Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to read the Bible: part two; doctrine

This is a study of how to read the King James Bible, also known as the Authorized Version, in order to help with understanding.

This section will be on doctrine.

Doctrine is defined by the Bible as law in Proverbs 4:2. Doctrine is the rules, the standards for you, in your dispensation, which is not a period of time but a way in which God deals with His people. It is something that can be taught in Mark 1:22. It can be taught by parables in Mark 4:2. There are many other statements about doctrine in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament.

Here are some general ideas to help you establish true doctrine.

First, understand that most of the Bible is written directly and literally to the Jews. It is not doctrine for Gentile believers in Christ. The entire Old Testament, the Gospels, most of Acts, and the General Epistles or Tribulation letters, plus Revelation are not specifically written to you as doctrine. Every verse applies to you but not doctrinally. A particular verse in Ezekiel, for instance, may only have a metaphorical or symbolic application to you, or, if it doesn’t contradict a doctrinal statement in Paul’s letters it can be practically and literally applicable.

The literal and specific doctrine for Christians can be found in the letters starting with the name, Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. (Romans 15:16).

Paul’s letters are written in response to letters sent to him or to conversations he has had. It is important to try to prayerfully figure out what problems he was asked to address.

Rules for establishing doctrine are rather straightforward.

1. Begin in the letters that start with the name Paul.

2. Look at all of the verses in context on the subject.

3. Define words by methods outlined in lesson one.

4. Confirm by background texts in other parts of the Bible.

5. Look at available information on historical background and context if your are still confused and uncertain.

6. In prayer, come to a conclusion apart from popular belief or the pet opinions of your favorite celebrity preacher. Use the Bible exclusively and prayer as your guide as without the Holy Spirit’s help you won’t figure out anything. Other information apart from the Bible is limited in its value. Don't overestimate the importance of an historical work as they are useful only for providing context.

In the following feel free to add verses that you believe are applicable and explain to yourself why.

Doctrine 1: How do you get saved?

Romans 10:9-10 is the clearest expression of how you get saved.

Also read Ephesians 2:8,9

Exercise: Many authorities add “repent of your sins” to this equation. On what grounds would they be able to do that?

Doctrine 2: Can you lose your salvation?

Read 2 Corinthians 1:21,22; Ephesians 1:13; and 4:30

Exercise: How do you reconcile those verses with 2 Timothy 2:12; 1 Corinthians 11:29; and 1 Timothy 5:12?

Doctrine 3: Why must Christians be baptized? Does it have some quality to save them apart from belief?

Read 1 Corinthians 1:16, 17; Mark 16:16; and 1 Peter 3:21.

Exercise: What are people being baptized with in context in the following verses; Ephesians 4;4,5; Romans 6:3,4; 1 Corinthians 10:2;1 Corinthians 12:13? Could you relate baptism to Romans 10: 9, 10 in any way?

Doctrine 4: In 1 Corinthians Paul gives a long argument for women having long hair in the Corinthian church and men not having long hair. However, at the end of the argument he says that it’s not a custom in the other churches. Read 1 Corinthians 11:1-16.

Exercise: Is Paul saying that for a woman to have a short hair style is a sin or an act of disobedience to Christ? What is the historical and religious context of long or short hair on a Corinthian woman? Does it apply to all Christian women in every place in every time?

Doctrine 5: Under what conditions are Christians required to give money to the church organization? Is a ten per cent tithe required? Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-7.

Exercise: Find the word “tithe” or some form of it in the letters written to the Christian? On what basis would a preacher or pastor or bishop request a tithe or a fixed percentage of someone’s income? Is it valid?

Doctrine 6: Are Christians to obey government authorities? Read Titus 3:1 and Romans, chapter 13.

Exercise: Taking into consideration the literal context of Romans 13 and reading Acts 5:26-29 under what conditions are Christians to obey magistrates? Under what conditions to disobey?

These are just a few. Come up with your own doctrinal exercise and answer it prayerfully. Search the Scriptures.

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