It is important to study God’s Word, the Bible, to memorize verses, and to think upon His Word. The Word of God never changes. We live in a world of constant changes. Our friends and families change, circumstances change, our thoughts and attitudes change, and all around us we experience change every day. But the Word of God remains the same, and is sure and stedfast. We can always depend upon His Word.
Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.” Psalm 119:89 says, “Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.” In I Peter 1:23, we read that the Word of God lives and abides forever.
In uncertain and changing times, we can always depend upon His Holy Word to give us comfort, strength, grace, and power for each moment of our life, regardless of our situation or our circumstances.
The Word of God also helps new born babies in Christ to grow spiritually. In I Peter 2:2 we read, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” We as believers in Christ are commanded in God’s Word to grow spiritually. II Peter 3:18 says, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
The Word of God has always existed, and will always exist. In John 1:1-2 we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.”
Read the following verses from the Bible. Psalm 119:2, 9, 11, 28, 50, 67, 71, 74, 92, 114, 130, 147, 148, 162 and 165.
This booklet is one in a series of lessons entitled, “Christians Growth” which will aid in the growth of believers in Christ. These lessons cover topics ranging from A to Z of the alphabet. II Peter 3:18 should be the goal of every believer, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
As you begin these study courses of God’s Word, please begin them with this thought and prayer found in Psalm 119:18, “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” This tells us how to stand with God and how to go with God.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:16-17)
LESSON 1: WHAT IS THE BIBLE?
(Memory Verse…II Timothy 2:15)
I. THE WORD OF TRUTH
The word “Bible” comes from a Greek word which means “books.” If you go to the library and read every book that is there, what you read may be the truth, or it may not be. However, when you pick up a copy of the Holy Bible and read it, every word you read will be the truth, as given to us by Almighty God. Because we live in a world where there is much deception and confusion, it is really wonderful to know that there is a book which tells us the absolute truth. If you want to know the most important truths about life and eternity, you must read and study the Bible. God has given a commandment to Christians to study His Word.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15)
Notice that here God is calling the Bible “the word of truth.” In John 17:17, the Lord Jesus said to God the Father, “…thy word is truth.”
II. THE INSPIRED WORD OF GOD
What we read in the Bible is the truth because the words that are written there are inspired by God. The word “inspired” means “breathed.” The word “scripture” means whatever has been written down. In II Timothy 3:16 we read that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” Everything that has been written down in God’s Book has been God-breathed! II Peter 1:21 says:
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
The inspiration of God is the power of His Holy Spirit moving on the hearts and minds of men, telling them exactly what words to speak and write. They did not write what they wanted to write, but they wrote what God wanted them to write. Because it was given by the inspiration of God, the Bible does not contain any mistakes or contradictions, even though it was written by 40 different authors, over a period of 1600 years, and in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages.
The Bible is not just an inspired book, but it is a very useful book. Let’s go back to II Timothy 3:16.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
God says that His Book is profitable (useful) for doctrine (teaching), for reproof (showing us where we are wrong), for correction (showing us how to change from wrong to right), and for instruction in righteousness (showing us how to keep on doing right). The Bible is our guidebook for living.
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. The word “Bible” means “__________.”
2. If you want to know the truth, you must read and study ________ ________________.
3. Write out II Timothy 2:15 _____________________________________________________________________
4. The word “inspired” means “_____________________.”
5. The Bible was written by _____ different men, in ______ different languages, over a period of _______ years.
6. Write out II Timothy 3:16 ______________________________________________________________________
III. ABOUT THE BOOK
The Bible consists of 66 small books combined into one big book. It has two major divisions: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The word “testament” means “agreement.”
The Bible begins with the true story of the creation of the universe, the planet Earth and mankind and describes the growth of human civilization up to the time of Abraham (Genesis chapter 1-11). All of the rest of the Old Testament and the first four books of the New Testament give us the history, poetry, and prophecies of the Israelites. The Israelites are the descendants of Abraham, to whom God made a promise that through their nation a Redeemer would come, who would be the Saviour of the world. The first four books of the New Testament describe how this Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, came into this world as the virgin-born Son of God. These books contain the message of the gospel, which is the wonderful fact that the Lord Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and arose from the dead three days later. Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus returned to heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God the Father. After another 10 days passed, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was sent to empower Jesus’ disciples to be witnesses for Him and to preach the gospel throughout the world.
With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the church was born. You can read about the early days of the church in the book of Acts. The rest of the New Testament is a collection of small books which were written to us who are in the church because we have received the Lord Jesus as our Saviour. These books teach us how to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. The final book of the New Testament is a book of prophecy, which reveals things that God wants us to know about the future, including the fact that Jesus Christ will return to the earth a second time as the mighty King of Kings.
Did you notice that the continual subject of the Bible is the Lord Jesus Christ? This book is a revelation of Him, and its main message is how men and women and children can have eternal life and victory over sin through faith in the Son of God.
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. How many books are in the Bible? ________
2. What are the two major divisions of the Bible? The _________ ____________________ and the _________
3. The Bible begins with the true story of the __________________.
4. The Israelites are the descendants of _______________________.
5. The gospel is the fact that the Lord Jesus _________ for our sins, was __________ and ________ from the dead ________ days later.
6. Jesus returned to heaven ____________ days after his resurrection.
7. The Holy Spirit was sent on the day of ______________________.
8. In which book of the Bible can you read about the early days of the church? ______________________
9. The Lord Jesus will never return to the earth again. True or False? _______________________
10. Who is the continual subject of the Bible? ____________________
IV. THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD
As we consider what the Bible is, it is very important to realize that it is a powerful weapon against the devil and his influences and devices. The Bible is not just anybody’s weapon, but it is the weapon of the Holy Spirit of God. Throughout the Bible, Satan is described as the enemy of God’s people. He is a murderous liar, and extremely powerful. A person who is not saved cannot possibly oppose or resist him. However, God’s Word says that all born-again Christians have the Holy Spirit living in them.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (I Corinthians 6:19)
In I John 4:4, the Word of God says, “…greater is he (the Holy Spirit) that is in you, than he (the devil) that is in the world.” If you are saved, you should stand up for the Lord Jesus and be a witness for Him by what you say, and how you live. As you do this, the devil, the world and your own flesh will give you trouble. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit who lives in you is far stronger than the devil, and the Holy Spirit has a weapon which you can use.
Because every Christian who takes a serious stand for God is going to be involved in spiritual warfare, every Christian must know how to be a good soldier in the Lord’s army. If you don’t learn this, you will be very weak and easily defeated by the devil and his devices. Read and study Ephesians 6:10-18. This passage of scripture teaches us about the armor of God, which Christians should wear in order to protect them during spiritual battles. In verse 17, the Lord tells us to “And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” Spiritual warfare is won with a spiritual weapon, the Word of God.
For a beautiful example of this weapon in action, read Matthew 4:1-11. Here the Lord Jesus is attacked by Satan, and Satan is defeated by the Word of God. Many of the things that Jesus did when He walked on this earth in the flesh of a man are examples to us of how we should act. Jesus could have run the devil off with anything He cared to use, but He chose to quote from the Word of God. He did this to show us that Satan cannot stand against the Word of God coming from the mouth of a Spirit-filled Christian! Hallelujah!!!
We can read about another way in which the Holy Spirit uses His sword in the book of Hebrews:
“For the word of God is quick [alive], and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder [apart] of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
When done in the power of the Holy Spirit, the preaching, teaching or reading of the Bible has a tremendous affect on us. It reaches into our hearts and minds and into the innermost parts of our being, and shows us what we really are and what we should be. God knows what is in our hearts, and none of our secrets are hidden from Him. The Holy Spirit uses His sword, the Word of God, to cut through our worldly thinking and put His life-changing truths into our spirits. This is another way in which the Word of God defeats the devil and his influences, and we should welcome it.
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. The Bible is the weapon of the _________ ______________.
2. Satan is the _____________ of God’s people.
3. A person who is not saved can resist Satan easily. True or False? ___________________
4. According to I Corinthians 6:19, who is living in every born-again Christian? ________ _________ _______________
5. According to I John 4:4, the Holy Spirit is greater than the devil. True or False? ________________
6. Where in the Bible can we learn about the armor of God? _________________________
7. In Matthew 4:1-11, the Lord Jesus defeated Satan with the ____________________________.
8. Write out Hebrews 4:12 ________________________________________________________________________
LESSON 2: WHY STUDY THE BIBLE?
(Memory Verse…Psalm 119:105)
I. GETTING TO KNOW GOD
God reveals Himself to us through His Word. Above everything else that can be seen in the Bible, it is first of all a book about the Lord Jesus Christ. If you look for Jesus on every page, you will find Him. The offerings, sacrifices, prophecies and people of the Old Testament point to Him, and He is revealed more perfectly in the New Testament. If you want to get to know God, get to know His book.
II. FEEDING YOUR SPIRIT
When you get saved, you are a new-born baby in the family of God. The Word of God is your milk, which you need in order to grow. I Peter 2:2 says: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.
Without the “sincere milk of the word” you cannot grow, and you will remain a spiritual baby and be very weak. You will never learn to walk and talk like a Christian should. But God says:
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15)
Studying His Word is a clear commandment of God. If we obey this commandment, we will know how to walk and talk like a Christian, we will have God’s approval and not be ashamed. As we study the Bible, we will learn how to “rightly divide the word of truth,” which means that we will understand what God is saying, and we will correctly apply His Word to our lives.
III. LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is all about the Word of God. If you read and meditate on this chapter, you are bound to get excited about the power and beauty and usefulness of the Word of God. Let’s look at Psalm 119:105.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
If you are walking down a dark, country road at night, you will need a light to guide your way. If you have a flashlight, you are not going to point your light off into the woods somewhere far beyond you. You will point it down at the path in front of your feet so that you don’t trip over some obstacle and fall, or step into a hole and suffer a painful injury. God’s Word is like that flashlight. It is a lamp unto your feet, and a light unto your path. It shows you the dangerous obstacles to your Christian growth, and it reveals the traps which the devil sets in order to trip you. The person who reads and obeys the Bible can live a happy life in this wicked world, because God has provided His light that shows the way.
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend [cause to stumble] them. (Psalm 119:165)
IV. AVOIDING SIN
If you want to get sin out of your life, you must hide the Word of God in your heart.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalm 119:11)
Before I was saved, my life was filled with sinful habits. I seldom did anything that was not wicked. This was because there was only wickedness in my heart. When I received Christ as my Saviour, I began to read and study and memorize many verses from the Bible. I have now been saved for almost eleven years, and I still read and study and memorize verses every morning and every evening. God has used His Word, hidden in my heart, to change me completely from the person I used to be. The power of His Word will do the same for anyone who is saved, and who is willing to let God change them.
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. God reveals Himself to us through His ___________.
2. Write out I Peter 2:2 _______________________________________________________________________
3. In II Timothy 2:15, God has commanded us to study His Word. True or False? _______________
4. Where is the longest chapter in the Bible? ________________
5. What is Psalm 119 all about? __________________________________________________________________.
6. Write out Psalm 119:105 _____________________________________________________________________.
7. Write out Psalm 119:11 ______________________________________________________________________.
V. LIVING RIGHT
In His beautiful prayer in John chapter 17, Jesus said in verse 17: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
You must learn, accept, and follow the teachings of the Bible in order to be sanctified. A person who is sanctified has been cleansed, and set apart from the world for God’s use. All Christians should want to serve God with their lives. If your life-style is not separated from the world’s wickedness, you are not what you should be for God, because He commands us to live a holy life.
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [conduct]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (I Peter 1:15-16)
The Bible will teach you to live a holy life; and the Holy Spirit who lives within you will give you the power to put what you learn from the Bible into action, if you are willing.
It is necessary to submit yourself to God, and never to rebel against what He says in His Word. Just because you don’t like something that it says, or you don’t agree with it, does not mean that something is wrong with the Bible. It means that something is wrong in your life. You should repent of it, and ask God to forgive you and to show you how to live His way — not your way, or the way of the world. If everyone else is doing it, but God’s Word says, “Don’t do it!”, you had better pay attention to what God says. Just because everybody’s doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right. If there is something in the Bible that you don’t care for because it doesn’t fit your life-style, it is not the Word of God that needs to change, but it is you who needs to change! If you accept this, and are willing to change, God’s Word will show you how to change, and His Holy Spirit will give you the strength to change.
Wherewithal [how] shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed [paying attention] thereto according to thy word. (Psalm 119:9)
Those who do not “take heed” to the Word of God are like King Jehoiakim, whom we can read about in the book of Jeremiah chapter 36. The Word of God came to the prophet Jeremiah, who had his secretary, Baruch, to write it down on a scroll, and read it to the people. God’s Word which came to Jeremiah was a prophetic warning to the people of Judah, who had turned away from God’s way. When the wicked King Jehoiakim heard the prophecy, he cut the scroll with a knife, and burned it up!! Jehoiakim didn’t like what God had said! God was warning Jehoiakim that if the people of Judah didn’t return to God’s way, there was a lot of trouble coming for them. This prophecy also said that if they returned to God’s way, the people would be forgiven. Because Jehoiakim didn’t want to do what was right, he rejected the Word of the Lord and tried to destroy it. He preferred to live his way, and to do what he wanted. But the Bible says:
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12)
When Jehoiakim burned up the scroll, the Word of the Lord came again to Jeremiah. The very same prophecy was written down again…plus quite a bit more.
Therefore thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. And I will punish him and his seed [descendants] and his servants for their iniquity [wickedness]; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened [listened] not. (Jeremiah 36:30-31)
Please don’t be like Jehoakim and his servants, who “hearkened not.” Remember, when the Word of God says something that you don’t like, it is not the Word which must change, but it is you. You may cut up your Bible, or throw it into the fire, but God’s Word will still be the truth, and it would be far better for you to accept everything it says.
The statutes [laws] of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes…Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:8, 11)
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. According to I Peter 1:15-16, God has not commanded His people to be holy. True or False? _________
2. What teaches us how to live a holy life? ______________________
3. Who gives us the power to live like the Bible teaches us? _________ __________ _________________
4. Who was the prophet Jeremiah’s secretary? ______________________
5. What two things did King Jehoiakim do to the scroll which had God’s Word written on it?
6. Why did King Jehoiakim try to reject the Word of the Lord? __________________________________
7. Write out Proverbs 14:12 ___________________________________________________________
8. According to Jeremiah 36:30-31, God punished King Jehoiakim and his people because they would not listen to God’s Word. True or False? _________
VI. PROSPERITY AND SUCCESS
The Bible gives us many precious promises from God about how those who read and obey His Word will be blessed. He is not talking about riches and material blessings, but about the peace, happiness and contentment that will fill the life of a person who is living in God’s will, and doing their best to follow God’s commandments and to serve Him. Let’s look at a couple of these promises.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
This is the only verse in the whole Bible that contains the word “success.” It says that good success and prosperity come from meditating upon and living by the Word of God. This is a very good verse to memorize.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3)
These verses are telling us that the blessed person is the one who does not take the advice of wicked people, does not do evil things or have bad attitudes, but delights in God’s Word. When someone delights in the Bible, God says that everything they do will prosper! This means that such a person will be constantly growing spiritually, and their life will bear fruit for God’s glory. Anyone who is willing to take the teachings of the Bible seriously can become a strong, mature and fruitful Christian, no matter what their life has been like in the past.
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. Good success and prosperity come from ________ ______ and _________ ________ the Word of God.
2. According to Psalm 1:1-3, when someone delights in the Bible, everything they do will _____________.
3. If your past life has been wicked, is it possible for you to become a strong Christian? Yes or No? ______
LESSON 3: HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE
(Memory Verse…Psalm 119:11)
I. YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
The first thing that you must know about how to study the Bible is that a person who has never received the Lord Jesus as their personal Saviour cannot understand this book. The Bible has one main message to the lost: “Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7b). Until you have answered God’s call to be saved, you are what the Bible calls a “natural” person, and you cannot understand the Word of God because it is a spiritual book, and you are spiritually dead. You may read the Bible through over and over again, but you won’t get much out of it. You may use a dictionary and a concordance, you may study different versions of the Bible, go to Sunday School and church and even go to Bible college, but most of the truths of the Word of God will go right over your head until you have a right relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are hungry to know a lot about the Bible, make sure that you have repented of your sins, and have called upon God to forgive you and save you. Then you will have the Holy Spirit living in you to help you to understand the Bible…you will be spiritually alive! Then God will give you the precious gift of Godly wisdom as you read and study His book because His Holy Spirit within you will teach you to understand it.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man 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. (I Corinthians 2:12-14)
II. READING THE WORD OF GOD
A. LEARN TO READ
Reading the Bible is extremely important. If you are a new Christian, and are not getting into the Word of God because you cannot read well enough, you should learn how to read better. Start by praying hard for God’s help. I know of a man who had never learned to read because he was very, very poor, and never went to school. When he got saved, God called him to be a preacher. He began to pray that God would help him, and taught himself to read with children’s books and the help of a missionary friend. Then he began to read the Bible, and the Lord gave him so much help and wisdom that he soon became the pastor of a fine church. Wherever you are in America, even if you are in prison, there should be a program available to teach you to read better. Most prisons have basic education and G.E.D. classes which prison residents can take. Make it your business to learn how to read. Keep praying about it, and don’t give up! It’s worth it!!
Until you can read it for yourself, God will provide someone who will read to you from the Bible. A Christian friend would probably love to do it. Also, there are tape recordings available of the Bible being read, to which you may be able to listen. (Try the library.) You can follow along in your Bible, and this will help you to learn.
B. MAKE TIME FOR BIBLE READING
You will find that as you begin to do some serious Bible reading, many things will happen. You will get sleepy and there will be distractions and things that interfere. These things happen because the devil does not want anyone reading the Bible. Also, our flesh does not like it either, and would rather read a novel or watch a movie. The best way to deal with this problem is to have a definite time every morning and evening which you have set aside to read and meditate on the Bible. You are familiar with your life-style and environment, and must figure out what is the best time for you to get into the Word of God. Then make sure that you do it. Do not let anything hinder you or interfere with your Bible reading time, if possible.
If you have plenty of spare time, use a lot of it to feed your spirit on the blessed Word of God, especially if you are a new Christian. If you have a very busy life-style, make sure that you spend at least a few minutes every morning and every evening in the Bible. It is worth it to get up a few minutes earlier in order to spend some time with God’s Word. If you don’t, you will regret it. Listen to the cry of David, who was a man of great faith:
I prevented [got up before] the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word. Mine eyes prevent [are awake through] the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. (Psalm 119:147-148)
If you are real tired in the evening, just read a few verses before you go to bed. This is a really sweet thing to do with your children. When you are at home with your children, don’t ever let them go to bed without praying with them and reading a little of the Bible to them. If you teach your children to love the Word of God, it will be a blessing to you and to them forever.
Thy testimonies [Word] have I taken as an heritage [inheritance] forever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. (Psalm 119:111)
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. A person who has never been saved cannot understand the Bible. True or False? _________
2. Christians should read their Bible every ______________ and every ___________________.
3. A mother should teach her children to love ____________________.
C. WHAT TO READ
If you are a new Christian, begin your Bible reading by getting to know Jesus, the Son of God. Read the book of John all the way through. Go at your own speed, but be sure to stick with it. After you read John, read the rest of the books of the gospel, (Matthew, Mark and Luke), so that you become very familiar with the earthly life and teachings of the Lord Jesus. Also, begin to read a chapter each day from the book of Proverbs. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so you should be able to read it through in a month. When you have read all of Proverbs, go back to the beginning and read it again, one chapter every day. If you do this for the rest of your earthly life, you will become very wise. I have been doing this for several years, and am constantly learning new wisdom from the book of Proverbs. It is good to read one chapter from the book of Psalms every day, also. Because it is a book of prayers and praises, you will find that the Psalms will give you much comfort, and increase your faith in God.
Here is a list of the Bible books which you should read and study first, if you have never read the Bible. After you finish all these books, begin to read the Bible all the way through, and do it continuously for the rest of your life. The “Daily Bible Reading” guide from the Rock of Ages Prison Ministry shows you how to read through the Bible in one year, but this is not necessary. It is best to read at your own speed. I usually read two chapters from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, one from Proverbs, and one chapter from Psalms every day. This is what works well for me, but you may want to do something different. Ask God for guidance, and read to get knowledge and wisdom, not just to be doing it.
BIBLE BOOKS TO READ AND STUDY FIRST
New Testament Books
John Jesus Christ, the Son of God
Matthew Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews
Mark Jesus Christ, the servant
Luke Jesus Christ, the Son of man
I John Assurance and encouragement
James Our faith leads to good works; warnings and advice for the Christian
Ephesians Our position in Christ and in His church; relationships and right living
Philippians Christ is our life, joy, and strength
Colossians We are complete in Christ; warning against false teaching
I Thessalonians Our hope of Christ’s return; right living
Galatians Our freedom in Christ; right living
Romans The plan of salvation; victory over sin
Old Testament Books
Genesis The book of beginnings
Psalms The book of prayers and praises, (Read one chapter every day for comfort and private worship)
Proverbs The book of wisdom, (Read one chapter every day to learn how to live wisely)
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. What is the first book of the Bible that a new Christian should read all the way through? _________________
2. Which 4 books of the New Testament teach us about the earthly life of the Lord Jesus?
A. ______________________ B. _____________________
C. ______________________ D. _____________________
3. Reading one chapter every day from the book of _______________ will make you wise.
4. The book of Psalms is a book of ___________ and ____________.
5. Which book of the Bible teaches us that faith leads to good works? _______________________
6. Which book of the Bible tells us about the beginnings of all things? _______________________
D. HOW TO READ THE BIBLE
1. PRAY FIRST
Remember that the Bible is a spiritual book. Spiritual things must be done with much prayer. Most of Psalm 119 is a prayer for God’s help in knowing, understanding and using His Word. For example:
Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes [laws]; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe [obey] it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. (Psalm 119:33-35)
Be sure to pray for understanding and knowledge every time you read the Word of God. His Holy Spirit will teach you what you are ready to know. God uses people to whom He had given wisdom and knowledge of His Word in order to teach others. However, you do not have to have any teacher other than the Holy Spirit.
Howbeit [however] when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. (John 16:13a)
If you are willing to learn, the Holy Spirit will teach you… just trust Him. Don’t worry about what you don’t understand. As you grow as a Christian, you will get deeper into the Word of God, and you will get more out of it each time it is read.
Remember, the Bible is a spiritual book… don’t read it without first praying.
2. READ THE BIBLE…AND USE A DICTIONARY
Everyone has a little trouble with some of the words in the Bible, so don’t be discouraged by words that you don’t know the meanings of. It is not necessary to use a Bible dictionary, although that would be a good book to have. However, every serious student of the Bible ought to have a Webster’s Collegiate dictionary. Older ones, which can be found in secondhand stores, are better for Bible study than modern ones; but a modern one will help a lot. If you are in prison, you may find that there is a dictionary available for your use. If you have no access to a dictionary, write down the words that you do not know the meanings of, and take the list to your chaplain for an explanation. As you continue to read the Bible and attend church services and Bible study classes, you are going to learn what the difficult words mean.
We use the Authorized King James Version of the Bible. We believe this version to be an accurate translation of God’s Word from the ancient writings into the English language. This translation was done by a team of 54 (fifty-four) intelligent, Spirit filled men. God has blessed and used this Holy Book down through the years. We believe it is complete and perfect, and needs no improvement or revision. We stand without apology where this Bible is concerned. Every person reserves the right to use any version of the Bible that they desire. Right or wrong, we cannot force our convictions on anyone. Due to the fact that this ministry uses only the King James Version of the Bible in all of our lessons and correspondence courses, we reserve the right to consider the answer to any question in our studies incorrect, if it is not answered in the words of the King James Version of the Bible.
If you compare the King James Version to any of the modern versions verse by verse, you will soon see that they do not say exactly the same thing. Not just the words are changed, but the actual meanings of the verses are changed. Also, there are dozens of examples of things that have been left out of these new versions of the Bible. For example, in Matthew 17:14-21, we read about how the Lord Jesus cured a child who was possessed by a demon. His disciples had not been able to cast the devil out of this boy, so they asked Jesus what the problem was. Jesus scolded them for their lack of faith, and then he said:
Howbeit [but] this kind [this kind of demon spirit] goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:21)
This scripture is left out of some other translations of the Bible.
Hear God’s warning:
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish [take] ought [anything] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2)
For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven…Through thy precepts [instructions] I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:89 & 104)
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. Be sure to _________ for understanding and knowledge every time you read the _________________.
2. In John 16:13, God says that His Spirit will guide you into ____________ _____________________.
3. What book should you use to learn the meanings of difficult Bible words? ________________________
4. The __________ ___________ _________ Bible is an accurate translation of God’s Word into English.
III. MEDITATING ON THE WORD OF GOD
It is important to meditate on God’s Word after you read it. To meditate means to stop and think about it. Do you remember what Psalm 1 says about the man who is blessed?
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:2-3)
You can live a life that is happy and holy if you meditate on the word of God. You must spend time with God every day, reading the Bible and meditating on what you have read. Read a few verses or a chapter; then stop and think about what you have just read, and see what God has said to you. This is a good thing to do with other Christians or with your children. To help you to meditate, here are some suggestions:
After you read for a while, stop and ask yourself (or those reading with you) these questions:
1. What new thing have I learned?
2. Is there a commandment for me to obey?
3. Is there an example to follow?
4. Is there an error to avoid?
5. Is there any sin to forsake?
6. Is there a promise to claim?
7. Is there any new thing I have learned about God?
You will get a whole lot more out of your Bible reading time if you meditate on what you have read. Sometimes, one verse will really stand out to me during my morning Bible reading time, and I find myself thinking about that verse all day. When this happens, I know that it is the Holy Spirit working to teach me something that He wants me to know. If you love the Bible, God will do the same for you.
O how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day…I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies [words] are my meditation. (Psalm 119:97, 99)
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. What does it mean to meditate on something? ____________________________________________________
2. Write out Psalm 1:2 ________________________________________________________________________
3. According to Psalm 1:3, what three things are true about a person who meditates on God’s Word?
a. He bringeth forth his ________________ in his season.
b. His leaf shall not ___________________.
c. Whatsoever he doeth shall ___________________.
4. You can live a life that is happy and holy if you _____________ on the ___________________ of God.
IV. MEMORIZING BIBLE VERSES
Learning portions of the Word of God by heart is very, very important for several reasons:
A. IT KEEPS US FROM SINNING
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalm 119:11)
When sinful desires come, the Word of God hidden in our hearts is very powerful against those desires. For example, if you have a problem with sexual sin, two little words, which are the first part of I Corinthians 6:18, are a big help: “Flee fornication.” God’s good advice is to run away from sexual sin.
B. IT HELPS OUR PRAYERS
The Holy Spirit will use the Word of God hidden in your heart to help you to pray with power. For example, if you want God to control what comes out of your mouth and what goes through your mind, learn Psalm 19:14, which is a prayer, and say it often:
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
C. IT HELPS US TEACH OTHERS GOD’S WAY
As you grow in your Christian life, you will want God to use you to help others who are baby Christians. Also, you have a responsibility to teach your children about God’s way. If you don’t have some of His Word hidden in your heart, you will have a very, very hard time teaching others about God.
D. IT FIGHTS THE DEVIL FOR US
When you know that the devil is attacking you with temptation or persecution, your best defense is the Word of God. When you can tell that some demonic power is troubling you, or causing a disturbance or creating confusion around you, you should start quoting verses from the Bible. Satan hates God’s Word, and will not stay around where a born-again Christian is quoting it. If you don’t memorize any verses, you will not have this important weapon against the devil. Read Matthew 4:1-11 again to see the power of the Word of God over Satan.
E. HOW TO MEMORIZE THE WORD OF GOD
Write the verse out for yourself on a 3×5 card or a piece of paper, and keep it with you. Read the verse to yourself (out loud, if possible) and then try to say it without looking. Do this 5 times every morning and 5 times every evening for one week. By the end of the week, you should know it very well. If you still have not learned the verse by heart, copy it down on paper 5 times every morning and 5 times every evening. Even if memory work is hard for you, you will soon learn that way. Remember to pray and ask God to help you to hide His Word in your heart, and be sure to use the King James Version for your memory work.
I have a very poor short-term memory. I have always had a bad memory, which became much worse because of drug use before I was saved. Since I have been saved, I have memorized dozens and dozens of Bible verses. I learned them because I knew that God wanted me to, and because He helped me a lot. To keep them in my memory, I must constantly review them; so I spend a few minutes every day going over memory verses. Please don’t let the devil tell you that you cannot memorize Bible verses. You can… and you should!
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. Write out Psalm 119:11 _________________________________________________________________________
2. God’s Word hidden in your heart helps you to pray with________________.
3. If you do not have God’s Word hidden in your heart, it will be easy to teach others about God. True or False? _________
4. What is your best defense when the devil attacks you? _______________________________________________
5. Learn Philippians 4:13 by heart, and write it down here from memory. _____________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________
LESSON 4: APPLYING THE BIBLE TO YOUR LIFE
(Memory Verse… James 1:22)
I. BE A “DOER OF THE WORD”
The Bible teaches a saved person how to live right. It is every Christian’s responsibility to learn how to live a life that is pleasing to God. Such a life is very pleasant and happy, during the bad times as well as the good. Also, there will be rewards given in heaven for the way we have lived on earth after we have been saved.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
As you get into studying the Word of God, take it very seriously. If you claim to be a Christian, make sure that your “walk” matches your “talk”. Apply the Bible to your personal daily living, and you will really benefit from what it teaches. In James 1:22, God says:
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Don’t be foolish and ignore what the Bible says, but learn from it, and apply it to your life. The Bible teaches us to live right in several different ways:
A. It tells us what we should not do. For example: And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess…(Ephesians 5:18a)
B. It tells us what we should do instead: …But be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18b)
C. It shows us how the Lord Jesus, our example, acted when He was in the flesh of a man. For example, in His time for greatest distress, He “…Fell on his face, and prayed…” (From Matthew 26:39).
D. It teaches us how to be like the Lord Jesus: Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation… (Matthew 26:41a)
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. Write out James 1:22 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. List four ways in which the Bible teaches us to live right:
a. It tells us what we should ___________________ do.
b. It tells us what we ____________________ do instead.
c. It shows us how Jesus acted when He was in the ___________ of a _________________.
d. It teaches us to be _________________ the Lord Jesus.
II. PUT OFF THE OLD MAN, AND PUT ON THE NEW MAN
Let’s look at a few verses from Ephesians chapter 4, which are a big help in learning how to apply the Word of God to our lives. When God tells us not to do certain things any more, He shows us better things to do instead. When you quit doing something bad, your flesh feels empty and let-down if you don’t replace that bad habit with something good. When you start doing good things instead of bad, you will get stronger in your spirit, and have victory and power over the sinful desires of your flesh.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation [life style] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. (Ephesians 4:22-23)
God says to take off those old dirty rags of sin that were part of your old life before you were saved, and feed your mind on spiritual things from the Bible. You will start thinking clean, godly thoughts, that will lead to clean, godly actions. Of course, we would all like to do this, but how do we? Let’s read some more of the Word, and God will show us how.
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)
This verse shows us that we have a responsibility to start living a new and better way, because when we were saved, God gave us a new nature, which is the righteousness of Christ. Therefore, we are to “put off the old man;” but we are not to stop there. Then we are to “put on the new man.” Instead of just getting sin out of our lives, God is changing us so that our lives take on a holy character. Notice that this change is the result of being born-again by the Spirit of God; it is not turning over a new leaf, and trying to reform yourself. Now let’s read some more from Ephesians.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. (Ephesians 4:25)
Now the Word of God is getting down where we live. God not only tells us to stop lying, but He tells us what to do instead…just tell the truth! Lies always catch up with us, and cause trouble in the end. If you cannot tell the truth without causing harm, just don’t say anything. This is far better than lying. Any kind of dishonesty or pretense is lying. Let telling the truth become your new habit. If you continue to have a habit of telling lies, and it doesn’t bother you, you are not saved. Revelation 21:8 says:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable [those who do things which God hates], and murderers, and whoremongers [those who commit sexual sins], and sorcerers, and idolaters [those who worship idols], and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone [burning sulfur]: which is the second death.
If you tell a lot of lies, and are not willing to stop it, you are hell-bound. You had better repent and get saved.
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. According to Ephesians 4:22-24, when we get saved we should put off the ________ ________, and put on the ________ ________.
2. When we were saved, _____ gave us a new nature, which is the __________ of ___________________.
3. According to Ephesians 4:25, what should we do instead of lying? ___________________________
4. Revelation 21:8 warns us that all liars who do not repent and get saved are going to hell. True or False? __________
Here’s some more life-changing advice from Ephesians:
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
God says not to hold grudges, or let yourself become bitter because of things that have made you angry. If you get mad at someone, and do not forgive them before the sun sets that day, you are rebelling against what God is saying in Ephesians 4:26, and trouble is bound to follow. It is not necessarily sinful to be angry, but if you hold onto that anger, instead of forgiving the one who has made you angry, you are hurting yourself spiritually. Uncontrolled anger is an invitation to Satan to do some dirty work in your life. Don’t give place to the devil. That is what the old unsaved man would do. Now let’s check out what God says in Ephesians chapter 4 about stealing.
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (Ephesians 4:28)
If you are saved, you are to do no more stealing. Making an honest living might be hard work, but it is very rewarding. Stealing is a sin, and leads to nothing but trouble. God’s alternative is not only to earn your money honestly, but to give some of it to the needy. God will bless you for it, and your gift may keep some poor person from stealing. It is much better to give than to take. God will bless you for obeying those in authority, because the authorities are established by God. (See Romans 13:1-2). Do wicked words come out of your mouth? God’s Word has much to say about that. For example:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying [building up], that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)
It is very easy to sin with your mouth. Learn to speak kindly and honestly, and avoid cursing, gossiping, flattery or saying things which hurt and destroy others. Here again, God gives us a better thing to do instead…we are to use our mouths to say good things which build up other people, rather than tear them down.
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. According to Ephesians 4:26, is it a sin to get mad at someone, and stay mad at them for days? Yes or No? ______
2. If you get mad at someone, you should _____________ them before the ______________ sets that day.
3. According to Ephesians 4:28, should a saved person ever steal for any reason? Yes or No? ___________
4. When we earn our money honestly, we should __________ some of it to the _____________________.
5. Ephesians 4:29a says, “Let no ____________ ________________ proceed out of your _____________.
6. We are to say ____________ things which ___________ ________ other people.
What happens when we give in to the wicked desires of our flesh (the old man)?
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
Sin offends the Holy Spirit. He is very sensitive; and you won’t feel His wonderful presence, or have His delightful fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility and self-control) in your life, if you have a lot of sin. The fruit of the Holy Spirit can be produced only by God. Don’t grieve Him by having sinful ways, and miss out on the good things that God has for those who put off the old ways and put on the new ways that God wants us to have. This verse also teaches us that we are set apart by God, someday to be changed completely, and given a new glorified body that will never die. Let’s see what the last two verses of Ephesians 4 teach us.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor [loud complaining], and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. (Ephesians 4:31)
All these sinful things are ungodly. They are to be thrown away out of our lives like nasty garbage. If you do any of these things, for any reason, you should confess your sin to God, and get it out of your life.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Here is God’s wonderful alternative to our wicked fleshly desires to be rude and hateful toward those who hurt us. God says that we are to be kind and gentle. We must be willing to be understanding and patient with the faults of others. When we forgive someone, we must do it from the heart, and not keep reminding them of what they did to us. True forgiveness is not probation, it is pardon, and it is possible because of Calvary.
As we continue to read and study the Bible, we will be learning for the rest of our lives. God will show us what we should stop doing, and then He will teach us what we should do instead. If we will only submit ourselves to Him, the Holy Spirit will give us the power to “put off the old man”, and to “put on the new man.”
STOP AND TEST YOURSELF
1. Sin offends the _____________ _____________________.
2. What nine things are the fruit of the Holy Spirit?
1. ____________________ 2. ____________________ 3. ____________________ 4. ____________________ 5. ____________________ 6. ____________________ 7. ____________________ 8. ____________________ 9. _____________________
3. The fruit of the Holy Spirit can be produced only by ___________.
4. We who are saved will someday be given a new _____________ body that will never ______________.
5. Ephesians 4:31 lists six things that we should put out of our lives when we are saved. What are they?
1. ____________________ 2. ____________________ 3. ____________________
4. ____________________ 5. ____________________ 6. ____________________
6. Write out Ephesians 4:32 _____________________________________________________________________
7. True forgiveness is not probation, it is _________________.
8. True forgiveness is possible because of ________________.