Mark & Beth Brownson
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
To know Christ and to make Him known

Mark's Musings

How to Study the Bible Part L How to Study the Bible Part L

How to Study the Bible: Part 12


 

Matthew 4:7–11 (NLT)

7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” 8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” 11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.


 

Deuteronomy 6:13–19 (NLT)

13 You must fear the Lord your God and serve him. When you take an oath, you must use only his name. 14 You must not worship any of the gods of neighboring nations, 15 for the Lord your God, who lives among you, is a jealous God. His anger will flare up against you, and he will wipe you from the face of the earth. 16 You must not test the Lord your God as you did when you complained at Massah.


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How to Study the Bible: Part A

How to Study the Bible: Part A How to Study the Bible: Part A

 There is a Child Evangelism Fellowship song that Beth uses to teach children and adults about Bible Study. The start of the song says “As I read God's Word each day, I will ask myself three questions: What does it say? What does it mean? What is God saying to me?” Although this makes a great outline of how to study the Bible, this is obviously somewhat simplistic. As Christians, I think we would all agree that studying the Bible is important to our faith. In 2 Timothy 3:16,17, the apostle Paul instructs Timothy All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.” These verses will be our starting point for the next several months as we attempt to take a look at how to study our Bibles. My baseline understanding is that the Bible is the Word of God from first to last. We will be looking at ways we can better understand what it says, not only to its original audience, but to us today. Some of the things that we will be looking at will be subjects, such as the following: “Context”, which is the surrounding verses and setting of a given passage; “Resources”, where we can go and do research as to the meaning of a passage; “Genre”-- the type of literature, such as poetry, prose, illustrations, etc.; how the Bible as the Word of God affects our understanding; how the fact that it was written by human authors impacts our understanding; “the Holy Spirit's role” in bringing understanding to us; “Language and Translation”; “Unity of the Bible”; “Biblical Time Periods”--is it for today and can that be determined?; “Literal and Figurative Interpretations”; “Applications”--how does it effect me? When somebody suggested this to me, my first reaction was “What a daunting task”. It sounds a lot harder than it actually is. There will always be portions of the Bible that are hard to understand. Much of it is straightforward and if we take it in its most literal sense, with the Holy Spirit's help, the average person can understand the Bible, maybe not in its complexity, but in its simplicity.


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How to Study the Bible: Part B How to Study the Bible: Part B

When Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “all Scripture is inspired by God”, what does he mean by “all Scripture”? Thomas Jefferson was known for taking the Bible and removing all the miracles. He did not believe in a supernatural intervention of God in human affairs. He liked the ethical aspects of the Bible, such as the Sermon on the Mount. The apostle Paul says that is not right. “All Scripture” is the Word of God and God does not lie. As the apostle Paul says in Titus 1:2, “This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God-who does not lie-promised them before the world began.” When Paul wrote 1 Timothy, the Scripture that was in existence was the Old Testament and portions of the New Testament. So in saying that “all Scripture is inspired by God”, he is claiming the Old Testament to be the very Word of God. The four Gospels claim to be either eyewitness accounts or well researched accounts of the life of Christ. Paul, Peter and John claim for themselves apostleship of Jesus Christ. An apostle is the term for a messenger. In the case of these men, they claim to be sent by Jesus Christ, thereby giving authority to their message. When viewed in light of their claims, we are left with one decision—either the Bible is true or it is not. Really there is no room for the one who claims to be a Christian to pick and choose parts they like. This leaves us with the task of making sense out of the whole Bible.


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How To Study the Bible: Part C How To Study the Bible: Part C

2 Timothy 3:16, 17 (NLT)

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

This month I would like to talk to you about “All Scripture”, in the sense of the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament makes up approximately 2/3 of the Bible, yet most of us spend our time in the New Testament. Spending time in the New Testament is not wrong, but in our Verses the Apostle Paul says “All Scripture”, which includes Old and New Testaments. He goes on to say that God uses both the Old and the New Testament “to make us realize what is wrong in our lives”. It also “corrects us and teaches us to do what is right.” At the time when Paul was writing this, the Old Testament was the only compiled Scriptures. The Apostle Paul viewed the Old Testament as essential to the Christian life. When I was younger and in college, I was challenged with the idea that the Scriptures should be split into different dispensations or periods of God's revelation and that the Old Testament was written to a Jewish audience that was not under grace. Some even went as far as to say that passages like the Sermon on the Mount, since they predated the Cross, were also written to a Jewish audience under the Law. The Apostle Paul does not seem to have this understanding of the Scripture. Hence, the “All”, which definitely included the Old Testament and probably had in mind the New Testament, as he was thinking about his own writings and the writings of other Apostles and those who had been with Jesus.

The question then remains, how can we read Scripture that predates the Cross and apply it to our lives as Christians? I believe that all Scripture contains both Law and Gospel and although the Law shows us our failure and drives us to the Gospel, it can also show us our need for purity, which was met in the Person of Jesus Christ, such as the Ceremonial Laws. The sacrifices show us of our need for a Savior and point us to Jesus. These are Gospel. Having said this, the Christian life is one of new birth, in which we are being recreated in the image of God. We find the image of God within the Scriptures, in both the Law and the Person of Jesus Christ, as well as being expounded upon in the Epistles and Revelation. Identifying Law and Gospel can be difficult and will be something we continue to discuss as we look at how to study our Bibles.


 


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How To Study the Bible: Part D How To Study the Bible: Part D

We are continuing to deal with 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. We need to expand our view to the surrounding Verses. This is called “context”. There is immediate context, which we will be looking at this time, and there is larger context, which would take in the entire Book and the writings of Paul, and even the cultural setting, if that can be ascertained. The immediate context around 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 can help us better understand exactly what the Word of God is useful for. Starting in Verse 10, Paul reminds Timothy that he knows what Paul taught and how he lived. This holds significance, because Paul's teaching and a large portion of his life ended up as part of Scripture. Here he particularly instructs Timothy to remember his “faith”, “patience”, “love” and “endurance”. As he focuses in on “endurance”, he remembers the persecution he faced. He says God rescued him from all of it, but not before he suffered. In Verse 12, he applies his life directly to Timothy, and says that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution”. This is in contrast with Verse 13, where evil people and false believers will have success and they will fool themselves and others (Mark Brownson paraphrase). The purpose of the Scriptures cannot be to make life easy, to remove difficulties or to make us wealthy, which leads us to what they are for. In Verse 15, Paul tells Timothy that he has been taught the Scriptures from childhood and that they have given him wisdom to receive the salvation or rescue that comes from trusting in Christ Jesus. One of the primary purposes of the Scriptures is to lead us into dependence upon Jesus for our salvation. Where there is no need, there is no need of rescue. The Scriptures lead us to Christ at least partially by showing us our sin and our need of a Savior. This salvation comes only from faith or dependence upon Christ Jesus alone. In this, we see the Scriptures functioning both as Law and Gospel. Law, in showing us our failures and sins, and Gospel, in rescuing us both from the penalty and power of sin through the death of Jesus Christ. Next time we will look at the purpose the Scriptures are to serve in the life of the believer.

 


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How To Study the Bible: Part E How To Study the Bible: Part E

2 Timothy 2:16, 17 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.


The Bible's purpose in the life of a Christian is three-fold. It is to correct us when we are wrong, which is the opposite of affirming us. None of us like to be told we are wrong. The willingness to admit that we are wrong is a sign of maturity. I remember when I was in Junior High School, I brought a friend to a small country church with me. The Sunday School teacher was teaching a lesson and insisting that the pope was the antichrist. My friend was catholic. I corrected my teacher and told him to show me from Scripture where this was taught. My teacher was a godly man. Next week, he came back to the Sunday School class and apologized, and said he could not find in the Scripture that the pope was the antichrist. Scripture is to be the standard by which we filter truth from falsehood. It is neither the Bible's or the pastor's job to make anyone feel good about themselves. Correction is never pleasant, but is much needed in the church. The second purpose in the life of the believer is to teach us how to live, not teach us how to make money, although the Bible has some things to say about that. Or, how to have successful relationships, although there are many good principles that can be gained from Scripture. But it is to teach us the difference between right and wrong and how God would have us to live. Although the Christian will inevitably fail from time to time, Scripture is the means the Holy Spirit uses to get us back on track. Scripture and the Holy Spirit work hand in hand, which Lord willing, we will deal more with at a later date. Needless to say, the Christian life cannot be lived apart from the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. The third purpose of the Scriptures in the life of the believer is to equip or prepare the people of God for good work. This is a positive attribute of the Scriptures. It is God's Word that enables us to successfully fulfill His mission here on earth. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit we have some growth edges. God uses His Word to enable us to serve in a way that is pleasing to Him and effective in reaching the world.

In the context of 2 Timothy, this was to be the preached Word, as Timothy the young pastor sought to apply the Word of God to his congregation. As believers, we should seek to go to church and read the Bible to hear the Word of God applied to our lives. For most people, this takes a great deal of humility. Instruction is not easy to receive.


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How To Study the Bible: Part F How To Study the Bible: Part F

2 Peter 1:16–21 (NLT)

16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, 21 or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

Is the Bible the Word of God, fact or fiction, or does it matter? In recent years, there has been a resurgence in Hollywood with mythology, comic books and even fairy tales. Originally, many of these stories were written as either part of pagan traditions or as moralistic stories to train children how to live their lives. There is actually a great deal which we can learn from such literature or even some of these that have been reworked by Hollywood. Many of them teach important life's lessons. Is this how the Bible operates as well? 2 Peter 1:16 says that the stories about Jesus were not clever stories invented by the apostles, but were things they actually saw and heard. The exact event that is spoken about in this passage is probably the Transfiguration of Jesus, which is recorded in the Gospels. But Peter claims it is historic fact and takes this event and broadens it to encompass the entire life of Jesus. In Verse 19, he says that his experience while with Jesus made him more certain of the message received in the Old Testament through the prophets. Peter is claiming that the Bible is history and is an accurate portrayal of real life events. Of course, having said this, the Bible includes many genres of literature, apart from historic narrative, such as poetry and parables, but a large chunk of the Bible is a record of God's direct intervention in human affairs. It is not based on how clever the human author is, but on what God actually did. Why is this important? This is important because it gives us real hope, not imagined. If the resurrection of Jesus is not real, then we have no hope of a real resurrection either. If we have no hope of a real resurrection, then we have no hope of life after death. If no hope of life after death, then we have no hope in this life. We are left, as the apostle Paul says, the most pathetic of human beings. We should eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow, we die. The reality that God intervened in human affairs and seeks to have a relationship with us is essential to our understanding of the Scriptures. The Scriptures address real life needs and probl
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How to Study the Bible: Part G How to Study the Bible: Part G

2 Peter 1:16–21 (NLT)

16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, 21 or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

We are going to focus on the last few verses of this passage where Peter expresses his reliance on the Word of God, despite his experience with the physical Jesus while He was here on earth and the Transfiguration. This was eluded to in Verses 16-18. Now he turns to the importance of the prophets, not just the prophetic books, but all who had a part in the writing of Scripture. He says that their “words are like a lamp shining in a dark place.” We live in a dark world. It is God's Word that allows us to see the truth. It is, as the Old Testament says, “a light unto our path”. It helps us to see danger ahead and if followed, can keep us from many hurts and from hurting others. We need this Word of God, until, as our passage says, the day dawns and Christ, the Morning Star, rises in your hearts. This obviously did not refer to Christ's resurrection, because Peter was calling people to dependence on the Word of God, post resurrection. He is also not speaking of reaching a state of personal enlightenment here on earth, when the Scripture is no longer needed. This was after all, the apostle Peter, who had spent three years of his life with Jesus and seen his Lord after His resurrection. If anyone would have been enlightened to the point of no longer needing the Scriptures, it would have been Peter. But in Verse 19, he says that his experience had made him trust even more the Message through the prophets. Our experience of Jesus through the Holy Spirit should push us to greater trust in the Word of God and dependence upon the Word of God. Someday when Christ returns, lamps will no longer be needed because Jesus, the Living Word of God, will dawn like the sun over Pennsylvania mountains. Until such a time, we are dependent on the Word of God.


 


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How to Study the Bible: Part H How to Study the Bible: Part H

2 Peter 1:16–21 (NLT)

16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, 21 or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

This month, I would like to talk about the dual authorship of the Bible. As we read through the Bible, it is important to know that not only are there many different genres, and that the Bible was written in multiple languages, but also that literary styles vary from human author to human author. Even within some of the books that claim to have the same authors, such as Paul's epistles or Peter's epistles, literary styles can vary. Liberal scholars have often seized upon this to tear down the validity of the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. Some of this can be explained by the use of amanuenses by Peter and Paul. It was common practice for people to offer dictation to a scribe who would write down their thoughts. These amanuenses would take liberties with the grammar and wording while taking dictation and the writers of these books did not always have the same amanuenses available. The liberties taken fell into the realm of style and grammar, but I hold that they did not touch on the substance of the message. Our 2 Peter passage says in Verse 20 that “no prophecy in Scripture came from the prophet's own understanding”. In other words, it came from God. Verse 21 says or “human initiative”. It is the Holy Spirit who moved them and spoke through them and they spoke from God. It is God who spoke through these human instruments, their human frailties and their literary styles. The Bible is not a collection of mythology and wise sayings
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How To Study the Bible: Part I How To Study the Bible: Part I

Matthew 4:4, 7 and 10 (NLT)

4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

10 Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

How authoritative is the Word of God? In these 3 Verses, within the temptation of Jesus passage, we see Jesus appealing to Scripture when rebuking Satan. Although Jesus was the Son of God, each time He answered Satan, He answered him from the Word of God and said “The Scriptures say”. Jesus viewed these Old Testament passages as carrying the weight of the voice of God. In each of the temptations, Satan tried to tempt Jesus with proud, power and self-seeking glory. Although Jesus did not need to appeal to the Word of God, He did and He showed that Scripture held authority for how He conducted His life, even down to how He came about getting His food. Jesus held the Scriptures in very high regard. In this passage, even Satan uses the Word of God to try to influence Jesus, however, he pulls it out of context in an effort to try to make Jesus do something that is self-seeking. If the Son of God viewed the Scriptures in such high regard, as governing His life, how much more should we! Granted, none of us are capable of fulfilling the demands of the Law, like Jesus was, but they still give us insight into the mind and will of God. For the believer, God's transforming work gives us a desire to follow the Word of God, not because we have to, but because we want to. We can delight in the Law of God, like the Psalmist talks in Psalm 119. We delight in the Law of God because we delight in God. If we keep our focus on the Scriptures, they will save us from many temptations.


 

Wishing you God's Grace,


 

Pastor Mark

 

 


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How to Study the Bible: Part J How to Study the Bible: Part J

Matthew 4:1–4 (NLT)

1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. 3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Deuteronomy 8:1–5 (NLT)

1 Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. 3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. 5 Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God discipli
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How to Study the Bible: Part K How to Study the Bible: Part K

Matthew 4:5–7 (NLT)

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

Deuteronomy 6:16 (NLT)

16 You must not test the Lord your God as you did when you complained at Massah.

Psalm 91:11–12 (NLT)

11 For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. 12 They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.

Descriptive Versus Prescriptive

 

As we look at the second of Christ's temptations, for me, anyway, it is disconcerting that the devil will use Scripture against us. This should be a reminder that Scripture can be misused. It should motivate us to study the Scriptures correctly because Scripture taken out of its context and wrongly applied is not the voice of God. As a matter of fact, it can be used to lead us into sin. In this passage, we see satan challenging Jesus to prove that He is the Son of God through showing off. The devil quotes Psalm 91:11, 12. Psalm 91 is a Psalm praising God's protection of His people, even promising them a long life and salvation. This is a descriptive Psalm, encouraging the people of God to not be afraid. The Psalm that follows in the Psalter speaks of God's eternity and man's frailty. There is a delicate balance throughout the Scripture between the blessing and protection of God and the difficulty and struggle of life. When we veer to either of these extremes, we lose our bearing. On the one hand, we may be driven to despair and feel
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Mark's Response to the Orlando Terrorist Attack of June 12, 2016 Mark's Response to the Orlando Terrorist Attack of June 12, 2016

I know that what I am going to say will offend some. I hope it offends us all. The tragedy that took place in Orlando, which is not too far from where we live, was terrible, not because those who were killed were innocent, but because of the wickedness of man's heart. The tragedy is in that those murdered were unprepared to defend themselves. I know full well that this will be blamed on religious fanaticism. Unfortunately, this would include me because I am an ordained, protestant minister, who holds to the Bible being the very Word of God. Islamic terrorists and some branches of Christianity seem to think that our Kingdom is of this world and that our victories are won either on the Political front or on the Battlefield. I would affirm with the Islamic terrorists that God is great (Allah Akbar). We can discuss it another time whether "Allah" is the proper name for God. That has nothing to do with my point. My point is simply this: If God is so great, let Him fight His own battles. He doesn't need us to save His honor or His integrity. This doesn't mean we don't take a stand on sexual immorality. I have seen the self-destructive nature of both heterosexual and homosexual immorality and it is not my job to be the morality police. When I have tried, it has only served to reveal the blackness of my own heart, which is a good thing. I am driven to my knees, recognizing my own wickedness for wanting to do the job of God and bring about moral purity under my own strength and power. I would like to quote a couple of parishioners, who I have found in their own simple way, are exceedingly wise. When I ask one man how he is doing, he replies "better than I deserve". This is true of all of us, regardless of sexual orientation or religious background. It is the grace of God that hopefully leads us to repentance. Another gentleman from one of my churches, every time he lead a Bible Study, came to the point that "that old time religion makes me love everybody". This is the point of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Our neighbor is those who are in need and that we show them love, that God demands through kindness and compassion. Mark Brownson
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