Saturday, August 9, 2008

Christian Study Methods

I. Assume the Best of God

A. Christians are seeking eternal life and find it in Jesus Christ. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

B. Through studying the Bible, people come to understand Christ and creation. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. (Psalm 36:9)

C. In the Bible, believers find what God wants them to know about eternal reality. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2 Peter 1:19)

D. Through Bible study, people progressively develop in the Christian faith. “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

II. Apply the Puritan Principle

A. Jesus taught people to come to Him with confidence and expectation. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-11)

1. What does it say?

2. What does it mean?

3. What do I do about it?

B. Expect to find heaven’s truth in the answers to these questions. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8)

C. Do not impose meanings on God or delay till some better time when seeking what God reveals.Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 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. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. (Isaiah 55:6-13)

D. Approach God on His terms and He will be gracious; do not attempt to make Him small enough to conform to the prejudices of the age. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15)

III. Apply the Geometry of Scripture

A. Jesus is identified as the logic or geometry of God; consequently geometry becomes a Bible study tool. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4)

B. Search the Bible with the four primary insights of geometry: Point, line, plane, and solid. “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” (Acts 17:10-12) “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9)

C. A doctrine will follow the Biblical geometry of God’s Word or it will kill. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.” (Deuteronomy 18:18-20)

All in God’s Time

Ecclesiastes 8:9-17; Mark 4:26-29 / Proverbs 11:1-31

I. Farming Illustrates the Gospel

A. Christ approached the farming story from the perspective of the farmer in contrast to the perspective of the seed. “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;” (Mark 4:26)

B. Human life is fragile like grain, but the new life of the redeemed is eternal. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Peter 1:23-25)

II. Farmers Must Be Patient

A. The farmer must wait patiently because seed grows by itself. “And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.” (Mark 4:27)

B. Human wisdom cannot measure the mystery of the growing seed; similarly the progress of the gospel cannot be patented, boxed, and sold. “Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.” (Ecclesiastes 8:17)

C. The gospel works according to its own rules, but it never fails in God’s purpose. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

D. Believers do not let the unknown shadow the known. “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

E. Jesus opened His gospel preaching with the mystery of human birth. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:7-8)

III. Seed Grows in Its Own Ways

A. The seed matures according to its own nature. “For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. (Mark 4:28)

B. God’s command is the ultimate explanation for life and growth; reality must obey. “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:11-12)

C. Nothing can stop the progress of the gospel. “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

D. God’s fundamental designs stretch across the full expanse of creation. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

E. The process is beautiful, but it cannot be mastered by human philosophy. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

IV. Eventually the Harvest Will Mature

A. When God is ready, He will gather His harvest. “But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” (Mark 4:29)

B. Leave the management of the harvest to God; final decisions belong to God rather than to human institutions. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. ” (Matthew 13:30)

C. God will settle all accounts at the end of the harvest season. “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.” (Matthew 13:40)

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