Study & Rightly Divide...
by Mark J. Ward
The root of many religious differences is a lack of understanding of "How to Establish Bible Authority". Just because Christians have practiced something for a number of years is not sufficient to prove such action as being authorized. We always ask our denominational friends to give a "thus saith the Lord" for their every deed (Col. 3:17), and we, as Christians, must be willing to do likewise.
An open mind is essential to learning God's truth on any Bible subject. For those outside the body of Christ, an honest, truth-seeking heart is a must in learning God's plan of salvation (Acts 8:31; 10:33). For Christians, an open, receptive attitude should always prevail in order to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Those who are not willing to look at opposing sides of a Bible question have truly cut themselves off from proper spiritual development. Truth has nothing to fear, for it shall stand when error falls.
God's Truth is not determined on the basis of how many believe "this or that" about a subject, nor is it settled on the premise of what your "favorite preacher" thinks about the matter. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Thus, one should not settle for anything less than all of God's Will on any Bible subject. The sum of Gods Word is truth (Ps. 119:160, ASV) and we should not come up with more than, or less than, that sum on any subject.
When we are asked to produce Bible authority for what we do, we must never have a bad attitude toward those who might question our teaching or practice. Christians should always have Bible authority for engaging in any activity (James 2:12; 2 John 9); and, if we find we are doing something for which there is no authority, let us cease from participating in that unscriptural act. If we have Bible authority for what we do, let us point to the scriptures for others to see it and be ready to prove all things and hold fast to what is good (I Thess. 5:21).
Bible authority is properly established by one of (or a combination of) three ways: 1) express statement [which may be in the form of precepts, positive commands, or prohibitions], 2) examples or what we might term "accounts of action" [these could be acceptable actions recorded or we might find examples of error teaching us NOT to do something], or 3) an unavoidable conclusion. God has revealed His Will to mankind and has not left man lacking (John 14:26; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; Jude 3). Let us remember that there are some areas wherein God has been specific, while in other matters God has been generic. When God specifies something that excludes other alternatives. When God has been generic, man may make use of scriptural aids to help carry out the requirements of God.
Look to the simple chart below:
Study & Rightly Divide The Word of Truth
2 Timothy 2:15
1. Read ALL of God's Word on a particular subject matter.
2. Remove ANY PREJUDICE you may have from your study.
3. HARMONIZE all of God's Will on the subject under consideration.
4. TEST your conclusions reached at any time.
5. Keep your ATTITUDE OF HEART open to truth at all times, being willing to change if you find that you are in error.
6. Speak the truth in LOVE when teaching others.
7. Be willing to study with those who DISAGREE with you...seeking first to understand THEM and then seeking to be understood by them in good, loving dialogue.
Take God at his Word! Let us all try to not only READ God's Word, but make effort to give diligence to ascertain the "sense" of what God is saying on various Bible topics. The spiritual exercise will do us good (I Tim. 4:8; Heb. 5:12-14)! Thanks for reading! --mjw
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