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Featured Should we read our Bible?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC, May 21, 2023.

  1. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Looking over threads in this board it is obvious that many have an interest in theology and Bible study. That is good.

    But at the same time it seems that many (most?) do not read God's Word.

    Instead they approach Scripture like one would an encyclopedia (for those younger than me, an encyclopedia was a big book with a lot of topics we used before Al Gore invented the internet).

    They study topics, they indoctrinate themselves into "camps", follow preachers, listen to teachers....but they have never taken the time to read the Biblical narrative.

    I believe it is important for the Christian (once the gospel is understood, once that person is "in Christ) to playfully read the story of the Bible.

    Ignore Reformed Theology, the Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement, Christus Victor, Calvinism, Arminianism, Covenant Theology, Dispensationalism, NCT.....all the ways men express their understandings.

    Read with understanding but without studying (at least the first time), jotting down places you need to look into more. Read God's redemptive history.

    I don't mean chapter a day, or read your Bible in a year. The Bible is longer than a novel, but it can be read in a few months quite easily if people would devote the time it takes every day to watch a TV show.

    Read the Bible as a narrative (as if you were reading any other story) to get the flow of Scripture.

    If people would do that then many of the theological positions that exist today probably wouldn't be around for long.

    It is when we pick a subject and use the Bible as a research book to support or expand on a position that we start leaning more on our understanding than on God's Word.
     
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  2. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    The written word of God is both stories and teachings. God's word is not limited to what written and translated into one's language.
     
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  3. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    One of the sad realities of our human minds, is once we go through something, when we go through it a second or repetitive time, we tend to see (or not see) much the same thing. One way to break this "confirmation bias" outlook is to read from a different translation, or read the books in a different order.

    I recommend reading through the New Testament using the "Messiah" edition of the IMMERSE bible series from Tyndale.

    Here is part of a descriptive blurb:
    IMMERSE: THE READING BIBLE comes in six volumes and presents each Bible book without the distractions of chapter and verse numbers, subject headings, or footnotes. ​
     
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  4. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Proverbs 11:14. 'Where there is no counsel, the people fall.
    But in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

    I would encourage people to read as many books on the Bible as they can, as well as reading the Bible, to read it through like a novel once a year or so is good, but to study some texts in details, preferably with the help of a sound commentary, is also good. .Just about every heresy has come about by people 'just' reading their Bibles and then foisting their errors on to others.

    I wrote an essay on this some years back. Learning The Lessons of History (1)
    For those who may find it too long, here is the relevant chunk, though you will find out, if you read on that The Dissenting churches of the early 18th Century came perilously close to lapsing into Unitarianism by 'just following the Bible.'

    Our story begins in Exeter, Devon in 1717. It involved two Presbyterian ministers, Joseph Hallett and James Peirce. Hallett was also the Principal of a Dissenting academy in the city. Over a period of time, these two gentlemen became enamoured of Whiston’s theories, especially his denial of the deity of Christ. Rather than give up their positions in their respective churches, Peirce and Hallett practised deception upon their congregations. Peirce wrote:-

    “In conversation, I had always avoided such intricate points, and might easily do so still. But my chief concern was about my preaching and praying. Concerning the former, I was resolved to keep more close to the Scripture expressions than ever, and venture to say very little in my own words of a matter about which I was in such doubt myself. As to the latter, I could not find there was any occasion for making much alteration, whichever notion should appear like the truth. I was by this time thoroughly convinced that the common doctrine was not according to the Scriptures, and was settled in my present opinion, and from my first coming I avoided the common doxology.”






    Yet at the same time, in a sermon on Presbyterian ordination, he declared, “Those who are admitted to the office should be believers. The necessity of this is very obvious- that which is necessary in a private Christian, to give him a right in the sight in the sight of God to the communion of the Church, must be for those who are admitted into the ministry- a profession of faith.

    Peirce and Hallett were not allowed to carry on their deceptions for very long. Indeed, Hallett and his students did not long conceal their admiration for the theories of Whiston. As for Peirce, “There was a vacuity in his ministrations felt by all who looked for spiritual nourishment……many freely expressed their doubts as to the soundness of [his] views.." As a result, Peirce was requested to preach a sermon on the deity of Christ, in which his teaching was, to say the least, ambiguous. Suddenly suspicion fell upon all the Dissenting ministers in Exeter and the surrounding areas. Only one Pastor, John Lavington, “seemed to adhere firmly to the Trinitarian system.".

    In the event, seven Presbyterian ministers were invited to attend a meeting in Exeter with thirteen deputed laymen to establish the true state of affairs. The ministers were invited to declare their faith in the Trinity in the words of the First of the 39 Articles of the Church of England. Now here is going down to Egypt for help with a vengeance! What had happened to the Westminster Confession of Faith that Non-conformists needed to go to an Anglican document to prove their orthodoxy? It seems that it had already fallen into disuse. Peirce, Hallett and some others declined this proposal, protesting that the Scriptures alone were the true rule of faith. “Fair enough,” replied their inquisitors, “But what doctrine do you deduce from the Scriptures? Do you draw from the Bible the teachings that have been held by the Church from ancient times and taught by the Presbyterian Church of which you are ministers?” When the ministers again refused to make an explicit declaration of their faith, the meeting drew to a close and the congregations served by these men were split. Some declined to listen any longer to their teaching, but others, whether unaware of, or unconcerned by, the controversy, continued to hear them.


    Ecclesiastes 10:12. 'The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool shall swallow him up.
    Ecclesiastes 12:11. 'The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.'
    Ephesians 4:29. 'Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary education, that it may impart grace to the hearers.'

    But you should call no man, master. When you have heard the words of people like those mentioned in 2 Peter 2:18-19, first of all pray for wisdom and discernment (cf. James 1:5) and then go to your Bible to check it out (Acts of the Apostles 17:10-12)
     
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  5. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I agree. I am certainly not saying to just read the Bible as narrative. But it is important to begin that way (at least book by book) without resorting to external sources to tell you what to believe

    I have observed people studying literature by reading summaries and commentaries. They sometimes come up with interesting but strange ideas completely unrelated to the actual book.

    That reminds me....if you like ancient Greek literature check out some translations from the 1970's.
     
  6. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Heresy does not come from us individually reading our bibles, heresy comes from speculation concerning interpretation.
     
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  7. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    Amen! Recommended Books for New Believers.

    "Read the Bible as a narrative (as if you were reading any other story) to get the flow of Scripture."

    "Begin on page one and read through as quickly as possible in order to get the ideal of it".
     
    #7 kyredneck, May 21, 2023
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  8. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    You are using the term “Narrative” in a very broad way…. You are encouraging people to read the ‘GRAND NARRATIVE’ of the Bible.

    Not a bad idea.
    But don’t read the Bible ignorantly.
    It is not a magic book.

    I’d encourage a believer to search out resources that they can trust and learn from them.
    Search, study, ponder, meditate, and question Scripture.
    Be willing to be changed by what you learn.

    Rob
     
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  9. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    If I say to search out non-Calvinistic resources that they can trust, and not be misled, I am missing the threads central idea, we should come to God's word with an open heart, willing to listen and learn from the Father.
     
  10. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Recall that the book of Mark tells the story of how Jesus did not meet the expectations of the experts of religion. What if He does not fit the expectations of the experts of today. Read not to confirm what you have been told, but rather to learn from the "horse's mouth" so to speak.
     
  11. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I like the suggestion in Grasping God's Word by Duvall and Hays.

    First read Scripture yourself. Come up with what you think, how you interpret it. Only then look at commentaries.

    If you come up with a brand new interpretation then there's an issue (something many in the 16th Century should have considered).
     
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  12. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    Every Christian absolutely must read the whole Bible over and over again. Beginning in 1990 (when I was saved), I have read through the entire Bible at least once a year. A few years, I read through it more than once, including 3x my first year of being saved.

    I have read through it in the KJV, NKJV, NASB, NAU, NIV, LXX (canonical books) + GNT, Reina Valera, and the LBLA (Spanish).

    Reading selected books of Scripture repeatedly is also very important, as is intensively studying specific passages and sections in various books.
     
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  13. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O. Moderator
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    Should we read our Bibles?
    • Yes - from cover to cover.
    • Yes - and that's only the beginning. The Bible says about itself that we should read, meditate, study, and memorize it.

     
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  14. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    Hummm… I’ve been a believer for more than 50 years and have NEVER read the Bible through in a year.

    I always get distracted and spend a few months studying something that interests me while I’m reading and gets me off tract.

    Rob
     
  15. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    It's hard to set aside a specific time....and stay awake.

    My son reads at least an hour a day. But he finds a quiet place away from distractions (usually a coffee shop).

    I work 12 hour shifts. My only distraction, other than work, is the BB....and Netflix. :(
     
  16. KenH

    KenH Well-Known Member

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    One should always read the Bible with the object of looking for Christ and the great salvation that He has procured for His people, His sheep, God's elect - through the sovereign purpose and choice of God and regeneration by the Holy Spirit in bringing spiritually dead sinners to life in Christ - 1 John 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

    Read the Bible with the expectation that God will open your heart to see and understand these things. That is the record.
     
  17. KenH

    KenH Well-Known Member

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    I have read the whole Bible in year's time at least(at my age it's hard to recall how many for sure) a couple of times(the latest being two years ago). I find that reading about 15 minutes a day will complete the Bible in a year. I also like to listen to it via audio while I read - I get the eyes and ears combo that way. After the 15 minutes I can then research something I may desire to look at deeper.
     
  18. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I can't do the audio Bible. Makes me zone out.
     
  19. AustinC

    AustinC Well-Known Member

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    People who just read their Bible, without being mentored by others:
    Joseph Smith
    Charles Taze Russell
    Mary Baker Eddy
    Victor Paul Wierville
    Herbert W Armstrong
    Satan

    A fool goes to war without counsel.
     
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  20. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I think you missed the point.

    The point is to read the Bible first without somebody telling you what it means to them.

    Too often people simply pick "camps" to join. They find men who they like, or agree with, and rely on them to spoon feed doctrine.

    What I am talking about is prayerfully reading Scripture. Then go to commentaries and people you trust. Even then, evaluate what they suggest against God's Word.

    Don't get me wrong, discipleship is important, and this includes mentorship.

    We must make sure that our conclusions align with others (coming up with a new interpretation of Scripture is never a good thing).

    But indoctrination into theological systems is never a good. Once somebody tells you an ink blot is a bat it becomes very difficult to see just the ink blot it is rather than the bat it isn't.
     
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