This week”s lesson focuses on the importance of allowing the Bible to impact the way we live. This is an extremely important point. Far too often, we limit our experience with Scripture to a list of fundamental beliefs about God, Jesus, and any other number of important theological concepts. While the Bible does have much to say about what we should believe, it is also concerned with how we live. It is not merely a history book, but a living book that was intended to impact that way we live.
To be honest, however, making the connection between what the Bible says and how we are suppose to live is not always easy. There are some things, of course that the Bible is perfectly clear on-for example the Ten Commandments. The vast majority of the Scripture, however, is written in narrative form, and as we have mentioned earlier this quarter, a “once upon a time” is not nearly as easy to apply to one”s life as is an imperative. As much as we might like it at times, the Bible does not function like the Urim and the Thummim, the objects on the breastplate of the High Priest that were used like a lot to provide a “yes” or “no” answer to questions (1 Sam 28:6; Ezra 2:63). Whether we are dealing with specific laws or general stories in the Bible, if we really want to know how to apply the teachings of the Bible to our personal lives, it is absolutely crucial that we know how to read the Bibleï¿½just picking up the Bible and opening it for an answer to a major issue in your life could be misleading, if not down right dangerous. To demonstrate this point, let”s look at a couple of hypothetical situations, like those raised in Wednesday”s section of the lesson.
Questions for Discussion:
Example #1: A Christian family is having trouble with a teenager. The child shows little respect for his parents, and is often down right rebellious. What should the parents do? What saith the Word of God? Consider the following texts: Deut 21:18, 21; Prov 22:15, 23:13; Eph 6:4.
Example #2: This example is from the lesson. A beggar stands on the sidewalk and holds out his hand for money. What saith the Word of God? Consider the following texts: Mat 5:42, 26:7-13; Luke 12:33; 2 Thes 3:10.
Both of these examples demonstrate that it is not always easy to just read a text and apply it to one”s current situation. We clearly need to learn to correctly interpret Scripture if we want to apply it to our lives. While much could be said on this topic, the following are some basic steps to follow in interpreting Scripture: 1) Pray for God”s guidance; 2) Try to figure out what was the original point of the passage; 3) Examine the context in which it was written (e.g., is it a timeless principle, or a specific, but limited truth; 4) Identify the genre of the passage (e.g. a parable should not be treated as history, etc.).
- Apply the basic steps of how to interpret the Bible just mentioned to each of the example questions listed above. Does following these steps make a difference in answering the questions?
- How do you read Scripture? Do you avoid certain books for devotional study? Do you read different parts of Scripture for different occasions?