STUDY THE BIBLE FOR YOURSELF
Solomon said, "Of many books there is no end." (Ecclesiastes 12:12) Yet one book stands out as far different from all others. This book, the Bible, has been protected and preserved by the providence of God. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." (Matthew 24:35) The Bible claims to be the inspired word of God, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16) The Bible is without error and it is the complete religious guide for mankind. The Bible as it is meets all of man's spiritual needs. God is the author of the Bible. He used inspired writers to communicate His message to the world. "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:21) The Bible is God's word. Therefore, the obligation rests upon us to study God's book, handle it correctly, believe and obey its teaching.
The Bible is the word of God and it can be understood. Humanity has truly been blessed by God with this great gift, the Bible. If we appreciate having the Bible, we should study it daily. The people of Berea demonstrated the attitude that we should have toward the Bible. "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11) Our personal Bible study should produce a sincere desire for obedience from the heart. (Romans 1:5) Knowing some simple things can help. The Bible is made up of the Old Testament and the New Testament. In our study of the Bible, we learn that the Bible is actually sixty-six books which together tell one story. The message of the Bible is, someone is coming, someone has come, and someone is coming again. The sixty-six books that make up our Bible are divided into Old Testament and New Testament for a purpose. Thirty-nine Bible books are in the Old Testament. Twenty-seven are in the New Testament. It matters not how smart a man may become he is still ignorant if he does not know and obey the word of God. We never outgrow our need for God and His revelation. What a mistake people make by not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God. (Matthew 22:29)
The Bible is not just another book among books. The Bible is God's word, His truth. John wrote, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." (John 17:17) The Bible is the timeliest and most useful book ever penned. It tells man how to live on earth and how to go to heaven when he dies. An honest student of the Bible can understand it. As we study we see that the divisions of the Old Testament are simple. The divisions are: (1) Five books of law -- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, (2) Twelve books of history -- Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, (3) Five books of poetry -- Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon, and (4) Seventeen books of prophecy -- Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The Old Testament is true and dependable. The apostles and prophets delivered the message they had received from God. Do not doubt God's word. Believe and obey His truth.
Today we live according to the 27 books of the New Testament. The entire Bible is true, inspired and complete. The twenty-seven books of the New Testament can be divided as follows: (1) The gospel - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, tells of the life of Christ, His personal ministry, death and resurrection, (2) Acts tells of the establishment of the church and forgiveness of sins, (3) Twenty-one books tell how to live the Christian life - Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, and Jude, (4) Revelation tells of the eternal victory for God's people. We know that the teachings of the Bible must be obeyed. "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city." (Revelation 22:14) The Bible is a book for all purposes. It provides comfort for one in sorrow; it provides encouragement for one that is in despair; it provides strength for one that is weak and it gives hope to the one that is lost. The Bible can meet our every need. God's precious word also has an answer to all our religious questions. Scripture tells us how to live and how to die. From the Bible we learn where man came from, our purpose for being here, and where we are going when we die. The Bible is man's roadmap from earth to heaven. It is this same word that will judge us in the last day. Jesus said, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." (John 12:48) We should believe the word of God and make it our daily companion. We should allow the word of God to govern our lives and to lead us to heaven.
The Bible is God's powerful salvation message. The word of God has the power to save all that will believe and obey it. Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." (Romans 1:16) If anyone is to be made free from sin, he must know the truth because it is the truth that makes you free. (John 8:32) Not only will the truth save your soul, but it will keep you in the pathway of righteousness. This great truth is taught in the powerful 19th Psalm. The Psalmist said, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward." (Psalm 19:7-11)
Study the Bible, accepting all that it says. Believing only a part of the Bible is not pleasing to God. (John 12:48) Study the Bible with an honest desire to learn more of God's will for your life. (John 5:39-40) Study the Bible, respect it as God's word, learn what you need to do to get into Christ where salvation is found and obey God from your heart. To become a Christian, you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), repent of sins (Acts 2:38), confess Christ (Acts 8:37) and be baptized to be saved. (1 Peter 3:21) Take time to learn God's word, live by its teaching, die by it and go to heaven when life is over. The Bible is true! You can depend on its teaching. Your soul is safe as you follow its precepts.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037