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Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018
How to Study the Bible (Part 2)
Speaker: Jerry Wragg
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We are continuing today in Grace & Granite on how to study the Bible. Last week, we introduced this topic and discussed the first general principle that the Scriptures have clarity. They are clear, and we can learn from them, inductively.  That is, we can learn God’s revelation to man directly from studying God’s Word in faith and in submission to it. Thus, the greatest problem is reading into Scripture our own presuppositions vs. learning from a passage what God intends for us to learn from it.

In the Bible, we learn propositional truth. God’s Word makes authoritative claims about definitive truth.

  • Scripture is unbending and unchanging. God is the supreme authority of all truth.
  • What God says about anything is the most important thing we will ever learn.
  • The Bible is objective. Attempting to change the objective truth is unbelief and a disdain for God.
  • Psalm 119:18 is very instructive to our right study approach.
    • The psalmist pleads with God to understand His Word.
    • There is a submissive heart placing high reverence on the text of Scripture.
    • We want to assume the same posture – God’s Word reveals wonderful Truth and we need the Spirit’s illuminating power to behold it.
    • We pray and beg the Lord for understanding.
    • God’s word is objective, and it commands obedience.

General Principle #1 – Scripture is clear.

  • Isaiah 45:18-19; Deuteronomy 29:29
  • God reveals His word clearly in Scripture, so that we would understand it in faith and be willing to obey it.
  • The opposite doubtful approach to Scripture is what the Bible calls truth suppression. It is an expression of unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).
  • Men who run from the Light, hate the Light, because they do not want their evil deeds exposed (John 3:19-21).
  • Psalm 19:7-14 is a great passage of promise to the studier of God’s Word.
    • Imbedded here are promised results.
    • There are warnings and rewards in Scripture.
    • Scripture alone sets the standard for our acceptability to God.
    • We cannot grow in the Christian life without a submissive heart.
    • Stubborn hearts, which are unwilling to submit, are rooted in pride.
  • If someone is having trouble in sanctification, we might want to do a little self-evaluation of…
    • Am I bristling at some truth in Scripture?
    • What area of my life do I want autonomy instead of giving the authority to God’s Word?

General Principle #2 – Revelation is accommodated by God to us.

  • The Bible was written by God.
  • He used a human language in books written in context, and in various genres, so we could understand glorious truths.
    • For example, 2 Chronicles 16:9 – “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro…”
    • For example, we often read about “the hand of God”.
    • These are metaphors and imagery not read literally, but understood in common language, just as we communicate in various genres and styles.
  • Why? God invented all language, human communication, and reason, so He uses normal language in various forms to make Himself known.

General Principle #3 – Scripture is harmonious.

  • The Bible is unified and does not contradict itself, because God wrote it. He cannot have any contradiction in Him.
  • Even if we perceive a contradiction, we must believe that the problem is our finiteness and not God.
  • A paradox can be discovered where something appears to contradict, but God Word does not. The harmony of God’s Word is a foundational doctrine.
  • Some concepts must be accepted in faith and left to the wondrous character of God – we don’t solve every mystery. Mysteries are there for our study.
  • For example, 2 Timothy 2:1 has a command that can only be accomplished by God. “Be strong in the grace of Christ.”
    • There is tension because Christ provides grace.
    • At the same time, we are commanded to be strong in that grace, and if not, we are morally culpable.
    • There’s tension and we go right up to the wall of faith, but not beyond it to create a new meaning.

General Principle #4 – Scripture can be normally interpreted.

  • When read it its context, it can be understood.
  • In John 10, we read several metaphors in the context, so when we get to verse 9, we know that Christ is not a physical door, but we understand that He acts like a door in the context.
  • There is no need to abandon the normal reading and understanding of God’s Word for a mystical, hidden view.
  • Words have normal definitions in their various contexts and genres.
  • When interpreting scripture, we use more words to bring clarity to explain the text.
  • That’s exactly how we communicate with others, when something isn’t understood clearly, we use more explanation to expound on a concept.
  • The goal when expounding scripture is to bring a more precise meaning to the text, so we can understand it more fully.

General Principle #5 – There is one meaning of a Biblical text.

  • Just like if we say, “The grass is green,” we would need to know what grass is, but once we did, we understand in this sentence that the grass is green in color.
  • Scripture is the same way; the Divine Author communicates through a human author with one intended meaning.
  • When working in soul-threatening primary doctrine, we can understand the authoritative meaning of the text.
    • For example, Colossians 2:9 says, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form”.
    • The singular meaning of this text is that Jesus Christ is God.
    • Anyone who declares otherwise, suggests that the text is not clear, or suggests an alternate meaning is declaring heresy.
  • We believe in faith that the Scriptures are certain, established, and immovable.