Sunday, January 1, 2017

How to read the Bible Properly

So you’ve picked up a Bible either from church or the bookstore – and you don’t know where to start, how to read it properly, what applies to you, what doesn’t. I say: don’t panic – this video is for you.

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When reading the Bible, I use a four step process:

S-O-A-P or simply, S.O.A.P.

Step 1: Identify the
What is the text that you’re studying? Have a basic read-through

Step 2: Make
1. What is the historical context? – Who wrote the text? Where did they write it? When was it written? What is going on in the word around them?

2. What is the genre? Is it a narrative? A poem? Prophecy? Teaching? A letter? The Bible isn’t written in a single style of writing, so you have to be able to recognize the format.

3. Who’s involved? Who are the major characters within the text?

4. How is God described? What are the theological themes that describe the nature of God?

5. Old Testament or New? When reading an Old Testament passage, does the revelation of the New Testament and what Jesus did on the cross change our understanding?

6. How is the writing arranged? Are there certain words or phrases that are either repeated or emphasized? How does the author’s use of a certain term apply in other passages related to the text we’re studying?

Apply the Principles
 Build the Bridge

1. Grasp the text on their turf. What did the text mean to the original audience?

2. Measure the width of the gap to cross. What are the differences (Time, culture, language, covenant) between the biblical audience and us?

3. Cross the Bridge. What are the underlying principles (theological, moral, etc.) that are not limited to time and culture?

4. Bring the text home. How should we as Christians apply the principles in our lives today?

Commit what you have learned before God in prayer, thanking him for what you have learned and asking that he give you the grace to live it out.

Common mistakes to avoid:

1. Inductive vs Deductive.

Inductive: Examining data to make a conclusion and deriving the resulting application 
Deductive: Having a pre-conceived application and then picking out the evidences to support it.

If one approaches a text with an intended application in mind before actually taking the time to observe the Historical-Grammatical contexts to see whether the text will even allow for such an application, they can only be expected to misinterpret and misapply the scriptures.

2. Authorial Intent vs Reader response

Reader Response: “This is what I feel the text is saying to me personally…”
Authorial Intent: What did the author – under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – actually intend to convey?

Simply put, if a text doesn’t say it, the text cannot mean it.

3. Don’t overcomplicate the text

In our zeal for spiritual knowledge, it is all-too-easy to fall into the trap of over-spiritualizing a text to make it seem more complicated and profound that what it actually is.

4. Never read a single verse on it’s own!

Let me tell you a story: You have a man and woman who have been happily married, both go to church on Sunday. The husband discovers that his wife has actually been having an extra-marital affair with another man. So the husband arranges a counseling session with their pastor, who is very straitforward in telling the wife: “You know that what you’re doing is wrong and your husband is heartbroken. Why are you doing this?”
The wife says bodly: “I’m allowed to do this, the Bible says so!”
The pastor smiled and rolled his eyes. “Oh really? Where in the Bible?”
The wife replied: “Ephesians 4 says we are to ‘put on the new man’!”

When reading a verse, read it in context of it’s parent chapter; read the chapter in context of the book; and read a book in context of the entirety of scripture.

This is just a short summary, but trust me when I say that it’s not complicated. If you want something that goes a bit more in depth that you can either watch at home or with your friends in a small group Bible Study, may I recommend the DVD “Herman Who” by Todd Friel. There’ll be a link in the description below.

In my next video I’ll be showing you some of the tools you can use to get the extra edge in getting the most out of your Bible Study.
See you soon.

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