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Seven Rules for Bible Study

by F.E. Marsh

The best way to prove the truth of the Bible is to study it. As the Living Word Himself proves His Deity, so the Written Word itself evidences its Divinity. Theories about Inspiration provoke controversy, but the fact of Inspiration commands attention. As life in its essence cannot be explained, so inspiration in its heart is beyond human ken. The living man proves the fact of life. The Living Book proclaims the Living Author. Men’s books are bushes without the burning flame; the Word of God is a Bush flaming with the fire of God. “Inspired of God” is the Word’s claim, and it contains the life of God. It is God-breathed and God-breathing. As the Creator breathed into man’s body the breath of life, and thus united man’s body with his created spirit, so God has taken the body of human language and united to it the Holy Spirit, and breathed the breath of the Living Christ in its sacred revelation. We do not worship the Book as a Book, but we worship Him who is revealed in it, and because of Him we prize the Book.
    There are many ways in which we can study God’s Word, some of which I have indicated in my “Fully Furnished” or “Christian Worker’s Equipment” in which will be found, on pages 150-172, ten ways in which the Bible may be studied, namely: Geographically, Topically, Concentratingly, Geologically, Comprehensively, Critically, Grammatically, Comparatively, Textually, and Practically
    Broadly speaking, if the following seven rules are followed the student will find himself so full of the truth of God’s Word that he will never be wanting for a theme.

1. Study the Text in the Light of its Setting

Sometimes the division between two chapters will mar the beauty of association. We have such an instance in John’s Gospel. Chapter three begins, “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus.” The particle “now” which is supplied in the Revised Version leads the reader to see what has gone before. In the latter part of the second chapter we are told Christ did not commit Himself to certain disciples who professed to believe on Him, but He did commit Himself to Nicodemus, hence, in the conversation with him, as Sir Stevenson Blackwood once pointed out, Christ practically revealed to him every truth of the Gospel.
    One other instance of the importance of context is the first word of John 3:16. Illuminated texts generally begin with “God so loved the world,” etc., leaving out the conjunction “for.” Reading the “For,” we find that Christ showed the necessity of His death, in that the Son of Man “must be lifted up,” before He revealed the cause of that death, is the love of God, who gave His only begotten Son. The setting of a Scripture is as important as the diamond in a ring. When the diamond is lacking the diamond ring is wanting. The ring is essential to the diamond’s setting, and the diamond is necessary to give the ring importance and value.

2. Study Words and Phrases

A phrase of frequent occurrence in the Epistles is “In Christ.” It will be found in at least three associations. It is an Inclusive term, for we are blessed by God the Father with all spiritual blessings “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). “In Christ” is an Exclusive term. When Paul would designate himself, he speaks of himself as “a man in Christ” (II Corinthians 12:2). Being “in Christ”, believers are no longer in sin, in the world, in condemnation, and in the flesh. Then “In Christ” is a Conclusive word, hence Peter speaks of “your good manner of life in Christ” (I Peter 3:16). At once we see the importance of the association of a phrase.
    The importance of distinguishing words is necessary. There are two words rendered “Son” in the New Testament, namely “Teknon,” and “Whyos.” “Teknon” denotes one who is born, from “Tikto” to bear. Like the Scots, “Bairn” from “Beran” to bear, a child, a descendant. “Teknon” is never used of Christ for He was not a descendant of God nor of man, hence, this word is never used of Him as The Son of God nor as the Son of Man. Yet the word to bear is used of His birth, because as man He was actually born — Luke 2:7. How accurate was the prophecy about Him, “Unto us a child is born, a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). As the Son He was not born, but given. As the child He was born and given. “Teknon” is applied to believers, because we have a spiritual origin — John 1:12,13, R.V., hence heirship is based on sonship — Romans 8:16,17.
    “Whyos” is used in an adoptive sense, and is always applied to Christ as The Son of God and The Son of Man. It is written of Him, “Jesus Christ the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1), and “Jesus Christ the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). It is written, “She brought forth her first-born Son” (Matthew 1:25) on the human side, but on the Divine side, “God gave His only Begotten Son.” The “Son” Mary brought forth was actually born, but He was not a descendant of man. He was “the Only Begotten Son” in an official sense for us, and is for us “called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Therefore as to humanity He was not the Son of man, but the Son of God; and as to His Deity, He was not a descendant of God, but God the Son. “Adoption of sons” (Whyothesia) is applied because of our identification with the Son of God, and the glory we are to have with Him. While we are not waiting for our relationship as children of God, we are waiting for our place as adopted sons — Romans 8:15,23; Ephesians 1:15; Galatians 4:5.

3. Find Out About Eastern Customs

When a corn chandler in this country measures corn, he puts the corn as lightly as possible in the measure, and then uses a “strike” to level the corn with the rim; but in the East it is the man who buys the corn who measures it. It is to this Christ refers when He says, “Give and it shall be given you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over” (Luke 6:38). Geikie describes the process: “When grain is bought after harvest, for winter use, it is delivered in sacks, and the quantity in these is always tested by a professional measurer. Sitting on the ground, this functionary shovels the wheat or barley into the measure, which is called a tinmeh, using his hands to do so. When it is quite full, he shakes the tinmeh smartly, that the grain may settle; then fills it to the brim again, and twists it half round with a swift jerk as it lies on the ground, repeating both processes till it is once more filled to the top. This done, he presses the contents with his hands to fill up any vacant space, till at last, when it will hold no more, he raises a cone on the top, stopping when it begins to run over at the sides, and this only is thought to be good measure.”
    What an illuminating explanation is given in the Eastern custom above, illustrating as it does the abundant giving of God in return for our giving to Him. Many more illustrations might be given evidencing the importance of knowing the customs of the East.

4. Be Sure of Facts

Many a skit has been made about Jonah being swallowed by a whale! We are sometimes told “a whale has not a gullet big enough to swallow a man.” That may be true of a Greenland whale, but not so with the Mediterranean whale.
    Frank Bullen, in his book on “The Cruise of ‘The Cachalot’,” refers to the blunder which a popular M.P. made some time ago, when he referred to a whale in the following words: “Science will not hear of a whale with a gullet capable of admitting anything larger than a man’s fist.” Bullen relates the fact that a sperm whale, on one occasion in its death agony, vomited a piece of cuttlefish as big as their hatch house. He says: “For the first time it was possible to understand, that, contrary to the usual notion of a whale being unable to swallow a herring, here was a kind of whale that could swallow — well, a block four or five feet square.” On another occasion Bullen relates: “The ejected masses of food were of enormous size, one piece of cuttlefish being eight feet by six feet.”
    Another mistake about Jonah is made, namely, that he was alive in the sea-monster. His body was in the fish, but he cried “from the belly of Hell” (Jonah 2:2), which proves he was in the place of disembodied spirits, for “Hell” is the Hebrew “Sheol,” which corresponds to the “Hades” of the New Testament. To be a perfect type of Christ, Jonah must have died and been raised from the dead — Matthew 12:40, for this was the “sign” or miracle to the people of Nineveh — Matthew 12:39,41.

5. Scripture Will Explain Scripture

As the light in the lampstand gave “light over against it” (Exodus 25:37), so Scripture illuminates and explains Scripture. In Genesis 37:25-29; 39:1, there seems to be two parties to whom Joseph was “sold” — “Ishmaelites” and “Midianites.” Higher Criticism immediately comes to the conclusion there are two narratives which contradict each other. “According to J.,” he was sold (so we are told) to the “Ishmaelites,” and “according to E.,” “The Midianites sold Joseph into Egypt to Potiphar.” Then the critics further say, “If (mark the “if”) the text were a unity the Midianites would have been the Ishmaelites.” That is just what they were. How do we know? In Judges 8:24, we are told that the Midianites whom Gideon defeated were Ishmaelites. All Midianites were not Ishmaelites, but all Ishmaelites were Midianites; just as all Englishmen are Britishers, but all Britishers are not Englishmen, as our Scots friends are quick to remind the English when an Englishman talks about England and he means Great Britain.
    Another case where Scripture explains Scripture is in the use of the word “these” in John 21:15. Some have thought that “these” refers to the fish, but the remote context shows Christ refers to Peter’s fellow-disciples. In Matthew 26:33, Peter says, “Though all” (“men” is in italics; see Mark 14:29), that is “all” the rest of the disciples, “shall be offended because of Thee, yet will not I.” So Christ seems to say, “Lovest Thou Me more than these? You professed to do so, Peter, but you were no better than the rest, although you professed more. My Word was true, all of you were offended and proved unfaithful.” This goes to prove the desirability of comparing Scripture with Scripture, and of patient reading and study.

6. Benefit of a Correct Translation

Even one who does not know Hebrew and Greek, with a good concordance and lexicons can get a correct text. Take a simple illustration. There is the primary particle ei., which Strong in his concordance called “a particle of conditionality,” but of which Bullinger in his lexicon says, “But if in the indicative mood, assumes the hypothesis as an actual fact.” Take a few passages where the particle is rendered “if,” and instead of “if,” read “since.”
    Luke 4:3: “If Thou art the Son of God. ” — “Since Thou art the Son of God.”
    Romans 8:31: “If God be for us.” — “Since God is for us.”
    1 Thessalonians 4:14: “If we believe.” — “Since we believe.”
    Colossians 3:1: “If ye then be risen with Christ.” — “Since ye then are risen with Christ.”
    1 John 4:11: “If God so loved us.” — “Since God so loved us.”
    See the importance of reading “Since” instead of “If” in the case of the temptation of Christ.
    Godet says: “If Thou art, expresses something very different from a doubt, this ‘if’ has almost the force of ‘since’.” This must be, as the context proves. Satan had just heard Christ was the Son of God, and immediately he says, “Since Thou art the Son of God, command these stones be made bread.”

7. Essentials to Remember

In the Revelation which God has given of Himself in Christ and in the Book, we have all the essentials for salvation and godliness, but we need eyes to see. The Spirit’s inward illumination is essential to understand the Divine Revelation. There are seven things to remember.
    (1) The Bible is a Spiritual Book. Christ declares, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63); and further, we are reminded the Word of God is living — Hebrews 6:12. The Words of Christ and the Word not only contain life, or a medium of life, but they are life, even as a tree alive is a living tree.
    (2) A Spiritual Mind is essential to understand the spiritual Book. We are told, “The natural mall receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). An artist who invited a friend to come and see a picture, first shut his friend up in a dark room and left him there. The friend wondered why he was so treated, and afterwards, in answer to the question, said, “I knew if you came into the studio with the glare of the sun in your eyes, you could not appreciate the fine colouring of the picture, so I left you in the dark room till the glare had worn out of your eyes.” When earth lights are glaring in our eyes we cannot see the deep and hidden meaning of the things of God.
    (3) The Spiritual Teacher is requisite for the spiritually minded to understand the Spiritual Book. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9, 10). A minute form of life, called a Rotifer, in a drop of water cannot be seen by the naked eye, but by means of a powerful microscope it can not only be seen, it is revealed in all the inness of its being, and its heart is manifest in its beating. Through the light of the Spirit’s microscopic power we can know the minute working of His grace and the spirituality of His teaching.
    (4) The Spiritual Saint. Constant reference is directed to spirituality as a quality of being to be effective in Christian life, service, and inward condition. The one who is “spiritual” is the one who is qualified to “restore” an erring brother — Galatians 6:1, and no other. The one block in the Spirit’s work in the Church at Corinth was because the many were “carnal” instead of being spiritual. When the spiritual food — 1 Peter 2:2, R.V., is nourishing the inner life, then the unspiritual things of the old man will be thrown off, even as the rising sap in the tree will throw off any of the old leaves which may be clinging to it. A spiritual saint is one who is dominated by the Holy Spirit. Dominated in the Spirit of his self-consciousness in fellowship with the Lord; concentrating the soul of his life consciousness by being attracted to the Lord; and swayed in the body of his sense-consciousness; and by recognising the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
    (5) Spiritual Blessings, or the blessings of the Spirit, are “all” found “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Who can estimate these in their worth, or comprehend them in their totality? Among those blessings of the Spirit, if the books of the Bible are pondered in relation to the Holy Spirit, it will be found He is unveiled in a specific way, giving qualification to meet a special emergency. Thus in Genesis He is seen as the Spirit of Power, in Exodus as the Spirit of Wisdom, and in Judges as the Spirit of Victory. Everything is wanting if He is not acting, but all is met when He is in absolute possession. All blessing is found in Christ alone, but the Spirit Himself must make them known.
    (6) Spiritual Things — 1 Corinthians 2:13. At first glance there may seem to be no difference between “spiritual blessings” and “spiritual things,” but the setting of the latter illuminates its importance. We are exhorted to compare “spiritual things with spiritual,” or, as Darby translates, “Communicating spiritual things by spiritual means;” or, as Godet, “Appropriating spiritual things to spiritual men;” by those “spiritual things” are what “the Spirit teacheth,” therefore the obvious sense, the Spirit is the One who communicates those things. He gives the spiritual things, and He alone can communicate to those who are spiritually minded. What those “spiritual things” are, or some of them, is brought out in chapters 1 and 2, where we have enumerated the things of God and of Christ, such as “the will of God,” “the Church of God,” “the Grace of God,” “the Testimony of Christ,” “the Coming of our Lord,” “the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ,” “fellowship in His Son,” “the name of our Lord,” “the Cross of Christ,” “the Power of God,” “the Wisdom of God,” “the foolishness of God,” “the Weakness of God,” “the testimony of God,” “Deep things of God,” “the mind of Christ.”
    (7) “Spiritual Sacrifices” (I Peter 2:5). These we are to offer up to God, which by means of Christ will ascend to Him, like the burnt offering, as a sweet-smelling savour. The odour of love’ s affection, the fragrance of faith’s reliance, the perfume of life’s consecration, the incense of prayers’ intercession, the savour of praise’s worship, the frankincense of fidelity’s faithfulness, and the myrrh of help’s ministry, are ever the delight of the Lord’s appreciation.
    After all, the written needs to be incarnated in the experience of a devoted life. Bengel’s two rules must ever apply: “Apply thyself wholly to the Word, and apply the Word wholly to thyself.”

The Bible: Seven Facts Concerning Scripture

The word “Bible” is not found in the Bible. The word simply means “The Book,” so “there was a time,” as Trench says, “when bible might be applied to any book,” but in our present use of the word we use it in a restricted sense of the one Book. The Imperial Dictionary says: “The Bible is the Sacred Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as received by the Christian Church as a Divine Revelation.”
    There are seven things about these Holy Writings.
    1. What is It?
    They claim to be “inspired of God” (II Timothy 3:16,17). The word “inspired of God” is Theopneustos. Theos is the word for God, and the other part is a presumed derivation of pneo, which means to breathe or blow hard. It is rendered “bloweth” in John 3:8, and “wind” in Acts 27:40. Thus the word means to divinely breathe in. Some would render the sentence, “The Scriptures are the Divine breathing.” Our English word “inspired” only occurs in one other place, and that is Job 32:8 “There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” As God breathed into man the breath of life, and he became a living soul, so God has breathed this Book, and it breathes out what He has breathed in. It breathes life into the spirit, love into the soul, understanding into the mind, determination into the will, grace into the heart, beauty into the life, and harmony into the being.
    2. Who Inspired It?
    “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:21). The Holy Spirit is the Author and the Interpreter of the Book. The “men” who were “moved” were men, human beings; but they were not the common herd of men, they were “men of God,” and not only so, they were “holy men of God.” These men were in fellowship with God. “Holy men” and “the Holy Spirit” needed to be in touch with each other to produce holy results. The word “moved” means to be “borne along,” and is used of a ship being “driven” by the wind — Acts 27:17, of a man being “brought” on a bed — I.uke 5:18, and of one who is carrying another — John 21:18. This at once makes the Bible different from all other books.
    3. Who Were the Instruments Used?
    “The prophets” (I Peter 1:10). We naturally think of a prophet as one through whom events are forecast; but the primary meaning is a seer, that is, one who sees. “A prophet, ” as one has said, is “One who speaks forth openly before anyone, a proclaimer of a Divine message; among the heathen, the interpreter of the oracles. In the Septuagint, it is the translation of the earlier ‘seer,’ showing what really constituted the prophet, was immediate intercourse with God. The usage of the word is clear, it signifies one on whom the Spirit of God rested — Numbers 11:17,25,26,29; one to whom and through whom God speaks — Numbers 7:2; one to whom God makes known His mysteries — Amos 3:7,8; hence it means one to whom God reveals His truth, and through whom He speaks… In the Old Testament prophets, their preaching was a prophesying of a salvation and purposes of grace and glory yet to be accomplished; while in the New Testament prophets, their prophesying was a preaching of those purposes of grace already accomplished, and also a foretelling of the purposes of glory which were still future.”
    4. What was the Purpose of the Bible’s Revelation?
    Christ Himself answers the question, for He says of the Scriptures: “They are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). He is light in the lantern, to show the way; He is the life in the tree, to make it grow; He is the kernel in the nut, to make it worth; He is the glory in the temple, to make it beautiful; He is the heart in the body, to cause it to live; He is the spring in the watch, to make it to go; and He is the power in the wire, to electrify the machine.
    The Old Testament characters in the Bible are types of Him. He is the Last Adam, to quicken; the offering Able, to sacrifice; the faithful Abram, to separate; the peaceful Isaac, to substitute; the working Jacob, to secure; the providing Joseph, to store; the leading Moses, to guide; the priestly Aaron, to represent; the valiant Joshua, to subdue; the strong David, to conquer; the wise Solomon, to teach; and the Kinsman Redeemer, to redeem.
    The offerings were all foregleams. He is the Passover, to protect; the Burnt-offering, to please; the Sin-offering, to be judged; the Trespass-offering, to release; the Peace-offering, to reconcile; the Drink-offering to rejoice; and the Red Heifer-offering, to cleanse.
    All Scripture contains in Him, and He is the contain of all Scripture.
    5. What are the Two Fundamental Themes of the Bible?
    Christ Himself answered the question to the two disciples as He journeyed with them to Emmaus, and to the eleven gathered in the upper room — Luke 24:27, 36.
    The sufferings and glory of Christ are the couplings of God, which couple up everything. Calvary and Olivet are His view points. The Cross and the Crown are the Alpha and Omega of Revelation. The Lamb and the Throne are the fulcrum and lever of God’s purpose. The Passover and the Lamb are His starting point and goal; and the Altar and the Skekinah are the Genesis and Revelation of everything.
    6. What the Bible Imparts?
    Among the many things to which it is compared is seed — I Peter 1:23. There are two things which are characteristic of seed. It contains life, and produces like to its kind. Faith in the Living Word comes by means of the Written Word; and when the Living Word, by means of the Written, operates in a living soul, the character of the Word is reproduced. It is a Holy Word, to sanctify; a Righteous Word, to rectify; a Living Word, to fructify; a Wise Word, to edify; a Peace Word, to pacify; a Powerful Word, to electrify; and a Loving Word, to intensify.
    7. What the Bible Does?
    This raises another question: “What does it not do?” One has tersely said of the Bible in a general way: “Every hour I read you, it kills a sin, or lets a virtue in to fight against it.”
    Many are the things the Bible does; the following will illustrate a few of the things:
    Acquaints us with the theme of the Gospel — I Corinthians 15:3,4.
    Blesses us as we obey its precepts — Psalms 119:2.
    Consecrates us as we follow its injunctions — Numbers 6:1-7.
    Defeats the enemy as we use it against him — Matt. 4:4,7,10.
    Edifies the life as we heed it — Acts 20:32.
    Fires the heart to a faithful testimony — Jeremiah 1:1; 23:29.
    Guides those who follow its light — Psalms 119:105.
    Heals the spirit as it is applied — Psalms 107:20.
    It forms the mind as to its secrets — I Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 64:4.
    Judges the conduct and maketh wise — Psalms 19:9-11.
    Keeps us abiding in Christ’s love — John 15:10.
    Leads to the true and beautiful — Proverbs 6:20-24.
    Moulds us like to itself — Romans 6:17.
    Nourishes the spiritual life — I Peter 1:2.
    Orders the steps of our life — Psalm 119:133.
    Purifies the mind — II Corinthians 7:1.
    Quietens the heart — Isaiah 30:15.
    Rewards those who keep it — Psalms 19:11.
    Sanctifies those who live in it — John 17:17.
    Teaches those who are led by it — Psalms 25:4,5.
    Unites us to the Lord — Psalms 86:11; John 17:8.
    Verifies the experience — II Peter 1:19,20.
    Warns the observant — Psalms 19:11.
    ‘Xamines the heart — Psalms 26:1-3.
    Yokes us with Christ — John 17:8.
    Zeals the soul — Psalms 69:9; John 2:17.

This page Copyright © 1999 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/.Check out our Bookstore.

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One Comment

  1. JACKSON October 13, 2018 at 9:56 am - Reply

    WHAT A REFRESHING ASTOUNDING TEACHING–IT REMINDED ME OF ARE BIBLE CAMPS—A FULL MEAL DEAL–
    FROM THE VERY FIRST WORD TO THE VERY LAST WORD IT WAS HOLY SPIRIT FILLED WITH GOD BREATHED TRUTH– AND LIGHT–
    WE GIVE OUR LOVE–BLESSINGS–GLORY– AND THANKS–
    TO OUR HOLY ABABA FATHER–TO OUR SACRIFICIAL LAMB CHRIST JESUS–AND THE SACRED HOLY SPIRIT-
    FOR ANOTHER BLESSED TEACHING–
    THANK YOU PETER
    I AM SO FULL I MIGHT TAKE A NAP—HAHAHA

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