Systematic Bible Study
Once again it was summer holidays in India and number of short term Bible study programmes was held in various places for different age groups. In some places it was exclusively for teens, some others for everybody. We have noticed that, though it was for few days or weeks only, there was an exceptional enthusiasm among the people of God in connection with this ministry. Itís indeed a matter of great encouragement that Godís people have found a special interest in the systematic study of the Bible doctrine.
For many years some of these believers did not pay much attention to this matter and the result was a new generation with out clear understanding of the New Testament doctrine. Many could not appreciate the reason why they follow what they follow and slowly began to compromise on various distinct Church doctrine and practices. Praise God, the Holy Spirit is moving among His people, challenging them to learn, teach and hold the truth of Godís word.
There are some who take doctrine very casually saying its practical life that matter much. No doubt practical life of a Christian is imperative but we should remember that our practical life should be based on the word of God. Go through epistles of Paul, we can notice first he expounded the doctrine and then based on that he pleaded for a life worthy of the doctrine.
For example, in Romans 1 Ė 11 Paul deals with the doctrine of salvation and then in chapter 12 onward calling upon the readers to surrender their life. After expounding the Church truths in Ephesians he exhorted the readers to walk worthy of the Lord. Also, in Colossians he explained the person and work of Christ first and then referred to believerís responsibility. Cf. Rom 12:1; Eph 4:1; Col 3: 1. With out a real knowledge and appropriation of the New Testament doctrine, our practical experience might become baseless and even false.
One of the major programmes of the early Church was the study of doctrine. ďAnd they continued steadfastly in the apostlesí doctrine...Ē Act 2: 42. They diligently listened to the teachings of the apostles. In the newly established assembly at Antioch there was a special teaching programme for about a year by Barnabas and Saul. Act : 11. 26. Luke commends the believers in Berea for their eagerness to search the scriptures. Act 17: 11. Writer of Hebrews rebukes the readers for their slow learning and exhorts them to leave the elementary topics and grow in their spiritual knowledge and experience. Cf. Heb 5: 12 Ė 6: 1. Thus we see that it is essential for every born again believer to study the scripture systematically.
Basics to revivals
The revivals in the Old Testament period had the beginning in the proper understanding of Godís revelation. Cf. 2King 22: 8; 2Chro. 34: 15ff; Neh 8: 2ff etc. Similarly, the spiritual awakenings in the past centuries also were rooted in the fresh understating of the scripture. The Lord in His sovereign will used certain godly men to re-discover various precious truths of the New Testament, widely neglected by the so-called Christians. Such new emphasis and exposition of the holy word revived the people of God in the past.
Now once again we have to come to such a stage, where many so-called evangelical Christians and the custodians on the New Testament doctrine either neglect it wilfully or compromise under compulsion. In such a scenario, it is high time to challenge the local churches to come back to the fundamentals of Bible. Not only to study, even to hold fast and make it known.
Ideally it is the responsibility of each local assembly to make sure that the saints are thoroughly established in the doctrine, but due to various reasons, it doesnít take place. In such a state of affairs, short term bible study programmes conducted for the benefit of believers from different local churches would be a great blessing. Itís our responsibility to prayerfully support the efforts of these brethren. As Ezra did, let us give our entire life to study, obey and teach the law of the Lord. Ezra 7: 10
Believerís duty to the scriptures.
Meditate it day and night. Josh 1:8
Search the scriptures. Act 17: 11.
Learn His commandments. Psa 119: 73
Rightly divide the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15
Allow it to dwell richly in heart. Col 3: 16
Hold fast the sound words. 2 Tim 1:13
Preach the word. 2 Tim 4:2.
Contend for the faith. Jude v. 3
Not to add or remove from it. Rev 22: 18, 19
Bible Test for church membership
A candidate for church membership was asked, "What part of the Bible you like best?" He said: "I like the New Testament best". Then he was asked, "What Book in the New Testament is your favorite?" He answered, the Book of the Parables, Sir." They then asked him to narrate one of the parables to the membership committee. And a bit uncertain, he began...
"Once upon a time a man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves; and the thorns grew up and choked the man. And he went on and met the Queen of Sheba, and she gave that man, Sir, a thousand talents of silver, and a hundred changes of raiment.
And he got in his chariot and drove furiously, and as he was driving along under a big tree, his hair got caught in a limb and left him hanging here! And he hung there many days and many nights. The ravens brought him food to eat and water to drink. And one night while he was hanging there asleep, his wife Delilah came along and cut off his hair, and he fell on stony ground. And it began to rain, and rained forty days and forty nights.
And he hid himself in a cave. Later he went on and met a man who said, "Come in and take supper with me." But he said, "I can't come in, for I have married a wife." And the man went out into the highways and hedges and compelled him to come in! He then came to Jerusalem, and saw Queen Jezebel sitting high and lifted up in a window of the wall.
When she saw him she laughed, and he said, "Throw her down out of there," and they threw her down. And he said "Throw her down again," and they threw her down seventy-times-seven. And the fragments which they picked up filled twelve baskets full! NOW, whose wife will she be in the day of the Judgment?"
The membership committee agreed that this was indeed a knowledgeable candidate!
Study of doctrine
To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches.
_____________________ John Chrysostom
We fail in our duty to study God's Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.
_____________________ R.C. Sproul
ďGreat saints have always been dogmatic. We need a return to a gentle dogmatism that smiles while it stands stubborn and firm on the Word of God that lives and abides forever.Ē
_____________________ A.W. Tozer