6 Things to Expect When You Start Studying the Bible on Your Own

In our modern communities of theology, we are seeing an incredible increase of curious scholars who are seeking to learn Hebrew and Greek and decipher the scriptures without the pressure of their pastors and churches. Some call it a passing fad. I don’t think so. At least, I hope not. I would hope that more people will take the time to really study on their own, but more often than not they spend their free time being entertained and blindly believe what their pastors are telling them. The Bereans would be so disappointed.

Here’s what you can expect when you start to really study the bible on your own.

You’re going to have to admit to yourself that you have not done your due diligence in double checking what you have been handed through the traditions of your church. This is probably the largest hurdle you’ll have to get over, it’s called pride. It’s okay. We’ve all put our faith and trust in people and have been let down. We’ve all let ourselves down by letting other people do our homework for us. God’s grace is with you and now you walk forward in the adventure of true soul searching as you begin to study the scriptures on your own.

Studying on your own doesn’t mean you can’t swap notes and collaborate with people. You should be doing this. Just don’t expect that people will always agree with you. In fact, it’s good when some people disagree with you.

Your ‘Christian’ education might be in jeopardy. You’re likely to not receive a degree in the area of study you’re curious about, because most Christian colleges won’t allow you to complete the class with your personal research and essays, when your conclusions disagree with theirs.

Know that you’re not alone. Many Christians have reconsidered what they grew up believing.

Family relationships might suffer. Your family and friends might not be too pleased with you for having a different opinion about traditions or doctrines. This is a truly sad part of being a modern day Berean. Losing close relations with people you love is incredibly difficult. It’s a travesty when they allow their beliefs to divide them from their own loved ones.

Deep soul searching is on the horizon. Some of what you were mis-taught may have created some potholes in your heart that will need to be dealt with. Don’t let it discourage you, just take one pothole at a time.

People generally don’t like change and they don’t like admitting they haven’t studied on their own. They also don’t like admitting they were duped.

When we have put our trust in a spiritual leader, only to find out they mislead us, we go through various emotional, mental, and spiritual upheaval. Take your time in the healing process. Give yourself some grace and know that you have better days ahead.


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The Heretics

There has been some humorous teasing going on around Facebook about the word ‘heretic’ and in many churches the word ‘heretic’ is used in a way that does not fit the context in which they are using it. Some endearingly accept the label of heretic as a confirmation that they’re headed in the right direction. Some claim to be a Christian heretic while others shake their heads wondering how a Christian can be a  heretic and still claim to be a Christian. What I have found in the Greek about this topic is quite eye opening.

Original Word: αἱρετικός, ή, όν

Part of Speech: Adjective

Transliteration: hairetikos

Phonetic Spelling: (hahee-ret-ee-kos’)

Short Definition: factious

Definition: disposed to form sects, sectarian, heretical, factious.

Cognate: 141 hairetikós (an adjective, derived from 138 /hairéomai, “to choose, have a distinctive opinion”) – a factious person, specializing in half-truths and misimpressions “to win others over” to their personal opinion (misguided zeal) – while creating harmful divisions (used only in Tit 3:10).  (hairesis).

Disposed to form sects. That sounds like the various denominations to me. They have formed sects. Half truths and misimpressions. This is taking verses out of context and forming new doctrines where there is none. To reveal where their half truths are, will bring out the name calling label. If you have been labeled a ‘heretic’ by a denominational person, then you are the one who are free and discovering their half truths are just that, half. And the one calling you a heretic, is indeed the real heretic.

In my religious studies of various denominational view points, I have carefully compared the viewpoints of each denomination on the matters they all divide over. What I have found is they each have partial truths mixed with their own opinions. If they could just sit down together in love and with patience and really study TOGETHER, they would find what I believe to be the whole truth on those matters. Instead they divide the people from one another’s view points. They are heretics.

I have been labeled a heretic many times, but I don’t ask people to divide over disagreements, I have been trying to show them where they all have something in common and try to encourage them to really look at each other’s views. They each have a piece to the ‘puzzle’ and they withhold their pieces from one another and push each other away when the topic comes up in conversations.

Using the word ‘heretic’ as a name calling method to scare people away from other believers who are studying..who are being like the Bereans, is divisive. THOSE are the heretics. They want to cut off others who believe differently, they create sects.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with carefully studying the Bible, double checking the Hebrew and Greek and presenting your findings to your fellowship. This is what we all should be doing. Asking tough questions about why some people get a mansion and others get the lake of fire or what the hell is hell anyway are acceptable questions. It is time to grow up, get out of the high chair, no more spoon feeding. Those who insist that we remain in the high chair, refuse to give the meat, and who rebuke you for wanting to grow up, are the real heretics.

Will the real heretics please stand up?

1 Corinthians 11: 17But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions(factions, heretics) among you. And I believe it in part,d 19for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

When these, who seek to divide and create sects, stand up and begin name calling..we will know who they are. They are the heretics.

But they are needed. Paul said it is so that those who are genuine can be revealed. Those who are willing to be like the Bereans, who study and walk by faith. Those who offer the same freedom to others. Those who limit our freedom to be like the Bereans are divisive. When you are studying and walking by faith, being like the Bereans and you are labeled a ‘heretic’ by a sectarian, then you have received a truth telling that you are genuine. The believers will then look for fruit. Are you just stirring the pot just to stir it? Or are you walking your friends through freedom in Christ? If you bear no fruit, then you are no different than those real heretics..you’re just causing more sectarianism.

Discovering truth is not just to cause problems like some class clown does in grade school. Discovering truth is to bring people to freedom.

The recent revealing of Rob Bell’s upcoming book, ‘Love Wins’ has caused quite a stir in the faith community. He presents some of the questions that people have been secretly asking for many years. His introduction video presents topics that Anne Hutchinson brought up many years ago that landed her in prison. We live in a time when we are protected from such treatment for disagreeing with someone’s theology. No matter what Rob Bell’s book reveals about his beliefs, he has shown courage to stand up and present his views in the face of the Christianity community.

When we see disagreements about the interpretation of the Bible, look for the fruit. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: because against such there is no law. {Galatians 5:22-23} When you see people openly disagreeing with Rob Bell, or any other writer, speaker, or blogger, is their fruit among their disagreeing? Any sort of insult, belittling, or accusations are not of the fruit of the spirit. That would be a work of the flesh, a work called strife. {Galatians 5:20}

John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


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