There is a wide variety of Christian bible studies online these days. Some very well known and some not as well known teachers are providing a lot of information. This makes it easier for us to study more thoroughly as we read and watch their teachings. Here are a few things to keep in mind as we choose an online bible study.
Be aware of denominational bias
Some people who have been raised in a certain denomination will teach with what they have themselves always been taught. They have always heard some things taught in one specific way and that’s how they teach it as well. Some of this could possibly be the traditions of men that Jesus warned us about. Most of this is not intentional deception, they just teach it in the way they have learned it completely believing it to be the truth as they’ve been taught to see it as truth for years.
Matthew 15:9 (ESV) “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
2 Timothy 4:3 (ESV) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
I hate to say this, but it certainly appears that Paul’s warning to his “son in the faith” Timothy, is coming true. As we move closer each day to the return of Christ to earth we were warned that this would be the case. There are those who will teach whatever draws the crowds in. Those who will tell people what they want to hear, what makes them feel good about themselves, but isn’t the whole truth. They’ll often quote only part of a verse or take a verse out of the context in which it was written. Many people these days don’t want to be told the whole truth of what is really in the scripture. Let’s face it some of it is hard to swallow. Some scripture we would rather ignore than deal with because it is very uncomfortable to our flesh. Like this one –
Galatians 5:24 (ESV) And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Want to know what this really looks like? Just pick up the Septuagint and have a look some time at the book of IV Maccabees if you have a stomach for it. Think about it, do you know anyone who wants to kill their ungodly passions and desires if they can be told they don’t have to? Also, we have to use our common sense. If anyone tells you they are so close to God that they can get a prayer through to God for you and the answer will come if you’ll only pay them a certain amount of money…Run!
Make sure you’re following God not a man
Psalm 118:8-9 (ESV) It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
God doesn’t lie, but people do. I’m guessing, like me, you have had someone in your life who has hurt you by their lies. Even people we should be able to trust who hold high positions of authority are vulnerable to breaking the 9th commandment. Throughout history, people have used laws or changed laws to fit their own desires. It’s our job to keep from caving in to our lustful fleshly desires. It’s on us and only us. We will be standing before Christ all alone on judgment day with nobody else to blame.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 (ESV) Divisions in the Church I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Some people almost idolize their pastor, other church leaders or evangelists. The Corinthians seemed to try to impress others by telling them who they followed. In man’s eyes, one person has more value than another. When we put our faith in a man and that man passes away where does that leave you? Looking for someone new to help you deal with this loss. When your faith is completely in Jesus and not a man he will always be there for you. The Lord, not a man should be the center of your faith and lifestyle. The Corinthian church had a problem with this and Paul set them straight on it. Let’s not be tricked into falling for that same trap.
What makes this person qualified?
Proverbs 14:12 (ESV) There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Every nation has things about its culture that everyone in that culture just automatically does because that’s the way it has always been done. People who travel think some things about certain cultures is odd because they are quite unique. Even within one country like the US people do and say things differently. People can identify someone as being from a certain part of the country just by some of their mannerisms or speech. Y’all know what I mean? Because of where they were raised there are ways that seem right to them that may not seem right to someone from another part of that country. We just imitate what we were surrounded by. Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world. When we are adopted into the family of God we become members of that kingdom and are to live under the guidelines as set by God who created that kingdom and welcomed us into it.
1 Timothy 3:6 (ESV) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.
We have to learn new ways of saying and doing things in the kingdom of light and life by studying and praying to receive instruction. We have to practice fighting an enemy that doesn’t want us to leave his kingdom of darkness. We have to learn to recognize how to control our thoughts continually. The old ways may still seem right but are in some ways harmful. We didn’t have the ability to see it until we studied and learned more about this kingdom of light that we have entered into. It takes time to learn all God has instructed and learn to live it out. That’s why James wrote this warning to teachers.
James 3:1 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
Stating that teachers will be judged more strictly should make people think seriously about where their calling to teach is coming from. Until you’ve had time to adapt and learn the ways of the kingdom you’re now a part of you can’t make the best decisions about how to guide others into and through it.
2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
We have to have had time to experience this new lifestyle and following its ways to be considered as one who is approved as an unashamed worker of that kingdom. We have to know the word of truth well and have been through some tests of obedience to it before we are ready to teach others how to do it. If you’ve never held a pair of knitting needles you can’t teach someone else to knit even the most basic stitches. You need to know somewhat of the background of the person teaching you. You have to know the truth of the word itself to know if they’re telling the truth or (intentionally or unintentionally) in error. That is one reason that Christian bible studies online or in person are so important to take part in.
Testing the teacher
Galatians 1:6-9 (ESV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
That is some pretty strong language. Evidently there were things being added to or taken from the message that the Galatians had originally received. The Apostle Paul was so upset about the way men had distorted the gospel of Christ that he felt it was worthy of them becoming accursed. Then to restate that they should be accursed again in the very next sentence gives emphasis on its importance. They didn’t have their own personal copy of scripture back then so they had to carefully commit to memory what was taught them. We are blessed to have the holy scriptures today and If we aren’t taking time to be in the word then how will we know if someone is distorting it or not?
2 John 9-11 (ESV) Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
According to John if you don’t abide in the teaching of Christ you don’t have the Father or the Son. That makes me ashamed to have called myself a Christian during my years of raising children while working full time and not pushing away my desires of the flesh to sleep in when I could instead of looking forward to having that extra time to spend praying and studying His word. We are told to not embrace the teachers and have close fellowship with someone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but another teaching that may sound similar. This compels me to study the bible all the more. I certainly don’t want to be considered as someone who is taking part in a false teacher’s wicked works.
Proverbs 3:6 (ESV) In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
When we read the word we need to pay close attention to every word. In all, yes all of our ways we are to acknowledge him. So that means everything we do, every choice we make should be made based on what we know from scripture to be his will. As we learn to do this more naturally over time he will bless us by making the paths we must walk straight. That doesn’t mean it may not be uphill at times, but at least it won’t be a curvy uphill climb taking twice as long.
2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV) and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
Paul instructed Timothy, who would take over the ministry to be careful to ensure that those who would be able to teach others would be cautious to be teaching what they had heard from Paul in front of many witnesses as being truth. We are warned by Jesus that there will be more and more false teachers as the end times approach and not to be deceived by those teachers. They only way we can do this is by first and most importantly having a close personal relationship with Him. Secondly, we must know what the scriptures say and teach. In them, we will know God’s character. This is why having the availability to do Christian bible studies online is such a blessing. And one that we should take full advantage of as often as we possibly can. As Christ’s return nears I pray you will be preparing to truly know and live for him through digging deep into Christian Bible Studies online and in person whenever you can.
Blessings – Tina