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
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The apostle Paul used these study principles
In the previous lessons we discussed the need to be "careful Bible students." Several study principles were discussed...
We looked at two doctrinal topics.... Salvation by Grace and Once saved always saved. We tried to stress the importance of looking at the whole picture and all that the Bible teaches before reaching a final conclusion.
In this lesson and the next we want to follow those lessons by
emphasizing the importance of examples and implications from the scriptures.
A GOOD QUESTION TO ASK:
"ARE THESE BIBLE STUDY PRINCIPLES VALID? WHAT PRECEDENT DO WE HAVE FOR CONSIDERING AN EXAMPLE OR AN INFERENCE AS IMPORTANT IN OUR UNDERSTANDING OF GOD'S WORD?
In order to help us see that we have good authority for using these study principles, Lets take a moment to look at the apostle Paul's study habits:
WHEN WE READ WE CAN UNDERSTAND GOD'S WORD:
There is no substitute for reading! Reading is the way to learn and to know the will of God. Romans 10:17 teaches us that, "faith comes by hearing..." Paul taught that when we read... we can understand that which he understood.
"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit."
In Matthew 11:25, Jesus himself thanked the Father that he hid these things from the wise and understanding, and "revealed them unto Babes." Babes in heart can understand the Bible because the tools needed to understand are simple and not complicated. If we are honest and sincere in seeking to know the truth we can understand it.
But the benefit of reading comes only if we are willing to THINK AS WE READ.
While Paul himself was inspired by Holy Spirit (Eph 3:3 "by revelation"), he was not a robot. He also had to use the simple tools of communication just as we do. He used logic, reasoning, and drew conclusions in order to do the will of the Spirit. He understood the importance of:
-- a direct statement or commandment from God in communicating truth,
-- an example in communicating truth,
-- and an inference or logical implication in communicating truth.
WHEN WE READ WE CAN USE THE TOOLS OF COMMUNICATION:
Paul understood the importance of a direct statement or commandment
from God in communicating truth.
He himself obeyed God's directives and commandments: Read Acts 26:19-20. (This text refers to the time when the Lord appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:13-19) The Lord commanded him to be a teacher to the Gentiles and he obeyed the command.
Sometimes a command of God can be "specific" or "generic" (We will discuss this in more detail in the next lessons). A simple illustration of the difference in a generic and specific command is as follows:
· Generic: A contractor is told to: "Paint the house." The color and how to paint is left up to the judgment of the painter.
· Specific: A contractor is told to: "Paint the house white using a roller on the walls and a brush on the trim." When specifics are given, the painter no longer has a choice in the matter. If he wishes to please the owner, he must do as the owner specified.
A direct statement also be very important to the careful Bible student. Direct statements can be equivalent to commands. They can give facts, reveal truths we need to know in order to do God's will. (For example: Mark 16:16, which is a direct statement and not a commandment. Yet it clearly "implies" that one must both believe and be baptized in order to be saved. If it is not intended to "infer" these truths what else could it mean? (When we use our minds as we read - we cannot miss this truth.)
Paul also understood the importance of an example in communicating truth. Paul himself was a good example for us in many areas of life... including Bible study. Consider such passages as: I Tim 1:15-16 where his life was said to be "a pattern" (something to imitate) and Philippians 4:9.
Paul also used examples and illustrations to teach the truth: In Acts 14:27, Upon return from his first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas "rehearsed all that God had done with them" (The example of their success among the Gentiles gave reason for the Jewish brethren to rejoice and accept them as part of their fellowship.) Later when some false teachers began to teach that Gentiles could not be saved unless they were physically circumcised after the manner or teaching of Moses, Paul and Peter both used the conversion examples of the Gentiles to prove that such teaching was false. (Acts 15) Again looking at Acts 15:12, we find that Paul was calling upon the brethren at Jerusalem to give heed to the authority of God expressed thru examples.
Even the scriptures themselves use examples as a means of conveying God's will. Romans 15:4 says, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
I Cor. 10:6, 11, is a good illustration of this kind of example.
Example has a very important role in communicating truth. Paul recognized this and so should we as we read from God's word. Whenever we are seeking to know the whole truth on any subject, a part of our fact-finding mission is to see if there are any examples in the scriptures that have a bearing on the subject. (Often such examples can shed a great light on an otherwise difficult text.)
Paul also understood the importance of "inference" or implication in communicating truth. To "infer" means to draw a conclusion. The scriptures can "imply" something as well as state it directly. (And what is implied is just as binding.) In Acts 16:9 Paul received a vision. (In this instance, God did not directly command Paul to go into Macedonnia to preach, but in the communication process of revelation... Paul and Luke and others "concluded assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them." Even Paul, had to draw a conclusion from what God had implied in the vision.
While God does not communicate with us today with visions, God does expect us to draw proper conclusions from what he has inferred or implied in his written word. (God gave each of us the ability to reason, to use logic, to think and draw conclusions and His revelation to us requires that we use these abilities.) Paul reasoned from the scriptures in the synagogues with the Jews. He expected them to think and draw proper conclusions from what they read.
Consider James 2:14-26.
In verse14, James asks questions, to get the reader to think and reason with him. In verses 15-26, James gives example after example that help us to draw a proper conclusion. And so he uses examples, inferences and direct statements to teach the same truth. (That biblical faith is an active and obedient faith.) When we reason and infer and draw proper conclusions we can understand what we read.
Also, are we not right in inferring that we should care for the needy when we read passages like James 2:16? And can we not infer that more is needed than just faith alone when we read verse 19 of the same text?
THE BIBLE IMPLIES A LOT OF THINGS THAT WE NEED TO KNOW AND OBEY.
The wise and arrogant may miss these truths, but the babe in heart and honest in heart can know what God intended if he will only think as he reads.
1Much of this lesson was gleaned from an article by Roy H. Lanier Jr., Gospel Advocate, September 1989 p. 42 ff.
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