Bible Study Basics

John Pat Gibbons

When anyone begins to study the Bible, or any other subject for that matter, some things are basic to one's effort. One thing is to ask the what, who, when, or to whom the matter is given.

In regard to who is speaking, we must be careful of the source. Not everything in the Bible is true. In Genesis 3, we have the following statement: "Ye shall not surely die." This statement is made by the devil and is a lie.

Regarding who is spoken to, we need to be careful. I read in Genesis 6 that a man was told to build an ark. This was spoken to Noah and only Noah. No one else is commanded by God to build an ark, so I am not going to build an ark. In addition, in Genesis 22, we read that God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. I am not commanded to sacrifice my son, and neither is anyone else.

As to when something is spoken, I read in Exodus 23 that Israel was to keep three special feasts each year. Later, they were told these were to be observed in Jerusalem. This was an obligation of the children of Israel in another dispensation. The command for keeping three feasts in Jerusalem was not intended for me in the Christian dispensation. In addition, in Exodus 20, I read that men were commanded to keep the Sabbath. This was not for us today, but for Jews in the Mosaic dispensation.

It is also good to note that Christ spoke some things by way of command or promise that were only to the individual to whom he was speaking, but which are neither a command or a promise to me. For example, Jesus, in the limited commission in Matthew, commanded the disciples: "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:5-6). I am glad that that one is not binding today, for I am a Gentile. In the great commission, Jesus said: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15. In Matthew's account of the great commission, Jesus said that in carrying out this commission, He would be with us "unto the end of the world (age)." In view of the fact that the world is still standing, this command is applicable to us today. However, the limited commission is not binding today, though given as a command.

Now let us note a promise that was made to others but that was never made to you or me. I refer to the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For a full reading on the promise read John 14 thru 16. Also, note this: "For John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence." Acts 1:5 (ASV). This promise was to the apostles of Christ, and was not made to any others, then or now. Holy Spirit baptism was never a command, but always a promise. Some may question the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the house of Cornelius, as is recorded in Acts 10 and 11. This instance was not to equip Cornelius and his family with inspiration and the power to work miracles. It was to prove, once and for all, that Gentiles also had a right to salvation in Christ. Note Acts 11:16-18: "Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."

The conclusion to what I am saying in this short article is that we must be careful to know if the writer or speaker is an inspired man, if the command was made in a different dispensation, or if it was a special command for everyone. We must also consider the promises made: who made them and to whom they were made. If we will do this, we will have a better understanding of God's will for us. 119 Holden St., Rogersville, AL 35652.


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