Bible Study

You're Doing It Wrong: Reading Entire Books of the Bible

Reposted from DBTS blog.

Have you ever read one of the Gospels in one sitting? I believe many Christians have not. Have you ever read Romans in one sitting? How would such a reading change your perspective on the book?

I require my students to read the Bible in large portions. For instance, in the Gospels class, I require students to read an entire Gospel in one sitting. While most choose Mark (it’s the shortest!), I usually encourage them to read John or Matthew.

Why would I require such an onerous task? Well, actually, students generally do not find it onerous. In fact, I have had students indicate their appreciation for the assignment (by the way, that’s pretty rare!). Let me mention a few reasons people should read large portions of Scripture.

First, it is the way the books of the Bible were originally written to be read. Imagine being in Rome when the book of Romans was first delivered. Now imagine the reader only reading for three minutes (corresponding to the end of chapter one) and saying, “Well, that is enough for today, we will read some more tomorrow.” The crowd would be outraged and would demand the man continue reading. In the same way, sometimes we need to be reminded that this is a wholistic book, which is only artificially separated.

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From the Archives: Should All Believers Learn Biblical Languages?

How important are Hebrew and Greek skills for interpreting the Bible well and thriving as a Christian?

It’s an important question, since we believe Christians ought to grow in their ability to interact directly with Scripture and discern truth from error—and not only feed themselves well, but hopefully teach and admonish one another well also.

Any learning that has the potential to further those ends has to be seriously considered.

Views on the languages question range from “all you need is good intentions and the Holy Spirit” to “nobody lacking Greek and Hebrew skills can get the Bible right.” Debaters tend to characterize one another as holding one of these two views, but the reality is that most attitudes fall somewhere between.

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The Gospels Are Not Enough

I have heard it from theologically liberal theologians. I have heard it from supposedly conservative pastors (usually those with no theological training). I have heard it from lost people and immature believers: “We don’t follow Paul or Moses, we follow Jesus. All we need is the Gospels.”

Such a viewpoint stands in contrast to that of the Apostle Paul, who taught,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (ESV, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, emphasis added)

According to Paul, all Scripture is inspired, and all Scripture is profitable. We are to teach it all, use it all for correcting and training. We need all Scripture to be “complete” and “equipped.”

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Roads to Nowhere - Studying the Trinity With Your Head in the Sand

Read the series so far.

You Must Care About the Trinity

If you’re a Christian, you should want to know as much about your God as possible. He is the God who decided to save you before the world even began. He knows who you are. He knows every sin you have committed, are committing right now, and will ever commit in the future.

If you are a Christian, then He still specifically chose and elected you for eternal life. He sent His only Son, who lived the perfect, righteous, holy and sinless life you cannot ever live, and who died the sacrificial and substitutionary death you deserve to die—and He did it for you, in your place, as your substitute. And, at a particular moment in time, He sent the Holy Spirit to remove the veil of darkness from your heart and mind which blotted out the gospel light, so that you would repent and believe the gospel.

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Inspector Gadget and the Trinity - Bible Study as Detective Work

In the local church, the Trinity is usually expressed as an established truth; a fact. It’s often accompanied by a nice summary statement and some key verses. In a seminary context, the student (let’s call him Biff!) will be forced to go a bit deeper than that.

In theology proper, Biff will be introduced to the doctrine itself. In christology, Biff will study the virgin conception, the kenosis, and the ascension. If Biff is compelled to take historical theology, he’ll learn all about the Christological heresies of the early centuries. If he goes to a serious seminary, he might even be forced to present a biblical theology of the Trinity during a systematic theology class. Then, he graduates and is off to a local church—ready to conquer the world!

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