The Importance of a Single Word

3 Tips for Doing Word Studies

I remember well the first Bible word study I ever did. It was an easy word. I already knew what it meant…or at least I thought I did. On that day one word opened up one of the greatest principles in Scripture to me. The word is found in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

A world of truth is found in that verse. A world of truth is found in one word: confess.

I imagined as a very young man that confess meant to plead with God, to convince the Lord that I was sorry, to beg for His forgiveness. But that is not at all what the word means. It is much simpler—and much more wonderful!

Confess means: “to say the same thing.” Own it. Accept it. Call it what God calls it. “Adam, where art thou?” God is not looking for information. He wants you to agree with Him. And the moment you do, His forgiveness and cleansing are yours!

He forgave you at Calvary. He wants to cleanse you more than you want to be cleansed. And He is always faithful. You can’t persuade Him to forgive you by your words and you don’t have to. It is already in His heart. He is only waiting until the truth of His Word is in your heart. He wants you to say it.

I still remember the joy of my personal discovery. Through the years I have rejoiced again and again as I have shared it with others. It never gets old.

But that is not the point of this article. It is just an illustration of it…

Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16a). Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

All Scripture. Every word. It is my conviction that God has inspired and preserved every word of Scripture, and the very words. Nothing is there by accident. God doesn’t use fillers. It is all for us!

I want to challenge you to dig into the actual words of the Word. Don’t be content with skimming the surface. Refuse to stop with a general idea. Do not assume you know what it means—ask the Author! Study. Meditate. Pray. Seek to understand what God is communicating through His words.

Here are a few practical suggestions:

  • Pay attention to repetition. When God uses a word repeatedly (or sparingly) this is a word that needs careful examination. It is a word God is emphasizing.
  • Pay attention to definition. You don’t have to be a Greek or Hebrew scholar to study the root meaning behind a word. While a dictionary is helpful, a Strong’s Concordance would be much better. We must not impose current meaning on God’s words. What was God’s intent?
  • Pay attention to progression. Remember that Scripture was given as a progressive revelation. Take note of the order in which truths are given in a passage. Compare the use of that word in one passage to its use in another place.

So choose a word! Begin a personal Bible word study today. One word can make a world of difference in your life and in the lives of those around you.

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