Parts 4A through 4D show that Bible study teaches a person how to discern between spiritual truth and spiritual error. The ability to possess spiritual discernment is especially critical in the 21st Century because of the proliferation of theological error whether intentional or not.
Part 4D explains why correct Bible study methodology is essential.
It is beyond the scope of this article to dive into the details of how to do Bible study. It is, however, worthwhile to mention that to know how to study is critical. John MacArthur writes:
It is vital for every Christian to know how to study the Bible. You should be able to dig into God’s Word yourself to glean and gain all the riches the Bible contains. … The Word of God is a tremendous resource. Christians should not be handicapped in their ability to study God’s work for themselves.
John MacArthur, How to Study the Bible, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois (2009), p.1.
Another well-known Bible teacher writes:
But the most important thing you need to remember is that to find out what the Bible says, you need to read it yourself in a way that will help you discover what it says, what it means, and how you are to apply it to your life.
Kay Arthur, How to Study Your Bible, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon (1994), p. 9.
It is very dangerous to let someone else tell you what the Bible says or teaches. In the absence of knowing how to study the Bible on your own, God’s written revelation to humankind goes unstudied, and is understood only through “folk theology.” A formal definition of a folk theologian is:
One who uncritically and unreflectively constructs his or her theology according to tradition and religious folklore. The Folk Theologian is often very dogmatic about his or her beliefs.
Introduction to Theology, The Theology Program, Biblical Studies Press (2004), p. 27.
A folk theology environment is a fertile breeding ground for cults that call themselves “Christian,” and misuse the Bible to support their heretical teachings. Their “Bible studies” are merely indoctrination sessions promoting their toxic doctrines. Without knowing how to study the Bible for yourself, you are ripe to be a victim for these savage wolves.
It is vital that church leaders encourage their people to learn how to study the Bible for themselves. The proper method of study is the grammatico-historical method. A definition of the grammatico-historical method reads:
The grammatico-historical method, on the other hand, refers to studying the biblical text, or any other text, in its original historical context, and seeking the meaning its author(s) most likely intended for its original audience(s) or addressees based on the grammar and syntax.
“The Historical Critical/Grammatical View” by Craig L. Blomberg in Biblical Hermeneutics Five Views (2012), IVP Academic Press, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426 at p. 28
If where you go to church does not teach you how to study the Bible, but instead expects you to accept without question their view of what the Bible says, run for the door! You must evaluate what your Pastor, elders, Sunday School teachers and others who are “up front” preach and teach. You must be like the Bereans who evaluated what Paul and Silas taught in light of Scripture as recorded in Acts 17:10–12 (ESV) which reads:
10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
You cannot conduct such an analysis if you do not know how to study the Bible for yourself. Again, the reliable method is the grammatico-historical method.
By the way, if you are a person “up front” (e.g., Pastor, preacher, teacher), you are under a heavy obligation to make sure you analyze the Word before you preach or teach. Pastors who download their sermons from the internet stand in dangerous territory. Sunday School teachers who merely regurgitate the canned lesson materials are on thin ice. You run a risk that what you teach or preach is folk theology. Do not rely on someone else’s opinion, but do the work yourself. As a teacher (includes preachers), you will be judged by a stricter standard per James 3:1 (ESV):
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
The ability to possess spiritual discernment is especially critical in the 21st Century. Practicing correct Bible study methodology is vital to exercising spiritual discernment.
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