Studying the Bible

MEMORY VERSE: “Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” —Psalm 119:33,34

PSALM 119:9-16
II TIMOTHY 3:14-17

THE Bible is the Christian’s guidebook. It is his chart and compass. However, we need to study the Word humbly and sincerely, and with a spirit of dedication to the Lord’s will which will lead us to obedience as he reveals his will to us through our study of his Word. The truths of the Bible are not presented in an orderly sequence, but “here a little, and there a little,” and this calls for study; not merely a reading of the Bible.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Tim. 2:15) Note in this text that a Christian is referred to as a “workman.” Having dedicated himself to do God’s will he has been assigned a place in God’s great plan for reconciling the world, and therefore he needs to study God’s Word of instructions in order that he might be an acceptable workman, one approved unto God.

To do this the Christian must “rightly divide the word of truth.” Several factors are involved in rightly dividing the Word of truth. The first of these is time. God’s plan, in the outworking of which we are co-operating, involves various eras, or ages of time. What was true, for example, concerning the implementation of God’s plan before the Flood, might not necessarily be true today. What was true during what we refer to as the Jewish, or Law Age, might not be true concerning the present, or Gospel Age.

And then there is this “present evil world.” (Gal. 1:4) This is the time when Satan is ruling, and many things are said about this world which will not be true of the world when Christ and his church are the rulers. Now evil prospers; then evil and evildoers will be destroyed. The Bible discusses these various aspects of the different worlds, and what it says could very well seem to be contradictory unless we “rightly divide the word of truth.”

The Bible teaches that there are two salvations—the “great salvation” for the church, and the salvation which will be the restoration to perfection of human life on the earth. The “great salvation” is to glory and honor and immortality. Those invited to it are said to be partakers of “the heavenly calling.” (Heb. 3:1) These are the ones Jesus promised he would gather unto himself, that they might be with him.—John 14:3

The way to attaining this “great salvation” is very narrow and difficult. It calls for sacrifice even unto death. But the way to the human salvation of the Millennial Age is described as a “highway” which will be made plain to all. (Isa. 35:8) To rightly divide the Word of truth in our study means that we should endeavor to ascertain to whom the various promises of salvation are made—whether to the followers of Jesus in this age, or to the world of mankind in the next age: whether they are heavenly or earthly promises.

When we rightly divide the Word of truth we will find that, as Paul says, it is indeed profitable “for doctrine; for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” We will also find, as Paul declared, that the inspired Scriptures are complete, to the furnishing of all our needs, “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Our memory verse sets forth an important principle in connection with Bible study, which is that we must desire to keep the Lord’s statutes when they are revealed to us—“Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.”

Psalm 119:9-16 continues this same line of thought, with the additional expressions of the psalmist concerning his great rejoicing in the law of the Lord. He says that a young man cleanses his ways by “taking heed” to the Lord’s Word. This is true of the young and old alike. But it is necessary to take earnest heed when we study the Word, and be willing to yield ourselves in obedience to all its precepts. Every Christian should be happy to say, “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”


What did Paul mean by “rightly dividing the word of truth”?

What must be our attitude if we expect the Lord to teach us through his Word?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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