Over at the Blue Letter Bible Blog they’re going to be running a series with Justin Alfred (who taught at the Calvary Chapel Bible College) giving an introductory look at Biblical Hebrew. They’re starting with Psalm 23.
Over at the Blue Letter Bible Blog they’re going to be running a series with Justin Alfred (who taught at the Calvary Chapel Bible College) giving an introductory look at Biblical Hebrew. They’re starting with Psalm 23.
In every generation since Jesus walked the earth, Christians have had to think about, describe, and defend their teaching about what the written word of God is. One of the words that recent generations have used to help describe what we believe about the Bible is the word “inerrant.” Basically, it means that the Bible is without error. In our day, this idea is again being questioned. Of course, we expect non-believers to take issue with this idea, but many today within the Church are questioning both the use of word “inerrant” and the idea it expresses. I thought these two passages from John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Word of God were helpful in terms of thinking through all of this.
First, after a short study in the meaning of the word “inerrant,” he states:
…Our brief lexical study justifies the following usage: inerrant means, simply, “without error.” Infallible denies the possibility of error. In those senses…I would say that Scripture is both inerrant and infallible. It is inerrant because it is infallible. There are no errors because there can be no errors in the divine speech.
This conclusion follows from our previous discussions of God’s personal words, particularly his words to us in human words. In chapter 1, I proposed a thought-experiment in which we imagined God speaking to us face-to-face. In that direct encounter, it would have been unthinkable for any of us to accuse God of error or wrongdoing. We would recognize that God spoke with absolute authority (the right to impose obligation on his hearers).
Error arises from two sources: deceit and ignorance. Deceit is intentional error, lying. Ignorance may lead to unintentional error. But God does not lie (Num. 23:19; 2 Tim. 2:13; Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18), and he is ignorant of nothing (Ps. 33:13-15; Heb. 4:12-130. If Scripture is his Word, therefore, it contains no errors. It is inerrant.
Later in the same chapter, Frame goes on to say that, though he wishes things were simpler, he still thinks it best to use words like “inerrant” to describe what we mean when speaking about the Bible:
In my definitions presented earlier, inerrancy simply means “truth,” in the propositional sense. I could wish that we could be done with all the extrabiblical technical terms such as infallible and inerrant and simply say that the Bible is true. But in the contexts of historical and contemporary theological discussion, that alternative is not open to us. Theologians are too inclined to distort the word truth into some big theological construction that has nothing to do with simple propositional correctness. As we have seen, there are several ways in which truth is used in Scripture, and in John 14:6 it is a title of Christ himself. Theologians have taken license from these facts to ignore or deny the more common propositional use of the term, or its relevance to the doctrine of the word of God.
So it seems that to express what we want to say, we must choose another term instead of (or as a supplement to) truth. Infallibility is a good term, as we have seen, arguable stronger than mere truth, for it denies the very possibility of untruth. It also has the advantage of a historical usage going back to the Protestant Reformation. But as we have seen, such writers as Rogers and McKim have hijacked infallibility also, going against responsible lexical usage to turn it into a weaker term than either truth or inerrancy.
So although I still prefer the word truth, I will hold on to inerrancy as an alternative, along with the adjective infallible, not to mention reliable, accurate, correct, and others, so there can be no doubt as to the view I am defending, the view that Scripture teaches and the church has affirmed until the advent of the seventeenth-century rationalistic theology.
Have you ever been hung up by the apparent contradiction between Romans 3:28 and James 2:24?
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” That’s Paul in Romans.
“You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” That’s James.
Josh Lomas recently reminded me of this little story/example I did for a study back in the high school youth group. I’m interested to know if it resonates with any of you as a way to see these verses complimenting each other instead of contradicting. (As usual, it has to do with context, good close reading, and letting the authors speak for themselves.) After the story I included my notes from the study which spell out some details explicitly. Let me know what you think.
How works and faith figure into our salvation: A Picture of Romans 3:28 and James 2:24 working together.
A man stands before God to face his final judgment. He is told that he faces God’s wrath for being sinful and being a sinner. He is asked if he has evidence to show that the verdict is wrong. Can he show that he is righteous and not wicked? Can he prove he should be saved from God’s wrath? The man says, “I have good works to show that I am righteous, and should not face God’s wrath.” The books are searched. The man is not found in the Lamb’s book of life. The record of his life shows only many works that fall short of God’s glory. The verdict from the throne is: “That is not enough. You have a sin debt too great to pay with good works. And even those things you did were not good, because they were all tainted by sin (Is 64:6). So by displaying works tainted by sin, you have only added to your guilt. You will be judged according to your works. The verdict is: Guilty. You will not be saved from the wrath of God.” And Paul would stand up and say, “Yes! No one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law. A man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (Romans 3:20 & 28).
A second man stands before God to face his final judgment. He is told that he faces God’s wrath for being sinful and being a sinner. He is asked if he has evidence to show that the verdict is wrong. Can he show that he is righteous and not wicked? Can he prove he should be saved from God’s wrath? The man says, “I have faith.” He is asked to demonstrate that this faith is true. Can he show that he trusts Jesus Christ for salvation? The books are searched. The man is not found in the Lamb’s book of life. The record of his life shows that the man had no change of life, no repentance and no fruit to show true faith. Instead of any good works, the man only has tainted, evil works, just like the first man. The verdict from the throne is: “It is not enough to say you have faith. If you had believed in Christ, you would have experienced a new life within which would have caused you to do good works. Your faith would have come out in obvious ways. You would be able to show that you had truly trusted Christ as your only hope to escape God’s wrath. The verdict is: Guilty. You will not be saved from God’s wrath.” And James would stand up and say, “Yes! If a man says he has faith, but does not have works, can that kind of faith save him? No! This faith is dead and useless. If this man had works to show, it would have proved his faith was not alone, but was alive and real. He would have been justified and saved” (James 2:14, 17 & 24)
A third man stands before God to face his final judgment. He is told that he faces God’s wrath for being sinful and being a sinner. He is asked if he has evidence to show that the verdict is wrong. Can he show that he is righteous and not wicked? Can he prove he should be saved from God’s wrath? The man says, “I have faith.” He is asked to demonstrate that this faith is true. Can he show that he trusts Jesus Christ for salvation? The man says, “I am only a sinner and deserve judgment, but I trusted what Jesus did on my behalf. My only hope is that He is righteous, and that I belong to Him. But if my life must be examined, it will be found that I was a changed person after I was born again. The Spirit of Christ energized me so that, with the time I had left, He used me to do things that glorified God.” The books are searched. It is found that there are no evil works recorded for this man. They have all been wiped off the records. The only place the man is found recorded is in the Lamb’s book of life, where it is written that the man’s life began with the birth he experienced the day he believed in Jesus. From then on, only good works, done in faith, planned for him by God, are recorded. In his short life, he bore fruit that obviously came from a new life within. The verdict from the throne is: “Well done, good and faithful servant. The verdict is: Righteous. Because you are in Christ by faith, and He is righteous, you are saved from the wrath of God. And as you have served Me faithfully, receive rewards and enter into the eternal joy of My kingdom.”
And James and Paul would stand up together and say, “Amen!”
And here’s some further notes, from a study on James 2:14-26…
Question: Does James (2:24) disagree with Paul? See Romans 3:20-28.
Reason 1: James and Paul are writing about different subjects.
Paul was writing about the fact that all people are condemned, and they can’t work their way back to God.
James was writing about people who already claimed to be saved and right with God.
Paul says that you get right with God by faith, and not by doing things.
James says, if you’re right with God, it will show now because your life will change.
Reason 2: Therefore, James and Paul are using two words differently in these two verses.
Reason 3: The rest of their writings show that James and Paul believe in the same kind of faith: One that works. or… A faith that powerfully changes your life and makes you live in new, God-pleasing ways.
Both James and Paul believe in an active, living faith that transforms a life and produces good works. Both James and Paul believe this faith will produce evidence that will show that it is real when you stand before Christ’s judgment seat.
See these verses for Paul’s thinking on how works come from faith: Gal 5:6, Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 2:11-3:2 & 3:8, Philippians 2:12-13
See these verses for in James for James saying that faith is central: 1:3 (assumed), 1:6 (needed), 2:1 (assumed), 2:5 (chosen have it), 2:17 (present, but not alone), 2:22 (senior partner), 2:23 (what needed to be fulfilled)
Ever get bogged down trying to read the laws recorded in the Old Testament (Exodus, Leviticus, etc…)? John Sailhamer has some helpful advice and encouragement about how to read these passages of scripture. First, he lists four principles to remember when reading the law:
Under #4, he gives some really helpful advice:
The laws are a collection of “just” decisions.
The laws in the Pentateuch provide an exemplary collection of “just” decisions to help inculcate a spirit of justice in the reader’s heart. Perhaps the most important reason for the Mosaic law in the Pentateuch is to serve as a textbook on justice. By reading and reflecting on these examples of “just” decisions in particular and specific contexts, one gains a sense of that justice as it occurs in specific cases. To be sure, the laws in the Pentateuch are only particular and specific examples within actual ancient contexts. They are not mere abstractions that can be applied to everyday, or contemporary, settings. They are actual examples of God’s specific decisions in the past. As such, the laws in the Pentateuch show what divine justice looked like in actual situations. The goal of reading such laws was likely not to strip them of their context in order to uncover an embedded principle. Although there may be a place for that, the goal was to allow the narrative context to disclose an insight into the way God sees our tangled lives. The laws do not answer the question “What should we do in cases like this?” but rather the question “What did God think about specific cases like these and how, or what, can we learn about justice from him?” In some ways, what Walther Eichrodt once said about Israelite law in general applies here to the Mosaic law:
If we are seeking to define the distinctive character of the Mosaic law…then attention must first be drawn to the emphasis with which the entire law is referred to God…Israelite law on the whole contents itself with applying a few basic dicta fairly freely over and over again. These dicta are, however, inculcated as the divine will and thus impressed on the heart and conscience. Application to individual concrete instances is then left in many cases to a healthy feeling for justice.
Thus, the Pentateuch is intended to be the object of meditation and reflection (cf. Josh 1:8; Ps 1:2; Mal 4:4). It teaches, by concrete example, what justice (mispat) and righteousness (sedaqa) are. Hence, the Pentateuch is written not for the Sinai covenant, but for the new covenant (Jer 31:31-32; cf Deut 4:60. Unlike the Sinai covenant, in the new covenant the law was to be written on the heart. God’s people were to have a new heart (Ezek 36:26). The Spirit of God was to remove their heart of stone and give them a new heart, one that would obey and seek to follow God’s will. The law was to be written on the heart in the same way it was written on the pages of the Pentateuch: example by example. The Spirit of God was to use the Word of God to write his will on the heart of the reader. The Pentateuch therefore is a book much like Proverbs. One can read it and find there a healthy sense of what is right and good as well as what is not good. Justice is imprinted on the heart by reading and meditating on its words. This is illustrated in the admonitions of Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:2. The source of wisdom is meditation on the Scriptures, which includes its laws.
The way to gain wisdom and a sense of what is right and just from the Pentateuch is to read it as wisdom, looking for an accumulation of the sense of what justice looks like in concrete and qualified situations. Just as one becomes wise by reflecting on the examples of wisdom in Proverbs, so one becomes good and just by reflecting on the laws of the Pentateuch.
John Sailhamer, The Meaning of the Pentateuch, pg. 560-562
You’re reading your Bible and you hit a word that just makes you stop and think. Maybe it’s because you’re not exactly sure what it means, or maybe because it has caught your imagination. Either way, you get the desire to go deeper with this word…
You’re ready for a word study. Below are eleven easy steps to get you there. This list assumes you have a concordance (like Strong’s) or access to the internet.
If you’d rather download this to save or print, click here.
How to Do a Biblical Word Study.
1. Make sure you understand the meaning of the word as it appears in the verse you’re looking at.
In other words, what is the verse saying? Do you understand the word, and the sentence it is in? At this point you may need to look up the word in an English dictionary if it is not familiar to you. (For example, do you know the English definitions of common Bible words like propitiation, redemption, abide, atonement?)
2. Examine the near context to see how the word is used.
The first step to understanding the meaning of the word is making sure you look closely at how it is used in the section or paragraph in question. What does the author seem to be using the word to say?
3. Compare different English versions to see how the translators dealt with the word.
This will give you an immediate grasp on if there are any ambiguities in the language (in which case you will see different words used in the translations) and give you your first glimpse into the original language behind the English text.
4. Look the word up in a concordance (or using blueletterbible.org). Note the number (in Strong’s) that corresponds to the Greek or Hebrew word you’re studying.
At this point, notice if the English word you’re looking up is used to translate more than one Greek word. If it is, you want to limit your study to the verses with the same number next to them. This is because all word studies should be based on the word in the original language, not in the translation language, since the original is the word the author actually used.
The other words translated by the same English words may be related to your word, however, so keep that in mind as you study, since you might want to use those other words to help you understand your study word.
5. Look up the number in the back of the concordance to see the Greek word that you’re studying.
At this point it may be a good idea to write down both the Strong’s (or GK) number from the concordance, and the transliteration of the Greek word (like “agape”) you’re studying, so that you can move quickly around the concordance and also use other reference works (especially if they’re keyed to Strong’s numbers).
6. Using the concordance, examine how the word is used in the rest of the book.
Look up each English word used to translate the Greek or Hebrew word. Make sure you pay attention to the numbers by the verses, to make sure that you’re only looking at the verses translating the same Greek word. One way around this is to use The Englishman’s Greek Concordance instead of Strong’s at this point. It organizes the entries by Greek word, instead of by English word.
7. Using the concordance, examine how the word is used in the rest of the author’s work.
Every word has a range of meanings, which means authors may use any or all of those meanings for the word, or may tend to only use one or a few of the words meanings (in other words, he may only use part of the range of meaning). As a consequence, there are some words that different authors use differently (such as “world” and “works”). This step will be especially important when you go to look up the word in a dictionary or lexicon: you need to make sure you notice how the author tends to use the word, since that will give you a clue which definitions in the dictionary or lexicon you can favor in your study. For instance, a dictionary may list 5 possible definitions for a word. The more they vary, the less you can assume they are all part of the meaning of the word as the author is using it. You need to see the author’s tendency to know which definition fits you context.
John Piper explains: “Since any word or phrase may carry more than one meaning, our task is to determine precisely which meaning an author intends a given word or phrase to have. Adler calls a word or phrase a “term” when it is used with a determinate meaning in a given context. “Coming to terms” is what we do when we discover what that determinate meaning is. You cannot come to terms with a Biblical author by looking his words up in a dictionary; not even a Greek dictionary. Dictionaries give a list of possible meanings, but do not specify with certainty which meaning a word has in any given text. How then do you come to terms? …You have to discover the meaning of a word in its context that you do understand. This is true no matter how merry-go-roundish it may seem at first. The only way to know when the Greek word zelos means “zeal” and when it means ”jealousy” is by the context in which it occurs…We should make every effort to understand the context in which a word stands so that we ascribe to it only the meaning that the author intended.”
In other words, this step helps you know what the author meant to say with the word you’re studying.
8. Using the concordance Examine how the word is used in the rest of the New Testament.
This will give you insight into more shades of meaning, and help you place the word in the context of the New Testament revelation. In other words: what did the word mean for the first Christians?
9. Develop a working definition of the word.
Your definition should include these parts: 1) How it is used in the context, 2) How it is used in the book and by the author’s other writing, ) How other New Testament authors use the word, especially if it is different from or adds significantly to your author’s use.
At this point you should apply what you’ve found to the passage you’re studying. Has your reading of the verse in question changed or been enhanced?
10. Look up the word in a dictionary (like Vine’s or Mounce’s) or Lexicon (like Thayer’s or Bauer’s).
This will give you a full view of the whole range of meaning for the word. It will help you notice anything you missed in your study.
You may do this step earlier, of course, and you may want to. If you wait and do it at the end, you’ll be able to evaluate the dictionary definition and know which parts of it apply most to your passage. The entry (especially if it’s longer) will make more sense to you, and you’ll be able to resist the temptation to “pull” all the definitions into your thinking. If you do this step earlier (which may be hard to resist) you’ll just have to read the dictionary entry carefully and see
11. Now go back and read the original verses you studied, with all your new knowledge to help you.
Ever wondered what people who lived in the time of the early church would have thought when they read one of the accounts of Jesus written a few decades after His death? Well, according to Richard France, they would have seen Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as biographies–in some sense just like any other book written to tell others about someone’s life. They had that kind of literature back then (it was called bios, or bioi in the plural). And yet, as they began to read, they would have immediately noticed that these were no ordinary biographies. Here, France discusses the Gospe according to Mark in particular:
How is Mark like other ancient biographies?
The earliest titles we have for this book call it Euangelion kata Markon (“The Good News According to Mark”), and there is general agreement that this designation derives from the term Mark uses in his own heading to the book, arche ton euangeliou (the beginning of the good news)… There is, however, equally broad agreement that when Mark wrote those words he was not using euangelion to designate a literary genre, but simply to indicate the nature of the subject matter of his work: it is a presentation in written form of the ‘good news’ about which Jesus was and is the subject of the church’s teaching and mission. Mark did not say to himself, ‘I am now going to write a euangelion’; it was only as it became necessary for the church to find a suitable label for this category of literature, church books about Jesus, that Mark’s heading provided them with one. Once the term had become established as a designation for the four canonical versions of the one euangelion (so that to Euangelion kata Markon is properly translated not ‘the gospel [book] by Mark’ but ‘the [one] gospel in Mark’s version’) it became available as a literary label for other works about Jesus which came to be written from the second century onwards, however different in character they may have been from the narrative ‘gospels’ of the first century. Hence the Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Philip, Gospel of Truth, Gospel according to the Hebrews, and the like. The term which for Mark had designated the (hitherto oral) message of the first-century churches had thus come to mean something like ‘a church book about Jesus’.
But if Mark did not have a pre-existing literary genre called euangelion to conform to, how might he and those who first read his book have perceived its nature? It is a book about Jesus, a historical figure of the recent past, whom the writer wishes to introduce and commend to his readers, and he achieves this aim by telling the story of (part of) his life and his death together with a selection of his teaching. Such a description sounds like what most people would call a biography. Fifty years ago we were drilled in the critical orthodoxy of the form-critical school which insisted that the gospels were not to be seen as biographies, but since then there has been a massive swing in scholarly opinion on this point, and increasingly sophisticated study of the nature of biographical writing in the ancient world has led to a general recognition that, for all the distinctiveness of its Christian content and orientation, in terms of literary form Mark’s book (and those of Matthew, Luke and John) would have seemed to an educated reader in the first century to fall into roughly the same category as the lives of famous men pioneered by Cornelius Nepos and soon to reach their most famous expression in the ‘Parallel Lives’ of Plutarch. Of course there is no one comprehensive description of ‘biographical’ writing which would fit all the varied attempts in classical and Jewish literature to present the lives of famous people… But somewhere within this broad range of bioi the reader coming to Mark’s book for the first time would be likely to feel that it belonged.
How is Mark unlike other Ancient Biographies?
But while to assign a book to a literary genre may help us to appreciate the parameters within which its original readers might have been expected to make sense of it, it is not to say all there is to be said about it. Genre is ‘a dynamic, not a static, concept’. Just as there is a wide variety among Graeco-Roman ‘biographies’, so Mark is his own master, not bound to follow a pattern laid down by someone else. His book represents something distinctive within the field of biographical writing, in terms of its subject, its origin, and the use for which it was intended. Each of these deserves a brief mention here.
Lucas Grollenberg interestingly draws our attention to the account given by the German classical scholar Gunther Zuntz of his first encounter with Mark’s gospel. Thoroughly at home in the literature of the Roman empire, Zuntz, we are told, was nonetheless quite unfamiliar with Christianity and its literature, and thus came to Mark with a freshness of perception impossible to most modern Christian readers. His response thus represents, says Grollenberg, ‘what this book must have looked like to an educated reader of the first century of our era’. Zuntz speaks of his ‘strong impression’ that
‘something very important was being put forward here with a superior purpose and concentration throughout the book…The style and content of the story arouse a feeling of otherness, a feeling that this is not a history like other histories, not a biography like other biographies, but a development of the actions, sayings, and suffering of a higher being on his way through this anxious world of human beings and demons.’
While Zuntz attributes the ‘feeling of otherness’ to both styles and content, it is the latter which dominates his comment. And I suspect that in the first century a reader familiar with other bioi would have had a similar ‘feeling of otherness’, for the simple reason that Jesus is not like other people, and so a ‘biography’ of Jesus is not like other people, and so a ‘biography’ of Jesus will also be ‘not like other biographies’, especially if it is written by one of his followers who believes him to be the Son of God and to be still alive as the object of unconditional allegiance, rather than a noble figure of the past to be imitated.
As for the ‘style’, I do not think that Zuntz can have meant that Mark’s Greek style as such promoted a feeling of otherness, unless it be by its sheer lack of literary sophistication…in comparison with that of other biographers. I suspect he was thinking more of the whole conception of the book and of its capacity to shock and to subvert comfortable literary expectations. Thus, while there is no doubt that Jesus is the ‘hero’ of this story, Mark seems to make a point of portraying him as unrecognized and rejected, even humiliated, continually let down and eventually deserted by even his closest associates, and the eventual victim of a hostile establishment. If it were not for what Zuntz calls ‘a last comforting lightning flash’, this story, read outside the Christian context of faith and hindsight, would be that of a heroic failure. This is not the stuff of which ancient biography is made, unless it is intended (as Mark’s is surely not) as satire. … It is this rather than stylistic sophistication which contributes to the ‘feeling of otherness’ experienced by those who come to this extraordinary little book without the ‘benefit’ of Christian conditioning.
–R.T. France, The Gospel of Mark
Ever feel like you’re not getting what you’d like to out of your Bible reading?
Ever feel like you want to just stop?
“Do not think you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day. The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and are most easily observed. The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced.
Think of the influence of the moon upon the earth, and of the air upon the human lungs. Remember how silently the dew falls, and how imperceptibly the grass grows. There may be far more doing than you think in your soul by your Bible-reading.
(J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion, 136)
Do you use Blue Letter Bible? If you study scripture with your computer at all, it’s one of the best, if not the best, free online bible study program. They just released an update of their iPhone and iPad app. It’s totally worth the (free) download, as it has tons of cross references, all the major bible versions (even Greek NT, Hebrew OT and Septuagint).
You can get the new version 2.01 of the app here.
If you’re not on iOS, and you are using Android or some other mobile platform, they have a mobile site at http://m.blb.org/.
If you don’t have either of these things, and use a regular computer, the main website is www.blueletterbible.org.
If you’re tired of this post already, you can just go read your bible without any computer at all. Peace.
I’m reasonably sure that, Lord willing, we’ll be starting a new direction of study in our Monday night gatherings, starting this Monday night. I want to take a few weeks and look at Paul’s description of the Christian life in Galatians 5:16-25. Specifically, I think we’ll all benefit by meditating on what the Holy Spirit is indicating about how to live a fruitful Christian life that does not “fulfill the lusts of the flesh” and does bear “the fruit of the Spirit.”
How do these things actually happen? How do they actually work in our lives? What is it like to experience these things and live them out? That’s where I hope to go with you all starting on Monday.
If you want to get ready, I suggest a couple reads through the whole letter. Maybe take a few minutes a couple times this weekend and read straight through in one sitting, a few different times. (That’s the best way to read the New Testament letters.) It would be great if we were all reading up and well acquainted with the letter, and the passage.
You might also try working through the passage yourself. Have you ever diagrammed?
Just to get you started, here’s a word document of a rough diagram I did of the passage, which I’ll start to use to prepare the studies. I just printed it out so I could start drawing all over it.
1 John was great, and I’m excited to see where the Lord’s going to be taking us, together, this year.
John MacArthur shares how he first learned to study the Bible:
You say, “I tried reading the Bible, but I didn’t get anything.”
Let me share how I study the Bible, and how the Bible has come alive to me. I began in 1 John. One day I sat down and read all 5 chapters straight through. It took me 20 minutes. Reading one book straight through was terrific. (The books of the Bible weren’t written as an assortment of good little individual verses. They were written with flow and context.)
The next day I sat down and read 1 John straight through again. The third day, I sat down and read 1 John straight through. The fourth day, straight through again. The fifth day, I sat down and read it again. I did this for 30 days. Do you know what happened at the end of 30 days? I knew what was in 1 John.
Someone says to you, “Where in the Bible does it talk about confessing sin?” You see a mental image of 1 John, first chapter, right-hand column, half-way down (depending on your Bible). “Where does it say to love not the world?” Second Chapter, right-hand column, half-way down. Where does it talk about sin unto death? Chapter 5, last page. You know 1 John!
Next, I went to the gospel of John. I divided the gospel of John into three sections of seven chapters each. I read the first seven chapters for 30 days, the next seven for the next 30 days, and the last seven for 30 days. In 90 days. I had read the entire Gospel of John 30 times. Where does it talk about the Good Shepherd? Chapter 10, right-hand column, starts in the middle, goes down, flip the page, go on down.
Where does it talk about the vine and the branches? Chapter 15. Where does it talk about Jesus’ friends? Chapter 15, over in the next column and a little farther down. Where does it talk about Jesus arrest in the garden? John 18. The restoration of Peter? John 21. The woman at the well? John 4. The Bread of Life? John 6. Nicodemus? John 3. The wedding at Cana? John 2.
You might say, “My, you are smart!” No I am not smart. I read it 30 times. Even I can get it then! Isaiah said to learn “precept upon precept, line upon line… here a little, and there a little” (see Isa. 28:10-13). Then you have hidden it in your heart. After a while you are no longer a concordance cripple!
The more you study the word of God, the more it saturates your mind and life. Someone is reported to have asked a concert violinist in New York’s Carnegie Hall how she became so skilled. She said that it was by “planned neglect.” She planned to neglect everything that was not related to her goal.
Some less important things in your life could stand some planned neglect so that you might give yourself to studying the Word of God. Do you know what would happen? The more you would study the Word of God, the more your mind would be saturated with it. It will be no problem then for you to think of Christ. You won’t be able to stop thinking of Him.
To be Spirit filled is to live a Christ-conscious life, and there is no shortcut to that. You can’t go and get yourself super-dedicated to live a Christ-conscious life. The only way you can be saturated with the thoughts of Christ is to saturate yourself with the Book that is all about Him. And this is God’s will, that you not only be saved but that you also be Spirit-filled.
–John MacArthur in Found: God’s Will, p. 28-30