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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth

                "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth

                  not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 1Tim. 2:15

In the form of an illustration for our lesson today, let me tell you a little short and amusing story. (It's amusing to me anyway.) It seems a man went to his lawyer's office ever so often for legal advice. He had considerable business interests and his bills from the lawyer were always high.

He noticed that every time he asked for advice, the lawyer would get up from his desk and go to his bookcase and look until he found the book he wanted. Then he would open it and read until he found the law governing that particular case and then give the man the advice he needed.

The man decided that he could eliminate a lot of expense if he just went and bought himself a set of books like the lawyer had and read the information himself. He'd save all those big fees he'd been paying. He told a friend what he was planning on doing and his friend offered him some very sage advice. He said, "There's just one difference between you and your lawyer." The man asked, "Oh, what's that?" His friend said, "The lawyer knows what page it's on."

Think about that little story a moment, especially if you've ever had to make use of an attorney on some legal matter. The reason we pay them their fee is because they "know what page it's on." That's what we're paying for. Their knowledge of where to find the right "page."

For about a year now I've been providing our Wednesday night Bible study with three questions to be answered at the next session. Sort of "homework" you might call it. There are three reasons I started doing this and I'll enumerate them here for you: (1) So that we learn how to find things in the scriptures. In other words, how to "rightly divide" them.

The second reason is: the gain of knowledge from the circumstances wherein the answers are found. And the 3rd reason for my questions is: besides containing the "words of life," a realization that the Bible is an interesting book if studied in a simple and orderly manner. From the comments I've received, the class enjoys this little exercise and they've found that, in finding the answer, they've read a lot of the scriptures surrounding where the answer was found.

One of my goals as a teacher of Bible classes is to make the study of God's Word a fun and enjoyable experience. One of the most common complaints you hear said by people is that the Bible is "so confusing." I believe that it can be if not approached in the right manner. I believe that if it is studied in a structured or systematic manner it isn't confusing. In my opinion, that is exactly the goal of a Bible class teacher - to "unconfuse" (new word) or "demystify" the scriptures and make them understandable. That's my goal anyway.

When it comes to a study of God's Word we're lost if we don't know where to find the answer to whatever it is we're seeking. And this is the reason that many people find the Bible to be a book of mystery. They don't know where to look, or as said earlier, the don't know "what page it's on."

I see the words of Paul in our introductory verse talking about this very thing when he uses the words "rightly dividing the word of truth." If not "rightly divided" it can certainly become confusing. But, if it is "rightly divided" then it becomes a very logical and easily understood book. In the form of a short and simple lesson today, I'm going to talk about some basics involved in "rightly dividing."

Here are some very simply rules you can follow that help remove any confusion when studying the Bible. Let's just call this a "beginner's course" in "rightly dividing." First, one must know who is speaking; who is spoken to; and the circumstances surrounding what was said. As I said, these are basic rules and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to study the Bible.

Let me just mention a few examples that will amplify the rules I just mentioned. God may have said something to Abraham that is needful for me to know because it shows me how God dealt with His People in the past, thus I can know how He deals with them still. But, there is no logical way that I can obey today what God told Abraham to do back then.

God told Noah to build an ark in preparation for a flood, an event that was unheard of at the time. If I started building an ark, telling everyone that God wanted me to build one, it wouldn't be long before a van full of guys in white coats and nets would be at my house. Especially if I used as a reason that God told Noah to build one, so everyone should do the same.

How 'bout we carry this lesson in basics one step further as to the "dividing" of the Word. Perhaps a step in learning "what page it's on." The first effort in taking this step is to see that there are two great divisions of the Bible - the Old and New testaments. Then we learn that there were two dispensations of time prior to the one we're in at the present - the Christian dispensation. The previous two were the Patriarchal and the Mosaic.

Gal. 4:4 we see that Christ came "in the fulness of time" and by doing so, did what the Law of Moses could not do (Rom. 8:3) which was "redeem" us from our sins. (Read Gal. 4:5 and Titus 2:14) He effected this redemption by His death on the cross and established His Church on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2)

The four gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are books of introduction that tell us about His birth, His life, His death and His resurrection. The book of Acts is a book of history regarding the early days of the Church and provides a list of conversions which shows us what's necessary for salvation. The epistles tell us how to live before God and our fellow man. In Revelation we get a glimpse of heaven, but most especially in this book, we see who "the winner" is - God!

As I stated earlier, this is just about as simple as I can make a lesson on "rightly dividing" God's Word. The design of my simple little lesson is to help us know how "to find the right page." And, when we know "the page it's on" the Bible becomes a very easily studied book and it's my firm belief that if I can understand it, anyone can. Happy "dividing."

Ron Covey

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