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#35337 - Mon Feb 12, 2007 6:59 AM Bible Reading  
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Robin Offline
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When I first was getting into Bible study, I felt as though I was taking on a huge, nearly impossible task. Several times I nearly quit before I even began. "I'm no scholar," I told myself, "This is so totally beyond me I'll never get it!" Just getting started was daunting!

This post is to encourage those of you who feel like I did. There is hope!

It's actually easier to study the Bible today than at any other time in history, because so many who have gone before us have translated it, indexed it, mapped it, and organized its teachings chronologically, theologically, ideologically, politically, historically, grammatically, and in every other way. We have atlases, concordances, gazeteers, lexicons, commentaries, history books, parallels, biographies, and summaries of the Scriptures, and the Creeds and Confessions of our forefathers in the faith, so that we can "walk on their shoulders," so to speak, in understanding the Scriptures.

But how are we supposed to study the Bible? How are us unscholarly "plain vanilla" regular folks to study the Scriptures?

Very importantly, we need "the big picture." The Bible is the story of God redeeming and setting a people apart for Himself out of fallen mankind. To understand the smaller parts of the Bible, we need at least some familiarity with the whole.

I don't recommend starting at Genesis and trying to study the Bible straight through from beginning to end. That sounds like the best idea at first, but it usually ends up falling flat. Most people are fine with Genesis and Exodus, but when they hit Leviticus it's a brick wall. "Oh, man, I knew I couldn't do this!" So I suggest this method, especially for first-timers trying to read the Bible through:

Just read at first. Ordinary reading as with any other book. Just read it to discover what the 66 books are about. After you've had a chance to "just read them" and learn what they're about, then go back later and "dissect" them further to "really study" them.

Genesis and Exodus are narratives. You can read them like story books, and they read easily and interestingly. The next book on a "straight-through" reading of the Bible is Leviticus. Not a narrative (story book) nor a book of poetry, nor a letter. More like a technical manual for ecclesiastical professionals, with intricate details about everything from dietary regulations to measurements of the furniture and utensils used in the Tabernacle. It is a tedious labor to read through and has so much detail with little to tell the reader why any of it matters (to be fair, there are plenty of places that explain why all these things were important to the Levites back then - but little in the book to explain why we should care about those details today). Most people become so discouraged at that point that they just stop reading and give up. "Bible study is too hard for me!" they moan.

So I always recommend that folks read the narratives first, then go back and read the journals and other writings of those who made the history you've just read (including the poetry and songs of the people in the stories). Skip Leviticus on a first read-through of the Bible. When you come back to it, it suddenly makes a whole lot more sense! So I generally tell folks to read Genesis and Exodus, then Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles (they kinda overlap in lots of places but that's actually helpful in "getting the big picture"), and Ezra through Esther. Those tell the entire Old Testament history of God's dealings with His people. Then read the writings of the characters in the stories! Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon (it's R rated, by the way), and the prophets. Job is a separate story, believed by many to actually be the oldest book in the Bible - excellent reading for a glimpse into the true role of Satan (accuser, tester. Our enemy. But to God, merely a tool for His purpose).

I also recommend reading the New Testament the same way, narratives first (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts) followed by the writings of the people in the stories. And I think it's best, after reading the Old Testament narrative books first, to read from both Testaments a little each day. A few Psalms and a few chapters from the Gospels and Acts; a few Proverbs and a few chapters from Romans, etc.

Read it through a few times first before you start trying to "dissect" it, unless you need to research a particular topic before you've had a chance to read it through. It's extremely helpful and important to get "the big picture" first to help keep the smaller portions in CONTEXT when you "break it down" into "bite sized" pieces.

It's hard to do any kind of study without the big picture and without a frame of reference for what you're reading. Once we have a sense of the Bible's overall story, all the little parts become so rich with meaning that you can never get tired of studying it, nor of becoming ever more amazed at the greatness and goodness of God, nor more thankful for His grace and mercy.

As Charismatics we were used to reading "devotionally" but not exegetically. But since coming out of charismania we now know how desperately we need real understanding of the Bible's message and teachings, because we're reading for our lives, not just reading to make ourselves feel better or to respond to some particular situation.

It really is worth it and it really is possible to study the bible - even for a plain ol' ordinary person. More than that, it really is vital.

In His hands,
Robin

#35338 - Fri Feb 16, 2007 8:16 PM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Robin]  
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Robin,

IMO, you've given some very good advice about reading the Scripture.

Quote

Robin said:
As Charismatics we were used to reading "devotionally" but not exegetically. But since coming out of charismania we now know how desperately we need real understanding of the Bible's message and teachings, because we're reading for our lives, not just reading to make ourselves feel better or to respond to some particular situation.


Many Charismatics erroneously believe that the Charismatic movement is "fresh and new". Hardly new, Calvin had the "Charismatics" pegged nearly 500 years ago. I've copied out of Calvin's Institutes 1-9-1 his rather terse response to those who believe that the Scripture may be bypassed as unnecessary "head knowlege".

Chapter 9.
9. ALL THE PRINCIPLES OF PIETY SUBVERTED BY FANATICS, WHO SUBSTITUTE REVELEVATIONS FOR SCRIPTURE.
1.The fanatics wrongly appeal to the Holy Spirit
Those who, rejecting Scripture, imagine that they have some peculiar way of penetrating to God, are to be deemed not so much under the influence of error as madness. For certain giddy men have lately appeared, who, while they make a great display of the superiority of the Spirit, reject all reading of the Scriptures themselves, and deride the simplicity of those who only delight in what they call the dead and deadly letter. But I wish they would tell me what spirit it is whose inspiration raises them to such a sublime height that they dare despise the doctrine of Scripture as mean and childish. If they answer that it is the Spirit of Christ, their confidence is exceedingly ridiculous; since they will, I presume, admit that the apostles and other believers in the primitive Church were not illuminated by any other Spirit. None of these thereby learned to despise the word of God, but every one was imbued with greater reverence for it, as their writings most clearly testify. And, indeed, it had been so foretold by the mouth of Isaiah. For when he says, "My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever," he does not tie down the ancient Church to external doctrine, as he were a mere teacher of elements; he rather shows that, under the reign of Christ, the true and full felicity of the new Church will consist in their being ruled not less by the Word than by the Spirit of God. Hence we infer that these miscreants are guilty of fearful sacrilege in tearing asunder what the prophet joins in indissoluble union. Add to this, that Paul, though carried up even to the third heaven, ceased not to profit by the doctrine of the law and the prophets, while, in like manner, he exhorts Timothy, a teacher of singular excellence, to give attention to reading, (1 Tim. 4: 13.) And the eulogium which he pronounces on Scripture well deserves to be remembered, viz., that "it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect," (2 Tim. 3: 16.) What an infatuation of the devil, therefore, to fancy that Scripture, which conducts the sons of God to the final goal, is of transient and temporary use?

Denny

Romans 3:22-24


Denny

Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." [John 6:68]
#35339 - Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:15 PM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Adopted]  
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Tom Online content
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When you were in the Charismatic movement, were you ever taught to check everything out with the Scriptures?
I was.

#35340 - Sat Feb 17, 2007 6:23 PM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Tom]  
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Quote

Tom said:
When you were in the Charismatic movement, were you ever taught to check everything out with the Scriptures? I was.


Yeah, on very rare occasions, and reading the Scripture is exactly why I left. Rather, I never really joined them in the first place, although some of my friends did. They raised their hands and "spoke in tongues" to get God's favor and approval and called everyone else "legalists" or "carnal Christians".

Denny

Romans 3:22-24


Denny

Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." [John 6:68]
#35341 - Sat Feb 17, 2007 7:05 PM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Tom]  
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Dave U. Offline
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When I was a charismatic, I remember being told, "Don't take a preacher's word for anything without checking it out in Scripture." Good advice, but somehow I never felt motivated to follow it, and neither did any of the charismatics I knew. After all, the preacher who said this usually _did_ seem to have Scripture on his side, although his support was usually little more than a prooftext. "See, Paul did special miracles with hankerchiefs in Acts, so the way we use prayer cloths is Biblical." Needless to say, such reasoning isn't based on sound exegesis, but it seemed Biblical enough to me at the time. Besides that, the very fact that a preacher would encourage folks to check the Scriptures seemed to be sufficient proof that he was on the level. "Why would a preacher who was trying to mislead us tell us to check his preaching against the Bible?" Thus, based on the flimsiest of reasoning, I ignored the good advice to search the Scriptures.

In effect, I was in the same situation as the Roman Catholic who professes to believe in the inspiration of both Scripture and Tradition, but in practice ignores Scripture in favor of Tradition. For charismatics like myself, Experience fills the same place as the RC's Tradition, with Scripture having little more purpose than to affirm the validity of Experience.

Dave U.

#35342 - Sun Feb 18, 2007 9:06 PM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Adopted]  
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Tom Online content
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Quote
Yeah, on very rare occasions, and reading the Scripture is exactly why I left. Rather, I never really joined them in the first place, although some of my friends did. They raised their hands and "spoke in tongues" to get God's favor and approval and called everyone else "legalists" or "carnal Christians".

Denny

Romans 3:22-24


I have to admit that I believe that one looks at Scripture through the lens of the preaching of a pastor and/or of the books one reads.
I don't think I ever, or knew of other charismatics that raised their hands and spoke with tongues to gain God's favor. Or for that matter considered those who didn't as legalists.
We were taught that doing those things (tongues and raising hands) pleased God and was a way our spirits gave praise to the Father.
If this caused us to think others as legalists or carnal Christians, then it certainly could not be blamed on what we were taught.
I will say however, it did make one think that other Christians are really missing out.
I have no idea whether or not this kind of teaching is the norm in other Charismatic Churches or not.

The way I look at it even today, is if speaking in tongues and raising ones hands in worship is biblical and something God wants us to do today, then obviously other Christians are definitely missing out.
Obviously however (and please donít miss this point), as an ex-Charismatic, I do not believe that what is going on in Charismania is biblical.
Please also note, that I donít really have a problem with raising one hands in worship, although I am a little cautious about it because of my past. There are some biblical examples of the appropriateness of raising ones hands. 1Tim.2:8 is one example.

Tom

#35343 - Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:51 PM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Tom]  
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Quote
1 Timothy 2:8 (ASV) "I desire therefore <span style="background-color:yellow">that the men</span> pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing."

From this text, from Paul who gives explicit regulations on worship and particularly the role of men and women in worship, e.g., only men are to hold offices in the Church and take the leadership, it is clear that the praying and the lifting up of hands is to be done ONLY by the men. This is very much contrary to what we see in most places today that encourage/allow the raising of hands in worship. Also note that the lifting up of hands is to be done in conjunction with prayer; not singing, extemporaneously, etc.

Secondly, the lifting up of the hands or in fact, any bodily posture must be in accordance with the inner attitude of the soul. In other words, it shouldn't be done haphazardly but specifically in regard to the attitude within the man's heart during his praying.

Lastly, the one praying with uplifted hands must be "blameless" from sins, e.g., unresolved disputes with another brother, etc.

With those qualifications, it is appropriate for a man to lift up his hands when praying in the public worship of God.

In His grace,


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#35344 - Mon Feb 19, 2007 10:57 AM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Tom]  
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Quote

Tom said:
Obviously however (and please donít miss this point), as an ex-Charismatic, I do not believe that what is going on in Charismania is biblical.


Tom, according to you, please tell me again what exactly is it that the Charismatics do that is not Scriptural? If you don't want me to miss this point, then please stop defending the Charismatics for their legalistic and unscriptural demand for a spiritual and Arminian superiority. We've been through this before, it's not just about raising hands it's about the "spirit" of nearly Every Single Thing They Do.

Denny

Romans 3:22-24


Denny

Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." [John 6:68]
#35345 - Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:33 PM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Adopted]  
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Tom Online content
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Quote
Tom, according to you, please tell me again what exactly is it that the Charismatics do that is not Scriptural? If you don't want me to miss this point, then please stop defending the Charismatics for their legalistic and unscriptural demand for a spiritual and Arminian superiority. We've been through this before, it's not just about raising hands it's about the "spirit" of nearly Every Single Thing They Do.

Oh boy, I thought it was quite obvious. I don't believe it is scriptural to speak in tongues in worship, or for that matter as a prayer language.
Where did I defend Charismatics, I certainly don't see it?
If you also read again what I said, you should notice:

Quote
I don't think I ever, or knew of other charismatics that raised their hands and spoke with tongues to gain God's favor. Or for that matter considered those who didn't as legalists.
We were taught that doing those things (tongues and raising hands) pleased God and was a way our spirits gave praise to the Father.
If this caused us to think others as legalists or carnal Christians, then it certainly could not be blamed on what we were taught.
I will say however, it did make one think that other Christians are really missing out.
I have no idea whether or not this kind of teaching is the norm in other Charismatic Churches or not.

Please pay particular notice to my last sentence. I can only go on my experience, as well as other Charismatics that I associated with. By the way, my mother is a Charismatic even today and although I disagree with a lot of her views on Scripture, she certainly doesnít believe herself to be superior to other Christians.

I am beginning to wonder if I should participate in forums like this one.

#35346 - Mon Feb 19, 2007 3:44 PM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Tom]  
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Quote

Tom said:
We were taught that doing those things (tongues and raising hands) pleased God and was a way our spirits gave praise to the Father.


This is my point, raising hands in the furthering of the Charismatic agenda, and speaking in tongues today is NOT SCRIPTURAL. This is regardless of whether this deception is done "innocently" or not. If one believes this charismatic heresy "gives praise to the Father" then this logically means that those who do not do this;- DO NOT please the Father.

Quote

I am beginning to wonder if I should participate in forums like this one.


I'm sorry Tom if this thread got sort of derailed, but I do believe that this Charismatic heresy is causing much more grief, confusion and damage in the Christian community than anyone is willing to give them credit. I've seen way too many people messed up by the Charismatics terribly, even to the point of mental institutions by the likes of those on TBN and CBN and down at the local "Peoples Church". Some of them, forever.

Thanks be to my God who loses none of His children!

Denny

Romans 3:22-24


Denny

Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." [John 6:68]
#35347 - Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:04 PM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Adopted]  
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Robin Offline
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SCREEEEECH! (putting the brakes on)

Start a new thread if you want to get off the topic of Bible reading. I'd like to see some more posts from my learned colleagues about how to help us ex-Charismaniacs read and use the Bible properly.

[/hijack]

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#35348 - Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:27 PM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Robin]  
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I've always recommended M'Cheyne's Bible Reading Calendar. It's an excellent way to read the entire Bible through and it does force one to be disciplined in doing so. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />


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#35349 - Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:02 PM Re: Bible Reading [Re: Pilgrim]  
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bassbum Offline
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I came across a plan for Bible study that I think is very interesting. Here is the link

http://www.bible-researcher.com/bible-study2.html

It combines the listening to the Bible on audio tapes or cd's with the study of the printed Bible. It says that the whole program takes about 3 years to get through but at the end you will be among the most Biblically literate people in you church, so it claims. I read through the whole Bible last year but after looking at some narrated Bible cd's, the total running time was 70 hours for the complete old and new Testament. I have a half hour drive to work. That means that I can listen to the entire Bible in 2 months<img src="/forum/images/graemlins/ClapHands.gif" alt="" />
And the Bible says that faith comes by HEARING. I am not suggesting to jettison the reading of the Word altogether, but we are to redeem the time and what better way to redeem my driving time. I am thinking of using this program as soon as I am finished with my last two years of BSF.


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