Welcome to the start of our 2017 30-Day Bible Challenge! We’re so glad you can join us for our very first set of tips to get you started on your year-long Bible reading habit. 🙂
Have you ever wondered why so many people read the Bible differently? For instance, some people think Jesus asked his disciples (and asks us) to literally sell all their (and our) things to follow Jesus. Others believe this is just a figurative statement for prioritizing your faith above your material possessions. You might even hear some really wacky assumptions about God’s Word! After all, how many first-century Christians did a double take when Jesus first offered bread and wine as his body and blood? It’s a good thing we know how to interpret that passage now (the term for this is “hermeneutics” by the way!)
The Bible isn’t a difficult book to read; it simply requires that we take our time to understand God’s intentions behind the history, statues, parables, and so on. So we thought you might be able to use some tips from our expert Len Woods! Here are some things you should know before jumping into Scripture:
1. DON’T assume.
We must beware of trying to force a passage to fit with our preexisting beliefs or experiences. Disciples should always base their beliefs on what the Bible says rather than interpreting the Bible in accordance with their beliefs.
2. DON’T get overly creative.
It’s tempting to look for some mysterious, hidden, symbolic meaning that no one has ever seen before. It’s also dangerous.
3. DON’T ignore historical, cultural, grammatical, and literary realities.
Though it’s one timeless story, God’s Word is comprised of a variety of kinds of literature. Plus it was compiled over 2,000 years in various Near Eastern and Mid-Eastern cultural settings by some forty different human authors writing in three languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. If we insist on reading it through twenty-first century western eyes, we
will misunderstand its meaning. This requires that you . . .
(We threw in a bonus one for you!)
|1. Ask and answer a LOT of questions!||For example:|
|2. Use the whole of Scripture to help interpret the parts of Scripture.||If other passages do not corroborate your interpretation of a text, you may be on dangerous ground. We should always use clear passages to help us grasp the meanings of unclear ones. Regarding the Mark 8 passage, since there are no other healings recorded in the gospels which show Jesus laying his hands on a person a second time, we are probably wise not to read too much into this unique event. In fact, that may be a valid interpretation: Jesus deals with each person uniquely.|
|3. Consider the context of a statement or passage.||For example, to understand Jesus’ command to the healed man “Don’t go into the village,” we need to look at comparable passages in Mark’s gospel (1:44; 5:19, 43; see also Matthew 8:4 and 16:20).|
|4. Consult trustworthy commentaries on Scripture.||Seeing how Bible scholars interpret a text is a valuable help in understanding God’s Word. So make use of Bible commentaries and study Bibles with notes from scholars.|
We hope these quick and easy tips will boost your confidence when diving into this year’s 2017 Bible Reading Plan! Take up the challenge here!
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This article is an excerpt from the upcoming Rose Guide to Discipleship by Len Woods.
Enjoy having this easy-to-understand discipleship guide packed with 30 ready-to-use lessons on 30 discipleship topics: Becoming more like Jesus, salvation, forgiveness, prayer, trusting God, how to study the Bible, and other spiritual growth topics! Whether you’re a new Christian or a seasoned believer, this guide includes overviews of key topics to dive into for a lifetime.
Order the Rose Guide to Discipleship now!