Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
We have tried here to answer some of the questions that new believers and new readers of the Bible have about God and about reading and studying the Bible on a regular basis.
Bible Reading:A Crucial Need
The Bible and the Holy Spirit are the two greatest gifts that God has given to men. Both are vital to the Christian life. Without the Spirit,the Bible becomes merely a book full of laws,rules and regulations—dead letters that kill. Without the foundation of the Bible,Christians may be misguided into thinking that God has inspired a certain thought,action,plan,or the development of a concept—when He really hasn’t.
The Bible,the word of God,provides sinners with the knowledge and the faith they need to receive God’s salvation and be regenerated by God’s life. Once saved,believers need the Word for spiritual nourishment so they can grow and be perfected and equipped for God’s work.
The Apostle Paul wrote of the Word’s central role in a letter to his young coworker in 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
“And that from a babe you have known the sacred writings,which are able to make you wise unto salvation through the faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching,for conviction,for correction,for instruction in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete,fully equipped for every good work.”
Another passage also points to man’s dependence on God’s word to live the Christian life. In the gospel of Matthew,the Devil tempted Jesus by suggesting that He turn stone into bread. Unaffected,Jesus remarked,“Man shall not live on bread alone,but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God”(Matt. 4:4).
The Bible is full of facts about God:He became our Savior (1 Tim. 2:3-4);He died on the cross to save sinners;and He resurrected to become the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b). Reading and praying over these facts in the Word,readers develop faith (Gal. 3:2;Rom. 10:17) to believe into and receive God.
It is only through the Word that people can receive Jesus Christ into their hearts. Only the Bible contains the spiritual facts that make it possible for God to be revealed in readers,who then know and possess God. The more Christians read the Bible and pray accordingly,the more they come to know and possess Him.
For example,when Bible readers pray over the spiritual fact that God is love (1 John 4:8),God enters them to be their love. Without praying,human love is usually transient and temporary. Even if people put in their best efforts,their love for someone eventually fades. It’s impossible to love without the God who is love. The only way to have love is to receive God by praying with the Word.
This is why Jesus said,“It is the Spirit who gives life;the flesh profits nothing;the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life?(John 6:63). Those who touch God’s word should receive spirit and life,not just knowledge. And the Spirit gives people the life that enables them to practice what the Word commands.
But how can Christians pray over the Word? Take John 6:63,for example. A possible prayer could be,“O God my Father,how I thank You that You are the Spirit who gives life. The flesh is good for nothing and can do nothing. I do not treasure my flesh but I desire Your Spirit. And,my dear Lord Jesus Christ,I also thank You that the words You spoke to me in the Bible are spirit and are life. Without Your words,I have no spirit and no life. Now,I come to You as I read Your words to receive the Spirit of God and the life of God from You. Today,I need You,Your Spirit,and Your life for my Christian walk. Thank You Jesus. Amen.?/p>
Apply this principle to every part of the Bible. As you read through the Bible,chapter by chapter,you will come across many wonderful spiritual facts. When you pray according to what you have read,understood,and appreciate,the spiritual facts will become real to you as God fills you.
When approaching the Bible,it is helpful to understand the roles the Old and New Testaments play and how they complement each other.
The Lord defined the Old and New Testaments in Luke 24:27,44-45 when He said,“And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets,He explained to them clearly in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself ?And He said to them,these are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you,that all the things written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and Psalms concerning Me must be fulfilled. Then He opened their mind to understand the Scriptures.?/p>
Theologian Augustine once said that the New Testament is contained in the Old and that the Old Testament is explained in the New. We may put the matter this way:The New Testament is in the Old contained,and the Old Testament is in the New explained. This means that the New Testament is in the Old Testament and that the Old Testament is explained by the New Testament.
–“The Conclusion of the New Testament,?page 1 (Living Stream Ministry)
The Old Testament gives a portrait,in types and prophecies,of this wonderful person as the Coming One. Now,in the New Testament,this wonderful person has come. The first page of the New Testament,in recommending this wonderful person to us,gives us His genealogy. This genealogy can be considered an abstract of the Old Testament,which in itself is the detailed genealogy of Christ. To understand the genealogy in Matthew,we need to trace the origin and history of every incident.
–“Recovery Version of the New Testament,?page 5,footnote 1:11 (Living Stream Ministry).
While these excerpts show the importance of the Old Testament,the New Testament stands alone in that its sole subject is Jesus Christ.
The first name (Matt. 1:1) and the last name (Rev. 22:21) in the New Testament is Jesus,proving that Jesus Christ is the subject and content of the New Testament. The Bible is a book of life,and this life is a living person,the wonderful and all-inclusive Christ
–Recovery Version of the New Testament,?page 5,footnote 1:11 (Living Stream Ministry).
And to kick off this Christ-centered part of the Bible,the New Testament begins with four gospels,each of which presents Jesus Christ from a different angle,and each portraying a different side of Him.
The Gospel of Matthew testifies that He is the King,the Christ of God prophesied in the Old Testament,who brings the kingdom of the heavens to the earth. The Gospel of Mark tells us that He is the Servant of God,laboring for God faithfully. Mark’s account is most simple,for a servant does not warrant a detailed record. The Gospel of Luke presents a full picture of Him as the only proper and normal man who ever lived on this earth;as such a man,He is the Savior of mankind. The Gospel of John unveils Him as the Son of God,the very God Himself,who is life to God’s people.
–“Recovery Version of the New Testament,?pages 5-6,footnote 1:11 (Living Stream Ministry)
The genealogy in Matthew shows that Jesus is the King,as prophesied in the Old Testament. By giving an account of all Christ’s ancestors,the genealogy proves that He is the proper successor to the throne of King David. The genealogy in Luke shows that Jesus is a proper and normal man,proving his qualification to be to be the Savior of mankind. The gospel of Mark does not include a genealogy because the book details Christ’s life as a servant. The same is true for the gospel of John,which unveils that Jesus is God. (Recomposed from paragraph three of footnote 1:11 on page 6 of the Recovery Version of the New Testament.)
Now that you’re acquainted with the Bible’s organization and its main message,you can proceed to reading the Bible itself and developing a relationship with God.
It is necessary for all believers to have a private,intimate,direct,sweet,and fresh fellowship with God,which can only be accomplished through prayer and reading the Word in the morning hours. A good example of this is the manna that nourished the children of Israel in wilderness. The only time they had access to the manna was in the morning. As soon as the sun became hot,the manna melted.
In the same way,Christians must strive to “gather the manna?in the morning by reading the Word and praying. Much like the children of Israel,each Christian must gather the manna for themselves. Arising early every morning to read the word and pray is vital for every Christian’s relationship with God. Allowing the day’s business to impinge upon this morning time will only interfere with your fellowship with God.
Devoting yourself to reading a chapter,or even a few verses,every morning is the best move for every Christian’s spiritual life. As the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:23,the Word regenerates. “Having been regenerated not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible,through the living and abiding word of God.?The Word is also crucial to spiritual growth,as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:2. “As newborn babes,long for the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation.?br>
But in order to understand the Bible better,reading it in a group is necessary. The Apostle Paul encouraged this in Hebrews 10:24-25,“And let us consider one another so as to incite one another to love and good works,Not abandoning our own assembling together,as the custom with some is,but exhorting one another;and so much the more as you see the day drawing near.?
Reading the Bible together with a group of people makes the experience more interesting,enlightening,and stable. And group members can help each other to keep going. People can read with others at home,school,office,neighborhood,or relatives. Start a Bible reading group wherever you are!
A small group of people who gather to read the New Testament one chapter at a time.
Each gathering should last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes,or as long as necessary.
Everyone can choose to read from his/her own version of the Bible or the same version.
The group will use a guide that will help group members to read and understand each chapter.
With 260 chapters in the New Testament,completing it will require one year at a rate of five chapters per week or five years at a rate of one chapter per week
People need to read the Bible to receive God’s light,life,and guidance. When reading with prayer,readers become aligned with God and receive His presence and blessing.
Families who read the Bible and pray together will stay together and live in love and harmony.
Employees who read the Bible and pray at work will have a higher morale and greater productivity. Customer relations may improve and theft will decrease.
Students who read the Bible and pray in school,are more attentive in class,assimilate their lessons faster,and are less violent.
When neighbors get together to read the Bible and pray,they are more friendly toward one another,creating a safer neighborhood.
Friends who read the Bible and pray together remain faithful friends forever.
When relatives read the Bible and pray together,they will take care of one another in love.
The benefits are beyond description and can last for an eternity.
Pray,asking the Lord to prepare people for your group.
Read the above explanations together.
Invite them to join you in starting a Bible-reading group.
Arrange the time(s),day(s) of the week,and location for the meeting.
Pray for your group daily.
Every group should own at least one Recovery Version. To purchase one or more from Amana Christian Bookstore,or request for a free copy,call toll free 1-888-848-7395. Free copies from Bibles for America are available in USA only.
Ask everyone to bring his/her own Bible.
Remind everyone of the meeting time the day before.
The length ?30 to 45 minutes
The founder of the Bible-reading group should be the first facilitator.
The facilitator should help everyone to participate in praying,reading,questioning,and answering.
The facilitator should not dominate the meeting by talking all the time.
The more participation from all the group members,the more attractive the group will be. Thus,the group will continue and may group in size.
Always help other group members to learn to facilitate.
Praying at the beginning of the Bible-reading group
Prayer is as important as reading and understanding the Word. Through prayer,people receive God’s life.
Prayer opens your heart to the Lord,who opens your mind to understand His word.
There is a sample opening prayer in the beginning of each guide.
Reading and understanding the chapter
One group member should read the “Overview of the chapter?located at the top of the page.
Before reading each section,someone should read the “overview?of the section.
Group members should take turns in reading the verses in the section.
You may pray as you are reading.
If some passages or phrases enlighten and touch you,pray with the words.
If any passages or phrases expose your sins and convict you of your faults,confess them according to the words.
After reading the section,use the explanations in the Recovery Version to understand the main points of the chapter.
Write down what you still do not understand and send a message to the web master.
Praying at the end of the meeting
Pray over what touched you the most. There is a sample closing prayer at the end of the guide.
Pray for the needs of friends and relatives and their salvation.
Confirm your next Bible-reading group time.
All verses are quoted from the Recovery Version published by Living Stream Ministry of Anaheim,CA.
RcV is the acronym for the Recovery Version of the New Testament.
The Conclusion of the New Testament is published by Living Stream Ministry of Anaheim,CA.