Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How To Study the Bible part 3

Final part:

III. Read and study the word not to get a mass of knowledge in the head, but a flame of love in the heart. “Knowledge puffeth up(1 Corinthians 8:1), but love buildeth up. Read it to find fuel for affection, food for reflection, direction for judgment, guidance for conscience.

Read it not that you may know, but that you may do.

IV. Follow carefully the line of thought from verse to verse and chapter to chapter. Often the first part of one chapter belongs to the last part of the preceding chapter. For instance, in the last verse of the fourth chapter of Ephesians, we read, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you,” and in the first verse of the fifth chapter we read, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.

Those two verses belong together. We are to follow God in what? Why, in the spirit of kindness and tender-heartedness and forgiveness.

Again, in John 7:53 , we read, “And every man went unto his own house,” and in 8:1, “Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives .”

These two verses belong together. Jesus had no house. Bless Him! So when they went each to his own house for the night, Jesus went to the cold, dark mount!

[Donna note: I am pretty sure that there were many who would have rejoiced to share their home with the Savior, but the point that stuck out to me was that when others went to rest in comfort, he continued in prayer and sought deeper communion.]

Finally, do not be discouraged if progress in the knowledge of the word seems slow as first. It is like learning to play an instrument or master a trade; for the first few days or weeks it appears impossible, but it is not so. Some glad day a brain-cell will expand or a veil drop from your face and scales from your eyes and you will find yourself doing the impossible with ease.

So it will be in acquainting yourself with the word of God. Keep at it, keep at it, keep at it! Cry to God with David, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law (Psalm 119:18).

Pray for an understanding heart. You will only love and understand the word as Jesus reveals it to you. So walk with Him, take up your cross and follow Him through evil as well as good report.

After His resurrection, He came to His trembling, heart-broken, disappointed disciples, and Luke tells us that “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27), and later Luke says, “Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures(Luke 24:45).

There are things in the Bible hard to be understood, and we may not know them till we stand by the crystal sea, but we can learn those things that will make us meek and lowly in heart as was Jesus, watchful, patient, loving, kind, forgiving, and utterly zealous and self-sacrificing for the salvation of men.

Happy shall we be, if; like David, we can say, “thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee(Psalm 119:11).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How To Study the Bible part 2

II. Read in Acts 17:11 , what the disciples in Berea did.

They received the word with all readiness of mind.” A frank and noble mind is open to the truth, and wants it more than gold or pleasure or fame or power.

They searched the Scriptures.” They wanted to know for themselves, and not by mere hearsay. They searched. Precious things are deeply hidden. Pebbles and stones and autumn leaves abound everywhere, but gold and silver and precious stones are hidden deep in the bowels and rocky ribs of the earth; shells cover the sea-shore, but pearls are hidden in its depths. And so with truth. Some truth may lie on the surface of the Bible, but those that will altogether satisfy and distinguish us and make us wise unto salvation are found only after diligent search, even as for hid treasure. “Search the Scriptures;” said Jesus, “for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me (John 5:39). If you would know Jesus, search the Scriptures, and you will come to know Him and see His face, and be like Him.

“They searched daily.
” Daily, not spasmodically, by fits and starts, but daily, habitually, they dug into the word of God, to find out if the things Paul preached were so. And just so must you do. “Thou shalt meditate therein day and night” (Joshua 2:8), was God’s instruction to Joshua. And once this habit is formed the delight in God’s word will become unspeakable.

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them
;” said Jeremiah, “and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” (Jeremiah 13:16). “O how love I Thy law!” cried the Psalmist. “It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).

In forming the habit of Bible study we may have to begin and follow it up for a time from a sense of duty, but once the habit is formed, if we are not only hearers but doers of the word, we shall follow it up for very joy, until we can say with Job, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).

Monday, February 11, 2013

How To Study the Bible part 1

Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

(Of course the helps in these next three posts apply to all scriptures. So here is more from Brother Brengle.)

The other day I received a letter from a young Officer asking for a few suggestions as to how to read and study the Bible. Here they are:

I. Read and study it as two young lovers read and study each other’s letters. As soon as the mail brings a letter from his sweetheart, the young man grabs it and without waiting to see if there is not another letter for him, runs off to a corner and reads and laughs and rejoices over it and almost devours it. If he is a particularly desperate and demonstrative lover—(the Lord make us desperate and demonstrative lovers of our Lord Jesus Christ!)—he will probably kiss it and carry it next to his heart till the next one comes.

He meditates on it day and night, and reads it over again and then again. He carries it down town with him, and on the street car appears very quiet and thoughtful, till all at once a twinkle comes into his eye, out comes the letter and choice portions are read over again. He delights in that letter. If any part is hard to understand, a letter is sent off post haste for explanations, and the explanation and letter will be most carefully compared, and possibly also previous letters will be studiously compared with this one. I knew a young man whose fate was hanging in the balance. He wanted assurance, but the young woman was coy, and she veiled her true feelings and left him in uncertainty, and he studied her letters and weighed every word and phrase and brought them to me, and had me compare letter with letter, as we should compare Scripture with Scripture, in order, if possible, to discover the state of her mind and heart and his prospects. In due time he was abundantly rewarded.

Now, that is the way to read the Bible. It is God’s will and testament. It is His own carefully written instructions as to what manner of people He would have us be; as to how we shall behave ourselves; what we shall do and not do; what our rights and privileges in Jesus are; what are our peculiar dangers; how we shall know our enemies and conquer them; how we shall enter into and constantly enjoy his favor and escape Hell and get safely home to Heaven.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Freedom through Christ

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed”
(John 8:36)

Below is an excerpt from a talk given by Samuel L. Brengle who was a Salvation Army worker in 1897.

 The most startling thing about sin is its power to enslave. Jesus said, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin (John 8:34), and everyday life and experience prove the saying to be true. Let a boy or a man tell a lie and he is henceforth the servant of falsehood unless freed by a higher power. Let the bank clerk misappropriate funds, let the business man yield to a trick in trade, let the young man surrender to the clamor of lust, let the youth take an intoxicating glass, and henceforth he is a slave. The cord that holds him may be light and silken, and he may boast himself free, but he deceives himself; he is no longer free, he is a bondman.

We may choose the path in life we will take; the course of conduct; the friends with whom we will associate; the habits we will form, whether good or bad. But, having chosen the ways of sin, we are then swept on without further choice with a swiftness and certainty down to hell, just as a man who chooses to go on board a ship is surely taken to the destined harbor, however much he may wish to go elsewhere. We choose and then we are chosen. We grasp and then we are grasped by a power stronger than ourselves—like the man who takes hold of the poles of an electric battery; he grasps, but he cannot let go at his will; like the man who took the baby boa-constrictor and trained it to coil about him, but when grown it crushed him; like the lion trainer, who put his head in the lion’s mouth, but one day the lion closed its mouth and crushed his head as he might an egg-shell.

Just so the sinner is in the grasp of a higher power than his own. He chooses drink, dancing, gambling, worldly pleasure, or human wisdom and fame and power, but soon finds himself captive, only to be surely crushed and ruined for ever, unless delivered by some power outside himself. What shall he do? Is there hope? Is there a deliverer? Yes, thank God, there is. Jesus said: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Whom the Son maketh free is free indeed.

He breaks the power of  sin.

He sets the prisoner free.

This freedom is altogether complete. Jesus told the disciples to loose a colt that was tied and bring it to Him. Mark tells us that He loosed the tongue of a dumb man and he spake plain. John tells us that when Lazarus came forth from the grave he was “bound hand and foot with grave-clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44).

Now John uses exactly the same Greek word when he says of Jesus, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy (loose) the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8 ).

In other words, he whom Jesus makes free is loosed from the works of the devil—unhitched from them—as fully as was the colt from the post to which it was tied, or as was Lazarus from his grave clothes. Hallelujah! The sinner is bound to his guilty past, but Jesus forgives and forgets it, and he is no longer subject to the penalty of the broken law.

The converted man is bound to his inbred sin, Jesus looses him and he is free indeed. It is a complete deliverance, a perfect liberty, a Heavenly freedom that Jesus gives, by bringing the soul under the law of liberty, which is the law of love.