Lesson 2: Searching for Truth

Memory Text:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).


Fun Facts of the Day:

  • The popular saying “by the skin of my teeth” is a biblical phrase first found in the book of Job (Job 19:20).
  • Heaven has a sense of humor! The angel who rolled away the stone from Jesus’s tomb promptly sat on the stone the moment he finished the job (Matthew 28:2). “Yeah, I dare you to try and put that back.”
  • There are assassins in the Bible. Ehud, a left-handed swordsman and a God-appointed judge of Israel, assassinated the Moabite king, Eglon, in order to free Israel and escaped through the porch. You can read the story for yourself in Judges 3:12-26.
  • The lampstand in the Tabernacle was made out of gold and shaped to look like the branches and blossoms of an almond tree (Exodus 25:31-40).

This is an almond blossom.

  • There’s more than one Noah in the Bible. The first one we know from the story of Noah and the Ark; the second one is actually a girl! (Numbers 26:33; 27:1; 36:11; Joshua 17:3)

Lesson:

Lesson 2 – Searching for Truth (PowerPoint)

Last week we learned that the Bible is the divinely-inspired Word of God, a book of prophecy, guidance, purification and protection meant to help us and strengthen us in our lives here on this earth.

Ok, so we know what it is, but there is still another question looming over us: Why should we study it?

In the book Steps to Christ, we read:

There is nothing more calculated to strengthen the intellect than the study of the Scriptures. No other book is so potent to elevate the thoughts, to give vigor to the faculties, as the broad, ennobling truths of the Bible. If God’s Word were studied as it should be, men would have a breadth of mind, a nobility of character, and a stability of purpose rarely seen in these times (pg. 90).

In this week’s lesson, let’s dive into the Scriptures and take a look at some reasons to study the Bible. And then, once we have explored that, let’s learn some methods for Bible study.


Saturday: It Can Help Us Avoid Sin

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to your word…Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You (Psalm 119:9,11).

What is sin?

The Hebrew word for sin in this passage of Psalms comes from the root word hata’: to miss a goal or pathway, go wrong, commit a mistake or error, or to sin. Essentially, to sin is to make a mistake.

Can mistakes be deadly?

In the spring of 2014, the popular car company, Toyota, was forced to agree to a $1.2 billion fine for intentionally hiding deadly malfunctions in some of their lines of vehicles. The problem? Some of their vehicles, operating off of fancy computer systems, were automatically accelerating without warning. The result? Panic, accidents, injuries, and even death.

This accident resulted in the deaths of 4 people. - Photo courtesy of Wall Street Journal

This accident resulted in the deaths of 4 people. – Photo courtesy of Wall Street Journal

Did every single one of these cars, hiding a deadly error, accelerate without warning and crash? No. Did everyone who did crash die? No. But was that one tiny bug in the computer system something to worry about? Absolutely.

We as humans, born into a corrupt world, were born with a deadly malfunction: sin. We desire it, and the world around us encourages us to make it grow. The creator of that malfunction, Satan, wants us to believe that we are safe from the consequences of sin. In fact, he wants us to believe that there is no such thing as sin at all. We might be able to avoid it for a while, but we can’t ignore the truth forever. But luckily for us, God has issued the biggest recall of all time: the Bible. In it we find a way to prevent the deadly results of a life of sin and repair our lives that have been shattered by its consequences. The repair job is free. The only cost to us is our selfishness and the time it takes to read.

Think about it:

  • Why is it so hard to admit that something is a sin?
  • What does it mean to keep one’s path “pure”?
  • How can reading the Bible help us avoid falling into the trap of sin?

Sunday: It Can Help Us Learn and Understand What We Believe

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

A comedian called Michael Jr. went to a mall about 3 years ago and challenged some people on what they knew about the Bible. The first question was a fill-in-the-blank: “God so loved the world that He…”

Some of the answers were as follows:

  • “…made it in 6 days?”
  • “made it very nice.”
  • “gave his only son.”
    To which Michael Jr. said, “Yes! What was His only son’s name?”
    Her answer: silence and a confused look
  • “…gave…Adam and Eve…to the…the land.”

The girls who answered “…made it in 6 days?” did know, however, that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

It’s easy to say we are Christians until someone challenges us about our faith.

When I was a kid, I played an online horse game, and being a paying member on the site (thanks to my parents), I had a lot of bells and whistles that attracted other players to my virtual farm. Through a series of events, one player I was messaging found out that I was a Seventh-Day Adventist, to which they asked, “What is a Seventh-Day Adventist?”

I couldn’t answer. Because the truth was, I didn’t even know what I believed as a Christian, much less a Seventh-Day Adventist. I had never read the Bible. All I knew was what my family had taught me and what I learned in Sabbath School.

The Bible is specifically mentioned as being “profitable for doctrine,” a complete and reliable source for figuring out what it is that a true follower of God should actually believe. And when we do study the Bible with a willing and eager heart, God will give us what we need to face our challengers when the time comes.

Think about it:

  • If someone were to come up to you right now and ask you what you believe and why you believe it, how would you answer?
  • What is doctrine and why is it important?
  • What happens when people listen to other believers without searching for the truth themselves?

Monday: It Can Bring Peace to Our Lives

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you (Proverbs 3:1-2).

They were arrested without committing a crime, stripped, beaten, and thrown into prison. And yet still Paul and Silas were able to sing and pray, and when they had the chance to escape, they chose to stay, perfectly at peace for the plans God had in store for them (Acts 16:20-34).

You hear stories of prisoners singing and martyrs praying in their dying breaths. The Word of God has a power known to no other book: the power to bring real, lasting peace into the lives of mankind.

It can be hard, sometimes, to really identify with the people in the past who found such peace and hope in the words of the Bible. After all, most of us are not being stripped, beaten, stoned, burned, thrown into prison, or held hostage because of our faith. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t times in our lives when we need a peace all together foreign to the world of humans.

Every other day we hear of things happening around us. Children are being suspended from school for reading their Bibles, strangers are raiding schools and movie theaters and shooting anyone on site, terrorists are hijacking planes or blowing up subway stations, wars are raging, wildfires and floods are destroying whole communities. In this world of complete and utter chaos, there is one thing we desperately all need: the peace and assurance of God. Through reading the Bible, we can come to feel a peace that we have never known before, one that makes even the terrors of this world seem like mere background noise. As Philippians 4:7 says, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Think about it:

  • Can you think of some times in your life when you have felt like there could be no peace?
  • In what ways can the Bible bring peace to our lives?
  • What do you think the peace of God feels like?

Tuesday: It Can Encourage Us

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7).

When I was 18, I worked as a girl’s counselor and ceramics instructor at a summer camp. Every week we had a set of verses that the kids needed to memorize in order to repeat them at line call, and because I was a counselor, I had to teach the verses to them. And, by virtue of that fact, I learned a lot of the memory verses myself. Yet the only one that really stuck out to me was 1 Peter 5:6-7, and that was probably because of everything I went through during my time there.

Homesick kids and the fact that I went into teaching ceramics without even knowing how to fire up the kiln were the least of my worries that summer. There were campers who went out of their way to make life rough for me and my co-counselor one week, another week where our campers were adult women who smoked, it seemed, like, every half hour, and wet the bed every night, at one point one of our guy staff nearly died due to a disease he didn’t know he had (that shook all of us up), and then there were “smaller” problems like the horse that got away from us on a trail ride and the camper who got a migraine and I had to clean up after because of it. (In case you didn’t know, migraines do make people sick to their stomachs, if you get my drift).

Through all of this, I kept having to repeat 1 Peter 5:6-7 to myself: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

That year at summer camp was, over all, one of the greatest blessings I have ever experienced in my life. I loved my kids, though they drove me absolutely crazy some times, and there are few moments in my life when I have seen greater miracles performed right in front of my own eyes. But I don’t know that I would have made it through some of the hardest points in that summer if not for the encouraging Bible verse that became my motto, if you will. And that’s just one of them. The number of encouraging verses in the Bible is boundless.

Think about it:

  • Do you have any areas in your life where you need encouragement?
  • What are some examples of verses that could encourage you or the people around you in your daily lives?
  • How does the Bible encourage us?

Wednesday: It Can Empower Us

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

For the last couple of days, we’ve been building off a sort of theme here. One, the Bible brings peace to our lives; two, the Bible can encourage us to keep going; and now three, the Bible can empower us, give us the strength to do things completely beyond our comfort zone.

Fear is a natural emotion for people. Having a healthy fear of the danger around us is good, but too often we allow our fears to get the better of us and, furthermore, we often allow ourselves to be afraid even of things that are generally harmless. This is especially true when it comes to serving God.

Too often we use our fears and perceived inadequacies as excuses for why we should not do God’s work. This is true of everything from leading song service to teaching Sabbath School to preaching a sermon to telling our friends about the grace and love of Christ. (And yes, I’m preaching to myself here.)

One verse I keep repeating to myself is 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

I spoke to a friend many years ago who told me about a trip they had taken to Africa. They had gone with a team of missionaries and, to my friend’s surprise and (slight) horror, she was asked to be the speaker for a particular set of evangelistic meetings to be held in the area she had been assigned. She was a friendly but quiet girl back then, not one prone to speak out openly to a crowd of several hundred strangers. But, because she was there and because the team had asked her to, she agreed to speak. Every day, as she prepared for the sermon, she would read her Bible and pray earnestly for God to use her to reach the people. She told me she didn’t remember anything she said through any meeting – only what happened before and after her sermons – but that the people were strongly moved by the words they heard, and many of them were baptized because of it.

The Word of God has a way of empowering people, giving them a strength, passion, and mental calm that defies all reason when they are doing His work. Too many times we underestimate the power of God’s Word, and too many times, we don’t even give it the chance to make us stronger and braver servants for Him.

Think about it:

  • How do you think the Bible empowers people?
  • Can you think of any stories where the Bible has made people stronger and braver?
  • Are there any fears in your life that are keeping you from doing God’s work?

Thursday: It Can Change Us

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

His name was Grimez. He was a forester, living in France during the times of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815). His wife was a Christian; he could not have cared less about Christianity if he tried.

During these chaotic days, a group of bandits began to harass the region where Grimez and his wife, Maria, lived, and so, getting together a handful of men, Grimez led the charge to take down the highwaymen. And he succeeded, for the most part. The only one they had left to catch was the bandit leader. And that bandit had sworn that he would kill Grimez, no matter what.

Normally Grimez would come home before sunset, but one night he didn’t. Maria worried for her husband’s safety, but decided to go ahead and have worship with her mother and daughter like usual. She picked up the Bible she kept on the table in the main room of the house and read from it. Then, when they had finished, Maria prayed, “Dear Lord, You know Grimez is a proud, yet good man, and You know how much we need him. Help him put his trust in You. Keep him from danger. And Father, also bless the robber whom we fear. Have mercy on him and soften his heart.”

When Grimez came home that night, he mocked Maria, telling her not to trust in some invisible god, but to trust in their dogs and guns instead. The next morning, however, they came out to find something incredible: Maria’s Bible had been stolen, and left in its place was a deadly knife. The dogs had never barked, but the bandit had still come inside their home. Yet even so, they were all still safe. The only thing that had been stolen was Maria’s Bible. Grimez was so moved by what happened that day, that he, too, gave his heart to God.

Fast forward several years later. Wars raged. Grimez became a soldier, and in one of the battles, he was wounded on the abandoned shores of a lake. Through some miracle, Grimez was discovered by a fisherman who rescued him and nursed him back to health. Again, Grimez thought, God had spared his life.

When at last Grimez was finally well enough to go home, he thanked the fisherman and the fisherman’s wife for all their help and asked how he could repay them. However, the fisherman adamantly refused.

“I owe you much more than you could ever owe me,” he said.

When Grimez showed confusion at the man’s words, the fisherman then went to a closet. He returned with none other than Maria’s Bible.

“I am the robber who caused so much trouble in your neighborhood,” the fisherman told Grimez. “You caught my companions and had them put in prison. I was furious with you and swore to have revenge. One evening about dark, I crept into your house, intending to murder you and all your family while you slept.

“The whole evening I lay under the couch in your sitting room, waiting for you to come home and go to bed. While I was hiding, your wife read the seventy-first psalm out of this Bible. Then she knelt and prayed, not only for you and your safety but also for me and my hardened heart!

“As she read and prayed, a strange feeling came over me. It seemed as if an unseen hand was laid upon me to keep me from doing what I had come to do. I only wanted to get that wonderful book and read it for myself. In my haste I left my knife on the table. For some reason even your dogs didn’t bark as I fled out the window.

“For weeks I hid in the woods near your home and did practically nothing but read your Bible. I saw what a great sinner I was, and like the other thief, the one on the cross, I was forgiven. Then I left that part of the country and became a fisherman.”

(Read the whole story, “The Missing Bible,” in the book Guide’s Greatest Escape from Crime Stories).

Both Grimez and the fisherman were changed by one book: the Bible. The Word of God is powerful, able to soften hardened hearts and clean up stained ones, if only it were to be picked up and read.

Think about it:

  • Why did Maria’s prayer change the bandit’s mind?
  • How does the Bible change lives?
  • Is the transforming power of God’s Word also needed in the lives of Christians? If so, why?

Friday: It Can Help Us Come to Know God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).

And here we come to the best part: the Bible can help us come to know God.

In this day and age, we hear a lot of very bad things being said about God. More often than not, if we hear “God” or “Christ” mentioned in everyday speech, it is either in a joke or a curse word. Yet how many of these people who disdain God so much have actually picked up the Bible and sincerely tried to figure out who God is?

There are a lot of different views on who God is, even within the Christian community. Some people view Him as a sort of Zeus-type character, sitting on some magical throne up in the sky looking for people to throw lightning bolts at. Others view him more as a genie-in-a-bottle-type character, who sits around and grants wishes all day. Neither one is completely right or completely wrong.

God is a God of order, one who sets rules in stone and follows them, expecting His people to do the same. However, He is not without love or mercy and, like an adoring parent, He truly enjoys giving good things to His people.

We cannot have a clear understanding of God, though, until we read about Him in the Bible, not in just one or two stories but, rather, the Bible as a whole. After all, just as Ecclesiastes 3 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven,” likewise, there is a time and a reason for everything God does, but we won’t be able to see the true Him until we see Him act in multiple scenarios.

Think of it this way. Say someone is visiting your classroom. The first day they come, you just pulled an all-nighter and you didn’t have the energy to do more than throw on a pair of jeans and a wrinkled T-shirt. Plus, you’re grumpy. Like, really grumpy. Then they come a couple weeks later, but you overslept your alarm and you were late to school. Again, you’re grumpy and disheveled. They don’t come back for a while, but a year later they return, but you just got back from a trip and you have no idea where anything is at the moment. You might be the nicest, most well-kept person on planet earth on a normal day, but this visitor has only seen you 3 times, always at bad times. So, naturally, what do you think their assumption of you is?

God may not have bad days and throw “hissy fits” like we do, but you wouldn’t know unless you read the whole Bible for yourself. In every instance, God has a reason for everything He does. He’s more than just a punisher, more than just a gift-giving nice guy, more than a walking, talking book of “Do nots.”

To me, God is my friend. I read verses like 1 Peter 5:6-7 which says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you (other versions say “lift you up”) in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you,” and John 17:20 which says, “I do not pray for these [current believers] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.”

We read verses like Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you (some versions say “plans I have for you”), says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” and Judges 10:16b, which says, “And His [God’s] soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.”

Yes, there are consequences for sin, especially when the sinner feels no guilt for what he or she does. But God is more than just that. He longs for us to give Him every problem and worry we have. Jesus Himself prays for us, plans great things for us, and suffers when our bad choices make us suffer.

But this is the God we would never know if we never read the messages He sent to us.

Think about it:

  • Who is God to you?
  • If God were visibly standing before you right now, would you categorize Him as a stranger, an acquaintance, a distant friend, a close friend, a best friend, or a family member?
  • Why is knowing God’s true character important?

Conclusion:

There are so many reasons why studying the Bible is a positive and, especially for Christians trying to defend their beliefs, vital thing to do. Studying the Bible makes it possible for the Holy Spirit to convince us of our sins and direct us away from continuing on that path. It is the source of all doctrine for a true Christian, the compilation of everything we believe and why we believe it. It can bring peace into our chaotic lives, encouragement in the face of difficulty, and strength and courage in the face of things we fear. The Bible can and has changed the lives of millions of people over the centuries, and in it is the detailed description of the God who loves us beyond reason and comprehension. In it is a life we have never known, a blessing beyond comparison, if only we would put forth the effort to study and understand it.


Game/Activity:

Title: Bible Marking Honor

About it:

This activity covers the Pathfinder requirements for completing the Bible Marking honor. Here we will discuss methods of Bible study, then challenge the students to complete the marking portion in their Bibles. To make it more fun, try separating them into teams and give them points based on how many verses they have accurately marked in the time they are given.

Materials:

  • A Bible that can be marked in
  • A pen or pencil
  • A highlighter or colored pencil (optional)

Learn it:

  1. Name 5 different methods of Bible marking. Explain how each method is used, along with the pros and cons of each.
    1. Chain Reference – In this method, you first choose a topic and come up with a very short key for it. For instance, “Salvation by Grace” might become “SbG” or even “SG”. Then you find a blank page either near the front or near the back of your Bible and write the title, the key, and the first reference, such as Col 2:14. You then turn to that reference in the Bible, and in the margin near the first reference, you write the key plus the reference to the next verse. Continue doing this until you annotate the final verse with the key and the letter “F” (for “final”).Pros:
      1. You can give a quick Bible study “on the spot.”
      2. It’s a good way to become familiar with the Bible.
      3. It’s an effective way to become familiar with a topic.
      4. You can buy preprinted sheets of stickers for the references on certain topics.


      Cons:

      1. You cannot change the order of study.
      2. If you lose your place, you have to start over from the beginning.
      3. Sometimes the pre-printed stickers can fall out
    2. Color Code – Choose a color for the topic. As you read your Bible, when you come across a passage having to do with that topic, you mark a line down the margin starting where that topic begins, and ending where the topic ends. If the passage has a subheading and the entire passage has to do with the topic, underline the subheading with that color.Pros:
      1. Good for ongoing study of the Bible.
      2. Colors stand out.
      3. Gives a good overview of a topic.


      Cons:

      1. The number of distinct colors will limit the number of topics you can mark.
      2. You have to have the right color marker with you when you come across a reference.
      3. Too many colors or an overmarked Bible will render the annotations useless.
      4. Not good for a sequential study – such as where a prophecy is made and where its fulfillment is recorded.
    3. Cross Reference – Where you have found two or more texts speaking about the same subject you can, alongside one of these texts, in the margin, write the reference to those other texts. Then go to those other texts and write the reference of the first text. 2. If it is to do with only a word or a phrase from the text that you wish to support from other texts, then place an “R” alongside that word or phrase.Pros:
      1. Can be added to.
      2. Not limited by subjects.
      3. Quick support for a difficult text.


      Cons:

      1. Limited by space in margin for reference.
      2. You need to know where to start.
      3. Hard to follow through a complete study.
    4. Highlighting or Underlining – Emphasize just one word or phrase in the section using a pen, pencil, or highlighter. Just enough to make the thought that you want to stand out.Pros:
      1. Reminds you of important part of the text.
      2. It makes that part stand out.


      Cons:

      1. Too much, lessens the clarity of the text.
    5. Number Reference – When you have information about a word or passage that you cannot fit in the margin, highlight – underline or mark in an appropriate way to suit your system of marking. Then in the margin, place a number – that number will be the same as a number on a page in the back of your Bible. To know what that number should be, look at the last lot of information you put on that page and the number you put with it, the number is the next number. So if your last entry was 5, then this one would be 6. Put the reference for your text at the end of your information entry for cross reference.Pros:
      1. Allows comment or explanation on a thought in greater detail.
      2. Helps to keep information about a word or passage from being forgotten.


      Cons:

      1. Has a limited use.
    6. Subject Lists – On a page at the back of your Bible, make lists of texts under a subject heading. Leave plenty of room so you can keep adding extra texts you find as you read the Bible or listen to sermons. Add an extra page if you need to. A mark can be placed alongside the more suitable texts for the topic.Pros:
      1. Good personal study.
      2. A quick source of references from which to pick for a study.
      3. Does not clutter the margin of your Bible.


      Cons:

      1. It needs a reasonable amount of space in the back of your Bible.
  2. List 5 guidelines you would consider before starting to mark your Bible.
    1. Choose a Bible that suits your needs. If you will need wide margins to write in the cross reference system OR if you need space to write notes for the number system, choose a Bible with wide margins.
    2. Choose a method that suits your needs.It generally better to use only one method of marking in a Bible. If you wish to try another method, use a different Bible.
    3. Do not overmark your Bible. Too many marks make it almost unreadable, so keep it simple.
    4. Plan before you start, and have a definite aim in marking the Bible.
    5. Don’t mark an heirloom Bible. For instance, Grandma Tillie’s Bible with her ancestry recorded within is not an appropriate choice for marking. Get a new Bible if you need to.
  3. What method would you follow for giving a Bible study and why?
    1. Chain Reference – Smoothly transition from one text to another in a given subject.
    2. Subject List – Quickly find a list of texts relevant to the subject.
  4. What methods would you use for ongoing Bible study and why?
    1. Chain Reference – Can continually connect related texts together as you study.
    2. Color Coding – Can continually highlight a given subject of study as you discover more texts.
    3. Cross Reference – Can continually connect ideas together for future reference.
    4. Subject Lists – Can continually add texts referencing a particular topic as you find them.

Do it:

  1. Mark your Bible for two topics/subjects using a method from #3 above.
  2. Mark your Bible for two topics/subjects using a method from #4 above.

Use this subject sheet to complete one of the Ranger level requirements while you’re at it!

Bible Marking Subject Text List

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