Saturday, March 04, 2006

Two Questions

When I was a freshman at college, I took a course called Inductive Bible Study. In this course I learned something that has been of enormous value to me in understanding and applying the Bible to my life and my ministry.

As I have tried to show in some of the previous posts, it is not always a simple thing to determine what the Bible means. Sometimes the “obvious meaning” is not correct. Sometimes we have to do a considerable amount of research before we can determine what a passage means.

But in the midst of this complexity, there is an approach to understanding the Bible that keeps the purpose clearly in mind.

This approach consists of two questions:
  • What did the writer intend his original readers to
  • What, if anything, does this have to do with me?

Too often, students of the Bible try to answer both questions at the same time. This leads to much confusion and misunderstanding. Answering the first question requires more time than most people realize. Notice that it refers to the author and the original readers. This requires us to do some work in understanding who the author was. Then we must determine who the original audience was. Finally, we must try to understand what this passage would have meant to them.

All these things must be answered to a reasonable extent before we can focus on the second question.

And notice the phrase “if anything.” Just because something is in the Bible doesn’t mean it automatically applies to your life. I know you’ve heard pastors and teachers say the opposite, but a little common sense will tell you that this can’t be.

There is no direct application to your life of Numbers 26:20-22.

Now I’m not saying that it is not true or that it is not an important part of the Bible. All I am saying is that it has no direct application to your life. Any attempt to force one would do violence to the text.

Armed with these two questions, you can start to improve your ability to understand and apply God’s Word to your life.

Pastor Rod

      “Helping you become the person God created you to be”

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