Vol. 12 No. 5 May 2010
Ernest S. Underwood
Bildad, one of Job’s friends, asked a penetrating question: “How then can a man be righteous before God?” Of course, we know that by his own works or merit no man can be righteous before God. If man is to be righteous, he must be made so by God. This the Father does through the Son. Through the Son we are justified. By the Son’s blood we have redemption. Some tell us that man has absolutely no responsibility in his salvation. If this be true, man would not even be required to have faith. However, we know that without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus plainly taught that one must do the will of the Father, else he would not inherit the kingdom of God. He also taught that one must hear and do His words if he would build upon the rock.
Man’s doctrines, opinions and perversions do not make one righteous, nor does God make one righteous who abides in those doctrines and opinions. However, obeying from the heart the Word of God does make one righteous. Which are you doing?
Through the year 2007, my wife and I read through six versions of the New Testament. We read them all simultaneously reading about 3 to 5 chapters each week. On Monday we read from the Greek Diaglott (English transliteration portion), Tuesday, the American Standard, Wednesday the New American Standard, Thursday the King James, Friday the New King James, Saturday the New International Version. We read only the New Testament, no commentaries because we wanted to focus on what God said, and not on what any human had to say about the passage.
Every morning, we got up one hour early, usually about 5:00 a.m., before we got our day started and read. We sat in our living room, across the room from each other, both of us under a nice reading light. We sipped a cup of coffee as we read, but we did not say anything. We just read silently. After about an hour or sometime less, one would finish and just sit quietly or possibly in a silent prayer waiting for the other to complete the reading for the day.
I kept a pad and pen by me and jotted questions or comments or special notes from a reference in the text. Each day I kept the notes, and when we finished for the day, we usually talked about something that got our attention in the particular reading. So six days each week we read the same passage six times, meaning that in the year we had read the New Testament through fairly thoroughly. We found many, many things in that type of reading that were ‘new’ to us, something that we had missed in the some 55 years we had read the Bible as normal Christians. Always exciting and never did we miss one day of reading in all that year.
Okay, so we read six days per week, but what about Sunday? Here is what we did Sunday afternoon after church and lunch. We took our notes we had made all week and spent anywhere from one to three hours studying from the passage we had read all week and taken notes. We discussed the notes we had made and looked up things in commentaries and all references we could find. All the reference material we used was written by a member of the church. We did not want any ‘outside’ ideas creeping into our thinking. When we finished our study, we both had a deeper understanding of the entire Word of God as He had the inspired men to write it.
A side benefit is that my wife and I learned a great deal about each other, as we sat and talked about everything in the New Testament, our beliefs, what we thought it meant, what we had believed all our lives and what we thought we knew and found we didn’t know and what we thought we had total agreement on and found we didn’t. Then, just to hear my wife talk about things we had never talked about before was simply one great experience and pleasure.
When I was reading, often I would just stop gently and softly look over at her reading His Word, and know what we were doing was right. It just made me feel really great, and we did have great pleasure reading God’s Word.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).