19. The Study of God’s Word

By John Thiel, Audio: The Study of God’s Word

This study is a continuation in the mini-series of discipleship. Earlier we studied how the Godhead pledged themselves to become the facilities of Father, Son and Comforter for us so that we might become partakers of God’s holiness.

Hebrews 12:10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

This exercise is to understand the everlasting gospel and the work of the Godhead that we ‘might profit and be partakers in His holiness.’ We want to appreciate the study of God’s Word in discipleship. The Bible has been the source of all our knowledge and this is how we receive instruction for our own wisdom.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

The man of God may be perfect. This is the whole purpose behind the Godhead pledging themselves to become facilities for us so that we would be partakers in God’s holiness thoroughly furnished unto all good works. The ability to be perfect and to do good works is furnished by the study of the Bible. Here lies our apprenticeship in the study of God’s Word. We need to know how to learn from the Bible for our perfection process. An apprenticeship involves searching the scriptures.

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Young men should search the Scriptures for themselves. They are not to feel that it is sufficient for those older in experience to find out the truth; that the younger ones can accept it from them as authority. The Jews perished as a nation because they were drawn from the truth of the Bible by their rulers, priests, and elders. Had they heeded the lessons of Jesus, and searched the Scriptures for themselves, they would not have perished. . . . {MYP 258.1}

To listen to those who are older is not sufficient. We need to study and search out the scriptures for ourselves. The authority of direction that is given cannot come from man as it must be from personal bible study.

If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest for her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. Prov. 2:3-5. There must be earnest study and close investigation. Sharp, clear perceptions of truth will never be the reward of indolence (slothfulness). No earthly blessing can be obtained without earnest, patient, persevering effort. If men attain success in business, they must have a will to do and a faith to look for results. And we cannot expect to gain spiritual knowledge without earnest toil. Those who desire to find the treasures of truth must dig for them as the miner digs for the treasure hidden in the earth. No halfhearted, indifferent work will avail. It is essential for old and young, not only to read God’s Word, but to study it with wholehearted earnestness, praying and searching for truth as for hidden treasure. Those who do this will be rewarded, for Christ will quicken the understanding {RC 117.2}

I can’t get the truth only by listening to others because I need to have it for myself. I must engage in the study of God’s Word and have a faith to look for the results as then Christ will quicken my understanding. I can’t expect to gain knowledge without earnest toil on my part. Sr White likens the apprenticeship of the study of God’s Word to the diligent effort put in by men aspiring to gain business success. This is what Jesus meant when he said;

John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

This scripture is saying that we need to take the Word for ourselves. We need to read and study the Word and ingest it and make it our own. No one can eat for another person. Someone else might be able describe the food to you in great detail but unless you eat of it for yourself you won’t gain the benefit of its nutrients within your own body so that you grow and develop. In like manner we can’t rely on what other people have chewed over for us because we need to chew on it for ourselves.  the Bible begins to mean something to us personally. The question is now, how do I study the Word of God for myself? I must approach the study of the Word of God for the object of gaining perfection, eternal life and God’s holiness. I need to study the Word of God with that object before my mind.

John 7:15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? 16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

The Jews marveled that Jesus could articulate doctrine because he did not attend any university, college or school of the prophets. In this scripture Jesus shares with us how he gained His knowledge so that you may gain it too. He states that If any man shall do His will you shall know of the doctrine.’ In other words we need to study the Bible with the intent ‘to do’ rather than studying it just to know something. There is a big difference. The Pharisees studied to know but Jesus studied to do – that is the difference.

Whoever will prayerfully study the Bible, desiring to know the truth, that he may obey it, will receive divine enlightenment. He will understand the Scriptures. ‘If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching.’ John 7:17, R. V. {DA 459.1}

You can see the apprenticeship here. I need to study like an apprentice to see what I must do and then I must do it. It is only by studying to do that I will understand what I am studying and if I do this I will know God’s will. As I put into practice what I have been reading I will come to understand the material. This particular form of Bible study is so different to what we are used to in the education system of today but this is how I have gained my knowledge. Only as I began to put into practice what I had been learning did I really begin to understand what it was about. In our last study of Prayer we learned how to pray correctly;

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I want to study the Word of God to be saved but the Bible says that I also have to call on him. I need to pray.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

God says if you seek for me with all your heart and pray unto me then you will find me. In other words we need to call upon God so that we can find him. Prayer life is an essential precursor to correct Bible study.

Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We need to seek the Lord and call upon him while he may be found. As we pray it says ‘let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts.’ In other words, while we pray we need to discover the thoughts of God and discard our own thoughts and ways. This connects us with the apprenticeship of praying which again is for the purpose of understanding and learning Gods ways to do them. The reality is that God will step in as the master tradesman to help us.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

God’s ways are not my ways because His ways are as higher than the heavens. God’s ways are foreign to us but he reveals them to us by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit will make the things that I read in the Bible livingly clear to me. Here is the verification of that promise;

Jeremiah 3:33 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

In our last study entitled the Apprenticeship of Prayer Life we saw how Jesus went and prayed and how the Father showed Him that prayer life is to reach out for God. Now in the Apprenticeship of the study of God’s Word we are learning that Bible study is God’s method of talking back to us. If you have one without the other you will not find what you are looking for. All these texts we have just been exploring are to do with the apprenticeship of the prayer life in relation to the apprenticeship of God’s Word. What else does the Bible say in relation to searching the scriptures?

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Isaiah 34:16 Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.

Here is a simple Bible text which shows us what we must do to read the Bible correctly.  Firstly I need to ‘seek out of the book of the Lord’ so that as I am reading it I am taking in every declaration that God has said ‘for my mouth it hath commanded’.  What you read in the Bible needs to be gained as a statement of God. Each statement must be taken to have value in itself. When God states something that is the way it is. The scripture also tells us that ‘none shall want her mate.’ This means that I need Trust God that each point of Bible declaration is to be taken as it reads. In other words if you don’t understand a statement don’t expect an explanation or place your own interpretation upon it. Some people come to the study of God’s Word assuming that certain statements represent some sort of symbolic idea but no, we need to take the Bible just as it reads.

Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

This is the most important information to get things right from God. Do you see how it is linked with the text above? the Lord has commanded it so don’t add to or diminish from the Bible. The Bible stands for itself. Let me illustrate with an example. In Genesis it says that the Lord created the earth in six days and that on the seventh day he rested. There are people who believe that each day represents a thousand years but the Bible says not to add to or diminish from it therefore if the Lord says six days it was six days. Do not add to or diminish from the words of the Bible.

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

You can actually be a liar if you take the Word of God and then begin to add your own thoughts to it.

It is the first and highest duty of every rational being to learn from the Scriptures what is truth, and then to walk in the light, and encourage others to follow his example. We should day by day study the Bible diligently, weighing every thought, and comparing scripture with scripture. With divine help, we are to form our opinions for ourselves, as we are to answer for ourselves before God. {GC88 598.2}

God has given us His Word that we may become acquainted with its teachings and know it for ourselves and what he requires of us. We need to take it as it reads. As you begin to do this let the Word of God stream into your mind and then read somewhere else on the same subject material – that’s is how the study of God’s Word begins to piece together and gel.

Isaiah 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: 11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not  hear.

Whom shall God teach knowledge and to whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Those who are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breast. Those who read line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little – They are the ones who will gain the refreshing. We need to take the Word as God as He has commanded it and not add or take away from it. Then we need to compare scriptures that say similar things but again not add to or take away from them. As you begin to read precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there little certain statements will begin to marry up and complement one another. This is how you gain an understanding of the doctrine and find the rest and refreshing that the Bible is talking about. When people are inexperienced in the study of God’s Word they have the tendency to get terribly twisted up and put the wrong statements together. This is because they have not yet developed the skill to rightly divide the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

In order to study the Bible in the way that God approves the apprentice must study the Bible here a little and there a little. If you read precept upon precept, line upon line and you don’t correctly join those statements together you are also missing the truth. To be approved of God we must correctly replace scripture with scripture otherwise we are again lying.

The Holy Scriptures ought to be explained by other and clearer text.  His Holy Book is, in all things necessary for the Christian, easy of understanding, and calculated to scatter the darkness. {GC 203.1}

This was actually expressed by the reformers as they were standing before the courts. We must clearly divide the Word of God by other texts so that they clearly explain each other.

You must dig deep in the mine of truth if you would find its richest treasures. Comparing scripture with scripture, you may find the true meaning of the text; but if you do not make the sacred teachings of God’s Word the rule and guide of your life, the truth will be nothing to you. . . . If any part of God’s Word condemns any habit you have cherished, any feeling you have indulged, any spirit you have manifested, turn not from the Word of God; but turn away from the evil of your doings, and let Jesus cleanse and sanctify your heart. {ML 22.5}

As we compare scripture with scripture this clearly enables us to understand the Word of truth. Sometimes we may come across something that we don’t like. When this happens Sr White says that we should not put aside the Word of God just because we don’t like what we are reading. If we do this then we won’t progress in the understanding of the Word. Even if I read something that hurts me, I must still do the will of God because then it will begin to come to my understanding. Here is the actual kernel of learning to read the Bible. I also want to explore a safeguard in the study of God’s Word. We know from all the different denominations that exist today that the study of God’s Word is fraught with difficulties and certain amount of fearful concern – there are literally thousands of interpretations of God’s Word. As apprentices in the study of God’s Word we can’t always be sure that what we have put together is right and approved of God because there are so many interpretations of the Bible. Each argument sounds so good when it is displayed but they all differ one from another so in this respect we need help.

Romans10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

It says here that God will send me a preacher, a workman who rightly divides the Word of truth and who is approved of God. He will be sent to me and he will show me a faith that comes by hearing the Word of God. God sends someone to teach me.

Isaiah 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

God has sent someone to teach the knowledge. Amidst the adversity of confusion and the emptiness of understanding God has sent someone who understands the doctrine.

Isaiah 30:20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: 21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Confused by all the different preaching’s the people will eventually come out from their churches. The Bible likens this to adversity and affliction yet it says our teachers shall not be removed into a corner any more but our eyes will see our teachers. Call upon the Lord and he will save you! Amidst all the confusion and adversity the teachers will be identified by the facility of the Holy Spirit.

The Help That God Is Going To Send Us

Jeremiah 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God by a preacher who has come under God’s guidance. God will send approved pastors that will rightly divide the word of truth and they will feed us with knowledge and understanding from the scriptures. With the help of a preacher who is approved of God we can gain the help we need in reading and studying the Bible correctly for ourselves – he will put us on the right track. The Bible helps us to identify the preachers that God has sent and it also warns us that there will be plenty of false preachers out there.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

The Bible was written only by true prophets but at the time it was written there were also plenty of false prophets with false writings. The false prophets taught the people incorrectly and the situation is no different today.

Isaiah 8:16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

In summary the Bible says that we need to study the scriptures for ourselves but with the help of an approved preacher. This is perfectly illustrated in the experience of the Apostle Paul. God sent Paul to the Bereans who listened to his teachings. The Bereans heard Paul and made his teachings their own personal study.

Isaiah 8:16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

His disciples who are teaching the truth have the law sealed among them.

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

The teacher that God has sent must only speak according to the law and the prophets. This is a very important criterion as we seek to study the Bible correctly. If we study the Word of God for ourselves under the guidance of an approved preacher who speaks only according to the law and the testimony we may gain the experience.

Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

This will only be a sweet reality when we have studied the Bible with the purpose of knowing to do. Gleaning from the correct sources can we find the amazing sweetness of God’s Word. Without this correct procedure it is of no avail. This beautiful experience of correct bible study is also expressed;

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

The things written in the Bible were written for our learning if we read the scriptures correctly and do what it says. In the patient work of studying and reading through scriptural texts we find comfort and we have hope.

Psalms 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

Notice how this text which speaks of the comfort that the word of God gives us in our affliction marries up with the text in Isaiah 30:20.

Isaiah 30:20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:

In my confusion and affliction the Lord will not hide his teachers who will make clear the Word of God to me.  the Lord will send me a teacher to give me the word as it is meant to be read and this word will be a comfort to me. I’m sure that those who have already exercised this for themselves can testify of such comfort.

Hebrews 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

As we read the Word of God and take heed of its counsel not to add to or subtract from what God has said. We have a secure anchor that His Word is true and that it does not change. The Word of God is a security, an anchor that can hold and stop me from being tossed to and fro. It is sure and stedfast, a tremendous hope that won’t let me down. This is what God wants us to gain for ourselves by correct study of the Bible.

John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

we need to continue in the Word. If I read it only once and get a blessing from it, I won’t act in continuance with what I have read. This is why Jesus instructs us ‘continue in my word’. Don’t lay it aside and live on past experience. You can only stop starvation and death by eating continually and so it is with the study of God’s Word. We need to eat of the Word of God daily and study the scriptures over and over again.

Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

To live is to continue to read and to do His Word. As we continue in the study of His Word it will become bigger and broader in its dimensions to us. We will grow and achieve greater heights of understanding in the apprenticeship of God’s Word so that there will be no more confusion. The apprenticeship of the study of God’s Word may be likened to an apprentice who gains help from those who have already mastered the trade. As we follow in the path of those who have mastered the study of God’s Word before us, we will begin to master it for ourselves but if we neglect to do this (and hang onto the words of others) then we will have no sure anchor of our own. May we continue faithfully in the study of God’s Word – to read it correctly and to do it that we may come to understand it in our own experience.

Amen.

Posted on August 7, 2009, in 1st Angels Message and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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