Week 1: Studying God’s Word
“Every commandment which I command you today you
must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and
possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers” said Moses to the
Israelites (Deut 8:1). Before Moses’ death, he gave the people a farewell
speech. He wanted every one of them to remember God’s direct involvement in
their 40-year journey. Recalling one incident after another, Moses reminded
them how members of their community lived or died, depending on whether they
had obeyed God’s commandments or not. Moses, who got to know God intimately
through this whole experience, admonished the Israelites to remember that “…
man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds
from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8:3).
Today, this teaching is for us to
grasp as well. As Christians, we look forward to entering our promised land.
The gospel you have heard and received is the good news of this promised land that Jesus Christ preached about 2000 years
ago. But for our soul to get to the kingdom of heaven, we must journey through
the wilderness of this physical life. How can we make it? Our source of
spiritual nourishment and strength, as it was for the Israelites, shall be
“every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” Because God’s Word is
necessary for our spiritual life, studying the Bible is as important as eating.
Spiritually speaking, we can’t accomplish anything if we are spiritually
famished. So let us make Bible study an integral part of our daily lives. In
this lesson, we shall learn where to begin.
Some Basic Principles
Believe the Bible is from God.
God’s Word is found in the Bible.
The Bible is a collection of 66 books that were written by different people, in
different parts of the world, over a period of some 1,400 years. The amazing
thing is that although few of the authors knew each other, all of them wrote
about one thing — God’s plan for man to be with him in heaven. How could this
be? Only the Lord God could have coordinated such efforts. This is why the
apostle Paul said: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness” (2Tim ).
Treasure Your Bible.
Today, if we are living in a
developed country, Bibles are a commonplace item. They are in bookstores,
churches and libraries. We probably have one or more in our home. But there was
a time in the history of the world when only a few people had access to the
Bible. Originally written in Hebrew and Greek, the Bible would, over time, be
translated into different languages. But before the invention of the printing
press, Bibles were often much too expensive. Then there were rules that
prevented ordinary folks from reading the Bible. Unfortunately, even today, for
various reasons, ordinary folks in some parts of the world still do not have
access to a Bible. Knowing that it’s such a blessing for you to have your own
Bible, you should cherish this gift and study God’s word every day. Don’t just
stick your Bible on the shelf to collect dust or leave it in a pile on the
floor and pick it up once a week for church. God’s word was written for you to
read, study, and think about. Make the Bible your daily companion. It will
prove to be your most valuable possession in life.
Hunger for God’s Words.
God called out to his people
through the prophet Isaiah, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully
to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight
itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul
shall live…” (Isa 55:2-3). Instead of seeking in vain
for fulfillment with earthly enjoyment, we should fill our souls with God’s
Word. Through careful study of and constant meditation on what God has to tell
us, we shall be nourished and satisfied.
Picking a Bible.
The New King James Version is the
recommended version in the True Jesus Church, as is the Revised Standard
Version. But if you already own the New International Version, this
easy-to-understand version will help you become acquainted with God’s word. You
may also find that studying the Bible in your mother tongue helps you get to
know God better. And if, at a later date, you do so wish to study the Bible in
its original languages, you might want to read the Hebrew and Greek versions.
Have a Bible within reach.
Having a Bible within reach when
you feel inspired to study God’s Word is a good thing. If you have a copy
that’s not too heavy, you might want to take it with you each time you leave
your home to go to school or work. Or would it be more convenient to borrow one
from the library during your lunch break? Did you say you listen to yours on a
walkman when you’re jogging around the block? Oh, and some of you have a Bible
in your laptop?
Armed with a Purpose.
If, at first, your purpose is to get a general
idea of what the Bible is about, then you might want to start reading the Bible
front to back. Or do you have a burning question? For example, if you’re
wondering what it means for a person to be blessed according to Jesus’
teachings, you’d want to begin your search in one of the four gospels, namely,
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
To Schedule or Not To Schedule.
Do you function better by
sticking to a written schedule every day? Reading the Bible and studying God’s
Word is akin to eating for the soul. Like eating for the body, eating for the
soul is also a very personal matter. For example, does your schedule call for
you to eat three square meals a day? Do you snack throughout the day? Or do you
eat six small meals at regular intervals? Only you can decide what’s best for
you. The important thing to remember is that you must eat every day.
Find some company.
“Two are better than one…” wrote the preacher
in Eccl 4:9-10. You may find that reading God’s words and studying his
commandments with another believer is a helpful thing to do. For example, if on
a day when one of you is feeling less than motivated, the other can get the Bible
study going as soon as you meet. And if one of you is not clear about a
particular passage, the other can shed some light. This suggestion also works
for larger groups.
Write down other guidelines that
have worked for you.
Write down new ideas that could
work for you.
Before Moses parted company with the Israelites,
he spoke to them one last time. Read Deut 8 and briefly describe what you think
is the most important thing Moses said.
Living as disciples of Jesus today, we are
actually walking in faith to a promised land. Where is this promised
Every day of a disciple’s life is like one step
forward in his or her spiritual journey through the wilderness. To help us
complete this journey, which quote from Scripture can we commit to memory?
Before every word in the Bible becomes of
immense value to you, you must first believe that the Bible is a book inspired
by God. T/F
Why must we hunger for God’s Words?
Do you have a favorite version of the Bible?
Describe in two or three sentences why it’s your favorite.
Why is it helpful for a Christian to have a
Bible within reach?
The Bible comprises of the ________ Testament
and the __________ Testament. There are a total of __________ books. Out of
this number, _____________ are in the Old Testament, and _____________ are in
the New Testament. They were written over a period of about _____________
What did the apostle Paul say about God’s Word?
Every day, we eat to feed our body with proper
nutrition so that it may function at optimal level. How can we care for the
health of our soul?
tells you, “I know that knowing about the Bible is good for you, but it’s not
like I have a pressing need to know the Bible that well. I mean, it’s not like
I’m preaching on the pulpit or anything, so why should I read the Bible? In
fact, even when I do read the Bible, I don’t know what’s going on most of the
time. I know of a lot of Christians who don’t really take much time to read the
Bible, yet they come to church every Sabbath. These brothers and sisters seem
to be doing just fine without much Bible reading. In fact, I’ve even seen how
Deborah keeps up her daily Bible reading. Before going to bed, she prays for
about a minute and then randomly opens the Bible. As she rests in her bed,
she’ll quickly read a little from a random section that catches her eye. I mean
let’s be realistic, we can still be a faithful
Christian without going through the motions, right?” What problems do you see
with Cathy’s comments? How do you think her daily Bible reading is going? How
do you answer her questions?
Caleb comes to you and starts saying, “You know,
I think I’ve come to a point where I know the Bible pretty well. I’ve listened
to so many sermon tapes and attended so many Sabbath services that I feel like
I pretty much know what the Bible is all about. I was just talking to Jason the
other day, and I don’t even think he knows anything about the Bible. I mean
look at this: Jason has believed in Jesus for 10 years! If I know the Bible
better than him, and I’ve only believed in Jesus for 10 months, then I must be
a quick learner. I admit, I don’t read the Bible as much as I used to; still,
I’ve read so much Bible in the past and have heard so many sermons, I don’t
think I really need to read the Bible anymore.” What are your thoughts on what
Caleb is saying? Is anything wrong? What?
Recently, Heather got a new job; she has to work
extremely hard every day. Pastor Nelson sees Heather sitting on the pew,
looking very worn out and tired after the Sabbath
service. He stops to ask her how everything is going. Heather replies, “Pastor,
I feel really weak in my faith. I try to read the Bible every day, but even
when I do get a chance to read the Bible, I don’t get much out of my Bible
reading. After I come back from work, I have to cook dinner, clean the house,
and do other chores for my family. By the end of the day, I’m so tired that as
soon as I open up the Bible I usually fall asleep.” You are sitting next to
Heather on the pew, can you encourage or offer her any
advice? What is Heather’s obstacle in her daily Bible reading and how can you
help her resolve this problem?
a list of reasons why you think some Christians don’t read the Bible on a
constant basis. Then make a list of reasons why you think other Christians not
only read the Bible but deeply desire to know more and more about God. Compare
and contrast your two lists. Check off the points you especially identify with
on your list and ask yourself “Why?” Do you think you need to make any changes
in how you view the importance of Bible reading in your life?