Making the Bible Come Alive

2 Tim 2:1-3:1

Timothy, my dear son, be strong with the special favor God gives you in Christ Jesus. 2 You have heard me teach many things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others.

3 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 And as Christ's soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in the affairs of this life, for then you cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted you in his army. 5 Follow the Lord's rules for doing his work, just as an athlete either follows the rules or is disqualified and wins no prize. 6 Hardworking farmers are the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. 7 Think about what I am saying. The Lord will give you understanding in all these things.

8 Never forget that Jesus Christ was a man born into King David's family and that he was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. 9 And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. 10 I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

11 This is a true saying:

If we die with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. 13 If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

14 Remind everyone of these things, and command them in God's name to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them. 15 Work hard so God can approve you. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless, foolish discussions that lead to more and more ungodliness. 17 This kind of talk spreads like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are examples of this. 18 They have left the path of truth, preaching the lie that the resurrection of the dead has already occurred; and they have undermined the faith of some.

19 But God's truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and "Those who claim they belong to the Lord must turn away from all wickedness."

20 In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a utensil God can use for his purpose. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

23 Again I say, don't get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 The Lord's servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. 25 They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will believe the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil's trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. NLT

We want to use as our text today verse 15. Work hard so God can approve you. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

How do we make the Bible come alive? Can we expect that a book, some of which is almost 4,000 years old can speak to us today.

And if it does how can we apply principles written in 2,000 B.C to 2,000 A.D.?

First of all I want to tell you that it is not as difficult as you might believe. The Bible is a timeless book because God who gave it to us is a timeless God. But we might expect that if we must study to understand a language or math, or farming, or car maintenance, then we will probably need to study to understand God and the ways of God.

  1. The first presumption that must be made is that you want to know more about God and your relationship with Him.
    1. There is a presumption that you will spend some time in this.
      1. I would like to shoot a 20 point buck.
        1. What are the chances?
        2. I do not have a gun.
        3. I would need to buy one and they cost a lot of money.
        4. I remember that you get up at 5:00 and are out there at 5:30 so you can freeze to death waiting for this dear to come walking by.
        5. I also remember that at 5:30 when you can't see the end of your shotgun you can hear hunters other places hopefully shooting at what they think is a deer and then I am hoping that some other fool didn't get up at 4:30.
      2. Now since I am never going to do all that again, what is the possibility that I will bag that 20 point buck? Not much.
    2. Since you are all here at the church this morning I assume that you want to know God better and have a closer walk with Him.
  2. The easiest way to study the Bible is by studying the topics of the Bible.
    1. I didn't say this was the best way just the easiest.
      1. It is easy because your are usually looking just a certain verses and they will all relate to the same subject.
      2. Many times you will not need to know the specific background of each verse you study because you are trying to get the general teaching of the Bible on the one subject.
    2. You could study certain Bible characters as they are easy topics because all that you need to do is look up their names.
      1. You can use a topical Bible.
      2. You can use a concordance.
      3. You see when it comes to independent Bible Study, someone else has done most of the work for you.
    3. But make sure you study the topic for your yourself.
      1. Or else you will be getting ABC gum.
      2. Write down what you learn with the references where you learned it.
      3. It is important that you keep a notebook of your spiritual pilgrimage so that you know what ground you have covered and where you need to go.
      4. Very your topics so that your study is rounded out and you are discovering new things all the time.
    4. After you have studied it for yourself, then you can look to see how you have done.
      1. You can look your topic up in a Bible dictionary.
      2. You might want to look it up in a book of Bible doctrine.
      3. Or you might even buy a book just on that subject.
      4. But the important thing is to know here you got it.
      5. Did you get it from God or from Unger or Smith
      6. The experience is in the getting it.
      7. The joy of deer hunting is not in the eating the deer but the thrill of the hunt.
      8. So it is in discovering God, the thrill is not in the accomplished task but in the hunt for God.
  3. The second way to study the Bible is to study a text.
    1. It might be a verse or a chapter or a section of a book.
      1. The important thing is to get the whole thing.
      2. It is like cleaning chicken gizzards, it doesn't matter if they are big or small, just so that you get the whole thing.
      3. Usually this will mean more than one verse, at least a paragraph.
    2. First you read it until you are familiar with it.
      1. Read it thorough at least five times.
    3. Read what comes before it and what comes after it.
    4. Study the background of the passage or book.
    5. Know who is speaking.
    6. Know to whom they are speaking.
    7. Determine what is being said.
      1. Read different translations.
      2. Look up any words that you do not know what they mean.
      3. It best to look them up in a Greek or Hebrew dictionary.
  4. Study a Book
    1. This is the best way of all.
      1. When you study a whole book you get the whole idea.
      2. Also you can't just skip verses or chapters you do not like.
      3. I have seen pastors spend 40 minutes on three verses in a passage and then 5 minutes on the other thirteen just because they didn't like what they said.
      4. This way makes your study more rounded.
      5. You will eventually get to all the subjects and not miss any of them.
    2. Our older Bibles are divided into chapters and verses.
      1. This was done by men, not God.
      2. Some of the divisions are misleading and others are just wrong.
      3. Newer Bibles are divided into paragraphs where you are supposed to get the whole topic in one piece.
      4. Some even have headings over several chapters to help us understand that that section has a particular purpose.
    3. You do this type of study little by little.
      1. It is like planting a garden.
      2. You do not plant the entire thing at once.
      3. You plant it row by row and even seed by seed
    4. Get a notebook to keep notes in.
      1. Ask yourself several question.
        1. What does the passage say.
        2. What is God saying to me through this passage.
        3. How does this apply to me.
  5. Pray
    1. Pray because without the Holy Spirit you cannot understand the Bible
      1. I do not know anything that God didn't teach me.
      2. We are totally shut up to Him in understanding.
    2. Pray because you want to comprehend God
    3. Pray because only God can change your heart.
  6. When you hit a snag.
    1. The Bible is its own best interpreter.
    2. Use cross references
      1. Get a Bible that has some
      2. Remember that even these are one man's interpretation.
    3. You can always turn to a commentary that you trust or someone has recommended.
    4. Remember that of the making of books there is no end and that commentaries do not agree with one another but you can get differing ideas from them.

Remember that the study of the Bible is in the adventure of encountering God as you study His Word. It comes alive because its author is alive.

John DeVries, the director of international ministries for the World Home Bible League, has devised a six-point plan for getting something out of almost any passage of Scripture. It can make your Bible-reading time an opportunity to enjoy God and His message and not be overwhelmed with principles and interpretations. Read a passage of Scripture and then ask yourself these questions: - What did you like? - What did you not like? - What did you not understand? - What did you learn about God? - What should you do? - What phrase can you take with you today?

 

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com