Thursday, November 09, 2006

Observing the Bible to Death

In yesterday’s blog, we saw that the first step to Bible Study is preparation. If you did not read that blog, I would encourage you to stop right here and go back and read it before you go any further.

The second step to proper Bible study is observation. In fact, we need to observe the passage we are studying to death. This begins by observing the content. To do this, we must first read whatever book we are studying continuously. In other words, if you are studying the book of Philippians, read the entire book all in one sitting. Next, read it repeatedly. Don’t just read it one time. We learn by repetition. Let me repeat that. We learn by repetition. If you are studying the book of Philippians, read it every day for at least 7 consecutive days. You will be amazed at how much you will observe by doing this. In fact, read the book of Philippians every day for 30 straight days and you will all but master the content of that book. Third, read it independently. Don’t start with tools and commentaries. Start with just the text. Fourth, read it prayerfully. Read a few verses and then take time to talk to the Lord about what you read. Tell Him what you read. Ask Him questions about what you read. Tell Him what you think about what you read. Finally, read it meditatively. The more you read it the easier this becomes. This involves thinking about the content of the book you are studying all throughout your day.

Observation also includes the context of the book. To do this you must discover the theme of the passage. To do this, ask yourself one question…“What is the one thing the whole thing is talking about?” It is crucial that we always interpret the Bible in its context rather than pulling a verse out of its context to develop a theology. The truth is that we can prove just about anything from the Bible by taking phrases of Scripture out of its context. To prove this, try it for yourself. In order to show the need for rightly dividing the Word of God, and how easy it is to get tripped up theologically if we do not, find an isolated verse or phrase in the Bible which, if taken out of context, seemingly proves something that we know is not true.

For Example: In the King James Version of the Bible, Zechariah 2:6 says, “Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north saith the Lord: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the earth, saith the Lord.” The person talked of in this passage utters the words, “Ho, ho”. This person also lives in the north and somehow supernaturally comes from the north and spreads himself abroad throughout the world like the wind. Who is this? Santa Claus is known for saying, “Ho, ho, ho”. Once a year he flees his home in the north (the North Pole is where he lives) and magically visits all the homes of all the children of the world reaching anywhere and everywhere the wind blows. Thus, it is apparent that the Bible is teaching in Zechariah 2:6 the factual existence of Santa Claus.

Obviously, the Bible does not teach the existence of Santa Claus but this illustration shows us the need to observe the context of what we are studying in Scripture. We need to observe it to death.

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