How to Study the Bible
by Dr. Ken Matto
(Deu 11:16 KJV) Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;

As we enter into 2005, we go in with the realization that there is going to be escalated attacks against Christianity. As we head toward the last day, things will get harder for the true Christian. It is now more than ever that we need to have discernment on every issue. We can no longer adopt the idea that if my Pastor or my favorite radio preacher says it is so, then it must be. The time for trusting them has long passed and the reason that God has preserved His written Word for us in the King James Bible, is so we will have a source book for testing the teachings that we will hear in the coming days. God gave us one Bible, not three hundred. He also didn’t give us a Bible that needs correcting by unbelieving publishers every six months either.

We must become thoroughly acquainted with the Scriptures for our own protection. I realize that many Christians have made a resolution that they are going to read the Bible through this year but as soon as they get to Leviticus, there goes the resolution. Too many would rather trust movies like Mel Gibson’s Roman Catholic, Mystical, unscriptural, “The Passion” than read the episode in Scripture. If you want to read the Biblical account of what transpired at Calvary, then read Leviticus 3 & 4 and you will gain an understanding of how the body of the Lord Jesus Christ was destroyed for us as we read the way a sacrifice was handled.

There are 31,101 verses in the entire Bible and you can get through the year by reading 85 verses every day or if you choose, read one chapter and then try to absorb the material. You see, there is nothing written that we must read through the Bible every year, yet there is much written on meditating on the Word of God so that is the goal. A daily reading frenzy will not help us grow stronger in the Scriptures. In fact, it would cause us to view reading the Bible as a necessary chore. We read and soon as we are done, we put it down and that is it till tomorrow. What have we gained by this method? Nothing but tired eyes and frustration. I would like to offer some suggestions on how to read and study your Bible to gain the most out of it.

1) Read small portions of Scripture. Smaller amounts of Scripture will not overwhelm you. If your schedule tells you to read the book of Ephesians on one day, how much do you think you are going to retain? If you initially start out with about 10 verses, that would make retention much better. Then you re-read them to get them into your mind. A Pastor friend of mine Dr. Gabriel Otero stated that when he gets ready to teach through a book of the Bible, he reads it through ten times. Small portions of Scripture which are re-read will give you better understanding than trying to rush through major portions. There is one thing we never find in the Scriptures and that is Jesus rushing. Why should we?

2) Look at the context of the verses. One of the major reasons that there are so many spurious teachings in Christianity is because verses are taken out of context. We cannot pull verses out of the air to attempt to justify or create pet doctrines. Here is an example:
(Rev 4:1 KJV) After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. The Dispensationalists use this verse as one of their “out of context” proof texts of a pre-tribulation rapture. Do you know why they use this verse in that manner? Simply because theologian quotes theologian quotes theologian ad nauseum. So when this teaching started in the 1830’s, it has just been parroted down to us today. Revelation 4:1 does not have anything to do with a pre-tribulation rapture. That verse is the beginning of the vision which God gave John. If you notice, every chapter of Revelation after four begins with “and.” This is because it is one continuous vision.

3) Look at the words used. I would suggest that you pick up a Strong’s Concordance and look at some of the words used in the portion of Scripture which you read. Word studies are invaluable to understanding the Scriptures. No, you do not need to be a Greek or Hebrew Scholar. The leg work is already done for you. Words are very important since this is the method God used to impart His truth to future generations. When the Bible was completed in the first century, visions, dreams, and prophecies had also ended. The Word of God would now be conveyed to the nations with the words of God which were already written down. One of the gravest mistakes made by many is that if they read a word in Scripture, they take it for granted that that word means the same in every usage. Keep this principle in mind. Words in the Bible are defined by their usage. Here is a quick example with the word “All.”
(Rom 5:18 KJV) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. We see the word “all’ is used twice in this verse. The first “all” speaks of the Adamic sin causing judgment to come upon all men or every person on Earth. We know this from many other verses in the Scriptures also. Now let us look at the second “all.” It states that the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. In other words, it seems to be saying that God’s Grace has come on every person in the world. Is that true? The answer is no, God’s Grace has not been given to the whole world but only to the Elect. So the first “all” refers to the whole human race but the second “all” refers to the Elect of God only. This is why words must be interpreted according to their usage. Word studies are mandatory for proper understanding of Scripture.

4) Compare your conclusions with the rest of the Bible. There is one thing we can be sure of and that is that the Bible will never contradict itself. Whenever we come to a conclusion, we will find that other portions of the Bible will corroborate the conclusion if it is indeed a correct conclusion. Let us go back and look at the idea of the pre-tribulation rapture. We know that this system teaches that there will be a rapture of all the Saints before a seven year tribulation period. The question we must ask is, does the rest of the Bible corroborate that teaching? Let us look at some Scriptures.

(John 5:28-29 KJV) Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, {29} And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

(John 6:40 KJV) And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Here we see three verses which teach something very different than a pre-tribulation rapture. John 5:28-29 teaches that there is going to be a general resurrection of both the wicked and the saved. That resurrection will be simultaneous and when we add John 6:40, we know when that resurrection will take place and that will be on the last day. In fact, John 6:40 is speaking about the believers. Dispensationalism teaches that the saved will be raised 1,007 years before the wicked, however we read in John 5:28-29 that both the wicked and the saved are raised simultaneously. So who do we believe? The prophecy books or do we believe what the Bible teaches? The answer should be obvious but the majority of Christians choose to believe the prophecy books and yet, the answer is made as plain as can be. By allowing the Scriptures to confirm your conclusions, you are going to find out that many of the theological systems which people believe in are actually against Scripture instead of being in concert with it.

5) Adopt the correct conclusions. It does no good to study the Bible and learn truth if there is not going to be an adoption of those truths. This is probably the hardest part of Bible study. If for many years you have been proclaiming a certain doctrine based on somebody else’s teachings and then God shows you through the Scriptures that that particular belief was error, you must teach the truthful conclusion and not the old error. It will cost you, especially in your church. For some years I was a pre-tribulationalist but when I found the truth of Amillenialism in the Scriptures, I was no longer able to continue teaching that error. It meant getting rid of many books in my library. This applies to every truth you learn in the Scriptures.

I hope these five principles will help you increase your biblical understanding. I know that when I read the Bible, it is hard for me to read large passages because I am prone to always looking up words within the passages I am reading. This is why I do not feel guilty in teaching that smaller amounts of Scripture with understanding will yield more spiritual fruit than large passages that are rushed through just to get finished.  (1/7/05)