Elder Keith Ellis
As conditions in this country continue to dissolve and degenerate, I find it necessary to warn those who are not yet tainted by the modern-day religious mindset. As profession of Christianity sees an increase each year, we find that the prison systems in this country are bulging at the seams ready to burst from overcrowding. Something is wrong. The Christianity that the religious world is teaching is bearing a fruit quite different than the described pattern found in God's word. It seems that all anyone has to do today is just make a profession in Christ and they are magically set for eternity. Unfortunately this popular "modern- day" system of salvation is on a fast track and gaining speed.
If one were to examine his surroundings in the world today he would find over two hundred different Christian denominations active in the United States. Each one claims to be "the true church" and each claims to hold to the word of God. Yet we know that the confusion in all this did not have God as its author.
There has been a departure from the rule and authority which the God of Heaven gave to govern His church, namely, the Bible. And I am certain if we were to turn again to this precious word and believe and practice its teachings, that God would grant this nation repentance.
Though as I said, everyone "claims" to follow the teachings of the Bible. Yet when you get right down to it, most denominations misuse the word of God, following in the footsteps of misguided tradition.
Now as I attempt to write about "how to study the Bible" I want you to understand that because of much of the false doctrine that is being set forth in this land, I will be on the defensive in some respects, though not entirely. I do not relish dwelling upon negative things, but one must admit much of what we are witnessing in the churches of the world is of a negative nature, that is, if we use the Bible as the straight edge by which we determine if something is truth or a lie. The false doctrines that are rampant in this land today must be exposed for what they are, and by learning sound study practices void of the poison of the world, we will be able to overcome the pit that millions have fallen into. There will be no candy-coating of the facts.
My goal in this writing is to help anyone who sincerely desires to learn God's word. Hopefully we will be able to escape the common practice of watering down the word of God, get back to the basics and stop the natural desires to have our fancies tickled. My
motive for writing is not financial gain, but to feed God's people with knowledge and understanding and that God and His truth may be glorified.
It seems to me that it is of vital importance for God's children to realize the seriousness and the necessity for the study of God's word. In ages past this precious word was withheld from the masses, and many of the Lord's dear children were robbed of the blessing of searching the scriptures for themselves.
How thankful we should be for the God-given privilege of owning one or more copies of the Bible to keep for our personal studies, being able to, in the comfort of our own homes and churches, read for ourselves the revelation of The Creator's will to us. It may be that we will not always enjoy this privilege if this nation continues on the same course as it is today.
Many in mainstream Christianity rely entirely too much upon someone else to do their studying for them. By this I refer to their reliance upon their pastor or preacher to study the Bible instead of searching it for themselves. I believe that as the omission of study continues we will see an increase in incidents like the Branch Davidians, the Cross and the Rose episode or the Jim Jones tragedy. These are just a few examples, but without doubt there are multiplied cases where God's children are lead astray simply because
they do not search the scripture for themselves. In the Apostle Paul's ministry there is mention made of a people who were diligent to find out for themselves if the teachings of Paul were in alignment with the law and the prophets. God's record of the people of Berea as mentioned in Acts chapter 17 verses 10-12 tells us that they received the word of God with all readiness of mind. This is an important lesson for us to follow. We too should receive the word of God with "all readiness of mind." This record in the book of Acts continues to tell us that these people were considered to be "noble."
So we can see that it is beneficial to study our Bibles for more than one reason. We should be like those Bereans, and when we hear the word of God spoken or preached, let us with our own God-given ability seek to confirm the validity of what is being stated.
From the perspective of one who attempts to preach the gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ, I can say that there is a difference in preaching to a studied congregation versus one that is not. Preaching to a studied audience offers more of a challenge and requires careful preparation on the part of the minister. Also a studied congregation will gain more from the message than those who do not study as they should. Being versed in scripture allows the hearers to identify with the message and makes the message easier for them to follow due to their being familiar with the text.
Now I do not mean to belittle those that do not study as they should, but they are the ones who are missing out on many blessings that could be enjoyed through active, diligent, and consistent Bible study. Also we will be reminded that it is God's will that we become familiar with the content of His inspired word. Once we have begun our commitment to study, we will find that God uses the gospel as an instrument, through illumination of the Holy Spirit, to bring life and immortality to light (see 2 Timothy 1:9-10).
Certainly we should take maximum advantage of our God-given opportunity to learn more about Jesus, to grow in knowledge and in grace. Not only for our benefit, but also for others, to whom the church is responsible for teaching and discipling. Above all that we may order our steps in this life in a fashion that will honor and glorify God, so that we may also be partakers of His holiness as we live in this time world.
As I thought about the content of what such a writing as I am currently engaged in should contain, I was reminded of the simplicity that is in Christ. Many times we become bogged down in our spiritual walk because we have a tendency to make things complicated. But when we abide in Christ, in His word and His ways, we find the things of Jesus to be of a simple nature. Understanding this, I hope to, God being my helper, lay out in simple language and terms what I understand to be necessary to study the Bible and be fruitful.
Other works I have read on this subject in the past have been written to a mature Christian audience and would be more difficult for the young Christian to understand. It is to those who are young in the faith of Jesus Christ that I mainly address this work. Yet the mature Christian may also be able to glean from the pages. Keeping this in mind, I realize the necessity to teach and convey our thoughts in such a way that the ideas presented can be easily understood.
We certainly do not start out on the top rung of a ladder that we want to climb. But we begin on the bottom rung and work our way upward, all the while ensuring that our feet are firmly planted on the rung, and that we have a sure handhold before we pull ourselves up to the next rung. Otherwise we are likely to lose our balance and fall off the ladder. Also if we were to attempt to take too many rungs at one time we may again fall to the ground where we will have to start all over again.
Learning the Bible is a lifelong process. We must take one step at a time, and we must make sure that we have a good foot and hand hold before we attempt to move up to the next level. If not we will certainly fall to the ground. And just as the natural body grows and matures, so does the spiritual body, that is, if we feed and nourish it through Bible study, church attendance, Christian fellowship, and a walk in life that is becoming of the Son of God. In view of these facts, I understand that those who stand in need of learning the basics of Bible study should also begin with teachings that are intended for those young in the faith, rather than teachings that even some preachers may have a hard time understanding.
It is to those who are young in the faith that I write and hope to reach. And if God allows, I want to share what has been a rich personal experience in regard to studying God's word.
Over the past few years as I have looked deeper into God's word I have found something amazing. God so designed His book to last us a lifetime. It is not to be compared with any of the writings of men or of the world. It is nothing like a novel or science fiction thriller which you will read once and put away to be forgotten. It is nothing like anything you have read before, or will read after. This book has been designed to bring to bear the will of The Almighty of universe to the deepest parts of your soul. The more you read it, the greater God will become in your mind's eye. You will also discover that God views man as a sinner. As well you will see that God hates sin. That we deserve an eternal hell for our sins against God will become evident to you. You will see that God would be just to have condemned all mankind to hell. Then you will understand that He chose a people to Himself to be partakers of His of mercy and to be heirs of heaven. His remedy for the fallen condition of man will begin to unfold before your eyes and in your heart. God's great love for you will be discovered to you in humility. You will find that God's grace has kept you all the days of your life. You will discover the joy of praise and the fellowship of His sufferings. Instruction and correction for the wayward Christian are always available for you, not to forget the encouragement, hope and consolation for the weary pilgrim as he travels through this world on his way homeward. When your efforts to study are attended by the blessings of the Holy Spirit, the Bible will become alive to you. You will find that you will experience the words you read on its pages.
All of the subjects that I will mention have a myriad of scriptures to support them. But space will only permit the discussion of one or two for each subject.
I simply hope to share my own simple experience with you, hoping that it may direct you and encourage you to establish a solid and unerring foundation upon God's Holy word.
I have no formal Bible training or seminary degree to stand in the way of the truth. I received my call from God and was trained on the back side of the desert, (so to speak). I know first hand that if God calls you to gospel fellowship, He will also give you the ability to learn His word. You do your part and God will be faithful to do His.
I ask as you read that you petition The God of heaven for understanding of what I am writing. Also that you earnestly and sincerely pray for God to reveal to you that which you stand in need of. Unless God opens the understanding there will be none.
A dear brother in the faith, Murl Dalton, has encouraged me to this work. I am thankful to God for his encouragement and direction over the years, and to his faithful wife, sister Claudia. Their help was indispensable in putting this booklet together. Elder Hulan Bass also helped by editing the text and recommending changes. To brother and sister Dalton's vision for the church and the children of God everywhere I dedicate this work.