Ask Your Preacher
How do I get into the Bible and how do I read the Bible?
Starting To Study
Dear Starting To Study,
The key to any kind of worship or Bible study is to make it a regular habit. Daniel had a habit of praying (Dan 6:10). Make a decision to put Bible study into your day first (Matt 6:33) and schedule other things around it. Most people fail to study their Bibles because it isn’t a part of their regular life. Make it a part of your morning routine, your lunch break, or bedtime ritual. Somehow schedule it into your life and make it a habit.
After you do that, it is just a matter of what you want to learn first. Many people read a Psalm a day, a chapter of Proverbs each week, or use a ‘read the Bible in a year program’, or you grab one of those five things you want to look at and read away. Any of these is a perfectly acceptable system. In fact, you can buy Bibles that are organized, so that you read a little of the Old Testament and a little of the New Testament every day. For new Bible students, I often recommend reading the gospel of Matthew or the gospel of John first, so that you become acquainted with Christ’s life; then follow that up with the book of Acts and familiarize yourself with the first century church.
The goal is to study your Bible, not just read it. God tells us to study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim 2:15) and to meditate upon God’s Word (Ps 119:15). You could read through an entire book of the Bible in an hour or so but fail to appreciate any of it. Read your Bible with a notepad beside you and a pen or highlighter in hand. Write down your questions and get them answered. Highlight meaningful verses. If you don’t understand something, don’t move on until you do. It is more important that you understand than that you read a large portion of text. And lastly, enjoy your Bible reading time; you are reading the most influential and meaningful book on the planet!
Hello, AYP. I thought after they walked on water, Jesus and Peter climbed into the boat in Matt 14:32. Why does Mark 6:51 say that only Jesus climbed into the boat? Help me please before I consider this a contradiction.
Wanting The Dots To Connect
Dear Wanting The Dots To Connect,
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all are narratives of Christ’s life, but they each tell things from different perspectives. As you may have noticed, Matthew doesn’t include all the same stories as Luke, and John tells things differently than Mark… the books are designed to give different angles to Jesus’ life here on Earth. In fact, John said it would be impossible to tell of everything that Jesus said and did on this planet – so they only told us the details that were important for their particular purposes (Jhn 21:25).
This brings us to your question about Jesus walking on water. Matthew covers the entire story of Jesus walking to His disciples upon the water, but Mark simply sums up that particular occurrence by saying, “He went up to them in the boat” (Mk 6:51). Mark isn’t contradicting the story of Peter that Matthew tells; he just omitted that section of the story. In the end, they tell the same story… Matthew was just more detailed.
Many people think that after Saul was saved and regained his sight, he began his ministry without interruption. But in fact, he later says he was sent to the desert for three years. I remember reading it, but I don't know where to find it. Can you help me with that verse please?
Stuck In The Desert
Dear Stuck In The Desert,
The verses you are thinking of are Gal 1:15-18. After Saul's conversion in Damascus (Acts 9:17-19), Saul (more commonly known as Paul) left Damascus and went into Arabia for three years. It is during this three-year time period that Paul had his vision of Paradise (2 Cor 12:2-4). It is only after those three years that Paul eventually visited Jerusalem.
Why is there a New Testament if God never changes?
God never changes, but humans do, and mankind wasn’t ready for Christ’s law in the beginning. Gal 3:24 says that the Old Testament law was a tutor to lead people to Christ. Just like beginning arithmetic must be taught before you dive into calculus, the Old Law prepared people for a greater and more perfect law. The Old Testament taught people about sin (Rom 3:20), and it showed that all mankind had sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). The Old Testament law was added because of sin and as a preparation for Jesus’ entrance into the world (Gal 3:19). The Old Law could never save people because all a law can do is condemn the law-breaker – only the gift of Christ’s blood can provide forgiveness for the sinner (Gal 3:13). The New Testament combines God’s laws with a plan to provide forgiveness for those who break those laws.
In previous posts, you said that you had to be baptized to be saved. What about the thief on the cross? Wasn't he saved? And what about those that accept Jesus by grace on their deathbeds? Are they in Hell today because they never were baptized? Isn't baptism a work? Then how do you interpret Rom. 11:6 and Eph. 2:8-9?
By Grace Alone
Dear By Grace Alone,
The thief on the cross is a bit of a different issue than Rom 11:6 and Eph 2:8-9. Read our post “The Thief On The Cross” for a full answer to the baptism issue in regard to the thief. Now, let’s address the issue of baptism being a “work”.
Baptism is a work – it is a work of faith. Romans and Ephesians are addressing people who think they can be saved by working hard enough to earn salvation. Rom 3:28 says that a man isn’t saved by the works of law, but Jas 2:18-20 says that there is such a thing as works of faith, and without works of faith we can’t be saved. Works of the law are when people try and earn salvation by living perfect or “good enough” lives. We are told that this won’t work because if we stumble in even one area of live, we are now sinners and guilty as law breakers (Jas 2:10). However, when we admit that we sin and seek to live a life of faith in Christ, we still must show obedience to what the Word of God says (Rom 10:17). The difference is that we aren’t expected to be perfect anymore, instead we are told to admit our sin and move forward (1 Jn 1:9). The Bible says that we must be baptized to be saved (1 Pet 3:21, Mk 16:16, Acts 2:37-38, Rom 6:4, Gal 3:27). If the Bible says it is a requirement, then we must each faithfully accept God at His Word. We should leave the deathbed confessions to God’s judgment and make sure that we are baptized and ready before it gets to that point. Thankfully, God is the final judge of such situations, not us (2 Tim 4:1).