How to Understand the Bible 2: One Meaning Many Applications

Sunday we finished up our 3 weeks series on The Bible. Before i wrap up the final steps Let me recap the first 2.

1. First we must ask “what did the text mean to the original audience?” Remember it was written to certain group at a certain for a certain purpose. So discover it’s meaning we must first discover what it meant to them.

2. We must then discuss the differences between the original audience and us. Things like language, customs, covenant, and situation are things we must look for.

The next two steps are often meshed into one step but in reality should be two seperate.

First we must take what we know and figure out the meaning. Remember there is one meaning to scripture and our task in this next step is not to come up with the meaning but rather DISCOVER the meaning intended by the author.

While it was written to a specific time for a specific audience he is also giving universal theological teachings for all of his people through these same texts. So in the midst of discovering the meaning you must discover the principle being taught.  Then knowning the principle we look at the similarities between the Biblical situation and our own . For example in Joshua 1:1-9  we are also the people of God, in covenant relationship (new covenant though not old); while we are not the leaders of Israel, nonetheless many of us are in leadership position in one way or another.  We are not invading the Promised Land, but we are seeking to obey the will of God and to accomplish what he has commanded us to do.

Now there are 5 very important things about the meaning that you must know.

1. It should be reflected in the text.

2. It should be timeless and not tied to a specific situation.

3.  It should not be culturally bound.

4. It should correspond to the teaching of the rest of Scripture. Scripture proves scripture.

5. It should be relevant to both the biblical and the contemporary audience.

If it’s missing any of those then you should go back and continue to dig deeper. Remember to allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate parts of the scripture to give you clearer understanding. Don’t get frustrated if you are not getting it’s meaning right off the bat. Some scholars, many who have more degrees then they have wall space, spend years on one verse.

In our example of Joshua 1:1-9 the Meaning (or theological principle if you like) is :

To be effective in serving God and successful in the task to which he has called us, we must draw strength and courage from his presence. We must also be obedient to God’s Word, meditating on it constantly.

The final step is what i believe to be the coolest part of scripture. The application. Scripture is meant to be challenging and life changing. The Bible is not a book meant to be read on a whim and then toss to the side with out second thought. After discovering the meaning of the text we MUST apply it to our lives.  There are many applications for different scriptures.

here’s one example… Let’s say… mmm that you feel God calls you to teaching a discipleship group of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, graders… ::cough cough:: not saying anything, just saying…. But anyways. Let’s say you’re teaching this class. It’s new and scary for you because you may not have done anything like this before.  But you can be strengthened and encouraged by God’s empowering presence. Be obedient, keepign a focus on the scriptures.

So there you have it, How to read the Bible in 4 steps.  🙂 i hope you’ve enjoyed the journey and i hope you enjoy every  journey through scripture that you will ever take in your life.


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