Defending Your Faith 101: Tips for studying the Bible

This past week I was blessed to give a short presentation on Bible study skills to our “Run For God” class, as well as promote our upcoming Apologetics classes and this website. I am posting the notes from the presentation as a review for the participants and all readers of this blog. I invite your thoughts and critiques in the comment section:

I. Introduction to truthfaithandreason.com:  A Christian Apologetics website that provides…

  • Weekly posts on apologetics, faith, and culture
  • Reference articles, books and videos
  • Video clips and presentations by top Christian Apologists
  • Bible studies (upcoming 2018)

II. Defending Your Faith 101:  Tuesday Evening Classes at Sea Coast Grace Church – Cypress, CA 6:30-8:30pm

New class begin January 9, 2018 – Topics:

  • Growing as a Christian
  • Understanding Christianity’s roots
  • Introduction to Christian Apologetics and Bible study
  • The importance of truth in your worldview
  • Religious pluralism
  • The existence of God
  • The problem of evil and suffering

Dr. Sean McDowell, Professor at Biola University gives excellent insight on the need for Christian Apologetics. Check out his website, then Watch and listen to Dr. Sean McDowell’s awesome 28 minute presentation on Christian Apologetics:

III. Bible Study Tools and Hermeneutics:  How to study the Bible in context

Is there an epidemic of Biblical Illiteracy?
Of Americans polled nationwide, studies are showing that we are less engaged in Biblical studies and patterns show a clear generational drop-off – the younger the person, the less likely then are to read the Bible. In particular, young people are less likely than average to have spent time alone in the last week praying and reading the Bible for at least 15 minutes. What about us “olders?”

One of the most disturbing trends being reported is that more people are checking the religious category of “none” on surveys, jumping it to the third largest group worldwide, moving Hinduism to number four (Christianity and Islam hold the top two spots). Even more alarming is the rise in the number of young people identifying with this category. Studies are now showing that upward of 70% of young people between the ages of 18-30 are leaving their faith with less than one-third returning as they age.

2 Timothy 4:3 says: For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. (NLT)

As Christians we should feel an urgency to know what we believe, defend it, and be able to articulate it especially when it is being attacked. Jesus modeled this for us in the wilderness temptation (Matthew 4). He did not try to talk or reason with the devil, He simply used Scripture against him. So if you do not have a plan to grow in your knowledge and faith let’s get started!

Bible Study: How do I begin?

Just like a workout schedule or “to do” list we need to develop a daily schedule for reading and studying the Bible, on our own and with our family, for example:

  • A daily devotional plan—use the Bible! (More Bible, less commentary)
  • 10-15 minutes a day to start with (morning/evening) then increase time if able
  • Study a book or chapter at a time, this will help keep verses in context

Share in the comment section your own unique plan for studying the Bible!

Biblical Reasons for studying Scripture

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (NIV)

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

Equipping yourself for Bible Study:  Four important tools

Tool #1: Get a good Study Bible and Practice Memorizing Scripture

  • Study Bibles come in different versions: Note: All of the major versions and translations we have today have been translated only once from the original languages (not multiple times as skeptics would say).
  • Study Bibles help you understand difficult passages along with the historical and cultural context in which they were written, and they give commentary that can help in application (but let the Bible speak first).
  • Versions and translations are meant to help a person understand the original context as it has been translated into their language (use a variety of versions and translations for a more in-depth study).

Memorizing Scripture: It is an important tool because it…

  • is an apologetic tool to help defend the faith!
  • gives us something to call on in times of trouble.
  • reinforces our confidence in God’s will.
  • strengthens our mental abilities.
  • aids us in our prayer life.
  • helps us to comfort others in times of need.
  • comforts us.
  • keeps us out of trouble.
  • helps us to witness to and serve others more effectively.

Tool #2: Collect other Bible study tools

  • Bible handbooks or surveys: Gives overviews and book by book summaries.
  • Bible commentaries: Gives insight to particular words, verses, passages or chapters of a book. You can get them in single volumes that cover the whole Bible, the Old Testament, the New Testament, or book by book volumes.
  • Pastors, teachers and media: Don’t forget to go to the experts when questions arise. Good Christian websites that have Q & A’s are excellent resources.

Note: Be discerning even with Christian experts – ask these questions:

  • Is the program/speaker/author a Christian and if so what is his/her background?
  • Is the program/speaker/author using the Bible as his/her frame of reference?
  • Does the program/speaker/author hold to classical Christian beliefs and essential foundational principles?

Additionally do we honor God with our

  • Radio stations and music choices
  • Internet and social media choices
  • CDs, podcasts or app choices
  • Books, articles and news choices
  • Movies and TV choices

Tool #3: Always begin your Bible Study with Prayer

  • Pray with thankfulness for the blessing of being able to read God’s Word
  • Pray to get closer to Jesus as you study
  • Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide your study
  • Pray for application of God’s Word in your life
  • Pray for wisdom to understand God’s Word

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV)

Tool #4: Use Hermeneutics

What is Hermeneutics?

  • Hermeneutics describes the task of explaining the meaning of the Scriptures.
  • Using hermeneutics helps us to accurately understand what the chapter, passage, or verse is communicating.
  • The word comes from the Greek verb hermeneuein: To explain, interpret or translate.

Herman Who?

Not Herman who, Hermeneutics!

  • Using the verb, the Gospel writer Luke informs us that Jesus, after His resurrection, explained (hermeneuein) to the two disciples on the Emmaus road what the Scriptures said about Him. (see Luke 24:27)

It also helps to know the “Big Picture” of the Bible so as not to be deceived when verses are taken out of context…

Old Testament:

  • God creates for His purpose, for us and for us to be in relationship with Him
  • Humans lose that relationship at the Fallwhen they disobey God’s only command
  • God immediately promises a way of salvation and begins to work that plan out in Covenantsthroughout the Old Testament—giving encouragement, warning and hope through the prophets
  • Every book (39), every story and every event is a foreshadow, type or model of why we need Jesus, who He would be and what He would do (the Scarlet Thread of the Old Testament)
  • The Nation of Israel was chosen to be God’s people and role-model to the other nations, but failed all the time further showing the need for a Savior, and it would be this Nation that Messiah would come through…

New Testament:

  • Jesus is born, the promised Messiah from the tribe of Judah and line of David, as the New Covenant in fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant and the hundreds of prophecies made centuries before.
  • Jesus’ ministry proves that He is God incarnate evidenced by His sinless life and multitude of miracles attesting to His power over the natural order and His love for humanity.
  • Jesus dies as a substitute for all humanity, then resurrects from the grave in defeat of death and Satan, restoring that lost relationship with humankind and providing a path for eternal life.
  • Jesus’ followers begin to spread this good news at Jesus’ command and the early Church begins as disciples gathering in various places worshipping and studying Scripture.
  • Jesus promises to come back bringing the Kingdom of God creating a New Earth and New Heaven with no more pain, suffering or death.
  • Our job until then is to share this good news with as many people as we can, living lives as God’s Ambassadors for the Kingdom.

Keeping everything your read and study in the framework of the “Big Picture” will help you make proper interpretation as well as application. When studying a particular verse or passage there are two important principles to follow:

Principle #1: Never read a Bible Verse by itself
context, context, context

When referencing a single verse it is very important to read the text before and after that particular verse. Get to know the big picture of the book and how it fits into the big picture of the Bible itself. Then follow this second principle as you study:

Principle #2:  Answer these Hermeneutical questions

When studying a verse or passage find the answers to these five levels. Doing it in this order will help you make a proper application of the verse or passage. Using this method makes it easy for anyone to lead a Bible study because you can research these areas together!

  1. Author-Audience-Genre’
  2. Purpose of the book/passage
  3. Context/Flow of Thought in the book/passage
  4. Overall interpretation/summary of the book/passage
  5. Personal and cultural application of the writing

Just doing the first two levels will give you the information you need to understand the context and beyond.

Greg Koukl and his “Stand to Reason” ministry provides resources and tool for practicing Christian Apologetics.  Watch this 59 minute presentation by Greg Koukl to understand the importance of never reading a Bible verse in isolation:


 KNOW WHAT YOU BELIEVE AND WHY YOU BELIEVE IT, THEN SHARE IT WITH OTHERS!

The Apologetics’ Theme:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV)

Urgent prayer request: Please continue to join me in prayer for Nabeel Qureshi and his family. Pray for God’s healing hand to work a miracle in Nabeel’s life and for God’s peace and comfort that passes all understanding for him and his family. Amen

Join us next week as we continue to make a case for Christianity!
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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.

Teri Dugan

TeriDugan@truthfaithandreason.com

2 Responses to Defending Your Faith 101: Tips for studying the Bible

  1. Oh, I’m so delighted to find your blog/website! I have such a burden for this… the need for Christians to be Biblically grounded today. Thank you for this post! I found you through Bruce Cooper’s site. Love your blog!

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