Volume. XXXI, No. 32
Sunday, 05 February 2017


From the Pastors Heart: Study the Bible (Part 1)


I am sure that many of us have New Year’s resolutions.  In the beginning of each year, we are often resolved to read the whole Bible at least one time throughout the year.  We also plan to study the Bible as well as to enjoy personal devotional readings.  One of the obstacles that may keep us from continuing with personal Bible study habits is that we do not know how to study the Bible.  Dr. Michael Barrett offers us a few helpful tips in his book, Beginning at Moses.  I’d like to share his points with you.  I’ll divide this article into two parts: the necessity to study the Bible and the methods to study the Bible.

First, why do we need to study the Bible?  It sounds like a small and very ordinary question.  However, in my opinion, its answer is profound and deeply spiritual.  The Bible is the source of our faith, and without faith we cannot please God, and without faith we cannot be saved.  What happens to our faith, if we do not have the Bible?  Romans 10:17 aptly and pristinely says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  The source of our faith is the Word of God.  Though there are many kinds of faiths in the world, the Christian faith or the saving faith is inseparable from the Word of God.  The faith which does not have its basis on the Word of God is not the same faith as the Biblical Faith.  There are two things we need to consider: the relationship between faith and the Bible.

(1) Listen to what Michael Barrett has to say about faith: “Faith is not a subjective exercise of positive thinking that tries to convince that something is true contrary to fact.  On the contrary, faith is based on objective truth, and it has value only in proportion to the worth of the object of that faith.  This is why faith must always supersede and subdue experience.  Experience is entirely subjective and can never be the final and sole judge of anything.  This certainly applies to our approach to the Scripture.”  This statement is important to our understanding of faith and the religion of Christianity.  Christian religion is not a man made belief system.  Its teachings are not of man but of God through revelations.  Christian faith is not to believe in something that we would like to believe or choose to believe.  We do not produce what to believe.  Instead, we believe what is given by God.  Thus, the ground of Christian faith lies in the objective (revealed) truth.

It furthers our thoughts about our faith in the Word of God.  If the Bible is not the word of God or there are errors or mistakes in the Bible, then the foundation of our faith becomes shattered and the credibility of our faith becomes incredible.  Thus, if we say that we are saved and believe in God but do not believe the Bible as God’s inerrant Word, we develop irreconcilable contradictions within our own confession of faith.  Biblical faith stands on the doctrine that all the Scripture is inspired and profitable and there is no error in it.  Some people may find it difficult to agree with.  That’s why we know that the Bible requires us to have faith.  By faith, we believe in the inspiration of the Bible, with which we affirm its authority.  The Bible is not meant to be defined by men.  Men do not determine what the Scripture should be.  Men simply believe that the Bible is what God declares it to be.  People may believe or deny this belief in the Bible, but they cannot alter the Bible.  

We believe in the Bible and affirm its authority, infallibility, sufficiency, and effectiveness from cover to cover.  Dr. Barrett explains it as following: “By authority, we mean that it is the absolute standard of truth (matters of faith) and the absolute rule for living (matters of practice).”  The Westminster Larger Catechism summarizes well: “The holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience” (question 3).  “By infallibility, we mean that the Bible is free from error.  Truth is absolute, and all truth has its ultimate source in God, who is Truth and the revealer of truth.  Infalliblity extends to every statement of Scripture, including matters of history and science as well as matters of theology. The Bible, therefore, is the standard by which all matters of theology, history, and science are to be judged.  By sufficiency, we mean that the Bible is all we need to direct us in how to know God and please Him. It is all that we need to direct us safely and surely through this life and to the life to come.  The Psalmist declared that “the law of the Lord is perfect” (Psalm 19:7).  The word law refers here to the whole body of God’s revealed instruction, the whole of special revelation.  The word perfect refers especially to its completeness or wholeness.  In simple terms, God’s Word is complete.  According to His infinite wisdom and good purpose, God has revealed all that we need for the welfare of our souls.  Therefore, the Psalmist concludes that this complete Word converts the soul.  There is no need for humanly defined philosophy, psychology, opinion, or experience to supplement the Bible.  It may sound trite, but it is true: if God said it, that settles it.  By effectiveness, we mean that there is an inherent power in God’s Word to accomplish what it says.  The Lord Himself declared, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).  The Word of God is the hammer that in judgment breaks rocks in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29); it is the means of grace whereby God communicates the message of the gospel that saves all who believe (Romans 10:17).”

Therefore, the Bible is the indispensable means God has given to His people for their faith and all their needs.   It must carry a significant meaning to our spiritual journey.  For example, we must surrender our thoughts to the Scriptures.  Many argue that the Bible is not modern enough.  We understand that.  However, such thought overlooks one simple truth that truth is changeless.  It means that truth has to be constant.  Nonetheless, truths have varied applications.  Thus, though the writing of the Bible appears to be ancient, it is still useful and workable to us even today.  It also contains one unforgettable lesson that the Christian faith stands on the propositional truths as revealed in the Bible.  We do not determine the truth we’d like to believe.  We even do not define what truth is.  Truth is what God has revealed and declared it to be.  This truth is given to us, and we have not made it.  That’s why we say that our faith lies in God’s propositional truths. 

(2) There is an important role of faith when we believe God’s Word and desire to live accordingly.  It is because the propositional truth appears to be in tension with what we experience at times.  One such example is found in Job’s life.  He believed in God as holy, pure, good and mighty, as taught in the divine truth, and at the same time he suffered without any apparent reason.  The evil ones still enjoyed peace and prosperity, while he was in pain.  He could not explain the seeming discrepancy or tension between the truths about God and his life experience.  It is just one of many examples.  In such times, faith is the answer to the tension.  Job did not know what was happening behind the scene.  His wife fell into a state of despair even to bring charges against God and her husband.   Knowing the facts of the Bible is one thing, and trusting and believing in Him is another.  Bible study without faith will not enrich our spiritual life.

I’ll continue with the methods of how to study the Bible next time.

Lovingly,
Your Pastor

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements


*Kitchen Roster - Helpers this week: Bros Houston Li & Jaehoon Mun; Sis Kristy Low.  Helpers next week: Bros Phil Surman & Lucas Yiew; Sis Natalie Cheng.
*New hymnals will be used for worship from today. If you have ordered a copy for personal use, please pay at the bookstore to Sis Sarah Carpenter.
*Please note: During Catered Fellowship Lunch, please allow seniors, children & vegetarians to be served first. $3 per person. Free for visitors, pre-primary & primary school children.
*Volunteers needed for Easter Family Bible Camp Committee. Please see Dn Colin Gan for further details.
*Adult Sunday School will resume next Sunday.
*Anyone interested in participating in the combined special item for the Anniversary Thanksgiving & Dedication Service (singing & playing instruments), please see Sisters Marion Chan, Sally Teng or Purdee Yeo. Children and Adults are welcome to join.
*New Basic Bible Knowledge classes will start soon for those interested in Baptism, Re-Affirmation of faith or Transfer of membership, please see Elder Michael D Lee.


Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Elder David & Sis Giok Yeo & family; Dn Wai Kin & Sis Mavis Wong & family; Dn John & Sis Josephine Wong & family; & others arriving safely at their destinations.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Church activities in past week.
Improvement in health: Sisters Sheila George & Sun Sokha. 


Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Pastor Ki; Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev Patrick Tan (S’pore); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); & others in affliction.
iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.
Cambodia Missions.
New Life BPC (London) - Dr Carl Martin; God’s guidance & encouragement for Task Force & congregation.
Encouragement & God’s guidance to Pastor David Weng & Providence BPC.
God’s guidance for our theological students - Dn Sung Hyun Ma & Bro Kevin Low.
Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.
Journey mercies: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki (S’pore/Cambodia/Bandung); Dn Wai Kin Wong; & others who are travelling.
Final weeks of pregnancy: Sis Tabitha Tan.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
God’s wisdom & guidance for the Building Committee in making decisions for the use of new premises.
God’s guidance for Covenant, Ebenezer, Hope & Providence BPCs to form an Australian B-P Presbytery.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063