Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Pure Milk of the Word

The Pure Milk of the Word


Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” – 1 Peter 2:1-3

The hardest part of studying God’s word is knowing who to believe.  There is only one truth, and it is 100% true.  To seek out and find that truth in the midst of numerous doctrines and points of view can be very difficult.
Yet, that is the first thing a newborn Christian is to do – study the word!  1 Peter 2:1-3 says to lay aside all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking, and DESIRE His word so that you can grow.  It’s about the desires of the heart changing.

Malice is a desire to cause someone pain.  Deceit is the desire to deceive someone into believing something not true.  Envy is the desire to have what is not yours.  Evil speaking is a desire to defame someone’s character.
Instead of living in the old desires, we are to desire “the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby”.  This is the source of our growth and change in Christ, our sanctification.  Unfortunately, getting the “pure milk of the word” can be as difficult as trying to eat spaghetti with a spoon!  Not all of God’s word is straight forward and easy to grasp for the new believer.  And there are deep truths that are revealed in God’s word only as God desires to reveal them to the reader. 

You cannot expect preachers, teachers, or even this writer to be 100% correct 100% of the time.  We all try, knowing that God’s word says that we are held accountable for what we teach.  James 3:1-2 says My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” 
For this purpose, you have to dig out the truths of God’s word for yourself.  But that’s not such a difficult chore, given the number of tools available to you these days!  So today, let’s take a look at what is available online for your study time.  The goal is to give you the tools to make studying God’s word not only easy, but enjoyable. 

BibleGateway.COM is more than just the Bible online.  It offers up God’s word in many different translations, allows you to view them in parallel (as if you owned every parallel Bible to be made!), and gives you search features that enable you to find any verse you can even partially recall.  For me, this is so very important.  I often recall what the verse said, or at least a few words of it, but I can never remember where it was!  Being raised in church all my life, I’ve heard the word enough to know what it says, but not tried to memorize all the scripture passage locations. 
One of the ways I like to study using BibleGateway.Com is through a word study.  On their main page there’s an option to the left for “keyword search”.  Using this I can enter things like “angel” and find all passages in God’s word that use the word “angel”, for example. 

Don’t know what you want to study?  Look to the left of the main window and you’ll see links for devotionals, reading plans, and even audio versions for those that would rather hear it than read it.
Before online study was possible, one of my favorite study tools was Nave’s Topical Bible.  It is a large book that lists by topic of study every verse related to that topic.  But using this method, each verse then had to be looked up to see it in full.  It was tedious, and took quite a bit of time.  Using the side menu on BibleGateway.COM, you can select “topical search” and the full indexation from Nave’s Topical Bible is at your fingertips!  This is very important in word studies, whereby even our example of searching on “angel” may not include references such as “heavenly host”. 

Another great tool in understanding God’s word is Strong’s Concordance.  For years, this monstrous book sat on my desk, printed in small print, and yet still 3-4 inches thick!  Strong’s will allow you to look up a verse and find the original words used from the Hebrew or Greek context by a numerical index.  It is now online as well, and on multiple sites.  I like to use it from BlueLetterBible.ORG.  On the main page to the right you’ll see “BLB Searches”.  In the first blank you enter the chapter and verse (or just the chapter), and it will give you the word index number beside any words that are found in Strong’s.  Click on the number, and you’ll be taken to the Strong’s definition of the word.  At the bottom of the page, it will list everywhere in God’s word that this Hebrew or Greek word is used.  There are great truths to be found in studying the Hebrew and Greek meanings of the words that have often been poorly translated to English. 
Another personal favorite is StudyLight.ORG.  From this site you can gain access to numerous commentaries on the passage you are studying.  Some will explain the passage from a historic perspective, and others from a Gods-word-as-a-whole perspective, and there’s even one that will give you the Jewish perspective.  From the main page, enter the chapter under “Enter Search Text”, and select your version.  The next page will list the chapter by verse, with links to the right under “Study Resource List”.  From here there are many abbreviated study resource names.  The bottom of the page lists what the abbreviation means, and offers up Adam Clark’s Commentary, Matthew Henry Complete, Darby’s Synopsis, Scofield Reference Notes, Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, Thompsons Chain Reference, Holman’s Bible dictionary, and many more.   It even offers up a reference to one of my all-time favorite devotionals, My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers.

There’s no reason why ANY person with online access cannot study God’s word daily with all these tools available at your fingertips.  Many of the sites even allow you to have Bible scriptures or devotionals emailed to you daily.  And it’s all free, where that if we had to purchase all this, it could take a small fortune!  And these I’ve listed are just the short list of online sources.  There are MANY more that can be found just using your search engine and searching “online Bible study resources”.
When Paul wrote in Ephesians 6 regarding putting on the whole armor of God, listing the elements that Christians need in order to do the daily battle with the enemy that we face, the one weapon we were given, in verse 17, is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God“.  Far to many Christians face the enemy and fail every day because they didn’t take the sword to battle.  Even Jesus when tempted by satan in Matthew 4 fought back by quoting God’s word not once, not twice, but three times!  

How many of us choose to feed our flesh only on Sunday mornings and continue through the week with nothing else to eat?  Not one! Yet for some reason we assume that our spiritual being can do without the pure milk of the word for the entire week until we’re back in church.  Trust this old gal with 25 years of experience trying to live without consistent Bible study outside of church.  If you don’t study on your own – you will not grow in Christ.  If you truly desire to grow in Christ - or even want the desire to grow within you - you MUST study God’s word daily.  There is no growth outside of God’s word.  Commit yourself to it with a steadfast promise to yourself and God, and then follow through.  You will be amazed at what God has in store for you within the word! 

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