Verse of the Day

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Scripture Study Seminar - Session 1: Wednesday 28 JAN 2015 at Faith Baptist Fellowship Church (Lake Ariel, PA)

Scripture Study Seminar
Session 1: Wednesday 28 JAN 2015
Faith Baptist Fellowship Church
Lake Ariel, PA

Video: “Bad Email Reply - What not to say to your professor,” posted by mrandersonmath (14 JAN 2013) on YouTube at [accessed 17 SEP 2014]. [1]

“Fortunately, I’ve never received an email like this from one of my students. But I’ve heard quite a few of my faculty friends lamenting the existence of such emails, so they must happen with some frequency. If you’re in the midst of writing an email like this, please stop. If you’ve already sent one, find some way of making amends.”
Marc Cortez (Professor of Theology, Wheaton College), “Don’t Send This Email to Your Professor” (15 SEP 2014), on Everyday Theology at [accessed 17 SEP 2014].

Is this how we come to God, our Teacher, as students of His Book, concerning the study of His Word?

Hebrew 1:1-3

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?” [2]

2 Timothy 3:13-17

"Nothing this world has to offer is more precious than God’s Word. I have a friend who collects rare Bibles. He owns a wonderful collection, with one Bible dating back to the fourth century. But my favorite is a Bible from sixteenth-century England, one of the earliest printed copies of God’s Word. The top third of this Bible is covered with the blood of its original owner. My friend let me hold it in my hands, and tears came to my eyes as I leafed through it.

How did blood get on the pages of that Bible? When Bloody Mary ruled England, she terrorized Protestants, murdering as many as she could. Her soldiers would spill the person’s blood, then take his Bible and dip it deep into the blood. A few of those Bibles have been preserved and are known as Martyrs’ Bibles. Scientists have tested the paper and confirmed that the dark stains on every page of my friend’s Bible are human blood.

I examined that Bible carefully, page by page. I could see where it was well worn from being studied. There are water stains, as if from tears, and places where a thumb had frayed favorite pages. This was someone’s most valuable possession, and his or her blood is there to prove it.

In sad contrast, however, contemporary Christians tend to take their Bibles for granted, forgetting that many have given their lives just to own one copy. If the church today placed as high a value on God’s Word as those martyrs did, perhaps there would not be so many people running off to experts in human theory and seeking counsel other than the perfect wisdom God gives us in His Word.

I am convinced that many who submit to various kinds of extrabiblical therapy do so precisely because they are looking for a way of solving their problems without surrendering to what they know God’s Word requires of them.

Scripture hasn’t failed them—they’ve failed Scripture. Many have never learned to let the Word of Christ richly dwell within them, as Paul instructs in Colossians 3:16. They have treated Scripture in a cursory way and never plumbed its depths. Their sinful neglect inevitably bears the fruit of doctrinal confusion and spiritual impotence."

- John F. MacArthur, “God’s Sufficient Word, Part 2” (15 SEP 2014), on Grace to You at [accessed 26 JAN 2015]; adapted from Our Sufficiency in Christ (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1991). [3]

We do not live in a time or a place where the Scriptures are chained within cathedrals in a language that we cannot understand. We do not face martyrdom for possessing translations of the Bible into our vernacular, our native language. We have ready access to multiple translations into the language that we speak, along with virtual libraries of helpful tools assisting us to study the Word. And yet modern Christians seem to have less understanding of the Scriptures than many in the past, and decreased confidence in their ability to remedy the situation. We need to get at the root of why that is.

I assume that you are here because you desire to understand God’s Word, or to understand it better than you have in the past. In order to help you to do so I would like to first address what I believe are the major barriers to our understanding of God’s revelation.

1. The character of God and our need:

The acknowledgement of God’s ability and our inability is fundamental to understand what is required to know His Word.

2. The nature of God’s revelation and His prerogative as the Revealer:

The acknowledgement of the nature of God’s revelation and confidence in Him as the communicator of His revelation is essential for the humble student of God’s Word.

3. The nature of our cultural context and the skeptical mindset of modern man:

Christians today face discouragement that they can know God’s Word both from the skepticism of our cultural mindset, and from the elitism of ivory tower academics.

Historical and Personal Parameters in the Spectrum of Abilities
for the Understanding of the Scriptures:

Created Unfallen Man
Fallen Unregenerate (Natural)
(Spiritual) Man
Maturing Regenerate
(Spiritual) Man
Maturing Regenerate Man: Maximizing Resources
1. Eyes to see

2. Ears to hear

3. Mind to know

4. Heart to believe

5. Unhindered communion with God


What could be better?

1. Eyes Blind

2. Ears Deaf

3. Mind Dark

4. Heart hard

5. Neck stiff

6. Rebellion towards God

7. Suppression of the truth of God


The problem is obvious!
1. Eyes to see

2. Ears to hear

3. Mind to know

4. Heart to believe

5. Spirit to teach


So, what is the problem?
1. Read

2. Memorize

3. Meditate

4. Obey

5. Testify
1. Knowledge of Ancient History and Culture

2. Knowledge of Ancient Languages (vocabulary, semantics, grammar, syntax)

3. Awareness of Spiritual Warfare including Satanic Subversion of the Word of God through False Teachers throughout history
Know as we are known

From Total Depravity to Eternal Glory
From Great Darkness to Glorious Light
From Ignorance of God to the Knowledge of Christ

We are no longer in the Garden, and we are not yet in glory.

There are two alternatives:

1) Growth in Grace and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)

2) Isaiah 28:8-13 - “But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” (28:13)

Calvin - Know God, know yourself
See yourself in relation to the Word and the world in history
Know your place, your role, your capabilities and limitations

The ability of God

John 1:1-5
Genesis 1-3
Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 29 - “And God said…”
Genesis 2:16 - “And the Lord God commanded the man…”

The responses of the creature to the revelation of God

Genesis 3:1, 5-6 - What did Satan do?
Genesis 3:8-10 - Once man sins against the command of God, how does he respond to the voice of God? Why does man do this?

See yourself in the mirror of the Word! What do we do? This is not about Adam. This is just as much about you and I, and every sinner born of Adam. We are no different, and we do not respond any differently to the voice of God today than Adam and Eve did in the Garden. Do people hide from the voice of God today? Are people afraid of the voice of God today? Why don’t people understand the Bible?

What was the tactic of Satan when it came to the Word of God in the second temptation of Christ in Mt. 4:6 (“…for it is written…”)?

How is this different from the temptation of Eve in the Garden (“…hath God said…Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know…”)?

We must be aware of and alert for both aspects of error when it comes to God’s revelation!
1) Skeptical questioning of what God has revealed in His Word
2) Subtle uses of God’s Word in attempts to subvert His purposes

Now what?

The inability of fallen or natural man

It is naturally impossible for man in his fallen state to understand and properly respond to the revelation of God - Romans 1:18-32

What is the unregenerate unbeliever to do?

1 Corinthians 2

Holding God’s Word at arm length:
Eden - Hide!
Sinai - Shut Him up!
Prophets? Kill them! Get rid of them!
God? Keep your distance!

We are not the interpreters of the Scriptures. We are not the determiners of the meaning of God’s Word. We are incapable of doing this, and in error when we set ourselves over the Word  in such a fashion. If we think that if we do A+B+C, etc., and that will result is us understanding the Bible, then we have done the same thing with God’s revelation that Charles Grandison Finney did with revival via his “New Measures.” If we focus on ourselves and our ability we are disrespecting God, His ability, and His Word. We demonstrate in so doing our ignorance of what God’s Word says about not only its Author, but about our dependence upon Him, especially in our sinful state. It is not about you and your perceived ability or presumed skill.

There is the pathway of the blind, unbelieving skeptic, and then there is the pathway of the humble, faithful, trusting student.

Hebrews 5:11-6:9

2 Peter 3

“Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.” [4]

Five times Jesus repeated the refrain, “Ye have heard..But I say unto you…” (Matthew 5:21-48)

Is it worse to question the Word of God, to twist it by a subversive use, or to deny that it has anything to do with us all these centuries later? Are we guilty of doing something with the Word of God that produces the same result as what Satan intended in the Garden and the temptation of Christ? Do we look in it as a mirror, and see ourselves in it? Do we hear and remember and do what we find there, or do we hide from it and forget it? Do we hold it at arm’s length? Do we distance ourselves from it, or treat it as if were dead and irrelevant, instead of honoring it as the living Word of the one true and living God who speaks to us in it by His Spirit? If you can pile up excuses for why you cannot understand God’s revelation what need does Satan have to question it to you or to use it to subvert God’s purposes for you? If you are already hiding from God by hiding from His word, and have given up in despair, the battle is over. But if you will be honest with yourself and with God, and will trust in His ability and the sufficiency and perspicuity of His Word, the He will strengthen you, feed you, nourish you and equip you!

“If you look at your reflection in the bottom of a well what you see is only on the surface
If you try to see the meaning hidden underneath the measure of the depth can be deceiving
The bottom has a rocky reputation
You can feel it in the distance the deeper down you stare
From up above it's hard to see, but you know when you're there
On the bottom words are shallow - on the surface talk is cheap
You can only judge the distance by the company you keep
In the eyes of the Confessor
In the eyes of the Confessor there's no place you can hide
You can't hide from the eyes (of the Confessor)
Don't you even try
In the eyes of the Confessor you can't tell a lie
You cannot tell a lie (to the Confessor)
Strip you down to size
Naked as the day that you were born
Naked as the day that you were born
Take all the trauma, drama, comments, guilt, and doubt, and shame
"What if's" and "if only's"; the shackles and the chains
Violence and aggression; the pettiness and scorn
The jealousy and hatred; the tempest and discord
And give it up!” [5]

James 4:5-8

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you!

Soli Deo Gloria,

John T. “Jack” Jeffery
Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
Greentown, PA

9 MAY 2014

14 JAN 2015
28 JAN 2015

Basic Bible Study Materials: A Suggested Bibliography (with links to Amazon)

This is the book that I recommend as collateral reading for the "Scripture Study Seminar":

Sinclair Ferguson, From the Mouth of God (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2014); paperback (no Kindle available at this time) for $10.59 on Amazon at [accessed 18 JAN 2015].

1. In addition to Sinclair Ferguson's work that I am recommending as collateral reading the following five recent works on the subject may be the most helpful:

J. Scott Duvall, and J. Daniel Hays, Journey into God's Word: Your Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008);

Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible, 4th ed. (Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1982, 1993, 2003, 2014); 

Peter Krol, Knowable Word: Helping Ordinary People Learn to Study the Bible (Minneapolis: Cruciform Press, 2014);

Grant Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991, 2006);

R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977, 2009);

2. Here are five recommended older works whose value does not fade!

James M. Gray, How to Master the English Bible: An Experience, a Method, a Result, an Illustration (London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1907);
in public domain, available online or as a free downloadable digital file (PDF or ePub) on Google Books at [accessed 18 FEB 2012].

J. Edwin Hartill, Principles of Biblical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1947);
available online or as a free PDF file download (60 mb) on Seminario LAMB at [accessed 9 MAR 2014];
print editions available on Amazon at 
[accessed 18 JAN 2015].

Arthur T. Pierson, The Bible and Spiritual Criticism: Being the Second Series of Exeter Hall Lectures on the Bible Delivered in London, England in the Months of February, March and April, 1904 (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, Inc., n.d.; 1970 reprint of 1905 original by The Baker and Taylor Co., New York);

Robert A. Traina, Methodical Bible Study: A New Approach to Hermeneutics (Wilmore, KY: self-published, 1952; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980); 

Oletta Wald, The New Joy of Discovery in Bible Study, rev. ed. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2002); 
Note: This newly revised edition is also available in Kindle.

Compiled by:

John T. “Jack” Jeffery
Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
Greentown, PA

28 JAN 2015

End Notes:

[1] Andy Fitzpatrick, “KCC prof's viral video fame is a lesson” (17 SEP 2014), Battle Creek Enquirer at [accessed 26 JAN 2015].

[2] In John Rip­pon, A Se­lect­ion of Hymns from the Best Au­thors (1787); “at­trib­ut­ed var­i­ous­ly to John Keene, Kirk­ham, and John Keith;” on Cyber Hymnal at [accessed 26 JAN 2015]. The four possibilities for the “K-” ascription in Rippon (Robert Keen(e), George Keith, Thomas Kirkham, and Kennedy or Kennady) are discussed on at [accessed 26 JAN 2015].

[3] cited in part by Jeff Kaminski, Facebook post 19 SEP 2014: “Read this in John MacArthur's blog this week... stirs me to treasure God's Word even more.”

[4] Will­iam Cow­per, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” in Twen­ty-six Let­ters on Re­li­gious Sub­jects, by John New­ton (1774); on Cyber Hymnal at [accessed 26 JAN 2015].

[5] Joe Walsh, “The Confessor” (1985); on A-Z Lyrics at [accessed 26 JAN 2015].

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