28; see 2 Cor. 12:7-10). After Joseph had endured a lot of evil from his own brothers, he told them, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20).
6. Finally, bad things happen because God wants to teach Christians something about His special favor toward them (see Rom. 9:22-23).
Fathers, discuss what you read in your morning devotions. It takes no preparation, and is conducive to spontaneous discussion. If you missed morning devotions, discuss the Sunday sermon, or read through a book of the Bible together. The possibilities are endless. The point is this: You don’t need to be a Bible scholar or a schoolteacher to teach your children. What you need is diligence, consistency, perseverance, and confidence that repeated exposure to the gospel will ultimately change your children’s lives.
Scripture is like a working museum of which the Spirit is the Curator, showing us around and explaining the wonders of the mind of the Maker. In this museum we are taken behind the scenes to learn from God Himself. In growing to know God, therefore, there is no substitute for the discipline of Bible study and Scripture reading and meditation. We cannot bypass the handbook God has given to us and then expect that we can know Him in our own way. The only god we can know in our own way is a god that we make in our own image.
How would you describe yourself?
1. Are you on fire for God?
2. Are you for the first time realizing that you may not be a Christian?
3. Are you beginning to take your personal relationship with God more seriously?
4. Does your life resemble the values of the world more than the Word?
5. Do you love holiness and hate sin?
6. Do you strive to fight the sin of your heart and not simply address your sinful behaviors?
7. Do you like attending church?
8. Do you appreciate and obey your parents?
9. Do you enjoy reading and studying the Bible?
10. Are you prepared for the new freedoms in your life now that you’re getting older?
11. Do you have strong personal convictions?
12. Are you getting ready to head off to college and move away from your family for the first time in your life?
13. Are you experiencing significant anxiety as you think of the future?
We tend to believe we are Christians because…our parents are Christians. We believe God exists. We faithfully attend church and youth meetings. We pray. We read and know much about the Bible. We prayed the “sinner’s prayer” or went forward during an altar call. We were baptized. We sing hymns and worship songs. We listen to Christian music. We are basically good, moral people, especially compared to the world. We attend a Christian school or Christian college.
The good news is that making disciples is fairly easy. You simply bring people along in your spiritual journey. Making disciples is more about intentionality than technique: Discipleship means teaching others to read the Bible the way you read it, pray the way you pray, and tell people about Jesus the way you do. If you have Christian habits in your life worth imitating, you can be a disciple-maker. It doesn’t require years of training. You just teach others to follow Christ as you follow Him.
We think of missionaries as God’s “super servants,” Jesus’ Navy Seals. The word “missionary” is never used in the Bible, however, not even once. That’s because all of God’s people are sent; all of God’s people are commanded to go. There is no “special class” of sent ones. So the question is no longer if we are sent, only where and how. Many of us are waiting on a voice from heaven to tell us what God has already told us in a verse: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). When you have the verse, you don’t need to wait for the voice.
If we read the Bible carefully we conclude that everyone, as a creature made in God’s image, has a personal relationship with God. Therefore, God is, after the fall, either in the relationship of a judge or a father to His creatures.
The answer to the problem begins with Saturday preparation… It is advisable that young families have their clothing clean and laid out on Saturday night, and even that the breakfast be decided upon. The whereabouts of Bibles and lessons should be known, and even better, ought to be collected and ready. There should be an agreed-upon time to get up which leaves plenty of time to get ready for church. Going to bed at a reasonable hour is also a good idea. Spiritually, prayer about the Lord’s Day is essential – prayer for the service, the music, the pastors, one’s family, and oneself.
I liken them to two ropes going through two holes in the ceiling and over a pulley above. If I wish to support myself by them, I must cling to them both. If I cling only to one and not the other, I go down. I read the many teachings of the Bible regarding God’s election, predestination, his chosen, and so on. I read also the many teachings regarding ‘whosoever will may come’ and urging people to exercise their responsibility as human beings. These seeming contradictions cannot be reconciled by the puny human mind. With childlike faith, I cling to both ropes, fully confident that in eternity I will see that both strands of truth are, after all, of one piece.
One thing is definitive for an expositional sermon: It lays out the meaning and purpose of a biblical text clearly. It says, “Here is the point of this text, and it’s relevant to you, no matter who you are, where you are from, or what’s happening in your life right now.” The preacher concentrates all his powers on reproducing the burden of the Bible in the hearts and minds of the people, and he avoids letting anything in his person get in the way of that goal. He’d rather risk boring or offending his congregation than depriving them of the opportunity to hear what God says… He knows that he gives his hearers a chance at true life only insofar as he succeeds in faithfully reproducing what God has already said.
Presenting expository sermons book by book:
1. Allows God and God’s wisdom to set the agenda, not the preacher’s wisdom.
2. Prevents preachers from indulging their hobbyhorses.
3. Allows the preacher to learn along with the congregation, rather than limiting the congregation to what the preacher already knows.
4. Requires a preacher and a congregation to learn about God as God has revealed Himself, not as they want Him to be revealed.
5. Requires a preacher to preach the easy bits and the difficult bits of the Bible.
Understanding Bible prophecy encourages in two unique ways. First, it serves as a reminder that God controls history. When, you read from the pages of Scripture how He keeps His promises, your faith is strengthened…By reflecting on the fulfilled promises of the past, you can find great comfort as you look toward the future. Second, understanding God’s promises for the future provides a solid foundation to which you can anchor your hope—a sturdy shield with which you can deflect your doubts and fears about tomorrow…When you reflect on God’s plans and promises for you and for the world, you can face the future without fear.
Understanding Bible prophecy encourages in two unique ways. First, it serves as a reminder that God controls history. When, you read from the pages of Scripture how He keeps His promises, your faith is strengthened… By reflecting on the fulfilled promises of the past, you can find great comfort as you look toward the future. Second, understanding God’s promises for the future provides a solid foundation to which you can anchor your hope – a sturdy shield with which you can deflect your doubts and fears about tomorrow… When you reflect on God’s plans and promises for you and for the world, you can face the future without fear.
You are the only Bible some unbelievers will ever read, and your life is under scrutiny every day. What do others learn from you? Do they see an accurate picture of your God?
Is it easy to convince someone that the Bible is the Word of God on the basis of its unity, its scientific, historical accuracy, its miracles, its archaeological evidence? I haven’t found that to be the case. In a special series spread over a three-week period I presented such data at a private college in California. I felt the proof was overwhelming and not one person became a believer. Why doesn’t it convince all unbelievers when it’s so convincing to us? Paul said it when he wrote, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Only when the Holy Spirit does His regenerating work, only as He opens the mind, tears off the scales of blindness, gives life where there is death and plants the marvelous understanding of the revelation of God, only then do people come to believe and trust in the Bible. The reason I know the Bible is true is that the Spirit of God has convinced me of it.
The lifelessness experienced in so many churches in our day can be traced directly to the multitudes of families in those churches which contain Sunday-morning Christians only. It is plain to see the cause for such deadness when such individuals are not consistently worshiping God in private. Statistics reveal that only 11 percent of all professing Christians in America read their Bible or some portion of it once a day. If so few professing Christians are spending time alone with God, it should not be surprising that family worship as a practice among professing Christian families is practically nonexistent.
There are a variety of ways God’s Word can be conveyed to your family:
1. By direct reading from the Bible according to a plan.
2. By reading from a sound Bible story book.
3. Through the use of a catechism, a very successful method of teaching biblical truths by simple questions and answers.
4. Through Scripture memory and review.
5. By reading from a good devotional commentary.
6. By reading through solid Christian classics like The Pilgrim’s Progress (Make sure your Bibles are in front of you, to explore the scriptural truths that will jump from every page!).
7. By reading from Christian biographies, historical fiction, theological novels.
“Am I Addicted to Television?” With the aid of this list below, allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart! 1. You call someone to videotape TV shows that are on the same time as the ones you are watching and presently videotaping yourself. 2. You watch a program with the anticipation of seeing a sinful act. 3. You enjoy the sinful scenes on the show. 4. You eat your dinner in front of the TV. 5. You neglect your spouse or family for a TV show. 6. You look forward to a TV show more than you look forward to next week’s church service? 7. You miss Wednesday evening prayer meeting for TV. 8. You begin to role play the parts you see on TV on a serious basis. 9. Your conversation is replete with TV reviews and anecdotes. 10. TV replaces your Bible reading or devotion time. 11. Family Worship has been replaced by a TV program. 12. You know more about TV than Scripture. 13. No one is allowed to speak while the TV is on. 14. You begin to start empathizing with the characters the actors are portraying. 15. You rush home so you will not miss a program. 16. You watch TV late into the night consistently. 17. When company visits, the TV remains on. 18. You disturb others on the job by discussing a TV show. 19. You yell at the TV when a certain scene unfolds. 20. You become angry when “there ain’t nothing good on TV tonight.” 21. You let TV do your thinking for you. 22. The only book you read is TV guide. 23. You turn the TV on the moment you enter a room. 24. The TV is on when you are doing your chores. 25. You do not want people to visit when your programs are scheduled to come on. 26. When people visit, you wish they would leave so you could watch your programs. 27. You laugh at the very sin which sent Christ to the cross. 28. You have every premium cable channel like HBO, Cinemax, etc. 29. You constantly flip channels with your remote control. 30. You begin to adopt ideas and attitudes contrary to Scripture. 31. You find more pleasure watching TV than being with God’s people. 32. You go nowhere but have become a couch potato.
Here are some things to consider when you make your media selections:
1. Does it mock Christianity? For the most part, the networks mock no other faith but Christianity, and they do it often without fear of reprisal. We will never stay excited about church and Bible reading when it’s either ripped to shreds or totally ignored in the media choices we make. 1 Timothy 1:18-19, “Fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.”
2. What is the primary message of the episode? In October 1990, Bill Cosby had a one hour show which focused on one of his teenage girls and the subject was whether she should have pre-marital sex or not. The advice given was “wait until you are ready or wait till you are in love.” No mention of waiting for marriage. The focal point was to endorse pre-marital sex and leave it to the discretion of the teenager. Even when everything else appears to meet your approval, perhaps the greatest danger is the message that is pumped into your minds through great persuasiveness. The power of media can make the lies very believable. Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
3. Does it glamorize rebellion? Does the show focus on rebellion to any type of authority, such as parents, police, teachers, government, etc. This is why many Disney movies never made it into our home. 1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.”
4. Does it glorify controlled substances? Does the show make drugs and alcohol more respectable? The majority of the shows glorify alcohol. And by all means keep a close eye on the commercials. Young people view approximately 20,000 commercials each year, of which nearly 2,000 are for beer and wine. For every “just say no” or “know when to say when” public service announcement, teens will view 25 to 50 beer and wine commercials. Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”
5. Does the program push evolution as fact? When programs are aired which show a clash between Christianity and Evolution, the Christians are always portrayed as religious idiots while the evolutionists are shown to be the intelligent, scientific and logically minded. Rarely if ever is Creationism even given a fair shake as an acceptable alternative. Romans 1:25, “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.”
6. Are there occultic overtones? If the program contains subtle or blatant endorsements of psychics, new age themes, mediums, or portrays witches as good, moral people (a big one nowadays), this is a satanic attempt to get you to accept the occult by dressing it up. Ephesians 5:11, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.”
7. Are there sexual suggestions? Are unbiblical sexual scenes portrayed as acceptable? Are images placed in the mind that are not wholesome? Is the show using inappropriate sexual innuendos or immodest physical exposure? It’s interesting how Hollywood inundates this unbiblical material into nearly all their productions, but rarely presents the often experienced consequences of these actions. Ephesians 5:3, “But immorality or any impurity…must not even be named among you.”
8. Is violence glorified? The number of murders seen on TV alone by the time an average child finishes elementary school is 8,000. The number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18 is 200,000. Proverbs 3:31,“Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways.”
9. Is vulgarity a part of the script? Is there foul language used? Moreover, is God’s name taken in vain? That’s not just His name followed by the “d-word;” it’s His name used in a way simply as an expression such as the popular “Oh my…” Matthew 6:9, “Hallowed be Your name.”
Interior decorators tell us that the items on a coffee table reveal the personality of the family. With this thought in mind, in our home my wife and I have open Bibles on our coffee tables in the living and family rooms so that all visitors will know that the Word of God shapes the personality of our home. Remembering that children become readers by picking up books around the house and seeing their parents reading, we also keep Christian books we are reading next to the Bible on the coffee table.
An adventure awaits us in reading Christian books. Once we see the connection between the Word of God and the books we read, we will embark on a search and discovery mission in the expanding field of human knowledge, where all truth is God’s truth and Jesus Christ is the center that holds all things together. A nonreading Christian is a contradiction in terms. With the Bible as our primary source, we read other books that serve as teaching tools for the Holy Spirit in order that we may become men and women of God, “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Merely reading the Bible is no use at all without we study it thoroughly, and hunt it through, as it were, for some great truth.
God is the author of the Bible, and only the truth it contains will lead people to true happiness. A Christian should read this precious Book every day with earnest prayer and meditation. But like many believers, I preferred to read the works of uninspired men rather than the oracles of the living God. Consequently, I remained a spiritual baby both in knowledge and grace.
[Benefits of] expounding the Scriptures:
1. [It] encourages the congregation to bring their Bibles to church, and everything that leads believers to value the Scriptures is important.
2. Exposition may open the Scriptures to them and create in them a desire to meditate for themselves. When they again read over the portion of the Word which has been expounded, they will remember what has been said. Thus, it leaves a more lasting impression on their minds.
3. Expounding large portions of the Word, such as an entire gospel or epistle, leads the teacher to consider portions of the Word which he might otherwise overlook. This keeps him from speaking too much on favorite subjects and leaning too much to particular parts of truth – a tendency which will surely sooner or later injure both himself and his hearers.
Excerpted from: The Autobiography of George Muller, 1984, p.33-34. All quotations taken from books published by Whitaker House are used with permission of the publisher. Whitaker House books are available at Christian bookstores everywhere. Get this book!
Because the Bible stands over us, it requires reverence, submission, and obedience. Because it is completely truthful, it requires trust. Because its nature contrasts sharply with our finiteness and sinfulness, it requires humble reading that is always open to correction. And because it reveals God and His ways, it requires careful, prayerful reading that situates passages within its grand story of God’s creation, our fall, Christ’s redemption, and the universe’s consummation.
There are basically two ways to read the Bible — as a book of law, or as a book of promise. Our natural religious psychology wants to read the Bible as law: “God is explaining here how I can win his favor.” A law-hermeneutic is the pre-understanding we naturally bring to our Bible reading, every page. But in Galatians 3 Paul explains that he reads the Bible as a book of promise, and he wants us to as well. He sees every page of the Bible as gracious promise from God to undeserving sinners. Is there law in the Bible? Yes. But it was “added” (v. 19). Law was inserted after the promises to Abraham were established. It is promise that comes first (Genesis 12), then law comes later (Exodus 20). It is promise, therefore, that defines the all-encompassing framework within which we are to read everything else in the Bible… Every page [in the Bible], most deeply understood, shines forth as a promise of grace to sinners in Christ.
How can I tell if my trust in the Lord is wholehearted? One way is this. Do I let the Bible overrule my own thinking? It says, “Do not lean on your own understanding” [Pr. 3:5]. So, do I agree with the Bible, or do I obey the Bible? If I merely agree with the Bible, then my positive response is not obedience but coincidence. The Bible just happens to line up with the prejudices I’ve soaked up from my background. But what do I do when the Bible contradicts what I want to be true — especially when, on top of that, it seems culturally remote and perplexing? If I’m reading the Bible for excuses for what I want anyway, my heart has already drifted from the Lord. But if I trust Him wholeheartedly, I will let the Bible challenge my most cherished thoughts and feelings.
To read the Bible and not to meditate was seen as an unfruitful exercise: better to read one chapter and meditate afterward then to read several chapters and not to meditate. Likewise to meditate and not to pray was like preparing to run a race and never leaving the starting line. The three duties of reading Scripture, meditation, and prayer belonged together, and though each could be done occasionally on its own, as formal duties to God they were best done together (Peter Toon).
Our ultimate conviction that the words of the Bible are God’s words comes only when the Holy Spirit speaks in and through the words of the Bible to our hearts and gives us an inner assurance that these are the words of our Creator speaking to us… Those who are Christ’s sheep hear the words of their great Shepherd as they read the words of Scripture, and they are convinced that these words are in fact the words of their Lord… They hear their Creator’s voice speaking to them in the words of Scripture and realize that the book they are reading is unlike any other book (Wayne Grudem and Jeff Purswell).
1. There are many who profess to know Christ who are mistaken. What evidences do you have that you have been given life by God?
2. What does it mean for a person to love God? In what ways do you see true biblical love toward God demonstrated in your life? Do you see true biblical love toward God in the lives of your wife and each of your children?
3. How does your wife feel about your commitment to pastoring?
4. Why do you believe God wants you in the pastorate?
5. Closely examine each of the Bible’s qualifications for pastors and deacons (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 6:1-6; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). Which are you strongest qualities? With which requirements do you have the most trouble? Why do you believe these areas of difficulty do not presently disqualify you from ministering? (Note the phrase “must be” in 1 Tim. 3:2.)
6. A pastor is charged by God to preach to the church and to shepherd the people in a more individual way. Which aspect of the ministry appeals to you the most? What are some specific ways you could be helped to develop your skills in either of these areas?
7. What are your methods for involving yourself in the lives of your people as their shepherd and overseer of their souls?
8. What activities characterize your evangelistic interest? What is your approach to personal evangelism? corporate evangelism?
9. What is your approach to counseling? How do you handle your counseling load?
10. What are your specific and regular practices regarding the spiritual disciplines (e.g., personal prayer, Bible study, meditation, stewardship, learning, etc.)?
11. How would you describe a successful pastor? How would you describe a successful church?
12. How is the pastor held accountable? What relationships in your life currently provide accountability for responsible attitudes and behavior, both personally and as pastor?
13. Who are your favorite Christian writers, commentators, theologians, etc.? Why? What books have you read in the past year?
14. Describe an instance when you made attempts to reform the church in some significant area. What were the results? What did it cost you personally?
15. Describe your leadership style. What have been some weaknesses? Strengths?
16. When you have met with opposition, has it been mostly related to your style of leadership, your personality, your beliefs, or something else?
17. According to your observations, what doctrines need special emphasis in our day?
18. What is true biblical repentance?
19. What is true biblical faith?
20. Explain justification by faith. What is the difference between the Catholic view of justification and the biblical view?
21. Please explain your view of sanctification. What are the various means God uses to sanctify the believer?
22. Can a person have Christ as his Savior without submitting to Him as Lord? Explain.
23. What is your position on the inerrancy of Scripture?
24. Explain the biblical term “baptism of the Spirit.” When does this baptism occur?
25. What are your views on baptism by water?
26. How does the Bible relate the sovereignty of God to salvation?
27. What does the Bible teach about the extent of man’s depravity?
28. What does Christ’s atonement accomplish?
29. What does the Bible teach about the perseverance and preservation of believers?
30. What is the proper use of the Old Testament law?
31. How do you articulate your present view of end-time or eschatological issues?
32. Do you believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin? What is the significance of your belief?
33. What is your interpretation of the biblical teaching on Hell?
34. Do you believe that the events described in Genesis 1-11 are factual or symbolic?
35. What does the Bible teach concerning spiritual gifts? Please delineate your views about prophecy and speaking in tongues.
36. What is your view of divorce and remarriage? How strictly will you follow this view in practice?
37. What is your view of the phrase, “The bishop [pastor] then must be…the husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2)?
38. What are your requirements for performing a marriage ceremony?
39. Please explain your views on church discipline. Relate any personal experience.
40. How would you handle a case of scandal or immorality by a church member?
41. What is your view on abortion?
42. Many children who appear to be converted at an early age show no evidence of knowing Christ later. How do you handle children when they come to you for counsel concerning conversion? What is your advice to parents?
43. What is a useful plan for receiving new members into the church? What are prerequisites?
44. What are your views on styles of church music?
45. Who should direct the worship of the church? Why? Which methods of leading corporate worship are appropriate? Which are inappropriate?
46. What does the Bible teach is the purpose of the church’s weekly gathering?
47. What are your views regarding raising money for various projects within the church? Should the church solicit those outside the church?
48. What are your convictions about the local church and debt?
49. What does the Bible teach about women in pastoral ministry?
50. What does the Bible teach about how churches should make decisions?
51. How should a pastor and his church relate to other churches locally and (if denominational) to the larger body? Do you feel comfortable cooperating with other denominations? Do you draw any lines?
52. What are the biblical responsibilities of elders? Are there any distinctions between elders, pastors, and overseers? If applicable, what distinctions exist between staff and non-staff pastors?
53. What are the biblical responsibilities of deacons? How are deacons and elders to relate?
54. What emphasis do you give to the leadership of fathers with their families, especially in terms of family worship? Do you personally engage in family worship with your wife and children?
55. What is your missionary vision for the church? How are you currently demonstrating missionary interest and involvement? (Jim Elliff and Don Whitney)
A typical mistake made by Christian singles is to ask, “How far can we go?” The very question reveals a troubling attitude, and the one who asks it has already gone too far. But since it is the question that many really want to ask, this is an honest response to the Bible’s teaching: “Not very far at all.” Physical, sexual interaction between a man and a woman is reserved for marriage. Too many Christians believe that so long as full-blown sexual intercourse is resisted, other forms of sexual interaction are acceptable. But such an attitude is far out of line with the Bible (Richard and Sharon Phillips).
Some specific suggestions for how a Christian man can put these principles into action in a dating relationship:
1. Commit to take the lead in the godliness of your relationship. Read the Bible’s passages about how men and women and all Christians should treat one another. Especially take the lead in establishing boundaries that will keep you from sexual sin. Assume that this woman is going to be your wife or the wife of some other Christian brother (who might be currently dating your future wife). Treat her as the precious sister in Christ that she is.
2. Decide in advance whether or not you are willing to love a woman in the self-sacrificing, nurturing way the Bible describes. Until you are ready to faithfully hold a woman’s heart in your hand, do not enter into a dating relationship.
3. Realizing that God wants you to learn to put her interest ahead of your own, ask her the kinds of things she likes to do and be eager to spend time doing them.
4. Be willing to talk about the relationship. Initiate honest dialogue about how you feel. Do not resent her desire to have the relationship defined, but protect her heart by making your level of commitment clear and thereby making clear the appropriate kind of intimacy to go along with that commitment.
5. Pay attention to her heart. Ask her about her burdens and cares. Seek ways to minister to her and to make her cares your own. Instead of being critical of her, speak words of encouragement and support.
6. Do not be shy in ministering the Word of God to her. Do not preach, but exhort her and call to mind God’s promises and God’s love for her in Jesus Christ. Make it a primary goal that she will be spiritually stronger by having been in a relationship with you.
7. If something about her bothers you, think about how you can encourage her in that area. Realize that none of us is without flaws. Pray for her weakness and try to strengthen her in that area. If your concerns are enough to deter you from wanting to marry her, let her know in a forthright manner while being as considerate as possible (Richard and Sharon Phillips).
What matters most is not finding the one right person but becoming the person that God wants you to be. Before judging the man or woman you are with – scrutinizing and appraising every attribute and characteristic, as if you were buying a horse – you ought instead to scrutinize your own heart. Here are some questions to ask before an engagement to marriage:
1. What would it mean for me to love him or her in accordance with the Bible’s teaching?
2. Am I willing to commit myself to anyone “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health?”
3. Can I be steadfast in fidelity and servant-hearted in ministry?
4. Is God leading our lives in similar directions?
5. Do we have similar goals and ideas about children?
The issue is not whether you can find someone worthy of your love, but whether you are ready to give a love that is worthy of marriage (Richard and Sharon Phillips).
Jesus came to a growing understanding of his Messianic calling by reading the Scriptures. He had to learn the Bible just as we must. Of course, He is the greatest theologian who has ever lived. His reading of the Bible would have been free from the problems that beset Christians who wrongly interpret passages and bring their own sinful dispositions to the text. Nevertheless, we must not imagine that Christ had all of the answers as a baby and merely waited to begin His ministry at the age of thirty without putting in hard yet delightful work on a daily basis in obedience to His Father’s will. As Christopher Wright notes, the Old Testament enabled Jesus to understand Himself. The answer to His self-identity came from the Bible, “the Hebrew scriptures in which he found a rich tapestry of figures, historical persons, prophetic pictures and symbols of worship. And in this tapestry, where others saw only a fragmented collection of various figures and hopes, Jesus saw His own face. His Hebrew Bible provided the shape of His own identity.” …He had to study to know what to do. While He was never ignorant of what He needed to know at any stage of His life, He nevertheless was required to learn (Mark Jones).
Many of us would agree with Peter when he says that parts of Paul’s letters are hard to understand! And there are difficulties and apparent discrepancies in other parts of the Bible too. On this matter of discrepancies, I remember reading something written by an old seventeenth-century Puritan named William Bridge. He said that harping on discrepancies shows a very bad heart, adding: “For a godly man, it should be as it was with Moses. When a godly man sees the Bible and secular data apparently at odds, well, he does as Moses did when he saw an Egyptian fighting an Israelite: he kills the Egyptian. He discounts the secular testimony, knowing God’s Word to be true. But when he sees an apparent inconsistency between two passages of Scripture, he does as Moses did when he found two Israelites quarreling: he tries to reconcile them. He says, ‘Aha, these are brethren, I must make peace between them.’ And that’s what the godly man does.”
I saw myself standing outside a house looking in on a tremendous party with laughter and joy. The Lord tracked me down and found me. I was surprised by grace. I became an avid Bible reader and my initial doubts soon evaporated in the atmosphere of solid Bible exposition at the Christian Union.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” is not a command to love yourself. It is a command to take your natural, already existing love of self and make it the measuring rod of your love for others. There is not a harder command in the Bible than this one. It means: Want to feed the hungry as much as you want to feed yourself when you get hungry. It means: Want to find your neighbor a job as much as you are glad you have a job. Want to help your fellow student get A’s as much as you want to get A’s. Want to help the person stalled on the freeway as much as you are glad you are not stalled on the freeway. Want to give the poor softball player a chance to play as much as you want to play the whole game. Want to share Christ with your neighbor as much as you are glad you know Christ yourself.
What can you do Saturday evening and Sunday morning and on the way to church [to prepare]… for hearing the Word of God preached?
1. Pray that God would give you [a] good and honest heart (Eze. 36:26; Jer. 24:7).
2. Meditate on the Word of God. Read portions of your Bible with a view to stirring up hunger for God.
3. Purify your mind by turning away from worldly entertainment (Jas. 1:21).
4. Trust in the truth that you already have (Jer. 17:7-8).
5. Get a good night’s rest on Saturday night.
6. Forebear one another [before the service] without grumbling and criticism.
7. Come in a spirit of meek teachability (Jas. 1:21).
8. Be still as you enter the room and focus your mind’s attention and heart’s affection on God (Psm. 46:10).
9. When the worship service begins, think earnestly about what is sung and prayed and preached (1 Cor. 14:20; 2 Tim. 2:7).
10. Desire the truth of God’s Word more than you desire riches or food (Psm. 19:10-11; Pr. 2:3-5).
The source of my authority in this pulpit is not…my wisdom; nor is it a private revelation granted to me beyond the revelation of Scripture. My words have authority only insofar as they are the repetition, unfolding and proper application of the words of Scripture. I have authority only when I stand under authority. And our corporate symbol of that truth is the sound of your Bibles opening to the text. My deep conviction about preaching is that a pastor must show the people that what he is saying was already said or implied in the Bible. If it cannot be shown it has no special authority.
1. The Will of God for Marriage Was Expressed in Creation: Jesus confirmed God’s will in creation when He said in Matthew 19:4-6, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” That’s the Bible’s teaching and the Bible’s assumption from cover to cover. Marriage is one woman and one man becoming one flesh by covenant and sexual union.
2. There Is No Such Thing as Homosexual Marriage in the Eyes of God: The other biblical reason marriage cannot be between two men or two women is that, on the one hand, the Bible defines homosexual behavior as “dishonorable” and “shameless” and “contrary to nature” (Romans 1:26-27), but on the other hand the Bible says that marriage is to be “held in honor” (Hebrews 13:4). Marriage does not produce shame. And marriage is not contrary to nature. There is therefore no such thing as homosexual marriage in the eyes of God. And there should not be in the eyes of his people – no matter what the state says.
There is no necessary connection between being an effective leader and being more intellectual or more competent than your wife. Leadership does not assume it is superior. It assumes it should take initiative. See that the family prays, and reads the Bible, and goes to church, and discusses spiritual and moral issues, and learns to use the means of grace, and grows in knowledge, and watches your example in all these things.
1. What do you believe about…everything?
2. [What is your view on] various biblical doctrines.
3. Discover how you form your views. What is the reasoning-believing process?
4. How do you handle the Bible?
Worship and Devotion:
1. How important is corporate worship? Other participation in church life?
2. How important is it to be part of a small accountability/support group?
3. What is the importance of music in life and worship?
4. What are your daily personal devotional practices? Prayer, reading, meditation, memorization.
5. What would our family devotions look like? Who leads out in this?
6. Are we doing this now in an appropriate way: praying together about our lives and future, reading the Bible together?
Husband and Wife:
1. What is the meaning of headship and submission in the Bible and in our marriage?
2. What are expectations about situations where one of you might be alone with someone of the opposite sex?
3. How are tasks shared in the home: cleaning, cooking, washing dishes, yard work, car upkeep, repairs, shopping for food, and household stuff?
4. What are the expectations for togetherness?
5. What is an ideal non-special evening?
6. How do you understand who and how often sex is initiated?
7. Who does the checkbook – or are there two?
1. If and when, should we have children? Why?
2. How many?
3. How far apart?
4. Would we consider adoption?
5. What are the standards of behavior?
6. What are the appropriate ways to discipline them? How many strikes before they’re…whatever?
7. What are the expectations of time spent with them and when they go to bed?
8. What signs of affection will you show them?
9. What about school? Home school? Christian school? Public school?
1. Own a home or not? Why?
2. What kind of neighborhood? Why?
3. How many cars? New? Used?
4. View of money in general. How much to the church?
5. How do you make money decisions?
6. Where will you buy clothes: Department store? Thrift store? In between? Why?
1. How much money should we spend on entertainment?
2. How often should we eat out? Where?
3. What kind of vacations are appropriate and helpful for us?
4. How many toys? Snowmobile, boat, cabin?
5. Should we have a television? Where? What is fitting to watch? How much?
6. What are the criteria for movies and theater? What will our guidelines be for the kids?
1. What makes you angry?
2. How do you handle your frustration or anger?
3. Who should bring up an issue that is bothersome?
4. What if we disagree both about what should be done, and whether it is serious?
5. Will we go to bed angry at each other?
6. What is our view of getting help from friends or counselors?
1. Who is the main breadwinner?
2. Should the wife work outside the home? Before kids? With kids at home? After kids?
3. What are your views of daycare for children?
4. What determines where you will locate? Job? Whose job? Church? Family?
1. Is it good to do things with friends but without spouse?
2. What will you do if one of you really likes to hang out with so and so and the other doesn’t?
Health and Sickness:
1. Do you have, or have you had any, sicknesses or physical problems that could affect our relationship? (Allergies, cancer, eating disorders, venereal disease, etc.)
2. Do you believe in divine healing and how would prayer relate to medical attention?
3. How do you think about exercise and healthy eating?
4. Do you have any habits that adversely affect health?
If you haven’t been jarred when you’re reading the Bible, you’re not reading it.
Ten Reasons Why it is Wrong to Take the Life of Unborn Children:
1. God commanded, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13).
2. The destruction of conceived human life – whether embryonic, fetal, or viable – is an assault on the unique person-forming work of God.
3. Aborting unborn humans falls under the repeated biblical ban against “shedding innocent blood.”
4. The Bible frequently expresses the high priority God puts on the protection and provision and vindication of the weakest and most helpless and most victimized members of the community.
5. By judging difficult and even tragic human life as a worse evil than taking life, abortionists contradict the widespread biblical teaching that God loves to show His gracious power through suffering and not just by helping people avoid suffering.
6. It is a sin of presumption to justify abortion by taking comfort in the fact that all these little children will go to heaven or even be given full adult life in the resurrection.
7. The Bible commands us to rescue our neighbor who is being unjustly led away to death.
8. Aborting unborn children falls under Jesus’ rebuke of those who spurned children as inconvenient and unworthy of the Savior’s attention.
9. It is the right of God the Maker to give and to take human life. It is not our individual right to make this choice.
10. Finally, saving faith in Jesus Christ brings forgiveness of sins and cleansing of conscience and help through life and hope for eternity. Surrounded by such omnipotent love, every follower of Jesus is free from the greed and fear that might lure a person to forsake these truths in order to gain money or avoid reproach.
The work of the Spirit is not to tell us what the [Bible] means. That we must determine by a disciplined study of the text. The Spirit inspired these writings and He does not short-circuit them by whispering in our ear what they mean. When we pray for His help we do not pray that He will spare us the hard work of rigorous reading and reflection. What we pray is that He would make us humble enough to welcome the truth. The work of the Spirit in helping us grasp the meaning of [the Bible] is not to make study unnecessary but to make us radically open to receive what our study turns up, instead of twisting the text to justify our unwillingness to accept it.
Masturbation, although not identified by name in the Bible, must be viewed as sinful for at least three reasons. First, masturbation is a perversion of the intent of sex. It’s selfish rather than loving – it’s taking rather than giving. God did not give you your sexual organs so that you could please yourself with them, but rather so that you could bring pleasure to your wife, and so that she can express her love to you by giving you sexual pleasure. Second, masturbation almost always involves sinful lust. Jesus made it absolutely clear that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt. 5:28). Third, masturbation is an activity that causes Christians who practice it to experience guilt. The Bible is also very clear about the sinfulness of Christians who willingly participate in any activity for which their consciences condemn them (Rom. 14:22-23).
A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, a funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put.
Brownlow North, the Scottish lay evangelist of the 19th century, has a sermon on this subject in which he calls this sin, the sin of spiritual intermarriage, the worst sin, the most catastrophic sin of all the sins identified in the Bible that can be committed by a Christian man or woman. In his own words: “In reading my Bible I find no sin there recorded, if we except the sin of our first parents, which has brought greater curse upon the earth, or which is more positively forbidden, both in the Old and New Testament” (Wilt Thou Go with This man? p. 112). For, you see, that sin corrupts the stream of believing life and may lead to the damnation of thousands, as it did many times in the Bible.
Studies in Malachi, number 7, sermon, March 2, 2003.