Letting the Word Impact Your Life

Faith Church February 17, 2007

1. We’re began a new series last week: Delighting in the Word – How to Be Discipline in Your Bible Study

- these studies are designed to further enhance our Worship Service Study of ReachingNew HeightsThrough Our Commitment to Scripture – Psalm 119.

Note: Just like we did with the series on Prayer, we want to tie it to our annual theme for 2007 [Reaching New Heights]

- This is where progressive sanctification enters the picture – we all need to grow in this area of commitment to the Word of God (no matter how long you’ve known the Lord)

- To read it, to study it, to memorize it, to meditate on it, and most of all . . . OBEY it and certainly to PROCLAIM it

> we ought to be growing in being doers of the Word (James 1:22-25)

> and we ought to be fulfilling the Great Commission of going into all the world and preaching the Gospel . . . teaching them to observe all things that He has commanded us!!

2. We want to continue to keep our focus on prayer (as the Word instructs us) – but we want to keep reminding you that prayer = US TALKING TO GOD

- now were going to put our focus on GOD TALKING to us!!

> Our time of prayer will be more focused on asking God to help us to grow in our love for Him and His Word so we will read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and OBEY it and PROCLAIM it!

3. This series is going to look something like this:

Feb. 4 Getting the Most Out of the Word

Feb. 11* Letting the Word Impact Your Life

Feb. 18 Reading the Word: Why and How? [MOLDOVA SUNDAY NOTE: This is a different than what we announced – I was wrong about 2/11, some of Moldova guys are speaking in our ABF’s NEXT week!]

Feb. 25 The How and Why of Effective Bible Study

4. I want to begin w/ a statement: The Word of God is not hard to understand (at least most of it).

- it’s a relatively short book to be revealing all we need to know about God & His Plan for our lives

- some parts of it, we’ll never agree on because we don’t have all the information – that should remind us of the following verse:

  • Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, [note the purpose for which God has revealed these things to us] that we may observe [put into practice, obey]all the words of this law [not just the ones we like or are most comfortable with, but ‘all’].

5. Maybe you can relate to the quote: “It’s not the things I don’t understand in the Bible that bother me. It’s the things I do understand.” – Mark Twain, an agnostic!

6. We should be developing the same attitude that Paul instructed Timothy to have when it comes to the study of the Word:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

“accurately handling” = literally means“cutting it straight”

- Paul would write about the power and purpose of God’s word:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Quote: “. . . in the Bible all Christians have an incredible treasure. Effective study of the Word of God is basic to the Christian life. For the Christian, at the core of everything is knowledge of God’s Word.”[1]

7. The overall process of ‘cutting it straight’ is hermeneutics – i.e. the art & science of Bible interpretation

8. Our focus today is on: Letting the Word Impact Your Life (adapted from MacArthur’s: How to Get the Most from God’s Word – all quotes, unless otherwise stated are from that resource)

- let’s begin with acknowledging . . .

I. There Are Some Pitfalls to Avoid in Our Study of the Word

A. Making a point at the price of proper interpretation

- this is a common temptation for those of us in full-time ministry (especially pastors) who want to force the Scriptures to agree with their sermons

- but really anybody can make the same mistake or be just as guilty if they are not careful

Example: A rabbi took the account of the Tower of Babel and claiming that it teaches us to be more concerned for one another.

Q: Where did he get that idea?

A: From his research in the Talmud (which the authoritative body of Jewish tradition – it’s NOT part of the cannon of Scripture, but it would not necessarily disagree with the historical accuracy of the Scriptures)

- The Talmud reveals (accurately so) that as the tower grew taller, workmen carrying loads of bricks to the bricklayers would fall and die – as a result, those in charge of the building the tower were upset when a workman fell on the way UP—and lost the load of bricks.

- But if a workman fell on the way DOWN (without any bricks), it was no big deal – all that was lost was the person (not the bricks).

“The crass inhumanity of the tower builders carries a lesson, true. But it is not the lesson in the biblical account of the Tower of Babel, which teaches that God confused the languages of men because they rebelled against Him. God destroyed the Tower of Babel because it was a symbol of idolatry, not because the builders cared more about bricks than people.”

- if you want to make the point to be concerned about one another – there are plenty of passages that teach THAT VERY POINT – but Gen. 11 is NOT one of them!

Input: What are some passages that would specifically address the ‘one another’ issue and would be a proper use of that text? [COULD BREAK INTO SMALL GROUPS FOR THIS]

  • John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
  • Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one anotherin brotherly love; give preference to one anotherin honor;
  • Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
  • Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one anotheranymore, but rather determine this -- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.
  • Romans 14:19 So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
  • Romans 15:7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
  • Romans 15:14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.
  • Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
  • Galatians 5:26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
  • Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,
  • Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
  • Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

[this is just a SAMPLE of a few verses from the NT – what about the OT examples – Cain murdering his brother, Abel; Joseph and the way his brothers treated him (but they meant it for evil, God meant it for good!]

Point: Don’t try to make the bible say what it doesn’t say or try to use it just to prove your point (when the point isn’t included in the text itself!).

- there’s a good statement made among those who study the Word: “When the plain sense makes sense seek no other sense!”

- we need to read the bible and . . . let it say what it says!

- I do realize that simply READING the text does not always help to fully understand the text (we’ll get to that in second), but first let’s make sure we avoid the next potential pitfall:

B. Spiritualizing, or allegorizing, Scripture

spiritualizing = attributing a spiritual sense to a text instead or a realistic or the true meaning – assigning a meaning to a text that is doesn’t have

allegorizing = to speak figuratively about the text .

Example: Trying to make the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11 a symbol of the church and a vivid picture of the rapture of the believers – in other words, the resurrection of Lazarus is the church going through the rapture.

- I have a very strong Greek term for that . . . BOLOGNA!

“There are passages in Scripture that are symbolic. There are passages that give us types and pictures. But beware of interpretations that read symbols and pictures into the text that simply are not there.”

Putting It All Together Inductively

- After thinking about a couple of pitfalls to avoid, you still may be asking a couple of Q’s:

  • How do I put it all together?”
  • How can I work out a Bible study method that will let me work at my own speed and at my own level of ability?

II. The Process of Putting It All Together

- there are a number of good Bible study helps available for your use – but remember: THEY ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR READING/STUDYING THE BIBLE ITSELF!!!

> God’s Word is inspired – NOT the commentary, study help book, etc.

[Note: It’s like many bibles that have reference work within the pages – it’s what ABOVE the line that is inspired, inerrant, and sufficient – NOT what’s BELOW the line!]

* A solution to this problem is a simple: Inductive Bible study.

inductive” = reasoning from the specific to the general, from the parts to the whole.

> opposite of deductive reasoning (moving from the general to the specific)

- but for our purposes, let consider a simple four-step approach that can get you going immediately in learning to “cut it straight” – to “putting it all together”

Step 1: Observation

A. Read the Word of God repeatedly and note your observations

* Here are some questions to keep in mind:

  • Who was the writer?
  • To whom was he writing (audience)?

Gospels have different audiences:

  • Matthew (Jews); Mark (Romans); Luke (Greeks); John (world at large)
  • Example: Luke 1:32 (context of the birth of Christ – angel talking to Mary)
  • Luke 1:32 "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;
  • That phrase “Most High” is significant due to the Greek culture that believed in MANY GODS – but this one was different – Jesus is the MOST HIGH!
  • To what location and from what location was he writing?

Example: Philippians takes on a bit of a different meaning knowing that it is one of the prison epistles (same with 2 Timothy)

  • What was the situation or occasion?
  • When did it occur?
  • What historical or cultural factors might have a bearing on understanding the passage?

Example: 1 Peter written during the reign of Nero (hated Christians!) – 1:6-9 takes on a whole new meaning when you understand the context of persecution under Nero!

B. Keep in mind that there are several “gaps” you will have to get over

> language, culture, history, and geography.

Example of language: Matthew 7:7

  • Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

- well, that looks pretty much like as you have to do is ask ONCE and it’s a done deal

- only if you don’t understand the language . . . these VERBS are PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE (commands) – i.e. they are on-going

- a literal translation would be:

  • Be continually asking . . . be continually seeking . . . be continually knocking – and the RESULTS will be continually occurring!

Note: Recommend a good study Bible – MacArthur Study Bible or The Ryrie Study Bible

- Many of the above questions are answered in an introduction printed at the beginning of each book

- Plus, a good map to understand the location of places mentioned in the Bible [knowing where something happened is helpful, especially as it relates to present day locations]

Step 2: Interpretation

“When you interpret Scripture it is important to do your own work. There are certain study tools you can use, but don’t resort to commentaries at this point. Dig in and determine what the passage means, as you go through the following steps.”

A. Underline key words and phrases and define them in terms of the context—what the passage is saying.

- Underline only the most basic and important words at first, then use your Bible dictionary, concordance, and word study book to study meanings of those words

- it’s especially important to look for the VERBS, or you notice the key words like “Because” or “so that . . . “ (which explains reasons why things are happening, etc.).

Q: Does this sound like it’s going to take a little bit of work?

- well, remember Paul’s words to Timothy:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

B. Ask Questions: What’s the point? What’s the author saying?

- If this sounds like too much, then try putting the basic thought conveyed in a passage or paragraph into one sentence.

- This may seem like a lot of work (and for some people it is), but it forces you to think over the meaning of the passage – it is a process that is extremely beneficial and necessary

C. List the divine truths and principles in the verse, paragraph, or passage.

* Ask the following questions:

  1. Is there a command God has given?
  2. Is there an example to follow?

- this could be a NEGATIVE example to AVOID – Examples? Cain, Esau (selling his birthright), Saul, Goliath, some of the bad kings of Israel, Ananias & Sapphira, Demus, etc.)

- or a POSITIVE example to learn from and FOLLOW! Examples? [Elijah, Ester, David, Samuel, Nehemiah, Daniel, Paul, Barnabus, Timothy, Ruth, etc. ]

  1. Is there some sin I should avoid?

Sin = a clear violation of God’s word

  1. Is there a warning against false teaching of any kind?

- something I need to be alert to and be prepared to ward it off

  1. Is there a basic doctrinal truth about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, Satan, or man?

- this is a big one – you can learn the attributes of God, His goals, etc.

- you can also learn about the heart of man (how man thinks) and the habits we tend to develop, etc.

  1. Is there a promise from God to Christian believers, Israel, the church, or unbelievers?

- Note the conditions of the promise, as for example in Matthew 6:33.)

D. Compare Scripture with Scripture

- look for other passages that address the same issues (truths/principles)

  • Do you find these same truths taught in other parts of Scripture?
  • Use a concordance, or other Bible study tools, to discover these truths.
  • List at least 1-2 truths, but don’t get bogged down with trying to list 6-8.

Step 3: Evaluation

- Here a good piece of advice: CHECK IT OUT with other sources

- compare what you’re thinking with what commentators and other scholars have said about the passage

“You have already covered this to some extent in doing your observation and interpretation, but go back again to see what divine truths or principles are emphasized by the Bible commentaries and the study Bibles in your library. You may modify your own understandings or conclusions, but don’t always think you have to agree with every commentator. Make them prove themselves. As somebody once said, “The Bible is a good commentary on the commentaries.”

Step 4: Application

* Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • How can the passage become relevant for your life?
  • What does the Lord want you to STOP doing (put off)?
  • What does He want you to START doing (put on)?
  • How do you need to change the way you THINK (put off/put on)?

- a good question to ask after you’ve studied a passage, finished an ABF class, attended a worship service (any situation connected to the Word of God):

Q: So what?

> What are you going to DO about it? How do you USE it in your own life?

- These truths can be applied to following:

  • Your life
  • Home
  • Ministry
  • Church
  • Neighbors
  • Workplace
  • Expended family
  • Friends
  • Specific temptations
  • Trials you are experiencing
  • Parent/child relationships

“All of the other steps and principles in Bible study will be of little use unless we finally employ practical application. That’s precisely what Paul was talking about when he told Timothy that all Scripture “is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).”

- It all adds up to being trained in the Word—disciples in whom the Word of Christ dwells richly as we give thanks to Him

Closing Verse:

  • Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Faith Church