Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bible Study Basics

I have three books ideas (other than fiction) and one of them is about how to study the Bible with a different approach than others (which are genre-based, which is important, or inductive, which is important also).  It will be more of a layman's or laywoman's approach to what one is actually doing in Bible study.

One of the basics is knowing the definition of four important words:


Revelation – God inspired (breathed in) men to write through their own personalities and cultures to deliver a message in text.  This is not dictation.  The writers were literate and in some cases well educated and academically trained for their period.   God did not obliterate their "selves" while they wrote.  The Bible is accurate and truthful (two different things) in all it affirms.  But we don't always understand it right off "the bat."

Interpretation – deriving the meaning of the passage in the original writing, through language and cultural study, to find the the truth that is for everyone at all times. Some people who interpret the Bible don’t even believe it.  That leads us to . . .

Illumination – Jesus told the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth in John 16:13.  Was this just for apostles?  Maybe, but probably not.  There are other passages that "come alongside" this one.  Illumination is "light-giving" and has to do with our understanding of the Scripture through the Holy Spirit and our attitude of openness.  Only those who have the Holy Spirit can use it and believe it.  

Application – what it means for us today in terms of obedience and insight into God’s wills and ways.  This is where we personally "hear" God, after the other three (not before or without them).

Beth Moore has been criticized, as have other speakers, that they are saying God speaks to them personally to have a word for the church.  This is a tricky area. I don’t know her heart.  But I know that when God speaks to me it is for me, not a word of knowledge for others.   I also have insights into the meaning of Scripture that I can share because I know it’s based on a study of the text.  I think Bible teachers should be honest and transparent about that.  “This is how I am applying it in my life, but God may apply it differently for you.”  Women can be guilty of emphasizing the emotional and wanting something personal and emotional from scripture, and female Bible teachers can be susceptible to delivering that to audiences who want it.

I'll use as an example the verse in  I Corinthians 13, " Love is not puffed up.Each of us gets puffed up about different things.  One woman can have a beautiful home because she is puffed up, another so she can be hospitable and doesn’t think of it that way.  I can’t say, “if you have a beautiful home, you are puffed up,” just because I might get that way.  Only God can speak to the person that way. But we have to be open and listening, and listening in Scripture does not mean the act of hearing but of responding and obeying.  In the Hebrew the same word shama, translated "hearing"  has a broader set of meanings than we give it today.

Actually all words are like that.  I like to draw a picture of a circle with a word in the middle and then show all the words that fit as denotations and connotations in the circle and put others outside of it.  

I think we can easily get caught up in any of these four steps and not put them together in correct order, and thus fall into pseudo-heresies. 

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