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Sunday, October 18, 2015 am                                        Perfection 2015 Index

GOING ON TO PERFECTION (31)
The Christian and Bible Study (2)
Attitudes in Bible Study

 

This month we are examining the subject of Bible study as we strive to go toward perfection.  Understanding the word of God is crucial to doing His will.  Many THINK they are serving God, but in reality their approach to His word keeps them from properly applying His precepts.  As we study the word of God a proper attitude is crucial.  So today, let us discuss both proper and improper attitudes in Bible study.

 I.                    Improper attitudes and approaches

a.        In scripture we can see examples of God’s word misused.  Much of that stems from improper attitudes toward His word (and study)
2 Peter 3:15-16 – they twist the scriptures to their own destruction.
Matthew 22:29 - You are mistaken, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God.
Matt. 15:3-9 – the word of God was made void by their traditions.

b.       To find “proof texts”

                                                   i.      Some study to prove what they want it to say and what they already believe.
They approach the word of God with prejudice - with preconceived ideas and no intention of changing.   

                                                  ii.      They will search far and wide within God’s word to find justification for their conduct, even if it is not there.  Such will readily do violence to proper interpretation if it proves their point.

                                                iii.      Jesus, in dealing with the Jewish leaders, dealt with this attitude throughout His teaching.  They had in mind what kind of “messiah” they wanted and Jesus did not fit that mold, so they rejected Him with ungodly attitudes toward scripture – called Him names, exaggerated and misrepresented His conduct and teachings, made false accusations, mocked Him, bullied others into rejecting Him, etc. 

                                                iv.      Some today, approach scripture the same way – they are determined to justify that which is not authorized so they twist scriptures.  Consider the homosexual agenda among professed believers – they say texts do not mean what they say, redefine words, discredit the accuracy and relevance of the Bible today, etc.

                                                  v.      This explains why some reject baptism for the remission of sins though scripture plainly teaches it (Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:20-21, Acts 22:16, etc.).  They are convinced that we are saved by “faith only” and refuse to accept passage that contradicts that doctrine.

                                                vi.      Brethren are not immune from this either – i.e. MDR, proper worship, leadership qualifications, etc.

                                               vii.      2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 tells us that God will allow those that do not love the gospel to believe the lie.

c.        To find contradictions, odd sayings, etc.

                                                   i.      There are critics of the Bible who want to reject it, so they look for mistakes and contradictory statements.  Their goal is not to consider the overall message of scripture but to find fault with so-called inconsistencies.  Even though a plausible answer can be given to every  one of them, or perhaps an acknowledgment that there are some things we cannot understand, such claim such is not acceptable (see their prejudice above) and cause to reject scripture.

                                                  ii.      Others are looking for trivial things – longest and shortest verse, chapter, etc.  or hard sayings and enigmas, etc.  Focus on such trivial knowledge demonstrates a lack of interest in the divine message of God’s word.

d.       To impress others

                                                   i.      Some study the Bible because they want others to know how much they know and to make them look smarter than others.   
Others will look for a passage to stump the teacher or preacher (which supposedly demonstrates their deeper knowledge).  NOTE: I am not speaking of legitimately questioning a passage for clarification or correction. 

                                                  ii.      Typically those that do this will take passages out of context and ask questions that are difficult to answer – endless genealogies and fables, striving about words, profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, etc.  (1 Tim. 1:3, 6:20-21, 2 Tim. 2:14, etc.).

                                                iii.      Matt 23:6-7 speaks of the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees who loved the best seats and to be called “Rabi” (a title of knowledgeable distinction).  “Many words” – Matt. 6:7 – long prayers, etc.

                                                iv.      2 Tim. 2:15 calls for us to study to present OURSELVES approved, not the approval others.

e.       Thinking you cannot understand it unless you belong to “a special class” of people.  

                                                   i.      Many think that they cannot understand the Bible without the help of preachers or elders.  They take their words at face value, without investigating for themselves (not like the Bereans – Acts 17:11). 
Some in the religious world – both Catholicism and Protestantism imply this.  Catholicism makes a distinction between “clergy” and “laity”.  Many denominations, before one can preach he must be “ordained” which involves a level of theological studies at a higher institution of their acceptance.

                                                  ii.      As noted last week, the Bible is written for the common man.  Letters were written to congregations for the brethren to read, study and apply.  Eph. 5:17 – understand what the will of the Lord is.  

                                                iii.      1 Cor. 1:18 speaks of how the word is foolishness to those perishing – both Jews and Gentiles (elite) made demands, while Christians simply see it as the power of God and will study for themselves. 

f.         To find “sound bites”

                                                   i.      Do you ever hear a politician quote scripture to prop up some ideology or political cause?   They might take a short scripture (often totally out of context) to imply God’s approval for their cause.  This is particularly true while seeking compromise with others – they might say, “The Bible says, ‘Judge not, lest you be judged’,  so we need to be tolerant of the views of others.  They have found a “proof text” but it is NOT what the text actually meant.  

                                                  ii.      One source says a few years ago, when a building was completed, the preacher quoted John 19:30, “It is finished” as the building was “dedicated”.  Obviously, it was taken out of context,

g.        Such attitudes are a failure to “rightly divide the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

 II.                  Proper attitudes

a.        On the other hand, there are proper attitudes that need to be present if we are to glean from the word of God its intended meaning as we study.  Consider the following

b.       With faith

                                                   i.      Believe it is the word of God – for the Bible to have any meaning we must first accept that it is from God.  If that be true, we MUST study to accept its teachings as true

                                                  ii.      This attitude is crucial if we are to devote adequate efforts to glean its real meaning.

                                                iii.      Far too many today reject the Bible as God’s word – they do NOT receive it by faith.  That is why they can reject and manipulate it in their lives.
Romans 9:32-33 – Israel was rejected because they did not pursue the law of righteousness by faith, but rather by works of the law.   They did some of what God said, but they really didn’t believe Him!

                                                iv.      As we study God’s word, we need to believe it contains, “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3)

c.        With reverence

                                                   i.      As noted last week, the Bible is the word of God – the way He speaks to us. 

                                                  ii.      2 Tim. 3:15 – the Holy Scriptures. 

                                                iii.      1 Thessalonians 2:13, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

                                                iv.      One of my concerns with loose translations (paraphrase Bibles – The Word, The Message, the Living Bible, etc.) is that often they fail to render due reverence to the word of God.    Even if it is created with good intentions and a desire for accuracy, there are sacred teachings that need to be addressed keeping that intact – NOT desiring to bring God and His word down to man’s level where it becomes common.  The idea of “profane” is to take that which is sacred and make it common – (like Esau did with his birthright – Hebrews 12:16)

                                                  v.      When we study His word, we need to treat it with a reverent attitude. 

d.       Intending to obey

                                                   i.      Anything less than this in our studies in inadequate. 

                                                  ii.      Matt. 28:19-20 – teach them to observe all things commanded

                                                iii.      Luke 6:46, Jesus Himself said, “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and not do the things which I say?”

                                                iv.      A genuine desire to obey will give us the attitude to properly interpret scripture.  John 7:16–17, “16 Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.”

                                                  v.      James 1:25, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. 

e.       With an open mind and love for the truth

                                                   i.      All the above improper attitudes describe a closed mind to the truth.   Because one’s motives are impure, they will never get out of scripture what is intended.

                                                  ii.      Jesus was rejected because of closed eyes and closed minds – Matthew 13:14-15.  

                                                iii.      Stephen was stoned to death because of closed minds and closed ears – Acts 7:57-58.

                                                iv.      2 Thess. 2:10-12 describes those who are deceived by Satan as those who did not receive the love of the truth.

                                                  v.      John 3:19-21 ties these together as Jesus contrasts followers of light and darkness.  Those who desire the truth will come to the light!   

f.        A desire to learn –

                                                   i.      One reason many don’t study today as they ought to is because they really don’t want to do it.  For one reason or another, the desire is not there.

                                                  ii.      Matthew 5:6 describes those who hunger and thirst after righteousness – they shall be filled.

                                                iii.      2 Tim. 2:15 – be diligent, “study.” (KJV)

                                                iv.      Psalm 1:2 – His law is his meditation day and night

                                                  v.      When we realize that we are dealing with matters of eternity we must desire to know what is necessary to be on the right side of judgment – Romans 14:10, We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10).

                                                vi.      Do we desire to be able to digest meat? (Heb. 5:12)  Men, do you desire to be able to lead as an elder?  Women, do you desire to be the type of women God wants you to be in holiness and purity.  All these things require genuine effort which will only come from desire.   

g.        Expect to understand what you are reading - not to be redundant, as we addressed the opposite of this earlier, but you need a mindset that says the time you spend studying His word is beneficial to you. 

 

Perhaps other attitudes could be added to this list, but we see here the importance of studying God’s word with a proper mindset.   Without it, God’s word becomes less than what He intended!  I am sure none of us desires that.  So how is your attitude toward God’s word?  Think  about it!