Although it is true that the divine life of Christ resides within us, it also is true that we must make ourselves available to His working by filling our minds with the Word of God. If you’re seeking fresh revelation from God, you’re ready for some very practical guidelines and methods for mining this precious silver (see Prov. 2:1-8).
Some will undoubtedly prefer to gaze at the beauty of the treasure others have rather than picking up the tools and digging for themselves. But the revelation of another will not have the same power to redeem our souls that a personal encounter with God’s Word has.
At first, these study tools may seem useless. But without these practical instruments to help us, we will not be successful in extracting the precious silver ore of wisdom and revelation.
My daddy had quite an elaborate workshop in our home. His many expensive and sophisticated tools qualified him to do difficult carpentry, plumbing and electrical home-improvement tasks. But he also had a small toolbox that he carried with him everywhere.
As a little girl, tagging behind my daddy, I learned to identify the tools in that little box. I even learned to use some of them. In a similar way, we do not need an elaborate theologian’s library to study God’s Word effectively, but we do need to have a toolbox filled with basic items that will help us in our task.
The Scriptures describe the practical work involved in digging for silver when they admonish us to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15, KJV). If we aren’t willing to apply ourselves to the work of study, we don’t want wisdom badly enough. We need to get alone with God and ask Him for a greater hunger for Himself.
A Place of Study
In this world of electronic noise and distractions, we must prepare a place for study that will afford us the quiet we need to “Be still, and know that [He] is God” (Ps. 46:10). We need a place where we can effectively limit the interruptions of clients, family, pets and phone calls.
Our place of study should include a desk (or table), writing utensils and shelves for storing study books. The necessary tools for mining silver should be conveniently placed so we don’t have to run to the basement or upstairs to locate something we need. We should take care to prepare a comfortable place to seek God and furnish it with all the necessary instruments.
A prerequisite for Bible study is a good study Bible. It should be one with print that can be easily read and with paper that is suitable for marking.
I find the King James Version unsurpassed for its beauty of expression in the English language. However, in view of language changes, a reading of various modern translations will help to throw light on many Bible passages.
Some translators have allowed their theological bias to enter into their translating work. Therefore, it is wise to anchor our reading in the King James Version and to use other versions as supplements, referring to the original languages, if possible, when questions are raised regarding translation.
Here is a partial listing of other useful translations, each with its own study helps.
The Scofield Reference Bible is a popular resource. The text is prominent in bold type, with comments at the foot and numerous synopses on various subjects. Some of the notes are excellent; to many, others are unacceptable.
In places the comments are strongly Calvinistic. Unlike a number of other Bibles, it is not self-pronouncing. A loose-leaf, wide-margin edition is available for notes.
The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible has a host of notes in the margin and the “Condensed Encyclopedia,” which is an excellent section divided into more than 4,000 topics. It also contains information on the canon and the principal English versions, an outlined analysis of each book, a number of maps, a concordance and an index. This Bible also has a good harmony of the four gospels and several excellent charts.
The New King James Bible is believed by many to be the translation nearest to the original transcripts of the Bible.
The New Jerusalem Bible is esteemed by many, along with several other reference Bibles that are worthy of mention such as The New Oxford Reference Bible, The Holman Study Bible and The New American Standard Bible.
The Worrell New Testament includes notes by the translator, A.S. Worrell. It is footnoted with many helpful alternative renderings and explanatory notes.
The Emphasized Bible by Joseph Bryant Rotherham is useful as a study and reference book, particularly in sections containing Old Testament notes.
The Moffatt Bible translation has many brilliant insights. However, the liberal theology of the author shows on occasion.
The New Testament in Modern Speech by Richard F. Weymouth is a clear, simple, dignified translation. It is sound from a doctrinal viewpoint.
The New Testament: In the Language of the People by Charles B. Williams is valuable, particularly in the translation of the Greek tenses.
The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips is a paraphrase. Its low-key prose is almost casual. For example, the familiar King James “holy kiss” (see 1 Cor. 16:20) becomes “shake hands all around.”
Reading the same verse from different translations can shed light on the passage’s true meaning as we ask the Holy Spirit to unveil the divine message it contains. Although it is good to follow a daily reading schedule, it is not necessary to devour large portions of the Scripture at a time.
Many times the Holy Spirit will illuminate one word in a passage, and it becomes beneficial to search out that word in other passages. He will always lead us to unearth the richest veins of silver.
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