Last week we looked at some alarming statistics concerning Biblical illiteracy in our culture today, even among practicing Christians. Developing a Biblical worldview takes time and practice. It is a lifetime commitment and part of what we should desire as we grow closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus.
How often do you spend time with God’s Word? If Bible study is new for you or you’ve never made a commitment to it before, spend some time, If possible with fellow Christians, over the next few weeks going through this study and reading your Bible on a regular basis. There will be some suggestions for how to do that in this session, but first…
Biblical Literacy Quiz
To get an idea of where you stand in your Bible knowledge take a few minutes and answer the following questions to the best of your ability. No worries if you have trouble—just make a commitment to grow in your knowledge from this point on!
Directions: Note the letter that you believe best answers each question, then check your answers (and your grade) at the end of this post.
All questions are concerning the Christian Bible:
1. How many books are there?
a. 27 b. 39 c. 52 d. 66 e. 77
2. Which category of books is not part of the Old Testament?
a. History b. Major Prophets c. Gospels d. Wisdom literature e. Pentateuch
3. Which of these is not one of the Gospels?
a. John b. Timothy c. Matthew d. Luke e. Mark
4. What book talks about the beginning of the Church?
a. Matthew b. Genesis c. Acts d. Ecclesiastes e. Proverbs
5. Which of these is not part of the Torah?
a. Leviticus b. Exodus c. Genesis d. Joshua e. Deuteronomy
6. What is the first book in the New Testament?
a. Isaiah b. Genesis c. Revelation d. John e. Matthew
7. What is the shortest book in the Bible?
a. 3 John b. Joel c. Philemon d. Jude e. Amos
8. Which of these is not a character in the Bible?
a. Boaz b. Justus c. Onesimus d. Rona e. Seth
9. What is the last book in the Old Testament?
a. Haggai b. Revelation c. Zechariah d. Malachi e. Micah
10. How many books are in the New Testament?
a. 22 b. 27 c. 39 d. 31 e. 13
11. How many books are in the Old Testament?
a. 27 b. 21 c. 29 d. 39 e. 25
12. Who wrote first and second Timothy?
a. John b. Timothy c. Matthew d. Paul e. Luke
13. What was the name of the blind man Jesus healed on his way from Jericho to Jerusalem?
a. Bartimaeus b. Bartholomew c. Zacharias d. Barnabas
14. Which one of these was not one of the original twelve disciples?
a. Simon b. Mark c. James d. Andrew
15. What was the name of the young man Paul raised from the dead after he fell from a third story window?
a. Eutychus b. Timotheus c. Zacharias d. Lazarus
16. What was the name of John the Baptist’s mother?
a. Deborah b. Dinah c. Elisabeth d. Martha
17. What was the name of the High Priest’s servant whose ear Peter cut off?
a. Caiphus b. Malchijah c. Crispus d. Malchus
18. In Revelation, which of these is not one of the seven churches Jesus speaks about?
a. Ephesus b. Athens c. Smyrna d. Thyatira
19. Who is the deceased girl that Peter raised from the dead in Joppa?
a. Rebekah b. Judith c. Adah d. Tabitha
20. What was the name of John the Baptist’s father?
a. John b. Zebedee c. Zacharias d. Zeboim
What is the correct chronological order for the following people:
21. a. Abraham-Adam-Noah-Moses; b. Adam-Noah-Abraham-Moses; c. Adam-Moses-Abraham-Noah
22. a. Joshua-Jacob-David-Solomon; b. Joshua-Solomon-David-Jacob; c. Jacob-Joshua-David-Solomon
23. a. Rahab-Ruth-Bathsheba-Tamar (mother of Perez); b.Tamar-Ruth-Bathsheba-Rahab; c. Tamar-Rahab-Ruth-Bathsheba
24. a. Hezekiah-David-Josiah-Rehoboam; b. David-Rehoboam-Hezekiah-Josiah; c. Josiah-Hezekiah-David-Rehoboam
25. a. Abraham-Jacob-Joseph-Moses; b. Jacob-Joseph-Moses-Abraham; c. Moses-Jacob-Abraham-Joseph
Short Answer Question: You only have one minute to answer (because that is usually the attention span in most conversations). You are in a group conversation and the following question comes up:
- How did we get the Bible, and how do we know we have the right one?
Focus areas for growth in our Christian walk:
The following is a review from “Defending Your Faith 101.” It is important that we review these before beginning a new study. Becoming proficient in these areas will help protect us from spiritual warfare and distractions from the enemy that often increase as we grow closer to God.
In order to be a disciple of God’s Word, and a case-maker for the Bible, we must regularly practice and commit to grow in these four areas:
1. PRAYER (talking to God)
The Bible gives us many examples of people “talking” to God and worshipping Him through prayer: Abraham (Genesis 12-22), Moses (Exodus-Deuteronomy), David (the Psalms) and the prophets all talked with God. These are just a few examples from the Old Testament, but the best thing to do is to go to the person who was the fulfillment of all that was spoken of in the Old Testament and the one who taught us how to pray in the New Testament: Jesus!
Steven K. Scott has compiled all of Jesus’ words in a book called “The Greatest Words Ever Spoken.” What Jesus said about prayer and how He modeled it can be found in the Gospels of Matthew: 6:8-13, 11:25-26, 26:39, 27:46; Luke: 10:21, 22:42, 23:34, 23:46; and John: 11:41-43, 12:27-28, 17:1-26.
At times when we don’t know what to say we can meditate on the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:5-15). One of Jesus’ greatest prayer examples is found in John chapter 17. This chapter can be broken down in to three segments: Jesus prays for Himself (1-5); Jesus prays for His Disciples (6-19); and Jesus prays for future believers (20-26), that’s us!
One of the most important things we can learn about prayer is that if we are praying in God’s will, and our prayers are lining up with His Word, we are bringing the outcome of our prayers in line with His Kingdom goal. However, we do not always see the “Kingdom goal” in all circumstances. God’s timing is not always our timing; patience and trust is key as we stay in bold persistent prayer.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14
Prayer develops our relationship with God and when we pray we grow closer to Him and are more likely to be aware of how He is working in our lives.
2. HERMENEUTICS (studying the Bible in proper context)
Know the difference
Reading: Get the big picture (the story) by reading the Bible in large chunks—an individual book or a complete storyline within a book—just like any good novel.
Studying: Get a study Bible and some tools like a Bible dictionary or concordance, and then use the hermeneutic method below.
Meditating: Pick out Scripture (after doing the above) and pray over it, thinking on its application for your life.
Two important principals to follow when studying Scripture:
Principle #1: Never read or study a Bible Verse by itself
Reading a Bible verse by itself and trying to interpret what it means based on “what you feel” can be dangerous, especially if you are leading a study. You will most likely get a wide range of opinions and trouble may arise. Many cults have begun this way because of twisting the Scriptures, or singling out a verse, to fit a personal agenda.
Principle #2: Use Hermeneutics
Hermeneutics describes the task of explaining the meaning of the Scriptures. Using hermeneutics helps us to accurately understand what the message (verse, or passage) is trying to communicate and it is easy to do once you understand a few basic principles for reading literature in its historical context:
- Author and Audience: Who wrote it, when, and to whom?
- Purpose: Why was it written? What was going on in the culture at the time of the events? What did God want them to know? What is the genre’?
- Context: What is the flow of thought? Read before and after the verse or passage to get the big picture. This sometimes requires reading the whole book in one sitting and then going back, taking notes or doing outlines. Cross-referencing other passages from other books of the Bible can be helpful here, especially when questions arise.
- Interpretation: What does the verse or passage mean? This is done only after studying the context. It should relate to the overall purpose.
- Application: How can we apply it to our lives?
It is important to follow this order. If you start with personal application instead of author and audience you may not get the correct context and misapply it to your life.
3. CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS (defense of the faith)
- Apologetics=apologia (ap-ol-og-ee’-ah) in the original Greek means to give a verbal defense, like one would do in a court of law.
- It is used eight times in the New Testament: Acts 22:1; 25:16; 1 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 10:5 and 6; Philippians 1:7; 2 Timothy 4:16; and 1 Peter 3:15.
- Jesus, his disciples, and the early Christian martyrs gave us many examples of how to use apologetics: They proved from Old Testament Scripture that Jesus was Messiah; they confirmed it by providing evidence through miracles (in Jesus’ Name); and they won arguments against the philosophies of the day with truth and reason.
- Christian Apologists today make evidential cases for truth (vs. relativism and secular ideology), a Creator (vs. random evolutionary models), the historicity, reliability and inspiration of the Bible (vs. human invention), Jesus and the Resurrection (vs. myth).
A few Biblical examples for using Apologetics:
(Jesus said…) But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. -John 5:36 (NLT)
Paul’s witness included defending and reasoning for the faith:
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. -Acts 17:16-17 (NIV)
Paul, speaking about leadership in the Church:
He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong. -Titus 1:9 (NLT)
Jesus’ Disciples gave apologetic dissertations in defense of the Gospel:
- Apollos: For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. -Acts 18:28
- Peter: Acts chapters 2, 3, 10 and in both of his letters (1 and 2 Peter)
- Stephen: Acts chapter 7
- John: The majority of the Gospel of John is an apologetic as is his three letters (1, 2 and 3 John)
- Jude: A half brother of Jesus wrote in his letter to “contend earnestly” meaning fight for the truth! (1:3)
- The early Church leaders (Polycarp, Clement, Origin, Justin, etc.) used apologetics in the first through third centuries after Jesus
Apologetics helps us do pre-evangelism and tear down roadblocks to the Gospel. It seeks to address misconceptions and defend the Christian faith from an intellectual point of view along with a Biblical worldview. It is the pursuit and defense of truth—God’s Truth.
4. DISCIPLESHIP (doing life with other Christians and bringing the Gospel to the world)
There are two important parts to Discipleship:
- Discipleship: In Community
“Only a disciple can make a disciple.” – A. W. Tozer
- We cannot do life alone, and we cannot enjoy our relationship with God without having Christian brothers and sisters to share it with.
- Doing life with other Christians in community is important for prayer, support, and growth.
- The New Testament book of Acts and most of the Epistles gives us a glimpse of how early Christians lived in community in tough times, helping each other through famine and persecution.
- Hebrews 10:23-25 gives us a Biblical mandate for Christian community:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
- Growth comes in community and by supporting each other as we share the things we learn. (Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Peter 3:15)
- This kind of discipleship can come about in various ways: small groups, classes, church services, life groups, and working together in community outreach services.
However, discipleship should not be confined within a Christian’s own small community. We are called to go out and share the “Good News” of Jesus with everyone…
- Discipleship: Sharing the Gospel with others
“His voice leads us not into timid discipleship but into bold witness.” – Dr. Charles Stanley
Why do we need to share our faith? Simple answer, because God asked us to. We find this command given to us in Scripture and we know it as the “Great Commission:”
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” –Matthew 28:18-20
- Review the four focus areas for our Christian growth. Which one(s) are you doing well on? Which one(s) do you need to work on?
- Do you have any Bible study resources that have helped you? List them here.
- Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Write this passage out and try to commit it to memory.
Answers to the quiz: 1d 2c 3b 4c 5d 6e 7a 8d 9d 10b 11d 12d 13a 14b 15a 16c 17d 18b 19d 20c 21b 22c 23c 24b 25a
Grades: A+ = All 25 correct, plus a confident response to the short answer question; A = 23-24; B = 20-21; C = 17-19; D = 15-16; F = 14 or less
The short answer question will be covered over the next few posts – stayed tuned and you will be able to formulate a surprisingly simple yet concise answer for that question!
You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in! Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.
Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.
Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.
1 Peter 3:15