Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 11, 1955

Old Time Religion -- How To Study The Bible

J. D. Tant

If you are sick and the doctor tells you to take medicine and fails to tell you the kind to take to benefit your disease, he has done you little good. If you are in trouble and the lawyer tells you that you have violated the law and must suffer the penalty, yet will not tell you the law violated nor the penalty you must suffer, he is not your friend. If the teacher tells you that you must study grammar or arithmetic and does not tell you how to learn the difference between addition and subtraction, or how to tell a noun from a verb, you would consider him a poor instructor.

So it is with the study of the Bible. In medicine one treatment will be good for smallpox, another for fever, and so on throughout all diseases. If a doctor gives only one kind for every disease, he will soon be a failure. Also in law, each crime has its own penalty and no one will consider that a person must suffer the same penalty for each and every crime. So when I come to the study of the Bible I must learn that it is a large book, and that it has been man's guide for thousands of years, and the things God ordained one man or nation should do, are not necessarily applicable to you and me.

God ordained that Noah should build an ark; that Abraham should sacrifice his son Isaac; that Moses should make a brazen snake; that the Jews should burn animal sacrifice, but never did He ordain that you and I should do these things. Then the great question is: HOW MUST I STUDY THE BIBLE TO UNDERSTAND IT?

Divisions Of The Old Testament

Taking the Bible as a whole there are 66 books combined in one. Thirty-nine are in the Old Bible and 27 in the New Testament. When Jesus was on earth we did not have the New Testament written, just the Old Testament. When Jesus referred to the Old Testament he divided it into three divisions, and said, "All things written in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me are true." (Luke 24:44.)

Thus the Son of God subdivides the Old Testament into three divisions, and calls one part Law. I ask myself, "What is law?" and find it is a rule of action given from one party to govern another. I then go to the Old Bible and commencing at Genesis, I read to Job, seventeen books in all, including the Law of Moses and telling of God's dealings with man during that age. I find that all of these books come under the head of Law. Yet not one of them tells you and me what we must do to be saved for they were given to different people for different purposes. A man can no more find the plan of salvation in these seventeen books than an American citizen can find out his duty by reading the law of Germany.

Again I take up the second department of the Old Bible, which Jesus calls Psalms, and find that in the sacred poetry of the Old Bible, or Psalms, there are at least five books, Job Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. I read through these five poetical books and find many lessons on moral deportment and how they worshipped God, but not one of them tells me what I must do to be saved. I can no more find the plan of salvation in these five books than I can find a remedyfor snake bite in medicine that is given to cure smallpox.

I then read again and find, in the third department, Prophets, seventeen books in all, commencing with Isaiah and closing with Malachi. Thus. I close the Old Bible and no one can any more find the plan of salvation there, for you and me, than you can find out how to get the remedy for smallpox out of a snake bite medicine.

Divisions Of The New Testament

This brings me then out of the Old Testament into the New Testament to find out the plan of salvation as taught by the Son of God. So I turn to the New Testament, and read the first four books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In the 20th chapter and 30th verse of the book of John he tells us, "All of these things are written that we might believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and have life through his name." So in these four books I learn that a man must believe to be saved.

I find that Acts comes next and this book tells me what people had to do in order to be saved. So I take this book and turn to Acts 15:7, and Peter says, God made choice of him that the Gentiles should hear the gospel and believe. I then turn to Acts 16:31, and when the jailer wanted to know what he must do to be saved, Paul told him to believe on the Lord and he would be saved and all his house. Then I turn to Acts 17:30, and Paul teaches that God commands all men to repent, and then I turn to Acts 8:36, and find they had to confess Christ; then to Acts 2:39, and Peter told the people to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. In Acts 22:16, Ananias told Paul to arise and be baptized and wash away his sins calling on the name of the Lord.

So far in Acts of the Apostles we have learned that in order to be saved men had to:

  1. Hear the gospel — Acts 15:6-9.
  2. Believe the gospel — Acts 16:31.
  3. Repent — Acts 17:30.
  4. Confess Christ — Acts 8:36-38.
  5. Be baptized for remission of sins — Acts 2:38.

These items made them Christians.

Then we turn over and commence with the letter to the church at Rome, and continue until we read twenty-one letters of instruction to Christians telling them how they should act, and how they should live and how they should worship and how they should work in order to reach heaven or their eternal home after death.

These twenty-nine letters bring me down to Revelation, the last book in the New Testament. I can read it and learn many things of the beautiful home God has prepared for those who love him and find out all sickness, sorrow and death will pass away. In the last chapter and fourteenth verse, I learn, if said home is ever mine, I must do his commandments. In the 19th and 20th verses I also learn that I must not add to nor take from the word of God.

So I find the New Testament a complete guide. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell me what I must believe to be saved. Acts tells me what I must do to be saved, and the next twenty-one letters to church members tell me how I must live after being saved. Revelation tells me of my Eternal Home after the Judgment.