How the Bible Speaks To Us


I.  Handling the Scriptures

A.     Attitudes & Motives (Most Important Part!)

   1)   John 5:37-47 to come to Jesus

   2)    I Cor. 8:1-3, I Cor. 13 “Knowledge puffs up, love builds up”

   3)    II Thess. 2:10, Eph. 4:15 “Love truth, but speak it in love”

   4)    Heb. 5:11-14 “We learn so we can do; apply it”

B.    Basic Guidelines

1)    Consider the student (yourself!)-your personality type,prejudices,background,limitations,etc.

2)    Consider the context- immediate location of the verse,i.e. I Cor.15:32,Ecclesiastes 2:24,3:13

3)    Consider the rest of scripture – what the Bible as a whole says about that topic Luke 4:26

4)    Consider the background – the historical setting and purpose for the writing

5)    Understand the words & grammar – nuances of meaning from the original languages

6)    Recognize the type of language

       a.       Literal – it means literally what it says

       b.      Figurative – poetic,symbolic,allegory,etc. i.e. the Gospels, “swallow a camel”  “pluck out your  eye”   Never base a doctrine on an allegory alone. All allegories are limited.

      Summary:  Don’t isolate, consider a passage in light of the rest of God’s Word, the    rest of life and your own particular prejudices.

C.   Important Distinctions

1)    Application vs. Interpretation or Principles vs. Specifics

i.e. “in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses” – Deut. 17:6 (a law concerning establishing a crime in court), Matt. 18:16 (concerning a sin against you), II Cor. 13:1-2 (concerning warnings from the apostle Paul in person and in writing)

“Muzzle not the ox” – I Cor. 9:9 (3-18), Deut. 25:4 (in Old Testament it was to be taken literally, but in New testament Paul applies the principle to the financial support of those who preach the gospel)


2)    The Scriptures teach us truths in three basic ways:

   a.  Precept – “A rule of moral conduct, maxim”.  “A direction meant as a rule of conduct”.

   b.  Principle – “A fundamental truth, law, etc. on which others are based.”

   c.  Precedent – “An act, statement, etc. that may serve as an example or  justification for a later one.”

3)  Adequate vs. Complete Understanding (I Corinthians 13)

     a.  We will not thoroughly understand every verse

                              i.e. I Cor. 15:29, I Peter 3:19

     b.  We can understand enough to know God’s will and to obey His commands.

     c.  We can know what the meaning “is not” even though we may not know what it “is”

 illustration: If your car won’t start and it happens to have a flat tire, someone might say it won’t start because the tire is flat. You may not know why your car won’t start, but you know the “interpretation” they gave you is not correct!


D.   Study Tools  (see “Study Tools” page for more details)

1)    Concordance

2)    Bible Dictionary

3)    Other Translations

4)    Commentaries

5)    Bible Encyclopedia

6)    Bible software programs


II.  Types of Study


1)    Informational – understanding the cultural and historical background, what that portion of scripture meant to the original hearers,etc. These are things someone can understand by human intellect alone

2)    Inspirational – we read and study prayerfully, opening our hearts to hear God speak to us. The Holy Spirit, who inspired the writing of Scripture, inspires our reading of it. He makes it “come alive” and have meaning to our life personally


III.  Methods of Study

1)    Many – Numbers, Words, People, Places, Types, etc.


2)    Main Methods:

       a)  Book Method


           1.    Read thru quickly to grasp book as a whole

           2.    Reread several times

           3.    Note themes, characters, etc. and make a general outline

          4.    Use reference books to gain understanding of background

       b)  Topical Method


         1.    Use concordance to compile a list of all verses on that topic

         2.    Read the CONTEXT of each verse

         3.    Study related topics

         4.    Organize in note form for future reference or further study

IV.  Starting and Maintaining a Personal Bible Study Program

  1)  Where to begin?  With the Gospels and the Book of Acts, the Epistles,especially Romans, Genesis

(see “Bible Panorama chart”, “17 action advancing books” and “Bible Reading Chart”)

2)    How to proceed?

      a)    Pray!

       b)    Plan – set a time for it

       c)  Try as many different ways as you can, find what works best for you, buy study guides

     d)    Keep a notebook or file

     e)    Meditate or “chew” on it

     f)    Study and/or discuss it with other believers

     g)     Remember to employ proper principles of Interpretation

    h)    Apply the meaning to your life! – James 1:22-25