For many the idea of study is to read and compare commentaries. Few can tell you the theological position the writer holds. Is he covenant in his thinking or Calvinistic in his approach? Sadly, most don't know the difference between the allegorical and literal interpretation of scripture. Most think they take the scriptures literally already and are content to never challenge what they believe. Most would say truth has nothing to fear from honest investigation, but have never investigated if they are standing in the truth. If you are relying on the Bible as your final authority and trusting it with where you will spend eternity, shouldn't you know these things? Being a Bible believer is letting the Bible say what it says and leaving it alone rather than the denominational slant being taught in Christianity today. We must understand who is speaking , who is being spoken to, and are you in the audience. If we follow Paul's pattern for Bible study and have the "ready mind" he describes, the Bible can be understood the way God intended.
I think we all want the approval of someone, especially the Lord himself. Our Apostle Paul gives us the recipe for God's approval. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God." Often our schedule does not allow us to study because work, sports, hobbies or whatever else we do gets in the way. It's much easier to sit in church and be told what to believe. Just reading, or sitting in church each week is not study. The verse is clear, studying the Bible involves work. Studying correctly involves learning what scriptures are to me and what scriptures are for my learning. Most say they understand the Old Testament is not for us today, but why then do they still pick and choose which promises they want from Israel's program? Why then do they pick and choose which Old Testament laws they want to apply to the church and never include the curses that go along with it? Will God really heal your land if you pray when the land in the verse belongs to Israel, the promise belongs to Israel, and the Prophet is speaking to Israel? Right division clarifies the Bible because right division leaves to Israel what belongs to Israel and gives to the body of Christ what belongs to the body of Christ. Not only will right division open your understanding of the Bible, but right division garners the approval of God.
Paul clearly tells us study involves work, and the lack thereof will result in you being ashamed. We are willing to work at learning a new hobby or task, but too often we have no interest in working to learn our Bible. Paul tells us the Bible works effectually in those that believe. Christianity today uses the Bible to prove their position, not to show the wonderful harmony God built into the Bible as a whole. If Christianity would part ways with the tradition of proof texting and the spiritualizing of verses the result would be a clear understanding of scripture. If the church really is "spiritual Israel" then preachers and teachers have free reign to create numerous theories and speculations for hundreds of verses. If, however, God said what he means and means what he says then we leave it alone and believe it as it is written. This is exactly what dispensational Bible teaching is.
The Apostle Paul told us to all speak the “same thing” and be of the “same mind” and in the “same judgement” in I Corinthians 1:10. Looking around at Christianity today we see some in partial agreement about a few things and most in disagreement about many things. This is not the outcome that God intended. The current plan seems to be that we teach less doctrine so there are less opportunities for conflict. The result of teaching less doctrine is more opportunity for confusion. The clearest instruction in scripture to study God’s word tells us to rightly divide it. (II Timothy 2:15) To rightly divide scripture is to separate what God has separated. By taking a literalist position you can clearly see in scripture that God had a plan, and still has a plan, for his earthly people Israel. Right division of the Bible leaves this God ordained plan alone. In Acts 9 God called the Apostle Paul and revealed that he now intends to conclude both Jews and Gentiles in unbelief so he can extend his mercy and grace to all. (Romans 11:32) Paul calls this information a mystery and clearly states that this information was not made known before. (Romans 16:25) This is in contrast to the information that Acts 3:21 clearly says was known “since the world began.” The only hope we have for Christianity to be of the “same mind” is to follow Paul’s instructions for Bible study. Divide the scriptures according to God’s instructions and the Bible becomes clear as a whole progressive revelation. If we fail to rightly divide according to the Bible’s instructions, then Christianity will continue divided as it has for 2000 years.
The Word of Truth
Something I have done many times is ask Christians if truth has anything to fear from honest investigation. The majority of them after a little thought quickly agree that it does not. The interesting part is when you put this to the test. The majority of Christians put up their defenses very quickly when you challenge their denominational stance. Most will not discuss anything that challenges their position at all. Does truth then have to fear? Obviously truth does not have anything to fear. But when put to the test I find the vast majority of Christians will not even discuss a challenge to their position. Christians as a whole are content to only listen to input that builds up their current Biblical position and this position is built upon their denominational preference. Much of Christianity today does not understand the Bible, they only believe what they have been taught about their denominational position. Content to read study and listen to things which build up their position and never willing to objectively listen to any other position. It is quite disheartening how Christianity as a whole claims the Bible as their final authority but will not listen to you when you try to show them how the Bible interprets itself. If you as a Christian are not willing to listen to anything that challenges your current position you can in no way claim to be objective, grounded, mature, or even secure in your theological position. What most consider studying other positions is reading books about other positions written by a person in their camp. Why would I want to read about another position written by someone in my camp? Fear? Pride? I say both. Pride tells us “I can’t be wrong because I have been a Christian for 20, 30, or more years. Fear? I say yes, because in my experience Christians today do not know their Bible, they know what their denomination teaches. They have friends, security, position, etc. within their church and have no interest in putting any of those things in jeopardy. I have used the example many times of feeling like I have the cure for cancer but no one wants to hear it. rightly dividing your Bible has the answers to the things in the Bible you don’t understand. The problem is, preachers and teachers don’t teach these things. They avoid the passages that are confusing and seem to be contradictory to their own position. Don’t you get a little tired of hearing the same verses used over and over? Quite frankly I do. Haven’t you ever asked your self why the preachers and teachers never go to certain verses or chapters? Don’t you get a little tired of the same sermons filled with fluff and no meat? We have the word of truth, do you understand it? I’m not asking do you understand your position on certain topics, I’m asking do you understand the Bible as a whole progressive revelation? Can you show God’s plan throughout the ages from his word? We have the word of truth and God expects us to study it the way he instructs us to. Literally, dispensationally, and with a willingness to believe his word over the scholar, commentator or anyone else.