Understanding the Bible
Bible study, LOVE it! I have tried ‘not’ to study, “But can’t do it, I tell you!” (said with whimsical flailing of hands) I gravitate to geeky books, dictionaries, scholarly PDFs, anything by Spurgeon, Pink, Murry and Chambers, Zodhiates, Wuest and… (oh, never mind) I am learning it is part of my spiritual DNA, the way God created me. I am to be a student first, then a teacher. When I teach hermeneutics, (interpreting & understanding the bible) it is my goal to always have the folks understand there are basic methods to study and interpreting. The BASICS are easy. You don’t need a theological degree or the ability to speak
Hebrew or Greek. Asking a few questions, turning a few pages will give you some foundational understanding.
The first question to ask when reading the Bible should NOT be, “What does this mean to me?” That will and has gotten a few folks into trouble, we read through eyes of experience and personality, thus our interpretation would be filtered with ‘us.’ FIRST we inquire of the Holy Spirit, asking that He quiet our mind (not to be confused with sitting in a pretzel position on the floor and humming, I’d get stuck there!) but state we want/INVITE His Presence, open our heart, our intellect, laying aside our emotions, for Him, His word. Speak Lord. Speak to ME through Your word. Then as we open it, and begin to read, asking “What was the original author trying to say to the original audience?” ALWAYS read the ‘Introduction’ to each book FIRST, getting a feel for the author, the times, the culture, the people. For example, in the book of Philippians, Paul speaks about being in ‘chains,’ if we the reader don’t know that while he wrote this, he WAS in chains – in prison – in Rome, we may interpret the ‘chains’ are metaphoric in nature and try apply what isn’t being said. Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians due much to the fact that the folks were not getting along, there was a lot of icky wickedness running amuck in the town and seeping into the church, he addresses this and offers practical lessons about the Christian life. Another example, the next time you read the book of James, read it with the understanding that James is Jesus’ brother! His strong admonishment to walk in faith, REAL faith shows the depth of devotion and conviction of one who ‘grew up’ with the Master and truly believes.
When we read through the beloved Psalms, often our first receptive thought is of David, and ‘somewhat’ rightly so, however within the 150 Psalms, 100 or so are attributed to David, there are other authors such as Asaph, Ethan, Solomon, and Sons of Korah. Can you identify this author, who wrote so poetically? “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (verse 14) written by Moses, Psalm 90. In knowing this, think of Moses, ALL he went through, the dusty path in the wilderness, the ducking when God was frustrated with the complaining people, (kidding) but O the depth he had for and with his God, he knew of God’s love.
After we gather a lil insight into the author, who they were writing to and why, then we may ask questions of the scriptures. Is this an example to follow (or not) is it a sin to avoid, a command to obey, a promise to claim, a new thought about God, does this line up with my current circumstance and offer a matter of prayer. Am I to explore and research this more?
Years ago, while working as a Computer Printer Tech, I had numerous books on my desk, schematics of printers, documentation of networking, AND, one red book labeled, ‘Manual.’ It was a hardbound copy of the NIV Bible. Within the small company folks knew THAT was THE book I was drawn to. The Bible is our manual. It is living and active, “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” – written by Paul to his spiritual son Timothy, 2 Tim. 3:16-17
May we seek after, pore through and devote ourselves to the Book, the book full of ‘showing, exposing, correcting and shaping, training and putting us together.’
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another toward love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)