Link: GotQuestions.org

Long before I decided to start blogging about Bible Study Made Easy, one of my favorite web sites to visit and recommend to others was GotQuestions.org. This site, which claims to have answered an amazing number of questions, (282,662, at least as of today), provides an excellent service to believers and non-believers (seekers & skeptics) alike and does an outstanding job of fulfilling their simple mission statement, which reads, “Got Questions Ministries seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by providing biblical, applicable, and timely answers to spiritually-related questions through an internet presence.”

Now, as I revisit the site in the context of how it can improve a person’s time studying the Bible, I find the benefits of its content twofold:

THE BIBLE & BIBLE STUDY

GotQuestions.org does a nice job of sorting their questions and answers into general categories, such as God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Salvation, the End Times and more. In their category on Questions about the Bible, many general questions about the book believer’s refer to as “God’s Word” are answered, such as:

  • What is the Bible?
  • Is the Bible truly God’s Word?
  • Why should we read the Bible?
  • Why are there so many Bible translations, and which is the best?
  • Can / Should we interpret the Bible literally?
  • What does it mean that the Bible is inspired?
  • Does the Bible contain errors, contradictions, or discrepancies?
  • Who were the authors of the books of the Bible?
  • Who divided the Bible into chapters and verses?
  • Where is a good place to start reading the Bible?
  • Is the Bible relevant for today?

In addition, under this broad “Bible” category are answers to a number of questions directly related to the practice of Bible study. Here are a few examples:

  • What is the proper way to study the Bible?
  • What are some different methods of Bible study?
  • Why should we read the Bible / study the Bible?
  • What is inductive Bible study?
  • Why is it important to study the Bible in context?
  • Why is it important to study the various characters in the Bible?
  • Why should we study the Old Testament?
  • Why is it so hard to understand the Bible?

One of the things I like and respect most about the authors of the site is that, in trying to answer people’s questions, they pretty much stick to the “Biblical basics.” For example, in answer to the question, “what is the proper way to study the Bible,” they don’t discuss different methods or recommend specific study guides, but simply list out three core ingredients of effective personal Bible study, which they summarize at the end of their response quite nicely:

So, in summary, what is the proper way to study the Bible? First, through prayer and humility, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to give us understanding. Second, we should always study Scripture in its context, recognizing that the Bible explains itself. Third, we should respect the efforts of other Christians, past and present, who have also sought to properly study the Bible. Remember, God is the author of the Bible, and He wants us to understand it.


BIBLE PASSAGES & DIFFICULTIES

In addition to addressing general questions about different aspects of the Christian faith, the web site also attempts to tackle potential challenges to a person’s understanding of a specific Bible verse or passage. For example, here are some of the questions asked and answered related to just the first couple chapters of the book of Genesis:

  • Why are there two different Creation accounts in Genesis chapters 1-2?
  • How could there be light on the first day of Creation if the sun was not created until the fourth day?
  • Why did God use Adam’s rib to create Eve?
  • What is the meaning of the tree of life?
  • Was Adam and Eve’s sin really about eating a piece of forbidden fruit?
  • Why didn’t Adam and Eve find it strange that a serpent was talking to them?
  • Who was Cain’s wife?
  • Why did people in Genesis live such long lives?

Now, if you’ve been a believer for a while and/or have gone through a study of Genesis, you may already know the answers to each of these questions, but for those who haven’t, GotQuestions.org does a very good job of providing sound, Biblically-based insight, similar to what you’d find in a Bible handbook or Bible commentary. In each answer, they strive to direct people back to the Bible with their response, in part by using a feature called RefTagger where the text of each referenced Bible verse actually pops up on the web page.


GotQuestions.org
link: www.gotquestions.org

VIDEO on How to Use the Site:
www.gotquestions.org/how-to-use-GotQuestions.html


[Blog Author’s Note: If you have friends who are seekers of something more in life or maybe skeptics about your faith in God and trust in the Bible, by all means encourage (or challenge) them to visit GotQuestions.org. Maybe when they are done, the Holy Spirit will direct them to the “Got Eternal Life?” page and they will commit their life and their future to Jesus Christ.]

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Study Bible Deals for Kindle and Nook

[Blog Author’s Update: Unfortunately, neither of these resources is still a great deal through Amazon, as the publishers have apparently raised the price to around $20 each. Sorry!]

If you own a Barnes & Noble Nook or an Amazon Kindle or have either of the free reader apps installed on other devices, here are two pretty sweet deals on fairly unique Study Bibles that you may want to take advantage of:

1) NIV ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE ($2.99)

Readers who desire a more intimate knowledge of the historical context of the Bible will appreciate the NIV Archaeological Study Bible. Full of informative articles and full-color photographs of places and objects from biblical times, this Bible examines the archaeological record surrounding God’s Word and brings the biblical world to life. Readers’ personal studies will be enriched as they become more informed about the empires, places, and peoples of the ancient world. (Summary from bn.com)

Features include:

  • Bottom-of-page study notes exploring passages that speak on archaeological and cultural facts
  • Articles (520) covering five main categories: Archaeological Sites, Cultural and Historical Notes, Ancient Peoples and Lands, the Reliability of the Bible, and Ancient Texts and Artifacts
  • Approximately 500 4-color photographs interspersed throughout
  • Detailed book introductions that provide basic, at-a-glance information
  • Detailed charts on pertinent topics
  • In-text color maps that assist the reader in placing the action

More info for Kindle / Nook


2) QUEST STUDY BIBLE ($3.99)

With over one million copies sold, the Quest Study Bible is designed to provide solid, Scripture-based answers to your most perplexing questions. With thousands of notes and hundreds of articles by top evangelical scholars, this unique Bible will quickly become your most trusted resource. (Summary from bn.com)

The Quest Study Bible features include:

  • Over 7,000 sidebar notes that clarify the Bible’s most puzzling passages
  • Nearly 350 articles by top scholars that address the most popular and provocative questions asked by Christians and non-Christians alike
  • Article index and expanded subject index that help you quickly find the answers they’re looking for
  • Single-column Scripture text format
  • Color-keyed verse numbers that supply instant reference to articles and sidebar notes
  • Book introductions that identify themes, characters, and events in each Bible book
  • Over 150 two-color in-text charts, timelines, and maps providing background information you need to understand different passages
  • Concordance, dictionary, 16-page full-color map section, 7-page full-color timeline section, and reading plans to assist your study of the Bible

More info for Kindle / Nook


I BOUGHT BOTH

I actually have very recently purchased both Study Bibles for the Kindle app, which I have on my laptop, Android tablet and Android phone. After some use, I have to concur somewhat with the reviewers on the bn.com site and amazon.com site that the navigation of each leaves something desired with the ebook version of these Study Bibles, probably more so with the Quest Study Bible. That said, for 3 bucks and 4 bucks, respectively, I still find them to be a worthwhile purchase, especially since neither is available in a major Bible software format.

ESV STUDY BIBLE ($9.95)

One more pretty good deal is the ESV Study Bible, which I reviewed last week. While this resource really shines when part of a software library like WORDsearch or Logos, if you don’t have either and do have a Nook or Kindle, at just 10 bucks, this is a purchase to consider to enhance your study time.

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Topic Study: Jesus Healing the Blind

STUDY TOPIC: Jesus’ Miraculous Healing of the Blind

KEY PASSAGE(S): Various

Jesus dealt with people as individuals, treating each according to his/her needs. When it came to His performing miracles, it was the same way. Sometimes it was a very personal, private, almost instantaneous matter. Other times, there seemed to be a bit of a process involved – some steps that needed to be taken or some obedience that needed to be demonstrated – either for the benefit of the person being healed, the onlookers or both.

Look up each of the four situations where Jesus heals a person who could not see and answer the questions, noting the differences and how Jesus handled each situation… each person as a unique encounter. (Note: The healings are presented in sequential order as they took place with the same questions asked of each miracle, so the answer to some may be “nothing” or “none,” if not relevant to what took place during that particular healing.)


1) MATTHEW 9:27-31

What do the men say to/ask Jesus before the healing? ______________________

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What does Jesus say to/ask the men before the healing? ____________________

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What physical contact is there by Jesus related to the healing? _________________

____________________________________________________________

What does Jesus say to the men during the healing? _______________________

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What does Jesus say to the men after the healing? ________________________

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What do the men (and/or onlookers) say/do after the healing? ________________

____________________________________________________________


2) MARK 8:22-26

What does the man say to/ask Jesus before the healing? ____________________

____________________________________________________________

What does Jesus say to/ask the man before the healing? ____________________

____________________________________________________________

What physical contact is there by Jesus related to the healing? _________________

____________________________________________________________

What does Jesus say to the man during the healing? _______________________

____________________________________________________________

What does Jesus say to the man after the healing? _________________________

____________________________________________________________

What does the man (and/or onlookers) say/do after the healing? ______________

____________________________________________________________


3) JOHN 9:1-12

What does the man say to/ask Jesus before the healing? ____________________

____________________________________________________________

What does Jesus say to/ask the man before the healing? ____________________

____________________________________________________________

What physical contact is there by Jesus related to the healing? _________________

____________________________________________________________

What does Jesus say to the man during the healing? _______________________

____________________________________________________________

What does Jesus say to the man after the healing? ________________________

____________________________________________________________

What does the man(and/or onlookers)  say/do after the healing? ______________

____________________________________________________________


4) LUKE 18:35-43

What does the man say to/ask Jesus before the healing? ____________________

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What does Jesus say to/ask the man before the healing? ____________________

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What physical contact is there by Jesus related to the healing? _________________

____________________________________________________________

What does Jesus say to the man during the healing? _______________________

____________________________________________________________

What does Jesus say to the man after the healing? ________________________

____________________________________________________________

What does the man (and/or onlookers) say/do after the healing? ______________

____________________________________________________________


WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED
about Jesus’ method of healing and His dealing with individuals from this study? How can you apply what you learned to how you interact with people (and help them with their problems) in your life day-to-day?

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

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Monthly Recap: July 2011

Well, it’s been a little over a month since the Bible Study Made Easy blog began publication and we have, for the most part, put some information of interest out here every weekday to help you with your time studying God’s Word. We have also started sharing information about the daily posts, as well as quotes from and about the Bible on Twitter. I invite you to follow us at @EasyBibleStudy.

While you are always welcome to explore the entire blog contents at your leisure, here is a quick recap of the posts for the month of July, 2011:

ARTICLES

REVIEWS

LINKS

STUDIES

NEWS


BLOG AUTHOR’S COMMENTS

Thanks to everyone who has visited the Bible Study Made Easy blog so far.

As we move into our second full month of blogging, I ask for your prayers that this site would be used to both equip and encourage people to spend more time actually digging into the life-changing truth and wisdom of God’s Word. Any assistance you wish to provide on getting the word out, whether it’s sharing individual posts-of-interest on Facebook, following us on Twitter and retweeting on occasion or even linking to us through your web site or your church’s web site would be welcome in helping us fulfill our simple, focused mission, all for the glory of our God.

Thanks again! Enjoy the day!

Steve
Bible Study Made Easy
www.BibleStudyMadeEasy.com

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Link: RayStedman.org

I remember back when I was in high school (about 35 years ago, if you must know), I bought a book entitled “Authentic Christianity” from the local Christian bookstore, hoping it would give me a bit of a spiritual “boost.” I’d never heard of the author, Ray Stedman before, but I found the book, which centered on Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian believers, both interesting and engaging. It was only later when I went back to get another book by Stedman that I realized what I had read was actually, in essence, a “narrative commentary” on 2 Corinthians.

While I don’t recommend this type of commentary as your only or even primary source of gaining insight into a specific book of the Bible or passage of Scripture, they do make for great reading and devotional study. Nothing beats a good verse-by-verse commentary or Study Bible for gaining insight into the specific meaning of the original Hebrew or Greek words, or in gaining a better contextual understanding of the culture and mindset of “Bible times.” However, narrative commentaries like Stedman’s and Warren Wiersbe’s “Be” series, that are packed full of scripture references and read almost like they belong more in the “Christian Living” section of the bookstore than the “Bible Commentaries,” provide a flow of verse and interpretation that is very readable and understandable.

That said, here are some of the insightful resources you will find on the RayStedman.org web site:

  • Narrative/devotional commentaries on ten Old Testament books and fifteen New Testament books.
  • Topical commentaries, (what they call “Thematic Studies“), on the Life of Christ, the Holy Spirit, Prayer, Evangelism and more.
  • The complete text of Stedman’s book “Adventuring Through the Bible,” which provides a thorough introduction and overview to each book of the Bible.
  • A Bible-focused daily devotional, with each month emphasizing a different book or section of Scripture.
  • Most of these resources are also available in a series of audio files, (listen online or download), so you can enjoy the teaching in each book while doing other things.
  • Many of the text versions have also been translated into Spanish.

If you aren’t familiar with the works of Ray Stedman, I encourage you to start with his “Authentic Christianity” book, as I did years ago and will be re-experiencing online again very soon. I know you won’t be disappointed.

Ray Stedman Online Library link: www.raystedman.org

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Review: ESV Study Bible

Resource: ESV Study Bible
Publisher: Crossway
Resource Type: Study Bible
Rating: ●●●●● (Excellent)

SUMMARY

A couple years ago, a new, highly-anticipated study Bible came onto the scene that seemed to raise the proverbial bar for all other study Bibles. That Bible was the ESV Study Bible. In addition to including the full text of the English Standard Version, (a 2001 update of the 1971 Revised Standard Version), it had the mother load of study helps, including notes, cross-references, maps and numerous helpful diagrams. The hardcover version is over 2 inches thick and totals more than 2,700 pages. Here’s some of what you’ll find inside:

  • Section summaries that provide an overview of each main section and correspond to the outline shown in the introduction for each book.
  • Over 200 full-color maps printed throughout that make events and places in the Bible come to life.
  • Over 25,000 notes focused especially on understanding the Bible text and providing answers to frequently raised issues.
  • Over 80,000 cross-references that provide easy access to key words, passages, and themes throughout the Bible.
  • Numerous diagrams that bring fresh understanding to key places and events in the Bible, based on the best, most recent historical and archaeological research.
  • Over 200 charts providing concise, “at a glance” summaries of important themes and teaching.

COMMENTS

  • The notes section of this Study Bible is extensive, providing translation explanations of key Hebrew/Greek words, as well as exceptional “cultural context,” (see example below); cumulatively contains more comment material on individual verses than many single-volume concise commentaries.
  • The maps are clear and fairly detailed; ranks among the best of any Study Bible or concise commentary.
  • As with any study Bible, you must first find the translation to your liking. (The English Standard Version page on wikipedia describes it as “a translation that is more literal than the popular New International Version, but more idiomatic than the New American Standard Bible.”) If you like the ESV translation, you’ll simply love this Study Bible.
  • The ESV Study Bible notes are available for both Logos Bible Software and WORDsearch Bible Software, as well as numerous other desktop and mobile software Bible formats.
  • The hardcover version is very affordable, (about 25 bucks from CBD).
  • You can find out more about the translation and even preview the Study Bible at www.esvstudybible.org.

ROMANS 12:1 EXAMPLE

Bible Text
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1 (ESV)

Study Notes
12:1-2 Paradigm for Exhortations: Total Dedication to God. These verses summarize the response to God’s grace and serve as the introduction for all of 12:1-15:13. They encapsulate what it means to live in a way that pleases God.

12:1 Therefore points back to the entire argument from 1:18-11:36. mercies of God. Christians are to give themselves entirely to God because of his saving grace, as shown in 3:21-11:36. Sacrificial language from the OT is used to denote the new life of Christians, and this means that the word bodies here refers to Christians as whole persons, for both body and soul belong to God. They are a living sacrifice, meaning that they are alive from the dead since they enjoy new life with Christ (6:4). “Living” also means that they will not be put to death as OT animal sacrifices were (see notes on sacrifices in Leviticus 1-7), for Christ has fulfilled what was predicted by those sacrifices. Whereas OT worship focused on offering animal sacrifices in the temple, Paul says that spiritual worship in a broad sense now includes offering one’s whole life to God (cf. Heb. 13:15-16). Elsewhere, however, the NT can also use the word “worship” in a narrower sense, to speak of specific acts of adoration and praise (Matt. 2:2; John 4:20; Acts 13:2; 1 Cor. 14:25; Heb. 12:28; Rev. 11:1).

(Source: Lane T. Dennis, ed., ESV Study Bible, The: English Standard Version, Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Bibles, 2008).

MORE DETAILS/PURCHASE INFORMATION LINK

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What Are YOU Studying?

I’ve got a question for you: What are you currently studying in the Bible? Not just reading through in the Bible or perhaps reading about in a book on a Bible subject, but actually taking the time and effort to study in God’s Written Word directly? Okay, in fairness, I suppose I should probably tell you what I am currently doing in the way of actual Bible study first.

ME

While it’s not unusual for me to spend a fair amount of spur-of-the-moment time using my Bible software to dig into some “profound” passage I saw referenced in a magazine or web site article, my major study focus right now is the Gospel of Mark. I’m pacing myself at a chapter a week to really explore what different commentaries and handbooks say about the content, context and culture for a better understanding. I am also striving to see each encounter with Jesus through the eyes of the disciples, as I personally believe that many of Jesus’ actions, (including how he performed different miracles), were for their benefit, as much as those he healed or those he challenged. Currently, I am digging into the fifth chapter where Mark devotes a full 20 verses worth of narrative to telling us how Jesus healed a demon-possessed man and subsequently sent the demons into a herd of pigs that go running off a cliff to their death. (Why did Jesus do that?) Then comes one of my favorite miracle accounts where a woman is healed simply by touching Jesus’ cloak as He and his disciples were rushing to where yet another miracle would be performed.

MY CLASS

Part of my responsibilities at the church where I work involves teaching a Sunday School class consisting mostly of Senior adults. (It’s also very much a privilege.) Because of a limited schedule for preparation, I often tell the class that “you’re studying what I’m studying.” While this may sound easier, I really have no idea how many times some of our Senior Saints have been through a certain book of the Bible, so I try to liven up some aspects of the teaching a bit. For example, in our current study, I begin each class by reading one chapter from Mark’s gospel… using The Message paraphrase. Here are some of the “highlights” of this version so far, totally void of the “thees” and “thous” pretty much all the members of my class grew up with:

    • “As he [John the Baptizer] preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life.” Mark 1:7 (MSG)
    • Everyone there was incredulous, buzzing with curiosity. “What’s going on here? A new teaching that does what it says? He shuts up defiling, demonic spirits and sends them packing!” Mark 1:27 (MSG)
    • Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?” Mark 2:15-16 (MSG)
    • “Are you listening to this? Really listening?” Mark 3:9, 23 (MSG)

God’s Spirit is clearly doing some neat things in the class, simply by starting our study time with my reading the Bible in a “language” the group hasn’t heard over and over, as I will occasionally hear an “ooh” or an “ahh” in response, which tells me (in reference to the last verse quoted above) that the people are indeed “really listening.”

YOU

So how ’bout you? What part of the Bible are you studying? Feel free to comment or email me and tell me about what part of God’s Word your current study time is focused on, what method or study guide you’re using and the difference it has made in your thinking and/or actions, so far. I really would like to know.

Of course, if you need some help or encouragement to jump start your time actually studying God’s Word, I’d love to help with that as well. Look at the other posts in this blog for ideas and resource suggestions or feel free to email me. It would be my privilege to assist you in your personal journey exploring and experiencing the Bible.

[Blog Author’s Note: Feel free to share this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter as a way of encouraging them to explore the quality and quantity of their time actually engaged with God’s Word.]

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