the need for careful Bible study
an "ed"-itorial written by "Ed" Thomason

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Basic Study Principles
Using these study principles in a discussion of salvation by grace
Using these study principles in a discussion of "Once saved always saved."
Continuation of Lesson 3a
The apostle Paul used these same study principles
Putting our beliefs to the test

Please feel free to copy this and use it in your private study or files.
Using these study principles in a discussion of
"salvation by grace"

"...(by grace ye are saved;)" Ephesians 2:5.

Few would deny this. Those who would, simply do not believe God's word. But careful Bible students have a clear obligation to "rightly divide the word of truth" and handle it aright. (2 Timothy 2:15).
It is a mistake to take "only one passage" that relates to a topic and not compare what other passages say about that same topic. For example: Ephesians 2:5 says, "by grace ye are saved." (Some would close their Bibles here and not study any further. They might wrongly conclude that man is saved only by the grace of God.) But Ephesians 2:8 in the same chapter also says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God..." Which verse is right? They both are of course. But one does not tell us all we need to know It states the truth but not all the truth.
Obviously, there is more to salvation than just the grace of God. Faith has a part in our salvation also. (There is God's part: "His grace," and man's part: "his faith.") Yet, Some never read more than one text. They take their stand only on one verse (Ephesians 2:5), which does not reveal all that God has revealed on this topic. Such an approach to scripture has a fatal flaw and is dangerous to the souls of men and women. It is not a mark of a careful Bible student.
The same thing happens when some read John 3:16 which says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Some want to close the Bible here. They will not read what "else" the bible says regarding salvation. Some refuse to "rightly divide" and handle correctly God's word. Just as Ephesians 2:5 does not tell the whole story, further study reveals that neither does Ephesians 2:8 or John 3:16.  

In a court of law. . . one who testifies must promise to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
  We understand how that a lie told in court could mislead a jury and wrong conclusions could easily be reached. But what if one tells the truth, but not all the truth? What if the witness leaves out important truths from his testimony? This too could mislead a jury and produce wrong conclusions that could be fatal.
Likewise, In preaching God's word, it is not enough to just teach truth... there is a need to teach the whole truth. Otherwise, some might draw the wrong conclusions.
  In Acts 20:27, the apostle Paul declared, "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." We should follow his example and do the same today!
Therefore, what we don't learn from Ephesians 2:5, is as important as what we do learn. To say we are saved by grace alone and ignore the Bible's emphasis on faith is to mishandle God's word. Hebrews 11:6 clearly states, "But without faith it is impossible to please him (God)." And what we don't learn from John 3:16 is also as important as what we do lean from that text. The "many" other texts that supplement and enlarge upon the thoughts in these two scriptures are very important to our understanding and salvation.
As a person . . . begins to write down every verse of scripture that relates to a topic he can then begin to see the whole picture.
For example, A careful Bible student who looks at all that the Bible says regarding "faith" will soon discover that Biblical faith or saving faith is always an obedient faith.
Carefully read such texts as: Hebrews 11, (the "faith chapter of the Bible.") This chapter speaks of great people of the past who had "faith" that God clearly approved of. Each of them from Abel to Noah to Abraham had a faith that "obeyed" whatever God commanded them to do.
Take the illustration of Noah for example: Hebrews 11:7 says, "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of righteousness which is by faith." Noah was commanded to build an ark. He believed God and acted on his faith with obedience. Genesis 6:22 says he "obeyed" God. (His active and obedient faith saved him.) Yet, Noah did not earn his salvation. And few would accuse him of doing so. It was still by the grace of God that he was saved from he flood. (In fact, Genesis 6:8 states, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.")
Here then is a Biblical example of one saved by grace through faith and that faith was an obedient faith.
But there is more on this subject. James 2:24 says, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." (Just as it would be dishonest to declare that man is saved by grace alone after reading that salvation also requires faith on man's part, it is equally dishonest to declare that he is saved by faith alone when the scriptures clearly state we are justified "not" by faith only.)
In the bible, Grace is coupled with faith and that faith is always an obedient faith.
An obedient faith will not dismiss the commandments of God as unimportant or non-essential.
 Biblical faith always . . . demonstrates itself in obedience to God's commands.

For example: In the Old Testament God "specifically" commanded Joshua and his men of war to march around the city of Jericho once each day for six days, being led by seven priests. Then on the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times blow trumpets and shout. After they obeyed what God commanded, the walls of the city fell flat. But it was only when they obeyed God's commands as God specified, that the city walls fell just as God said they would.
Yet, after all this effort on their part, the city of Jericho was still said to be a "gift" from God. Joshua 6:2 says, "And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor." The city of Jericho was a "gift from God." Yet, Joshua and his army had to obey God in order to receive the gift. Our salvation is also a gift from God. But to receive the gift we too must obey God.
In the Old Testament many of the children of Israel perished in the wilderness. Some were bitten by fiery serpents because of their disobedience. But hope and salvation from death was offered to them "if" they would go to the center of the camp and look upon a brass pole that Moses erected there according to the command of God. (Numbers 21:8). In order to be saved from death, those bitten had to do more than just believe they would be healed. They had to act upon their faith by going and looking upon the brass serpent as God commanded.
God has always expected obedience.

In Romans 15:4, the apostle Paul taught that "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
There are many principles in the Old Testament we should apply to our lives as we learn to carefully study the Bible. One of which is: God always expects obedience. He blesses those who obey and destruction comes to those who disobey. When one takes the time to investigate many bible subjects he discovers there is often more involved than first meets the eye. Certainly more than just one verse often conveys. Yes, salvation is by grace... but it is through faith, and the Biblical faith that saves is an obedient faith.
Since all that God's Holy word teaches and commands is important and vital, we need to carefully study it all and apply all those portions that apply to our lives to our lives.
But what about you... are you a careful student of God's word? You can be. Remember these simple but basic principles as you study any topic. Always try to study "all" that the Bible says about a topic before drawing final conclusions. Study the context of each passage. Search the scriptures and see if there are any examples of the application of the text? What does the text imply as well as state? There is no topic more important than the topic of salvation. Be careful, be sure of what you are doing or have done.
Christ commanded those who believe in him to act upon their faith
-- by "repenting" (Luke 13:3)
-- by "confessing" their faith in him (Matthew 10:32, Romans 10:9-10)
-- by being baptized (Mark 16:16, John 3:3-5.)
He also commands that his followers "observe all that he commanded" (Matthew 28:20) and to be "faithful unto death" (Revelation 2:10).
Have you acted upon your faith according to what Christ has commanded?

go to Lesson 3a

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