Using the Bible Properly

W. Terry Varner
May 26, 2013

It is interesting how people use their Bible. Some use the Bible as a “storage” place for pictures, locks of children’s hair, press flowers, etc. Others would never think of using their Bible in that manner, they put it on the shelf and never look at it until it needs moved. Still others, treasure the Bible for what it is—the Word of God.

Jesus charged that man, in relation to His Word, needs to “take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18). It is important we listen and respond to the teaching of the Bible. James teaches that men are to be “doers of the word” (1:22) and in so doing they “shall be blessed in his deed” (1:25). John admonished his readers of the book of Revelation, “Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein” (1:3, emp. added).

Perhaps, there is no better way to learn how to use the Bible properly than to consider how the early Christians used the Bible. This will help us to keep our focus on using our Bibles.

Do not neglect the Old Testament. The first written Bible of the early Christians was the Old Testament. The Old Testament is called “the word of God” (Mark 7:13) and “sacred writings” (2 Timothy 3:15). The early Christians used the Old Testament as a source of strength (Romans 15:4) and encouragement (1 Corinthians 10:6-10). The New Testament is God’s power to salvation (Romans 1:16-17; James 1:21), but we learn that a careful study of the Old Testament made Timothy wise to salvation (2 Timothy 3:15). Do not neglect studying the Old Testament. It abounds in riches for us.

We learn to stand for something. In Acts 7, Stephen’s sermon stood as an answer to the accusation his enemies made against him. They charged Stephen with preaching error because he preached Jesus (Acts 7:11-14). Stephen showed in preaching Jesus, the Jews of his day withstood the teachings of Moses which spoke of the coming Jesus (Acts 7:39-40). Further Stephen showed that they were opposing and “resisting” the Holy Spirit and had slain “the Just One” by betraying Him and murdering Him (Acts 7:51-53). In studying Stephen’s lesson we find that he stood for the preaching of Jesus by replying to every accusation and proving his accusers were in error. Christians must stand for something or he will be subject to falling for everything and anything (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14; Ephesians 4:14-15; 1 Peter 3:15).

A stand must be taken regardless the cost. Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7 resulted in persecution. Look at the conclusion of his sermon and the reaction of those in his audience: a) they gnashed on him with their teeth (Acts 7:51), b) they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears from hearing his message (Acts 7:57), c) they cast Stephen out of the city of Jerusalem (Acts 7:58), d) they stoned him to death (Acts 7:58-60).

The Jews actions toward Stephen gave the early church the initiative to press on for the cause of Jesus; consequently, “there was a great persecution against the church” in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1). In using the Bible properly, we must be willing, if need be, to suffer for the truth. In the words of Peter, “we must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). God must be obeyed without compromise, and that, in spite of one’s peers and regardless of the consequences. Used properly, the Bible will enable man to be what God expects him to be.