When studying the Bible or a topic, such as baptism, what is the best way? Is it with a particular Bible version, such as the King James, New King James, or the New International Version, with no commentary and a concordance as a Bible aid? My church has recently gone through an exercise like that. Also, in studying with someone, what is the best approach if they are member of a demonational church?

I don't believe there is a single right answer to this question. The best way to study is the way that gets a person closer to the truth presented in the Bible. Different students will need different approaches to be able to grasp the concepts found in the pages of the Bible. Different teachers will use methods that they find transfers ideas well for them.

For example, my favorite method for studying a topic is to write it out at the top of a blank piece of paper. I then jot down some verses that I think might be useful in understanding the topic. Besides each verse I write a short note about how this verse addresses the topic. Next I go back to each verse and use a cross-reference to find related verses. Those that are about the topic I'm studying is added to the list along with a note. I also cross-reference the new verses until the links stray too far from my topic. I might also check commentaries, dictionaries, or concordances to find more verses to add to my list. When I eventually get done I review all the verses and group them by related subtopics. I then ask myself, "How can I present these passages in a way to clearly teach what God has said on this topic?" I then outline the lesson I want to present.

When dealing with someone unfamilar with true Christianity, I have a set of three lessons that I have used numerous times over the years. It is just a list of verses with several questions after each verse that make sure the person actually understood what they read. I ask the person I'm studying with to read the passage outloud from his Bible. I listen for any words they might stumble over. For those words, I make sure they understand what is being said. Then we go over the questions. If they get an answer wrong, I'll redirect them back to the passage they just read. The list of verses I used is one that I received from another preacher long ago, though I modified it a bit to suit what I know. It starts out on establishing the relationship between the Old and New Testament; the need for biblical authority; the need for faith, love, obedience, confession, and baptism to be saved; how to worship God in a way that pleases Him; and the urgency of being saved. I'm constantly tweaking the verses based on each class that I have. I find it works well because the person is reading his Bible for himself and if he has disagreements it is between himself and God. I'm just there to help them get a better grasp of what they are reading for themselves.

I don't care too much which translation a person uses, so long as it is a translation and not a paraphrase. I try to avoid the New International Version because I end up having to explain things like why Mark 16:16 is marked as not in some manuscripts and why they put Acts 8:37 into the footnotes. But if this is the only version they have, then that is what we use.

"Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness" (II Timothy 2:14-16).

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding the Bible
Questions and Answers regarding Teaching