How To Study Your Bible

How To Study Your BibleMaybe first we should ask, “Why should we study the Bible?” Many people loudly proclaim, “All that is needed for salvation is faith in Jesus.” This is correct, but remember this—Faith [for salvation] comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17).

Then after our faith in Jesus brings us the forgiveness for our sins, there is an ongoing process of walking out our faith, something the Bible calls sanctification. Here again the Bible plays a vital role. Jesus prayed for His followers this way: Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth (John 17:17).

The bottom line … Our Christian walk is nearly impossible to maintain without the resources found in the Scriptures! 

But the Bible is a large book, and many people don’t know where or how to begin to study it. That’s why we are taking the time to learn together some practical ideas for studying God’s Word.

Please join us at Calvary Assembly of God over the next few weeks as we learn the practices which will help us make the most of our time studying the Bible. If you cannot join us in person, we will be broadcasting all of our messages live on Periscope (follow @craigtowens to be notified when the broadcasts begin).

If you are ready to take your Bible study to a new level, please join us beginning this Sunday!

Light & Truth—Acts And the Larger Epistles (book review)

Light & Truth [Acts]Horatius Bonar has given us a fantastic companion for our Bible reading time. This is my second review of his Light And Truth series (the first review on the Gospels may be read here). This installment covers the biblical books of Acts, Romans, and 1 & 2 Corinthians.

Bonar grew up in a pastoral home, with plenty of other pastors and evangelists in his family tree. You might say that he was weaned on Scripture and its application to our lives. This Bible-based heritage comes through in all he writes. By no means, though, does Bonar simply ride the coattails of his esteemed family, but he is quite brilliant in his own Holy Spirit-inspired insights.

Bonar’s commentaries are not a verse-by-verse exposition of the Scripture. Instead, he may just take one or two verses and “go deep” with them. A short passage may be taken apart word by word, and many rich applications are thus brought forth.

As I am reading through the New Testament, I am finding Horatius Bonar to be a helpful “tour guide” on my journey.

10 Quotes From “Christian Behavior”

Christian BehaviorAlthough written over 300 years ago, and written in Old English, John Bunyan’s instructions in Christian Behavior still ring true today. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are just a few quotes; I’ll be sharing more soon.

“Faith alone can see the reality of what the Gospel saith.”

“God’s people are faithful in good works according to the proportion of their faith. If they be slender in good works, it is because they are weak in faith. … Therefore the way to be a more fruitful Christian; it is to be stronger in believing.”

“I shall propound unto you what it is for a work to be rightly good. First, a good work must have the Word for its authority. Second, it must, as of afore was said, flow from faith. Third, it must be both rightly timed and rightly placed. Fourth, it must be done willingly, cheerfully.”

“Good things mistimed are fruitless, unprofitable, and vain.”

“There are three things that a man should have in his eye in every work he doth. First, the honor of God (1 Corinthians 6:20). Second, the edification of his neighbor (1 Corinthians 14:26). Third, the expediency or inexpediency of what I am to do (1 Corinthians 6:12).”

In a section to the head of the household—

“But mark, when the Word saith thou art to provide for thy house, it giveth thee no license to distracting carefulness; neither doth it allow thee to strive to grasp the world in thy heart, or coffers, nor to take care for years or days to come, but so to provide for them, that they may have food and raiment; and if either they or thou be not content with that, you launch out beyond the rule of God (1 Timothy 6:8; Matthew 6:34).”

“Take heed of driving so hard after this world as to hinder thyself and family from those duties towards God which thou art by grace obliged to: as private prayer, reading the Scriptures, and Christian conference. It is a base thing for men so to spend themselves and families after this world as that they disengage their heart to God’s worship.”

In a section to husbands—

“When husbands behave themselves like husbands indeed, then will they be not only husbands, but such an ordinance of God to the wife, as will preach to her the carriage of Christ to his spouse. There is a sweet scent wrapped up in the relations of husbands and wives that believe (Ephesians 4:32).”

“Oh! How little sense of the worth of souls is there in the heart of some husbands, as is manifest by their unchristian carriage to and before their wives! … Beware that she takes no occasion from any unseemly carriage of design to proceed in evil. And here thou hast need to double thy diligence, for she lieth in thy bosom, and therefore is capable of his espying the least miscarriage in thee.”

“If she behave herself unseemly and unruly, as she is subject to do, being Christless and graceless, then labor thou to overcome her evil with thy goodness, her forwardness with thy patience and meekness. Take fit opportunities to convince her. Observe her disposition, and when she is most likely to bear, then speak to her very heart. When thou speakest, speak to purpose. Let all be done without rancor, or the least appearance of anger.”

More quotes from Christian Behavior coming soon…

Christian Behavior (book review)

Christian BehaviorCharles Spurgeon said of John Bunyan, “Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like reading the Bible itself. He had read it till his very soul was saturated with Scripture…. Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God. I commend his example to you, beloved.” This is so true of Bunyan’s short treatise Christian Behavior

Bunyan wanted Christians to behave like, well, Christians! He wrote, “They which have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.” He was quick to point out that good works don’t purchase salvation, but that Christian good works should be evidence of a person’s salvation.

His main text for this book comes from Titus 3:7-8. Of this passage he says,

“From this Scripture, therefore, I do gather these things observable: First, that good works do to flow from faith. Second, that everyone that believeth should be careful that their works be good. Third, that every believer should not only be careful that their works be good, and for the present do them, but should also be careful to maintain them. That is, they should carefully study to keep in a constant course of good works. Fourth, and lastly, that the best way to provoke both ourselves and others to this work, is to be often affirming to others the doctrine of justification by grace, and to believe it ourselves.”

Bunyan talks to husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, children, employers and employees, to challenge them to maintain those good works that would show others the admirable qualities of the Christian life. Even though Christian Behavior was written over 300 years ago, it’s message is as timeless as the Bible on which all of Bunyan’s thoughts were based.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“It’s easy to label what we consider ‘good things’ in our lives as gifts from God and to welcome them with gratitude. But when difficult things happen, we don’t look at them as part of God’s good plan for us. Mary’s example [Luke 1:38] shows us we can also welcome those things we would not necessarily label ‘good,’ confident that God’s gifts sometimes come in perplexing and even painful packages. When we belong to God, we know He will use whatever He allows into our lives for good. Somehow, in God’s hands, these things also become gifts of His grace toward us.” —Nancy Guthrie

“Unless we intend completely to forfeit our holy seasons, and to allow them to be taken captive for the purposes of crass commercialism and narrow-minded narcissism, we need to make the best use of these times as God intends….” —T.M. Moore

“No one who is lost has lost one ounce of value to God. Even if you don’t have a relationship with Him, you have immense value to God. Lostness implies value. Whatever someone is willing to spend to recover something that’s lost shows how valuable that item is. In the most famous verse in the Bible, Jesus clearly explains our value: ‘God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but have eternal life’ (John 3:16).” —Rick Warren

If you have trouble knowing whether to use theirthere, or they’re, this may help.

“By giving to You what You do not need, and what I might enjoy, I am saying more earnestly and more authentically, ‘You are my treasure, not these things.’” —John Piper on fasting

I was going through an Advent reading plan on YouVersion, and I came across this quote: “Each Christmas is practice for the moment of Christ’s second coming, when every knee will bend, either in worship or terror.”

In this video, Brett Kunkle explains from Scripture and from personal observation how we know humans are born into sin.

“Many Christians today…choose to listen only to soft, flesh-assuring preaching. Where there is no convicting word, there can be no godly sorrow over sin. Where there is no godly sorrow for sin, there can be no repentance. And where there is no repentance, there is only hardness of heart.” —David Wilkerson

“We are tempted in our day to be ashamed of the gospel. It is thought to be bare, unintellectual, almost childish by many. Hence, they would overlay it with argument and eloquence, to make it more respectable and more attractive. Every such attempt to add to it is being ashamed of it [Romans 1:16].” —Horatius Bonar

Check out some absolutely stunning pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope!

8 Quotes Worth Studying From “Proverbs”

ProverbsIn my review of Proverbs by Charles Bridges (which you can read by clicking here), I noted how he weaved the principles in the biblical book of Proverbs into the teaching that occurs throughout the Scripture. In others words, he showed that the wisdom in Proverbs wasn’t just a “stand-alone” wisdom, but integrated into the whole.

In the quotes I’m sharing today, I trust you will get a glimpse of what I mean. The reference in brackets before the quote indicate the Proverb to which Bridges is commenting. I have also linked all of the Scripture references to my friends at Bible Gateway, so you can look them up easily (and I encourage you to do so!).

[Proverbs 1:10-16] “If the temptation prevail, charge it not on God; no—nor on the devil. As the worst he can do, he can only tempt, he cannot force us, to sin. When he has plied us with his utmost power, and most subtle artifice, it is at the choice of our own will, whether we yield or no (see James 1:13-15). The habitual resistance of the will clears us of responsibility (cp. Romans 7:14-17, 19-20, 23). The consent, even if it be not carried out into the act, lays the responsibility at our own door.”

[Proverbs 2:10-11] “The forsaken sin only makes way for some more plausible, but not less deadly passion. The heart, cast into the mold of the Gospel, is the only cover from those snares within and without (Romans 6:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 3:18), which so imperceptibly, yet so fatally, estrange us from God. Never, till the vital principle is implanted, is their mischief discerned. Never, till then, does the heart find its proper object, its true resting-place.”

[Proverbs 3:5-6] “Take one step at a time, every step under Divine warrant and direction (cp. Ezekiel 18:21-23; Nehemiah 1:11). Ever plan for yourself in simple dependence on God. It is nothing less than self-idolatry to conceive that we can carry on even the ordinary matters of the day without His counsel. He loves to be consulted. Therefore, take all thy difficulties to be resolved by Him. Be in the habit of going to Him in the first place—before self-will, self-pleasing, self-wisdom, human friends, convenience, expediency. Before any of these have been consulted, go to God at once. Consider no circumstances too clear to need His direction. In all thy ways, small as well as great; in all thy concerns, personal or relative, temporal or eternal, let Him be supreme.”

[Proverbs 3:11-12] “Faith understands the reasons of the discipline (1 Peter 1:6, 7); acknowledges it as a part of His gracious providence (Deuteronomy 8:2, 15, 16), and the provision of His everlasting covenant (Psalm 89:30-32); waits to see the end of the Lord (James 5:11); and meanwhile draws its main support from the seal of adoption.”

[Proverbs 4:14-17] “To pray not to be led into temptation; yet not to watch, that we enter not into it (Matthew 6:13; 26:41)—is practically to contradict our prayers; to mock our God, by asking for what we do not heartily wish.”

[Proverbs 11:18-19] “Righteousness is the seed; happiness is the harvest. The reward indeed is not from cause, but of consequence; not of debt, but of grace depending upon a free promise; mercifully yet surely linked with Christian perseverance (Ecclesiastes 11:6; Hosea 10:12; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:7, 8).”

[Proverbs 17:22] “If then, Christian, you believe the Gospel to be ‘glad tidings’ (Luke 1:19; 8:1), show that you believe it, by lighting up your face with a smile.”

[Proverbs 28:13] “The love of sin struggles with the power of conscience. The door of access to God is barred (Psalm 66:18). Christian confidence is clouded (Psalm 32:3, 4); and, unless Sovereign mercy interpose, it must end in the sting of ‘the never-dying worm’ (Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:44-48). The covering of the disease precludes the possibility of the cure. Only the penitent confessor can be the pardoned sinner.”

“The best work on the Proverbs. While explaining the passage in hand, he sets other portions of the Word in new lights.” —C.H. Spurgeon, commenting on this book

William Tyndale & Charles Spurgeon On Sacred Words And Deeds

William TyndaleThis morning in my message, we looked at the example of William Tyndale.

William Tyndale believed the Bible should be read by all (not just by the “enlightened” clergy), and he undertook the process of translating the Hebrew and Greek into English. In the preface to the first five books of the Old Testament, he wrote, “I had perceived by experience, how that it was impossible to stablish the lay people in any truth, except the Scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text.”

  • The clergy tried to intimidate Tyndale into stopping his work, but he said, “I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture, than he doust.”
  • Eventually he was put on trial for heresy, where he was also accused of trying to profit from his work. He replied, “I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me.”
  • Ultimately Tyndale was strangled to death, and then burned at the stake. But his dying words were, “Lord, open the eyes of the king.”

William Tyndale was notable in his struggle to break down the unbiblical clergy/laity (or sacred/secular) divide. Another great man who addressed this topic over 300 years after the death of Tyndale was Charles Spurgeon—

C.H. Spurgeon“To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred. He puts on his workday garment and it is a vestment to Him. He sits down to his meal and it is a sacrament. He goes forth to his labor, and therein exercises the office of the priesthood. His breath is incense and his life a sacrifice. He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence. …The Lord hath cleansed your houses, He has cleansed your bed chambers, your tables, your shops, He has made the bells upon your horses holiness to the Lord, He has made the common pots and pans of your kitchens to be as the bowls before the altar, if you know what you are and live according to your high calling. You housemaids, you cooks, you nurses, you ploughmen, you housewives, you traders, you sailors, your labor is holy if you serve the Lord Christ in it, by living unto Him as you ought to live. The sacred has absorbed the secular.”

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