Author Archives: aimeelemus

Baptism Obsession

“Is your church obsessed with baptism? Why are all the baptism verses in your bible underlined?” I studied with Alexandria three times when she asked me these questions. She did not understand why we spend so much time and effort teaching about baptism while other churches seemed to just brush over it. She thought I had a baptism obsession. I was a little taken aback, to say the least. We as Christians want to be obsessed with Christ and we want others to notice it! So why do we spend so much time fixated on baptism? Are we obsessed?

Battle Baptism

When it comes to the truth about salvation, the step of baptism has become a battleground. You have heard many preachers say that Satan is doing his work of keeping souls out of heaven by stopping them one step from salvation. False teachers have made baptism an option or extra feather in your cap, but fail to recognize the purpose and significance of baptism. This is why we may seem obsessed with baptism. This is the spot we must camp and fight: the front-lines of the salvation issue.  Without baptism, a person is not saved and cannot go to heaven. Let’s examine the scriptures:

Baptism Saves you! 

“Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you— not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:21)

“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 15:16)

Baptism cleanses us from our Sin! 

“Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:15)

“Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38)

Baptism adds you to the body of Christ! 

The “body” of Christ is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). We know from later in Ephesians that there is only one church because there is only one body (Ephesians 4:4). The “church” or “called out” are people who are in the body of Christ. There are two verses that specifically tell us how a person gets “into Christ” or into the body of Christ.

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3).

We can also see baptism related to souls being added recorded in the book of Acts.

“So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41).

“Battle Baptism” is our battle to fight because the church is responsible for teaching the truth and refuting error. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul calls the church “the pillar and support of the truth.” If the Lord’s church is not upholding the truth, no one is. Battle Baptism has to be fought because it is our commission and duty as the Lord’s church.

Baptism Obsession? 

We are not obsessed with baptism; we are obsessed with teaching the truth and obsessed with saving souls. We are obsessed with teaching others about Jesus Christ and His power to save us through His death and resurrection. The Bible teaches that without baptism a person can not see heaven. So many have been led to believe that they are saved by just believing in Jesus Christ as their personal savior and asking Him to come and live in their hearts. We as Christians know that there are many steps for a person to follow in order to be saved.  Hear, believe, confess, repent, be baptized and live faithfully as a righteous follower of Christ abiding in His word. (Romans 10:17, Romans 10:9-10, John 8:24, Luke 13:5, Acts 2:38). Christ’s church focuses on baptism so much because we know how vital it is that we tell others about Christ’s plan of salvation. We want others to partake of His death, His resurrection and receive the cleansing power of His blood. All of these things happen in the waters of baptism (Romans 6:3-5).

By Aimee Lemus
Aimee and her husband, Andrew, serve with the Norco church of Christ in Norco, CA. Both Aimee and Andrew hold Bachelors degrees from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Her husband is the minister and evangelist. Aimee is a stay-at-home-mom to Andrew Jr. and Annabella.

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Filed under Evangelism, Salvation Basics

Go This Way!

I have heard that they get paid pretty well. They sure look like they are having fun rocking out on the street corner with a huge arrow-shaped sign that can be tossed and spun in every direction. Do they get your attention? My 3-year-old son always notices them, even when I do not. The other day we were driving and he exclaimed loudly, “We’re supposed to go THAT way Mom!” I did not know what he meant at first, but then I saw the huge arrow and funky-haired boy with his headphones in, pointing me on to the great sale. I had to explain to my son that those signs are different from street signs and they do not tell us what we have to do.

This experience was a great analogy for what often happens to a Christian as they try to walk the straight and narrow way (Mt. 7:13-14). There can be distractions, false teachers and temptations that are screaming out to us “GO THIS WAY”! The Hebrew writer encouraged us concerning these things in this way,

Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” (Hebrews 12:1-2a)

Every encumbrance:
Distraction-

Many things distract us from our walk with Christ. We are too busy watching television, taking our kids to soccer practice or playing on Facebook to make time for Bible study or prayer. Relaxing has become more important than Righteousness.

We are distracted when we fail to talk about spiritual things in our conversations with non-Christians. We talk about everything from movies to parenting issues, but we conveniently leave Christ out of the conversation. Remind yourself daily of Paul’s exhortation in Romans when he says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

False Teachers-

Unfortunately many believers have been encumbered in their walks because they have been led astray by false teachers. They may have been going the right way, but much like the big arrow analogy they follow the false signs instead of the true street signs. Instead of looking to the word for their answers, they have put their trust in men. The Bible tells us to beware of false teachers because many Christians have been led astray by them. The warning directly after the verses about the straight and narrow path in Matthew 7 says,
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15) The Bible warns that false teachers may cause us to leave the straight and narrow way.

Sin: 

Sin “ensnares” or “entangles” us. What an excellent mental image this word gives us of sin wrapping around us tightly intertwined and twisted, binding us like an animal lured to a trap. The Bible also says that sin easily ensnares us. This fact should give us all the more reason to be on our guard, prepared and aware of temptation so that we make it more difficult for ourselves to be ensnared. If we are ensnared by sin we are unable to walk the straight and narrow way.

So, what should we do in order to lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us? Fix our eyes on JESUS! This is the only answer for how to stay on the straight and narrow way without giving in to the bombarding distractions, false teachers and sin. We fix our eyes on Jesus by praying to God through Him and having a personal relationship with Him. We fix our eyes on Jesus by reading the word and learning how to love and serve Him. We fix our eyes on Jesus by focusing on Him in our daily activities. When the giant arrows of this world scream out to us “GO THIS WAY!” it is our goal to resist them and keep our eyes focused on Christ and the straight and narrow way.

By Aimee Lemus
Aimee and her husband, Andrew, serve with the Norco church of Christ in Norco, CA. Both Aimee and Andrew hold Bachelors degrees from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Her husband is the minister and evangelist. Aimee is a stay-at-home-mom to Andrew Jr. and Annabella.

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Filed under Encouragement, Scripture study

Better than the Leading Brand

Housewives everywhere have heard the claims in advertisements for everything from paper towels and diapers to moisturizer, “this product is better than the leading brand.” This is an effective mode of persuasion because the consumer is forced to make a comparison between the old product they have always used and the new product’s claims of superiority. Who doesn’t want something better? Why not compare the old with the new in hopes of making the best decision?

This method of persuasion is used by the writer of the letter to the Hebrews. He shows that Christianity is better!  We can see that “The principle aims of the writer are to establish the supremacy of Christ and Christianity…” (Henry Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament p.304). Some of the Hebrew brethren were leaving Christianity and falling back into Judaism.

The word “better” is a keyword in the book of Hebrews and it helps the writer express his purpose. The writer talks about,

  1. A better revelation (the first two chapters)
  2. Christ being better than the angels (1:4)
  3. “Better things” (6:9;11:40)
  4. “The less is blessed of the better” (7:7)
  5. Better hope (7:19)
  6. Jesus as a better high priest (7:26, 8:1)
  7. Better testament (7:22)
  8. Better covenant (8:6,22)
  9. Better tabernacle (9:11)
  10. Better sacrifices (9:23)
  11. “in heaven a better and enduring substance” (10:34)
  12. “But now they desire a better country” (11:16)
  13. Better resurrection (11:35)
  14. Better than the blood of Abel (12:24)

We know that the author at the time had a specific purpose for the recipients of this letter and he was writing to Hebrews, but this letter applies to us today as well. We take valuable truths from this letter that help us in our own faith and help us explain to non-Christians why Christ and Christianity are still better than any other religion or so-called god.

In our own faith building endeavor we can learn more about Christ from the Hebrew letter. The writer goes into great detail about Christ’s superiority over angels, Moses, Joshua and the prophets (Ch.1-4).We learn about Christ’s priesthood representing it as of the order of Melchizedek and we get an explanation of His function and relationship to us as our high priest (Ch. 5-7).  Knowing how much better Christ is and learning about His sacrifice and function as High Priest should make us more eager to draw near to Him and help us grow in our faith of Him.

Non-Christians need to be convinced that Christ and Christianity are better! Better than Islam, better than atheism, better than fill-in-the-blank. Just as the letter was written to Hebrews to convince them that Christianity is better than Judaism, we can use truths we find in the letter to convince non-Christians today.

  • The sacrifice of Christ: He was “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” and He offered Himself, “once for all” (7:26-27). He was without sin and was God, but he died for us! What can any other religion offer compared to this?
  • Christ is better than Angels: Many people choose to believe in Angels even when they do not believe in God. They like to feel the comfort and safety of someone watching over them or being with them without the obligation to follow any commands they have given (as they would have to with God). It may prove effective to study the passages in Hebrews about Angels with non-Christians to try to preach Christ.

These are just a couple of ideas for how to use this method of persuasion found in the Hebrew letter to teach non-Christians that Christ and Christianity are superior to any other religion or worldview.

The Hebrew letter is full of information about how Christ and Christianity are better! Just as when advertisements claim to have a product that is “better than the leading brand,” using comparison as a method of persuasion is effective and valuable. We can see the purpose of the Hebrew letter as it was written to Hebrew brethren, but we must always look to apply these truths to our lives today. We can take valuable truths from the letter to the Hebrews and apply them to our own faith and to our work of preaching Christ to non-Christians. We can be thankful that Christianity has the monopoly and Christ is better!

By Aimee Lemus
Aimee and her husband, Andrew, serve with the Conifer church of Christ in Conifer, CO. Both Aimee and Andrew hold Bachelors degrees from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Her husband is the minister and evangelist. Aimee is a stay-at-home-mom to Andrew Jr. and Annabella.

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Extreme Makeover: Christian Edition

Reinvent your look, change the way you feel, get a fresh start. America’s makeover fascination has been a source of entertainment in recent years. Everything from full body makeovers to full house renovation makeovers incites excitement from television viewers who have embraced the idea of making a drastic change…the “Extreme Makeover”. During a full body makeover a person may lose weight, go under the knife for plastic surgery, get a new haircut, and be provided with a new wardrobe. During a full house renovation makeover a dilapidated shack can become a restored dream house masterpiece. It is exciting to see the before and after, the change.
Followers of Christ should also have a fascination with extreme makeovers. We have the real opportunity to change and improve who we are and get a fresh start. The Bible speaks of three times in a Christian’s life that can be compared to an extreme makeover.

During baptism
It is during baptism that a person goes through the first extreme makeover. In the water our old self dies and a changed self is raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4-6). During baptism we are born again and become a new creature (1 Peter 1:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17). In God’s word, baptism and those who have been baptized are often associated with newness (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). Baptism promises a makeover that gives you a new life for eternity. It truly is a fresh start.
Perhaps one of the greatest examples of this extreme makeover was the conversion of Saul. We read about the man Saul before his conversion and we know that he was an enemy of Christ’s church, imprisoning and persecuting the Christians (Acts 8:1; 9:1). After his baptism, the disciples were amazed at the change in him. They were in disbelief and it took the explanation and assurance of Barnabas to convince them that this man had indeed changed so drastically (Acts 9:21-27).

Daily
After baptism a Christian should be experiencing a makeover daily. In Ephesians 4:23-24, Paul is speaking to Christians and he says, “… in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth”. Renewing the mind and putting on the new self takes constant effort on the part of the Christian. Followers of Christ examine their actions daily, confess and purge their lives of sins daily, and become more conformed to the image of Christ daily. Paul in Ephesians 5:8 and John in 1 John 1:7 write about walking in the light. This word “walk” is a continuous action and shows us that we must choose daily to be conformed to the image of Christ.

During the Second Coming of Christ
When Christ comes again, those who are in Christ will partake in the final makeover. We will be changed! The scriptures say that our bodies will be made imperishable and will become spiritual bodies. They will be raised in glory instead of dishonor and in power instead of weakness. We will bear the image of the heavenly instead of the earthly (1 Corinthians 15:42-52). The promise of this new undying body should excite every Christian who eagerly awaits Christ’s return. Christ was raised from the dead first and we will follow Him in this and become like Him (1 Corinthians 15:20). Our new bodies will be ushered into the new heavens and the new earth when all of creation is redeemed and can cease its groaning (2 Peter 3:13; Romans 8:18-23). What a beautiful image of hope this new body promises.

If only we could convince our makeover obsessed society that the greatest makeovers are reserved for followers of Christ. During baptism, daily and during the second coming of Christ are times that Christians will experience extreme makeovers. Having a fresh start, becoming a new person, and changing the way you feel is within grasp for those who trust in Christ for their transformation.

By Aimee Lemus
Aimee and her husband, Andrew, serve with the Conifer church of Christ in Conifer, CO. Both Aimee and Andrew hold Bachelors degrees from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Her husband is the minister and evangelist. Aimee is a stay-at-home-mom to Andrew Jr. and Annabella.

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How to Study the Bible (Part 7)

attribute to knowhimonline (http://www.flickr.com/photos/knowhim/)

Grammar Can Be Fun: Imperatives and Participles

Finding interesting grammatical or syntactical points doesn’t sound like much fun right? The very word grammar may cause some to be tempted to skip this article all together. When most people think of grammar they think of sentence diagramming, punctuation, parts of speech and tenses. They may recall the face of their high school English teacher and immediately feel the desire to fall asleep. Well, when studying the Bible, you may find that looking at grammatical points can be interesting and even fun!

Look for Imperatives

An imperative is a command, an order, and an obligatory statement. Within the text of the Bible it seems only logical that we would find many imperatives. God writes so we will know what to do. It is important that we take notice of these grammatical points since they are God’s instructions for us where He tells us directly what to do.  (e.g.: Listen! Go!)

Look for Participles

A participle is a word which ends in “ing”. Often times in scripture, a point is made and then the “ing” words give examples to prove that point.  

Connection between Participles and Imperatives

Participles that follow imperatives become imperatives themselves. Let me simplify: an “ing” word that follows a command becomes a command itself. When we see an imperative in scripture, we may find a series of participles following which instruct us in how to carry out the command. If we look for the “ing” words, we can gain great insight to the command given.

For example, Matthew 28:18-20 says,

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.

The command given by Jesus is to “make disciples” (as you are going) and then we see the command followed by some participles, “baptizing” and “teaching”. This is Jesus telling us how to make disciples.

Look at these other examples: Ephesians 5:18-20 and Colossians 2:6-7

“Let Us” and Participles

Also, with Participles we should look for the “Let us” phrase.

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:22-25).

Let us draw near” + having our hearts sprinkled

Let us hold fast” + without wavering

Let us consider” + Not forsaking, but exhorting

As you can see, the “Let us” phrase tells us what to strive for and the participle explains how we can obtain that outcome. We find many of these “Let us” phrases all throughout the New Testament letters, so this should be a helpful tool.

An excellent article “-ing Words” about participles was previously posted on Come Fill Your Cup by Erynn Sprouse.  Also, Carley Robertson focused her encouraging article, “Life Gives You Lemonade” on a set of imperatives. Both of these articles focus on this technique of finding interesting grammatical points from the text.  Grammar can be fun and interesting when it gives us new insight and understanding in God’s word.

How to Study the Bible RECAP:

Exegesis Methodology

Step 1: Investigate

                Who?, What?, Where?, When?, and Why?

                Finding the Why

Step 2: Start Big and then Zoom In

Step 3: Outlining

Examining Yourself

By Aimee Lemus
Aimee and her husband, Andrew, serve with the Conifer church of Christ in Conifer, CO. Both Aimee and Andrew hold Bachelors degrees from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Her husband is the minister and evangelist. Aimee is a stay-at-home-mom to Andrew Jr. and Annabella.

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How to Study the Bible (Part 6)

Examining Yourself

                Take a step back now and be honest. Have you been using the techniques we have been talking about in this series in order to get deeper into God’s word? Are you striving to be a better student of God’s word? More importantly, have you been studying your Bible every day?  If you answered no to any of these questions or you feel like you still are not committed to using Biblical exegesis in your study time at home, this article is for you!

Reasons why we don’t practice good Bible study techniques:  (EXCUSES, EXCUSES)

1)      “I’m too busy”

There is never enough time in the day! With all the daily chores and activities, who has time to sit down and read (even if it is the Bible)? Some women work full-time, some home school their kids and others stay home and raise babies. We can all agree that women are BUSY!  Are we really too busy for God’s word? I’m sure we find time to watch a movie or favorite television show, read the newest James Patterson novel or play on the computer for a couple of hours.  The remedy to this excuse is simple…MAKE TIME! Set aside 30 minutes to an hour everyday and stick to it. It takes time to study properly.

2)      Too Lazy

Studying is HARD WORK sometimes and some do not want to put the effort in. It takes dedication and focus to methodically study God’s word. It is foolish to think that you can learn God’s word without working at it.

3)      “I do not know how”

You should not be guilty of feeling this way any longer since you are reading this series that is hopefully teaching you how. We can know and understand God’s word even if we are not Greek scholars ourselves. There are many helpful resources from Greek lexicons to reputable commentaries that aid us in our studies. If you feel like you do not know how, LEARN HOW!

4)      “I get all I need at church”

We are there three times a week or more. The lessons are packed with scripture and interesting facts. It is easy to convince ourselves that as long as we are going to Bible study on Sunday morning and Wednesday night we are okay and do not need to study on our own. Unfortunately, this is the same excuse some parents have used with their children. Some parents do not work with their children or teach them the Bible at home, but instead rely on their Bible school teachers to teach them everything they need to know. BUMMER! We are blessed to be able to come together with other Christians to study God’s word, but just as we should not rely on our children’s’ Bible school teachers to be the only ones teaching them, we cannot think that our study time at church alone is sufficient.

So… get to work! No more excuses. What are you waiting for? If you are reading this series, you should be using this series. Let us encourage each other to be active in the study of God’s word and to make the commitment to use the principles of Biblical exegesis in our daily Bible study time.

How to Study the Bible RECAP:

Exegesis Methodology

Step 1: Investigate

                Who?, What?, Where?, When?, and Why?

                Finding the Why

Step 2: Start Big and then Zoom In

Step 3: Outlining

By Aimee Lemus
Aimee and her husband, Andrew, serve with the Conifer church of Christ in Conifer, CO. Both Aimee and Andrew hold Bachelors degrees from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Her husband is the minister and evangelist. Aimee is a stay-at-home-mom to Andrew Jr. and Annabella.

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How to Study the Bible (Part 5)

Step 3: Outlining

Many students find that making an outline before beginning to write an essay or research paper is helpful in organizing their thoughts. The format for an outline is made up of an alternating succession of numbers and letters which are indented to show levels of detail in thoughts. When studying the Bible, we can put the text into outline form in order to find the main thoughts, sub points and supporting details. This will help us when reading for understanding and summarizing what the text says.

Preachers are taught to outline when studying for an exegetical sermon. By outlining, the preacher is able to draw out from the text a “three-point sermon” and stay within the text itself for the sub points as well. This is the most difficult type of sermon because it challenges the preacher to take all his points directly from the text and not to go to other passages in scripture.

While in school, one of our assignments was to outline the entire book of Ephesians. This is something that will be greatly beneficial to any student of God’s word, but we are going to start by outlining smaller portions of scriptures in order to get the technique down.

How to Outline

A basic outline looks like this:

I. Main point 
      A. Minor point 
            1. Sub point
            2. Sub point 
                  a. Sub point
                  b. Sub point 
      B. Minor point

Showing examples is the best way to understand how to outline the Bible text. When I teach this material, I have a white board and other visual aids, but for the purpose of this article, I will give the text and my version of an outline and leave it up to you to go try it for yourself and make your own outline. These are a couple of outlines I have been working on recently and will continue to work on as I study further. 

Example #1: Galatians 5:16-21

16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

I. Walk by the Spirit (v. 16) 
      A. You will not carry out the desire of flesh (v. 16)
            1. Flesh sets its desire against spirit/ in opposition to spirit (v.17)
            2. Spirit against the flesh/ in opposition to flesh (v. 17)
           3. Flesh and spirit are contrary/ opposite of each other (v. 17)
      B. You may not do the things you please (v.17)
      C. You are not under the Law (v. 18)
II. Deeds of the Flesh are evident, which are (v. 19)
      A. Sins against own body/ self (v. 19)
            1. Immorality
            2. Impurity
            3. Sensuality  
      B. Sins- other “gods” (worship or relying on power other than God’s) (v.20)
            1. Idolatry
            2. Sorcery
      C. Sins involving others (v. 20-21)
            1. Enmities
            2. Strife
            3. Jealousy
            4. Outbursts of anger
            5. Disputes
            6. Dissensions
            7. Factions
            8. Envying
      D. Sins of excess (v. 21)
            1. Drunkenness
            2. Carousing

Right now, I have the sins grouped into categories, but further on in the process, I may re-title the categories as I learn more about what the words themselves mean.

Example #2: 1 Timothy 6:17-19

17Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,19storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

Those who are rich in the present world:

I. What they should not be/ model of what not to be (v. 17) 
      A. Not to be conceited (v. 17)
      B. Not to be those that fix their hope on uncertainty of riches
II. What they should be/ model of what they should be (end of v. 17 and the contrast v.18) 
      A. Those who hope in God
            1. Who richly supplies all things
            2. Supplies all things to enjoy
      B. Those who do good
      C. Those who are rich in good works
      D. Those who are generous
      E. Those who are ready to share
III. What they will be/ model of what they are striving for (future reward) (v. 19)
      A. Those who will store up for themselves treasures
            1. of a good foundation
            2. for the future
      B. Those who may take hold of that which is life indeed

As you can see from these two examples, outlining is a helpful tool for Biblical exegesis. Something to keep in mind is that your outline is not written in stone. In later steps of the exegetical process, you may find that your outline needs to be adjusted. Organizing thoughts into main ideas, sub points and supporting details can help us when reading for understanding and give us greater insight into the Biblical text.

How to Study the Bible RECAP:

Exegesis Methodology

Step 1: Investigate

                Who?, What?, Where?, When?, and Why?

                Finding the Why

Step 2: Start Big and then Zoom In

Step 3: Outlining

By Aimee Lemus
Aimee and her husband, Andrew, serve with the Conifer church of Christ in Conifer, CO. Both Aimee and Andrew hold Bachelors degrees from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Her husband is the minister and evangelist. Aimee is a stay-at-home-mom to Andrew Jr. and Annabella.

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How to Study the Bible (Part 4)

Step 2: Start Big and then Zoom In

Are you a verse browser? Do you read a verse in Philippians and then a couple in Romans and finish your “study” time off with a few encouraging verses from the Psalms? Do you skip around because you do not know what else to do for the 30 minutes you have set aside for your daily Bible study? I used to be the worst verse browser of all. Weeding through a long book in the Bible never seemed productive because half the time I would forget what I had just read by the time I reached the end of a chapter. Some of Paul’s sentences would drag on for half a page and I, admittedly, would be lost. How helpful it was to find a technique that taught me not only to read the Bible the way it was intended to be read, but to be able to understand it. It’s an easy technique and it’s similar to one you’re probably already familiar with. In the art world, you admire a piece of fine art by looking at the whole picture, then a section at a time, then down to individual brush strokes. Similarly, when studying the Bible, we start big with reading the entire book and then zoom in and look at paragraphs, sentences and lastly words.

Learn to think in terms of entire books

Each book of the Bible was given in its entirety and was intended to be read that way.  The Letters were actually read aloud to the whole church from the beginning to the end as written (Colossians 4:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:27). It is important that we learn to think in terms of entire books and try to explain and understand how the first chapter fits with the last chapter and how every section is connected. When starting the study of a book, it is beneficial to read through the entire book first in one sitting. I find it helpful to listen to the book on audio. If you do not have the Bible on audio, there are many sources including Biblegateway.com (click here for audio versions).

Summarize

While reading through a book, try to summarize what you have just read. (You can make notes in the margins of your Bible or start a notebook specifically for your Bible study notes. When I am teaching this material, I tell my ladies to buy a pretty notebook that will be special to them and fun to write in. mentally or on paper?). Summarizing will help sort out the main thoughts of each section. (Note: do not forget that the chapter breaks we find in our Bibles were not included in the original text and do not necessarily mark the end of a thought). Summarize each paragraph or section. While looking at a paragraph, make note of the transition statements and connections from one paragraph to another.

Make Observations

Observation of a single sentence at a time in the Biblical text can be the foundation for great exegetical work.  One assignment given in an Exegesis text book called, Grasping God’s Word says,

Find a minimum of thirty observations in Acts 1:8. List them below [paper numbered 1-30]. Avoid making interpretations or applications at this stage. That is, stay with observations. For example, an observation would be to note that the passage starts off with the conjunction “but”. This conjunction connects the sentence to the one above it in a contrasting way. If, however you were to note that the Holy Spirit empowers us for evangelism, that observation falls into the category of interpretation or application. Do not enter into the interpretation or application phase yet. Limit all thirty of your observations to details. Work hard! Dig hard! Read and reread the passage…happy hunting (Duvall 7).

I would encourage all of you to try this assignment on your own. Observations can be anything from finding reoccurring words to noting punctuation and grammar. As you get better at this you can expand from one sentence to a short section of two or three verses at a time where you will make these same types of observations. You will not do this in list form when you have a longer section of scripture, but instead can write out the verses you are studying or print them out from the computer. Skip lines and leave plenty of room to mark up the page. Use colored pens, pencils and highlighters to circle, underline, connect words, draw arrows and write notes above the text and in the margins.

Start big and then zoom in by thinking in terms of entire books, summarizing paragraphs and sections and making observations about sentences and words. Be determined to no longer be a verse browser, but a book dweller…trying to study deeply each book in its entirety.

How to Study the Bible RECAP:

Exegesis Methodology

Step 1: Investigate

                Who?, What?, Where?, When?, and Why?

                Finding the Why

Step 2: Start Big and then Zoom In

Bibliography:
Duvall, J. Scott and Hays, J. Daniel. Grasping God’s Word. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.

By Aimee Lemus
Aimee and her husband, Andrew, serve with the Conifer church of Christ in Conifer, CO. Both Aimee and Andrew hold Bachelors degrees from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Her husband is the minister and evangelist. Aimee is a stay-at-home-mom to Andrew Jr. and Annabella.

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How to Study the Bible (Part 3)

 Finding the WHY

Now we get to the fun part! Finding the purpose of the book is our main goal in Biblical Exegesis. Why is the author writing this? What is he trying to communicate to those who are reading his letter? As good Bible students it is imperative that we find the author’s original intended meaning and purpose before we can truly understand how we can apply the scriptures to our own lives. “Finding the purpose of the book” is another way of saying that we are going to find the “main idea,” as we learned growing up when doing reading comprehension in school. We will be looking at four helpful strategies for finding the WHY–the purpose of the book.

  1. The first strategy for finding the purpose of the book is to identify the keywords.
    Keywords are the words that the author uses most frequently (this can also include phrases).  It is only logical to conclude that when a word is used frequently it goes hand in hand with the central thrust of what the author is trying to communicate.  For example, if I were to call you up and say, “I went to the shoe store because they were having a shoe sale to end all shoe sales. It was a shoe lover’s shoe heaven. Shoes were thrown all over the shoe store, but I managed to find a pair of green shoes and a pair of orange shoes for the summer.” I am pretty confident you would conclude that the purpose for this statement was to tell you about a shoe store sale! (I used the word “shoe” 9 times, “store” twice and “sale” twice). In the same way, we can use this strategy as a clue for finding the purpose of a book.
    The best way to find the keywords is to count them. Read through the book you are studying and try to be mindful of reoccurring words and then make a list where you can count how many times the word is used. 
    Examples:  Romans: “Faith”-63 times in 16 chapters; 1 Timothy: “Godliness”-10 times
  2. The second strategy for finding the purpose of the book is to look for prayers.
    If God’s inspired man is praying about something in his writing, you have to conclude that it is important! Prayers often talk about what is greatest on our hearts and minds and we see prayers in the scriptures that do so as well.
    Examples: 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13: In this prayer, Paul prays that they’ll increase and abound in love to one another and to all, which is the point of the first three chapters. Second, he prays that God will establish their hearts in holiness at the second coming, which is the focus of chapters four and five.
    Ephesians 1:15-19 Within this prayer we see the purpose of the writing and find the keywords for the book of Ephesians as well. (Riches (6 times), Power (10 times), Believers (10 times), Glory (8 times), Saints (15 times), His (37 times)).
  3. The third strategy for finding the purpose of the book is to look for purpose statements.
    How simple is that? I wish every book had a purpose statement. A purpose statement is a verse that says clearly and plainly why the author is writing.
    Examples:
    John 20:30-31 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name
    1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
  4. The fourth strategy for finding the purpose of the book is to look for petition verbs.
    Erynn Sprouse’s recent article “Power of Persuasion” discusses petition verbs briefly and references Dr. Denny Petrillo, who teaches Biblical Exegesis at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. This series of articles I have been writing is based on the class notes given by Dr. Petrillo. I will reiterate here for the purpose of this series…

The petition verb Parakalo means “I urge, I beg, I beseech”. This strategy of finding petition verbs is specific to Paul’s writings (Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon). It is specific to Paul’s writings because it seems that Paul loves the petition verb and never uses it unless he is hammering home a point. In the English language we have tons of ways we can emphasize things. We can use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, make a statement or word bold, underline the statement, or use an exclamation point!  The Greek language did not have exclamation points or bold font and it was written all in capital letters, so they used words for emphasis. Paul’s emphasis word is Parakalo (I urge, I beg, I beseech). Whenever he uses this word it usually goes hand in hand with the purpose of the book.

             Example: Romans 12:1; 15:30; 16:17, Philippians 4:2; 1 Corinthians 1:10

Finding the purpose of a book is the main goal in Biblical Exegesis. We must stay true to the text and draw out from the writing only what the original author intended to communicate. After we have found the purpose of the writing, we must read the book or letter through the “glasses” of the purpose, always relating what we are reading to what the author’s main idea was.

By Aimee Lemus
Aimee and her husband, Andrew, serve with the Conifer church of Christ in Conifer, CO. Both Aimee and Andrew hold Bachelors of Theology from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Her husband is the minister and evangelist. Aimee is a stay-at-home-mom to Andrew Jr. and Annabella.

Editor’s note: This series of articles will run each Thursday. If you should happen to miss one, check in the category “Study technique.” They should all be filed there.

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How to Study the Bible (Part 2)

Step 1: Investigate

The five Ws are used in all investigative efforts and we use them in Bible study as well.  Who?, What?, When?, Where?, and Why?  –These are the beginnings to the questions we must ask ourselves when approaching a book or letter in the New Testament (Note: we will first be focusing on the New Testament in this series and may go into specific study techniques for the Old Testament later). The goal of this first step is to get to know as much about the piece of writing as possible. 

Who?: Identify the people involved. Who wrote the book and who was it written to? How are the people connected to one another? Most of the time you can find this information clearly stated within the writing itself (e.g., Romans 1:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; Galatians 1:1-2; Ephesians 1:1). When reading a gospel we can usually infer the intended audience based on clues given in the text.

What?: Identify what you are reading. This is also called finding the genre. Some examples of genres we find in scripture are letters, gospels, revelation, poetry and history. They are categories or types of writings that have certain characteristics. For instance, a letter usually has a greeting and is addressed to a specific person or group of people. Just like you would read a newspaper differently than you would read a love letter, in scripture we read different genres in different ways. Letters are the most common types of writings found in the New Testament.

When?:   Find the date of the writing.  The timeframe and details most important are included in the book itself (e.g., when Paul was in prison or on Paul’s second missionary journey).  For supplementary information, we are fortunate to have the internet at our fingertips where this information can be found (most conservative scholars agree on the dates of most books) but we can also look in reliable commentaries or Bible dictionaries.

Where?:  Find background information about the place the letter was written to or the letter was written from (i.e., what they were known for, significant historical events that happened there). Research places that are mentioned, especially when studying the Gospels or Acts. Other books of the Bible are a good source for information (e.g. Acts 16:11-40 when studying Philippians).

WHY? :  We want to spend the most time and effort on this part of the investigation. This is the part where we find the purpose of the book. This is our goal in good exegesis. Why did the author write this, what was he trying to say? What was the original meaning to the original audience? 

The next article will focus entirely on the WHY aspect of our investigation process.

To be continued…

By Aimee Lemus
Aimee and her husband, Andrew, serve with the Conifer church of Christ in Conifer, CO. Both Aimee and Andrew hold Bachelors of Theology from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Her husband is the minister and evangelist. Aimee is a stay-at-home-mom to Andrew Jr. and Annabella.

Editor’s note: This series of articles will run each Thursday. If you should happen to miss one, check in the category “Study technique.” They should all be filed there.

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