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READING THE BIBLE
God has given us two great spiritual inheritances: the invisible Holy Spirit within us and the visible Bible in our hand.
This lesson will guide you into the rich treasury which God has prepared for you in the Bible.
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE BIBLE
“…the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:15-16
What God speaks to man today is based on what He has already spoken. Hence, if a believer desires to know God well, he must read the Bible.
“You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is these that testify concerning Me.” John 5:39
The Lord Jesus is the subject and content of the Bible. The Bible is the explanation and expression of the Lord Jesus. Through the Bible, the Lord Jesus is known and understood by man in a concrete way.
II. WHAT THE BIBLE IS
1. THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of one’s own interpretation; for no prophecy was ever borne by the will of man, but men spoke from God, being borne by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21
All the words of the Bible are spoken by men being borne by the Holy Spirit, just as a sailboat is propelled forward by the wind.
These words of the Bible explain:
(1) The Triune God (the Father, Son, and Spirit)
(2) The economy of God—a. His plan, b. His work
(3) The creation, fall, and redemption of man
(4) The history of the universe
2. THE BIBLE IS THE REVELATION OF GOD
“In many portions and in many ways. God, having spoken of old to the fathers in the prophets, has at the last of these days spoken to us in the Son.” Hebrews 1:1-2
The whole Bible is the complete revelation of God; every word and every sentence is inspired by God.
God has spoken, and has revealed Himself.
3. THE BIBLE IS THE BREATH OF GOD
“All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
“The words which I have spoken unto you are spirit and are life.” John 6:63b
God is Spirit, and whatever is breathed out by Him must also be spirit. Therefore, the very element and substance of the Bible is Spirit, just as phosphorous is the basic substance of matches.
We must use our spirit to strike the Spirit of the Bible to catch the divine fire.
III. A SIMPLE INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE
* THE BIBLE IS DIVIDED INTO TWO SECTIONS, THE OLD TESTAMENT
AND THE NEW TESTAMENT
1. The Old Testament—It was written mostly in the Hebrew language. There are altogether 39 books, which took about 1100 years to complete. According to its structure it can be divided into (refer to the list of the books in the Bible):
(1) The Pentateuch, consisting of five books
(2) History: a total of twelve books
(3) Psalms: a total of six books
(4) The Prophets: a total of sixteen books
2. The New Testament—It was written in Greek. There are altogether 27 books, which took over 50 years to complete. According to its structure it can be divided into: the four Gospels (a total of four books), Acts, the Epistles (a total of twenty-one books), and Revelation.
* A KEY VIEW OF THE BIBLE
|GOD planned and created||SATAN rebelled and destroyed|
|MAN fell and became lost||CHRIST redeemed and built|
* THE FOCUS OF THE BIBLE—CHRIST AND THE CHURCH
“This mystery is great, but I speak with regard to Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:32
The focus of the Old Testament—leading to Christ for redemption.
The focus of the New Testament—the church redeemed and built up in Christ.
IV. ATTITUDE IN READING THE BIBLE
1. TO CONTACT GOD HIMSELF
“You search the Scriptures…and you are not willing to come to Me [the Lord] that you may have life.” John 5:39-40
2. TO RECEIVE THE SUPPLY OF LIFE
“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.”Jeremiah 15:16
3. TO RECEIVE ENLIGHTENMENT
“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Psalm 119:130
Therefore, every time you open up the Word of God, you should pray from the depth of your being:
O God, I am coming to read Your Word.
I am coming to You,
to contact Yourself;
my heart longs for You,
my spirit is also open to You,
that I may be enlightened by Your Word.
V. THE BEST WAY TO READ THE BIBLE—PRAY-READING
Take in the Word of God by means of prayer, letting your reading and your praying be mingled together as one.
“And receive the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, by means of all prayer and petition.” Ephesians 6:17-18a
The best way to pray-read is to practice it together with other saints.
Quick! Do not hesitate.
Short! Do not compose.
Real! Be genuine, not pretending.
New! Be fresh, not old.
VI. THE PRACTICE OF READING THE BIBLE
1. READ DAILY
“They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.”Acts 17:11
2. READ CONSECUTIVELY—read both the Old Testament and the New Testament each time.
3. READ AT MOST ONE CHAPTER AT A TIME (IN PRINCIPLE)
4. LEARN TO PICK UP THE FACTS AND THE MAIN POINTS
5. MEMORIZE THE PRECIOUS VERSES
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom…” Colossians 3:16a
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate [muse] day and night.” Psalm 1:2
VII. THE MOST VALUABLE AID IN READING THE BIBLE—The Recovery Version of the Bible with the Life-study Messages
The four functions of the Life-study messages are:
- To release the truths
- To supply life—life-study means to study in life
- To solve difficult problems in the Bible
- To open up the treasures in the Bible chapter by chapter
VIII. THE BLESSINGS OF READING THE BIBLE
God has many blessings of life, most of which are received through man’s reading of the Bible. Among them the main blessings are:
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
“As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word, that by it you may grow unto salvation.” 1 Peter 2:2
After reading through this lesson, you must be eager to become one who reads the Bible and knows God. If you do not yet have a plan and a life of reading the Bible, we hope that by the grace of the Lord you will make a resolution that from now on you will practice the following:
Spend twenty minutes every day in the Word.
Read one chapter in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament.
Pray-read one verse.
If you would take care of the Bible given by God in this way, in time you will reap the highest blessings of life.
Excerpted from New Life Lessons, pages 17-24, published by Living Stream Ministry, 2431 W. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801
Six Practical Helps in How to Keep a Bible Reading Schedule…
1. Begin each reading day by offering a short prayer to the Lord.
2. Although you can do your reading at any time of the day, we encourage you to do it during the earlier part of the day.
3. If you happen to miss one or more days of the reading schedule, don’t get discouraged, just continue reading your daily portion according to the schedule and then go back and, as time permits, read the days you have missed.
4. As you endeavor to keep this reading schedule, you will discover that it is difficult to do it by yourself. What can you do? Find at least one companion with whom you can read through the New Testament. Consistently pursuing Christ in order to know Him and gain Him is a corporate matter; most Christians cannot accomplish this by themselves.
5. Use phone calls, text messaging, e-mail, Skype, or Facebook to share with your companions whatever you are enjoying from your Bible reading. This will keep your enjoyment of Christ fresh, it will supply your companions with life, and it will become a loving reminder to them that we are endeavoring to become a people of the truth.
6. If at any time you find yourself struggling to keep the reading schedule, take this as an opportunity to fellowship your situation with one or more of your companions so that they can pray for you. You may discover that some of them are also struggling to keep the schedule, and this would give you an opportunity to pray for them.