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By Johnie Edwards, adapted

A failure to observe some basic Bible study principles has caused many to wrongly divide the Word of God! Yet, we are commanded to "study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2nd Timothy 2:15). It is the design of this study to help us have some basic principles of Bible study, which will assist us in our understanding of the Bible.

Establishing A Rule: When a truth has been established on a given subject that truth is implied when that subject is mentioned elsewhere. For an example: When the Bible once teaches that baptism today is "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38) every other time that baptism for today is mentioned, it is understood that the purpose of baptism is for the remission of sins, whether it is stated or not. On this same basis, when it is once established that the Holy Spirit influences us today through the medium of the Word of God, that medium is implied wherever the Spirit's influence upon a Christian is mentioned, whether it is mentioned or not. When the design of the Lord's Supper has been established that it is in memory of Christ (1st Corinthians 11:24) that purpose is understood whenever the communion is mentioned.

Have A Desire To Obey: You may never come to a knowledge of the truth unless you have a desire to obey when you learn it. Jesus said, "If any man will do His Will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself" (John 7:17). Not everyone studies the Bible to obey it. How about you?

Realize The Bible Can Be Understood: Some are being told that they cannot understand the Bible, but that the experts, whoever they are, must tell them what it means! This is simply not so. Do you think God would give us a book to read, believe, and obey and then make it so difficult that we could not understand it? Paul commanded, "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but under-standing what the Will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17). He further penned, "Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ" (Ephesians 5:4). Much misunderstanding comes from a lack of reading and studying the Bible.

Know Who Is Being Spoken To: Sometimes the Bible speaks to the Israelites when they were under the Law. "And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them" (Deuteronomy 5:1). This covenant of the Law was "not made with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day" (Deuteronomy 5:2-3). If one tries to apply the Law of Moses to others than these folks, he is misapplying it. Often the Bible addresses a married man: "husbands love your wives..." (Ephesians 5:25); or the "wife see that she reverence her husband" (Ephesians 5:33). Children might be taught some lessons (Ephesians 6:1-3). Some things are addressed to a "father" (Ephesians 6:4). The Lord might give some instructions to a man who is an elder in the local church (1st Peter 5:1-3). An individual Christian might be taught to take care of a widow, sin order to "let not the church be charged" (1st Timothy 5:16), or to an apostle (Luke 24:46-53) and on it goes.

Be Familiar With The Context: A context is "the part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning" (The American Heritage College Dictionary). Reading the verses before and after a verse is often necessary to learn what is being taught. Let's take a look at a passage that is often misused: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:17). There is no telling the number of folks who have been told that all they need to do, to be saved, is just say, "Lord, save me." Read the context and it is apparent that calling on the name of the Lord is part of a plan that includes hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel (Romans 10:14-17). The failure to observe this principle may be the major cause of Bible misunderstanding. So, apply this rule every time you read.

Read And Study The Sum On A Given Subject: Often, not all the truth on a subject is taught in one verse of Scripture. The Psalmist wrote, "Thy Word is true from the beginning and every one of Thy righteous judgments endureth for ever" (Psalm 119:160). Later it is said, "How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them" (Psalm 139:17). It takes the sum, or all that the Bible says to have the truth on a subject.

Respect The Silence Of The Scriptures: Sometimes the Bible teaches a thing by just not saying anything. If the Bible is silent on a subject, we must be silent on that subject. We must realize that where there is "no such commandment", we have no authority to teach or act (Acts 15:24). Peter said it well, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1st Peter 4:11). This principle of Bible study will settle a multitude of problems!

Know The Purpose Of A Statement: Paul said he was thankful "that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius" (1st Corinthians 1:14). Why did Paul say that? "Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name" (1st Corinthians 1:15).

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