Layman's Quandry

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Oldtimer, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. Oldtimer

    Oldtimer
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    Just finished reading some of the threads here in the Baptist Theology & Bible Study forum.

    On the desk beside me there are about a 1/2 dozen Bible versions.
    Plus, Bible dictionary, several commentaries, etc. in the bookcase.
    A KJV study Bible is at my elbow.
    There are 4 daily devotion books within reach.
    Also within reach is the course book for a 10 week study. (week 6 next).
    That's in addition to 2 different weekly regular Bible Study sessions at church.
    Church library has several hundred books on a wide range of topics.
    Shelves at Lifeway has no telling how many authors with their viewpoints.
    And, then there's the Internet.

    Back to the threads I've just read. Widely differing viewpoints on topics, often with language well over my head. Sure, I understand that when pastors debate doctrine they're gonna pull out the $10 words. :) They're going to quote portions from documents (for lack of a better word) that I didn't know were in existance.

    My quandry. How does a laymen, seeking the TRUTH, wade through all of this? Even with a continual prayer for guidance from the Holy Spirit, how does a layman decide where he or she stands on any given topic of serious debate? How does a layman know which book to choose, whether at the church library or Lifeway that will actually lead to further TRUTH and understanding?

    Two scriptures are driving this question. Proverbs 2:3-6 3Yea, if thou criest after knowledge... and 2 Tim 2:15 ...rightly dividing the word of truth.

    When I stand before Christ, how much of this debate and differing opinion will matter to Him? The thief on the cross keeps coming back to mind. Yet, some how I know it does matter in my walk of faith. I long to hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant:"

    In closing, I realize that I'm suffering from information overload in some respects. Trying to make up, to some small degree, for all the wasted years that I didn't study His word. I don't have many years left before He calls me home. I'm to the age that "years" may not even be the right word. Thus the urgency of my cry to rightly divide the word of TRUTH.

    Any advice for this layman's quandry?
     
    #1 Oldtimer, Jan 30, 2012
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  2. Brads70

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    :wavey: I'm pretty much in that same boat only I'm 44. I have a hard time knowing what " original"manuscripts are legitimate if they say something different. Just because something is the oldest doen't always mean it's correct.
     
  3. Tom Bryant

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    I understand what both of you are going through.

    My advice is to read and study the Bible by itself for a while. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide into all truth (John 16:13). Pastors, when they get together either in a pastor's meeting but especially on a forum, tend to argue about some point of their beliefs that is in their "sweet spot".

    But there is more about the Bible to know than just a study of salvation or last things. Throw out the big words that we use to describe for other insiders what we believe.

    The Bible is designed so that we can get to know God through His Son, Jesus. Trust the Bible's author -the Holy Spirit - to lead you into that knowledge.
     
  4. kyredneck

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    Strip away every presupposition you have of the Book and approach it as a child who knows nothing; begin on page one and read through as quickly as possible asking as David did, "Let me behold wondrous things from thy law".
     
  5. HankD

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    FWIW OT and IMO, you speak from a healthy spirit because you see the need of the fulfilment of this passage in your life:

    Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.​

    Scriptural advice:
    Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; (read the parable).​

    Also I have this passage which I keep a copy in my wallet since I too am an "oldtimer" and have trouble memorizing scripture any more (but not so much remembering memorized scripture from years past).​

    Proverbs 3
    5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
    6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
    7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
    8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.​

    HankD ​
     
  6. Van

    Van
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    Great question. Here are my study tools, and I too, am definitely a lay person.

    I have three study bibles, the 1995 NASB (New American Standard Bible), the ESV (English Standard Version) and the NIV (New International Version).

    Next, and what I did not see on your list, is an Exhautive Concordance. You need your concordance to be for the version you use primarily for study. So if you like the NIV, get an exhaustive concordance for the NIV. If you like the NASB, get an exhaustive Concordance for the NASB.

    What the Exhaustive Concordance allows you to do, is check what people say. Say we are discussing what "enmity toward God" means, and I say "enmity" means "that which creates a barrier between men or between men and God. Did I just make that up? How can you tell. Using your Exhaustive Concordance you can look up enmity and see all the verses where the English word appears in your translation. But, say we were talking about Romans 8:7, you could find the Greek word that is translated as enmity, and then look up how that word is also translated, say in Galatians 5:20.

    Rather than starting a study of Genesis or Matthew, I would start with a short New Testament Book, such as Philippians which is a great book, beloved by all. Your study bible will provide an overview, an outline, and some of the main or important points that Paul presents.

    Now as you read each verse, circle (in your mind at least) the key words. Look those up in a dictionary to be sure your "off the top" understanding is consistent with the dictionary. When people are mentioned, use your Bible dictionary to get a short bio because many times the names are similar but the people are different. :)

    Lastly, I have little study books, with questions. I use these more to get my "critical thinking" such as it is, going asking what is the main point, who do the pronouns refer to, and how can I apply this to my life.

    God Bless, Bible study takes time and effort, but the rewards in spiritual growth and equipping for ministry are well worth the effort.
     
  7. Mark_13

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    You hardly need any books these days - everything is on the web. Everyone in here should (and most probably do) use blueletterebible.org. Just as one use scenario of it (of which there are virtually limitless) - you go to that first page above, in the upper right corner is a box prompting you to enter a passage to go to ("Romans 9" or what have you). Beneath that is dropdown list of 20 versions or so of the Bible you can choose from. You hit enter and it takes you to that passage. For every verse in the passage there are a list of options to the left. The one I use a lot is "C" - "Concordance and Hebrew/Greek Lexicon". Hit that and it takes you to a table listing every greek/hebrew word in the verse along with the English, and also the "Strong" index number. Click on a greek word (i.e. Strong number) and it pops up a list of every verse where the original greek/hebrew word in question is used. So that way you can easily search original language words without knowing those languages. But as I say this is just one of virtually limitless usage scenarios on just this one site. Its fast too - that's why I use it. There's another site that does the same thing but is slow.

    ---------------

    Also, just a browsing tip in general, use Chrome and download AdBlock Plus (both free). That way, no ads. Don't know if BLueletterBible has any ads, but it really speeds things up and makes web browsing a lot more pleasant to never see ads anywhere.
     
    #7 Mark_13, Jan 30, 2012
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  8. glfredrick

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    As one of the "pastors" with an advanced education and over 3000 books on my bookshelves and another almost 2000 volumes on my computer hard drive, I understand your quandry.

    There is TOO MUCH for any one person to know without taking a few YEARS of intensive study and that just to learn the TOOLS of study so that one can make a LIFETIME of actual study of these issues.

    Many of us bounce ideas back and forth and argue them out as a means to grow in our doctrines -- I know that I do -- every time I have to teach or debate a particular doctrine I learn more about it -- the historical stance, the ones who have supported and disagreed with it (and I'm talking history of the church, not baptist board), and the rationale behind the doctrines.

    There are a couple of particular works out there that are helpful and they all include basic studies in systematic and biblical theology. If one knows from whence comes some doctrine he or she will also know, in all likelyhood, where they stand on that doctrine, and will then have a pointed example of what to search for in a reading of the Word.

    To that end, I recommend Wayne Grudem's "Systematic Theology" and a companion volume, Gregg Allison's "Historical Theology," for starters. Both are over 1000 pages in length and each breaks down major categories of systematic theology, explaining what that doctrine is, where it is found in the Scriptures, and how many (never all, that would be exhaustive) see the issue. All systematics attempt to be at least fair in their treatment of the subject matter, but each also stems from a certain perspective, which is helpful to know before venturing to read.

    Another really good book that I highly recommend is Nancy Pearcy's "Total Truth" which is a work where she instructs on the process of "thinking Christianly." Pearcy comes from a perspective of Francis Shaeffer's work and she is a solid student of Scripture and of the church.
     
  9. Don

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    I gotta echo Tom. Start with the Bible. If you don't understand a particular passage or even a particular word, mark that, write it down somewhere to be revisited; then keep reading. Sometimes you'll find it explained later on in the scriptures, or you'll find something that helps make it understandable. I'd even recommend making a list of favorite verses or chapters to help remember where certain things are discussed.

    Then I'd recommend spending the time to go through it again with the concordance, the dictionary, the commentaries, etc. Compare the commentaries to each other and to the concordance and the dictionaries, to see if they all line up. I'd recommend you find someone, or several someones, to do this study with.

    Once you've got the main part down, you compare all other books to what's in scripture. If it lines up, fine and dandy.

    If you're going to read books by other (fallible) men in the meantime, then I'd recommend you talk with people you trust, and follow their recommendations.

    Finally, I'd recommend that you find at least one opposing viewpoint to your own, whether it be a book or a website, and study that opposing viewpoint to be able to successfully substantiate your own position, or perhaps change your position because of new evidence. Do this at least once a year.

    But that's just me, and I don't have a bible degree of any kind.
     
  10. Mark_13

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    As far as as pastors and their purported advanced knowledge, none of that seems to be making it into their sermons. I turn on the radio and all I hear are platitudes, homilies, simple-minded moralizing, and advice on sex and marriage. Everything seems to be geared towards teenagers, just like the movies. And then they'll throw in from time to time (and they virtually all do this) a greek translation of some word, "Now in the greek the word is really "blah" and in greek "blah" means something else." So, by this they are flashing their supposed education credentials, and also implying I guess that of the 20 some odd english versions at our disposal none of them are really adequate.
     
    #10 Mark_13, Jan 30, 2012
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  11. Mark_13

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    Also, someone on this site the other day mentioned ccel.org. That site is amazing, just 1000's of Christian books they are making freely available in PDF and a host of other formats. I just browsed to the John Bunyan selections and saw that he had an autobiography that I didn't even know about ("Grace Abounding"). Been reading it for the last few days. Its just amazing to get an eye level view of the 1600's buy a guy who actually lived then. He went through a lot of machinations and personal anguish over his sins (e.g. "gaming") trying to find the truth in a Christian context before finally seeing the light. Guess it was all his personal choice. But anyway, he finally says that Galatians, and specifically Martin Luther's commentary on Galatians is what finally unlocked everything for him.
     
  12. DaChaser1

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    Would also add 2 books....

    How to read the Bible for all thats it worth, Gordon D. Fee, Douglas Stuart, and also Expository Dictionary of old/new testament words by william mounce...

    One helps you to see"big picture" of Bible, other to see how words were used!
     
  13. Oldtimer

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    Thank you to each of you who replied.

    I appreciate your insights and the suggestions that you gave. After this post, I'm planning to go back through the thread and copy your thoughts to a Word doc to print out and study your comments in depth.

    I have been using some Internet resources, but it sounds like I probably should be doing more of that. So far, it's mainly been the Biblegateway and the 1828 Websters Dictionary.

    Again, thank you and may God bless each and everyone for lending a hand.
     
  14. Winman

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    I personally love this scripture.

    Jam 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
    6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
    7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

    Do you want to understand the scriptures? Then ask God to show you what scripture means. Ask and ask, and keep asking. But you must be willing to accept what you are shown, though it may disagree with what you have always believed or been taught.

    I am not saying you should not listen to others, or study writings of theologians, but ask God to show you those who have it right.

    Believe, and you will see it happen.
     
  15. glfredrick

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    And, you should see my congregation roll their eyes into the back of their heads when I bring out a difficult theological word...

    Preachers don't preach at the level that they study because few in the pews are capable of processing that level of information -- NOT because we have some big secret, or "gnosis" or whatever -- simply because like ALL technical language, theological language is a learned skill.
     
  16. Iconoclast

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    My quandry. How does a laymen, seeking the TRUTH, wade through all of this? Even with a continual prayer for guidance from the Holy Spirit, how does a layman decide where he or she stands on any given topic of serious debate? How does a layman know which book to choose, whether at the church library or Lifeway that will actually lead to further TRUTH and understanding?


    Pray always.
    1]Bible reading first.....

    2] Good bible dictionary...Zondervans pictoral bible dictionary

    3] a confession of faith....

    4] get an over view of the bible

    Creation....Fall... Gospel promised seed gen 3:15....Flood....Calling of Abraham......1st Exodus ...Moses .....Israel as a nation. King David...Israels covenant breaking.....promise of a messiah....Isa 40-66......new covenant promised....


    John the Baptist......The Incarnation....the new exodus in Jesus....The active obedience of Jesus...he KEEPS the Law for us...the CROSS.....Resurrection...ascension...pentecost... Apostolic witness........Nt Church being formed....gospel spreading to the whole world......return of Christ....white throne judgement...eternal state..

    5] keep your heart with all diligence....prov 4:23...prayer, psalm reading

    6] look up difficult passages ...listen to www.sermonaudio for help
    28Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

    29Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

    30And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

    31And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

    32The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

    33In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

    34And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

    35Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
    :thumbs:
    7] ask questions ...
     
  17. Mark_13

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    Its a catch-22 I guess, they can't process it because they aren't taught it, they aren't taught it because they can't process it.

    There was nothing marketing-driven about the sermons of say, W.A. Criswell. The only guy I think that is any good at all today , on T.V. or radio, is Ed Young Sr. And even he's talking about marriage and relationships now - I guess to be "relevant".
     
  18. Oldtimer

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    Once again, thank you for your continuing replies.

    I've been sitting here for an hour trying to write a reply that conveys all the thoughts your replies have generated. Found myself trying to write a book. One that isn't ready to be written yet.

    Instead, please accept my heart felt appreciation for your guidance. May the Lord richly bless each of you has He has blessed me this morning.
     
  19. glfredrick

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    Which is why I get to see them "roll their eyes." I do teach.

    My general rule is to hold to one theological term or topic per sermon, and it must be driven by the text, not drive the reason for the sermon. I PREACH the Scriptures (typically verse-by-verse exposition through a complete Bible book) but we find WITHIN the text doctrines that need examination and with them, theological terminology and belief that needs to be explored. I am also not against sharing the various views of a particular doctrine, then explaining why I see the view I hold coming from the text. Just did it for election while preaching through 1 Peter. I explained that some see election as God foreseeing belief in individuals and others see election as God foreordaining some to belief. I concluded with a statement, no matter how one sees election, what we cannot forego is that election is real -- it is in the Scriptures -- and we are called "God's elect people."

    (And let's please leave the actual DISCUSSION of election for all the other 100 threads on this board where that IS seemingly the only topic worthy of debate. I'm just explaining here how I preach the subject matter.)
     
  20. HankD

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    http://www.blueletterbible.org/

    HankD
     

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