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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Bible Basics: An Introduction to Christian Beliefs

Don Stewart :: In What Ways Should Christian Doctrine Be Studied?

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In What Ways Should Christian Doctrine Be Studied?

Bible Basics – Question 11

It is important that Christian doctrine, or Christian teaching, be seriously studied. There are a number of ways that we should go about doing this. They include the following:

1. We Should Study Christian Doctrine with Intelligence

Christian doctrine should be studied intelligently. In answering the question concerning what was the greatest commandment in the Old Testament, Jesus said the following:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37-38 God’s Word)

Jesus said that we are to love the Lord with “our mind.”

We should use the minds that God has given us to study and evaluate Christian truth. The Apostle Paul used reason and logic when presenting the truths of Jesus Christ to unbelievers. We read the following account in the Book of Acts:

Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” (Acts 17:2-3 NET)

Christian faith is not blind faith. Rather it is an intelligent faith where the claims that are made are to be weighed and evaluated. Scripture does not expect people to exercise blind faith.

2. We Should Use All Resources Available

All resources which are available should be used to study God’s Word. This includes the work of other teachers. The Bible says that God has raised up teachers in the church. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and said the following:

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28 NASB)

We should take advantage of the teaching gifts that God has given to certain people. This includes the writings of past and present Bible teachers.

Our theology has, in part, been shaped by church history. In the past, there were a number of occasions where the greatest minds of the church got together and discussed the key issues of the faith.

This includes such matters as the exact nature of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity, and how a person is saved from their sins. The discussions and conclusions of these meetings should be studied, not ignored. While their conclusions were not infallible, they do represent godly people attempting to wrestle with these central issues.

Therefore, it is important to have some understanding of church history. We cannot live in isolation from the past. Indeed, many of the beliefs and biases that we presently hold come from those who lived in the past. It is important that we understand this.

3. We Should Study with Humility

There should be a humble attitude when approaching the truths of Scripture; there is no place for pride. Jesus spoke of the need for humility. He said:

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12 NIV)

Therefore, the way to succeed in the kingdom of God is by humbling ourselves.

Peter wrote about the need for humility. He said the following:

In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5 NET)

When we learn something new from Scripture we should not be boasting about our new-found knowledge. Such pride is condemned in Scripture. James wrote about the sin of bragging or boasting. He put it this way:

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise! But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your hearts, don’t brag about being wise. That is the worst kind of lie. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and motivated by the Devil. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere. (James 3:13-17 NLT)

Glory should always go to God and to Him alone. He is the only One who deserves it. The psalmist emphasized this when he wrote:

Don’t give glory to us, O LORD. Don’t give glory to us. Instead, give glory to your name because of your mercy and faithfulness. (Psalm 115:1 God’s Word)

Pride has no place in the lives of Bible-believers. Humility is the attribute which should characterize our conduct, not pride.

4. We Should Have a Thankful Heart When Studying Scripture

Our study of God’s Word should be with a thankful heart for what He has revealed to us. The psalmist said that we ought to give thanks to the Lord because of His goodness. He wrote:

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 118:29 NASB)

God has indeed been good to us in giving us His holy Word. He has not only graciously revealed His Word to His people; God has miraculously preserved that Word for us today. This allows us to understand things about Him which we would not otherwise know.

God did not have to do this; yet He did. We now have the opportunity, and the resources, to learn these marvelous truths about Him. This should cause us to have a continual attitude of thankfulness toward Him.

5. Doctrine Should Be Studied with Prayer

Finally, study of God’s Word should be done with prayer. We should pray that God would help us with an understanding of what the Word says. The psalmist asked the Lord to open his eyes to God’s truth. He wrote:

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. (Psalm 119:18 NIV)

Jesus said that we are to ask the Lord for help. We read the following in the Sermon on the Mount:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NASB)

If we ask God to help us understand His Word, He has promised to answer that prayer. Prayer helps us to be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit. Learning about God on our knees can certainly be helpful. Therefore, it is important that we take the time to talk to Him.

One other reason we study Christian doctrine with prayer is to remind ourselves that we are not merely educating ourselves about some remote Person whom we do not know.

To the contrary, we are studying and learning about the living God who is our guide, our hope, and our Lord!

It is clear that Christian doctrine should be studied. It is also clear that it should be studied in a number of specific ways.

Summary – Question 11
In What Ways Should Christian Doctrine Be Studied?

Learning about Christian doctrine takes effort. It is a good experience for us to think through the faith. There are a number of ways that people should go about studying the teachings of Scripture.

First, it should be done in an intelligent manner. We should use our minds to weigh and evaluate the truths that have been revealed.

Second, we should take advantage of all sources available for understanding the truths of God’s Word. This includes the works of teachers.

In addition, the Bible should be approached with all humility. God has promised to honor those who come to Him with a humble attitude.

Moreover, we should approach the study of Christian teaching with a thankful heart. We should be thankful that God has revealed these truths to us and that we are able to study them, know them, and then apply the truths to our lives.

Finally, a serious study of Scripture should be always done with prayer. We should ask the Lord to teach and guide us as we do our study of His Word. It also reminds us that we are learning about a Person.

These are the various ways in which we should approach the subject of the study of Scripture. It is important that we put them into practice.

What Are the Necessary Requirements for a Correct Understanding of Christian Doctrine? ← Prior Section
Why Don’t All Christians Agree on Doctrinal Matters? (Why Are There So Many Different Denominations?) Next Section →
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