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An Accurate Understanding.

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How can I arrive at an accurate understanding the Bible?

When we read the sports section of the newspaper we naturally understand what the writer of the column intended to communicate. The columnist will usually disclose the event, time, place, people involved, what happen, how it progressed, and the conclusion. In describing the action that took place, he will often employ figures of speech in order to emphasize a dramatic play or moment. For example, when a baseball player hits a ball out of the park, he will say that the batter “hit that ball to the moon.” He does NOT mean that the ball traveled all the way to the moon, but he uses hyperbole to emphasize how well the player hit the ball. This type of literary form of communication (figures of speech) is a common among people of every culture. Moreover, every culture has its own unique way of expressing itself through idiomatic language. Therefore, anyone who seeks to understand literature from another culture and time needs to be sensitive to these differences. The method of interpretation that we employ that recognizes these differences is called the Grammatical-Historical-Cultural-Contextual method. Within this methodology there are basic rules and principles that govern the interpretive process that will help guide and direct the interpreter to a proper understanding of the original author’s intent.

            Because the Bible was written long ago in a foreign language and culture, it is imperative that we learn and utilize these rules and principles to avoid a distortion of the text by reading into it something that is not there or deemphasizing critical points of a passage. Paul wrote to a young pastor named Timothy in regards to organizing a relatively new church at Ephesus. He said, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Notice that the phrase “correctly handles the word of truth” implies that there is a wrong way to handle it. Contrary to popular belief the Bible is not open for interpretation. Early on in my walk I actually bought into this fallacy. I remember going to my first home bible study with a friend from church. As I entered the room we all sat down in a circle. The moderator read a particular passage, then went around in a circle and asked each of us individually what that passage meant to us. I thought, “Wow, I can’t mess this up, because there does not seem to be any wrong answer.” Yet this is clearly not the case. According to Paul there is a right and a wrong answer. The right answer is what the original author intended to communicate and everything else, apart from his intention, is wrong. As you can see hermeneutics (the art and science of biblical interpretation) is critically important in gleaning a proper understanding of Scripture. Remember if you want to get it right, your understanding must be grounded and based in authorial intent!

Blessings,

Pastor Derek Greenhalgh

 Suggested reading:
1.) Roy B. Zuck, “Basic Bible Interpretation”
2.) J. Scott Duvall, J. Daniel Hays, “Grasping God's Word: Learn How to Read, Interpret, and Apply the Bible.”
3.) Henry A. Virkler, Karelynne Ayayo, “Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation,” Second Edition
4.) Walter C. Kaiser Jr., “Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching”
5.) D.A. Carson, “Exegetical Fallacies, Second Edition”

Church is not the same without you.

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Unfortunately many people today view church as optional. It is not high on their list of priorities. As a matter of fact, sports, hobbies, parties, and sheer laziness can keep you from attending church. If your pastor is worth is weight in salt he will be concerned when you go MIA (missing in action). But how should your pastor respond when people in our congregation temporarily fall off the radar? Should he send out search and rescue? In some cases he should. Usually your leaders will start off by reaching out via phone calls, texting, and emails. When that does not work, then they send a letter inside of a card that will hopefully help you to theologically understand your need for consistent church attendance. I have entitled the letter, “Church is not the same without you.” Understanding the role you play as an individual believer within the body of Christ will help, and I hope, motivate you to consistently get plugged in and assume your God given role as a covenant member of the church. After reading the letter below, if you have any questions or comments please write them on this thread or feel free to shoot me an email. Blessings, pastor Derek

 Dear John Pewster,

 We have noticed that you have not been participating in church lately and we miss you! As a matter of fact, church is just not the same without you. You see God created us, the church, to be in relationship with one another. When you became a Christian God did a specific work in you. He changed you (John 3:3). He gave you a new heart (Ezek. 36:26). He made His Holy Spirit to live within you (1 Cor. 3:16). And the Holy Spirit placed (baptized) you into the body of Christ, the church (1 Cor. 12:12-13).

 In his letter to the Corinthians Paul explains that although we have an individual relationship with Christ, all believers are a part of something much bigger and greater. We are individual members of the body of Christ, the church. He uses the metaphor of the human body to show the diversity, unity, and the necessity of each individual part. He says, “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,”[1] Paul’s point is that every member plays a vital role within the church. And if one person is missing, then the whole body suffers. For example, lets say that God has given you the ability to encourage other people. But if you are not present to encourage others, who will stand in the gap for you? There might not be anyone else present who can encourage others quite like you can!

 Consider just a few of the commands below. These can only truly be lived out in the context of the church.

 Gal. 6:2 – be accountable to one another
1 Thess. 5:11 – encourage one another.
2 Cor. 7:6 – comfort one another.
James 5:16 – pray for one another.
John 13:34-35 – love one another.

 In Ecclesiastes Solomon wisely said, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. [2] The simple truth is, we need you and you need us! Please prayerfully consider coming back. If you would like to talk I would love to sit down with you. Please call me at 555-555-4545.

 Blessings,

 Derek

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 12:21–22). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] IBID (Ec 4:9–12).

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Is the Bible Reliable?

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Is the Bible a trustworthy book?

Many people will object to the trustworthiness of the Bible. They will say, "the Bible has been translated so many times throughout the centuries that you cannot know for certain what the original author wrote!

This is a fairly common objection that people have when it comes to accepting the Bible as a reliable and trustworthy document. It is based upon a faulty misconception about the transmission of the text down throughout the centuries. Like the childhood telephone game, where someone would whisper in the ear of another person, and then that person would tell someone else, and it would continue down the line until the last person received the message. When the last person is asked to reveal the message, it is no longer the same and has become lost in translation. This is exactly what many people believe about the Bible.

But unlike the telephone game, the Bible has not been translated numerous times over the centuries. The Bible was written in the Koine Greek (New Testament), the Aramaic (part of the book of Daniel), and Hebrew (the rest of the Old Testament) languages.  Today there are in existence over 5338 manuscript copies of the New Testament alone; some dating back as far as 50 years from the original writing. And these manuscripts are used today in translating the modern Bible. Instead of translating the bible from translation after translation, from one century to the next, it is translated once from the historical manuscript copies. As a result, you can be assured that the Bible is dependable, reliable, and worthy of our study. - Pastor Derek