Faith is Like a Straw

Tonight in church a guest speaker was talking about Ephesians 2:1-10. When he got to the often quoted verses 8 and 9 he gave an illustration that I had never heard. I have not thought it through completely, but I thought I would share what he had to say.

He commented that he used to think it was faith that saved us. According to these verses, it is God’s grace that does the saving, but it comes to us by faith. His illustration was something like this (loose translation from Spanish to English and the fact that I am paraphrasing 4 hours later).

If I am thirsty and I have a glass of water in front of me, I can use a straw to transport that water to my mouth and into my stomach. While the straw can’t quench my thirst, it can be the method by which the water is transported (or applied) to my body. Playing with the straw does not do any good until it is used to connect the life sustaining water with my stomach.

Faith is like the straw. People put trust in their faith and not in the grace of God that is actually what saves us. We need to apply the faith to transporting God’s grace into our lives for salvation.

His main point was that we don’t arrive in Heaven because of our own works and abilities. We arrive in Heaven because of what God, through Jesus Christ, did in our place. We have no ability to save ourselves, but we can trust in One who can save us.

Bible Format: Double or Single Column

I was talking with another missionary this week and he said that he does not like the double columns that most Bibles are printed with. I had never really thought about it, but I didn’t think I minded double columns. I do know one major advantage to a double column layout: it is easier to skim through verses looking for specific words.

The biggest reason I had never even thought about single or double columns is I have never owned a single-column Bible. The few that I have seen have been formatted into paragraphs instead of in verse division. The verse numbers are still displayed along with the verse, but less obtrusive. But I had never actually read from a Bible formatted this way. At least, until yesterday.

My friend sent me a digital copy of the Bible that is formatted into a single column with a paragraph layout. It is surprisingly easy to read. Because the paragraphs are not only indented, but have extra space between them, it makes it easy to see what goes together. It makes much less sense to snatch a verse out of the middle of a paragraph. I would think this would cause you to at least consider more diligently the context of a verse before pulling it out and using it as if it stood alone.

What’s your thoughts? Have you ever read a Bible that uses paragraph formatting and single columns? Which do you find easier to read?

Types of Study Bibles

If you are in the market for a new Bible, consider getting a study Bible that will provide you with many years of study material. When reading your Bible, you may prefer a Bible with just the text of God’s Word. However, when studying, you can take advantage of many different types of study Bibles.

Topical Bible

A topical study Bible arranges the Bible text into specific topics. Other topical Bibles simply give the references to verses of the same topic. Either way, having a topical Bible is a great way to find all, or at least most, of the verses in the Bible which deal with a certain subject.

Chain Reference Bible

A chain reference Bible is one which has references to verses on the same subject matter. Usually they will reference a verse positionally before and after the one you are reading. This lets you find a verse on your subject and then link forward and backward through the Bible to the next verses. One of the most well-known chain reference Bibles is the Thompson Chain Reference Bible.

Chronological Bible

There are Bibles which contain the text of God’s Word in a chronological format. Many books of the Bible contain the history of many years. There are overlapping stories which may be covered in more detail in one book of the Bible than in another. A chronological Bible lets you see how events unfold in time even though the details are contained in various books throughout the Bible.

Edited Study Bible

There are Bibles like Scofield Study Bible or The Defender’s Study Bible. These are Bibles which have commentary interwoven with the Bible text–usually at the bottom of the page so that the text is unbroken visually. Many of them contain a basic outline of the books of the Bible at the beginning of each book. One such Bible is the Ryrie Study Bible.

There are many other types of study Bibles. You should take some time to visit a local Christian bookstore to find one that fits your needs and expectations. Don’t forget to consider the different binding materials. The better bound a Bible is, the longer it will serve your needs.

Finding Bible Study Topics: Topical Bible

When looking for Bible study topics you can turn to a topical Bible. Topical Bibles can be arranged in different ways, so it is worth looking at several different ones to find one you like.

One type of topical Bible will have the complete text of the Bible arranged by topic. These have all the verses written out. The advantaged of this type of topical Bible is that once you find the topic you don’t have to look up the text in another section of the Bible. However, some of these Bibles will only list the text in one place even if the verse applies to more than one topic.

Another type of topical Bible does not have the text listed, but has several pages either at the front or back of the Bible text with a listing of all verses pertaining to the topic. The Nave’s Topical Bible is an example of this type of Bible. Topics are broken down into broad topic areas and then more specific listings underneath. Many Bibles have a few pages with verse references listed topically. However, a Bible designed as a topical Bible will have dozens of pages dedicated to detailed topics. The main disadvantage to this type of topical Bible is that once you find the topic and the reference, you have to find the verse in the regular Bible text. These are not much different than using a concordance in that respect. This creates considerable work in comparison to a Bible which has its text arranged topically–especially if you are needing to look up several passages for your study.

The biggest disadvantage to each of these types of topical Bibles is that it is easy to take a verse out of context. You have to know that you can trust the people who chose those verses to fit with those topics. You should always be careful to see what the broad context of the passage is before accepting the topical Bible editors to always get it right.

A third type of topical Bible which is becoming very popular is called a Rainbow Bible. While there is actually a product called The Rainbow Bible, there are other Bibles with similar features. These Bibles attempt to show via color coding how different verses fit within various topics.

All of these topical Bible types can be used to find Bible study topics. Whether you are needing these study topics for your own personal enrichment or for teaching a class, you can get a good start in your study by using a topical Bible.