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Eight Basic Rules Of Bible Interpretation
- Begin with what the passage says, but always ask, "What does the passage mean?", not what it "says."
- Pay attention to the Greek and Hebrew, (For those without language training, an interlinear Bible used in conjunction with a Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words or Expository Dictionary of Bible Words is recommended).
- Remember the context. Read verses in the context of the whole passage, the chapter and even the book. Finally, keep in mind the larger context of the New Testament or Old Testament.
- The Bible is progressive revelation. This means that, generally, the New Testament specifically interprets the Old Testament.
- Always interpret the incidental passage by the systematic teachings of that topic; consider all the passages dealing with the topic, A good topical Bible is a useful aid (e.g. Nave's Topical Bible).
- Interpret the unclear passages by the clear ones. A favorite ploy of the cults is to choose a difficult passage and build their unique doctrines on it.
- Beware of novel interpretations, check various conservative commentaries on the passage. There is very little new under the sun. Many of the heresies of the cults have been dealt with thoroughly. Even though there are many Christian denominations, it is interesting that on the essential doctrines there is solid agreement. Always go beyond what the passage is saying to get at its intended meaning. Cult leaders are expert in isolating passages and imposing their interpretation on it.
- Come to Scripture prayerfully, submitting to be taught by the Holy Spirit, allowing the Scripture to interpret itself and not be clouded by personal doctrinal presuppositions.
The Four Spiritual Laws
If you've gone through a discussion with someone and you want to present the gospel message in a simple and systematic way, the well known "Four Spiritual Laws" can be of help. They are simple, to the point, and use Scripture to convict, convince, and convert. They are:
- God loves you:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
- Man is sinful and separated from God.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23); "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23); "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God" (Isaiah 59:2).
- Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin.
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6); "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).
- We must individually receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12); "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Rom. 10:9); "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).
The Roman Road
Another list of verses usable in the same way as the Four Spiritual Laws is the "Roman Road." The advantage to these seven verses is that they are all in the book of Romans. Sometimes this is an advantage when you don't want to flip through a lot of pages.
- Romans 3:10, "As it is written, 'There is none righteous, not even one...'"
- Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
- Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned."
- Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
- Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
- Romans 10:9-10, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
- Romans 10:13, "For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."
- Give God what's right - not what's left.
- Man's way leads to a hopeless end - God's way leads to an endless hope.
- A lot of kneeling will keep you in good standing.
- He who kneels before God can stand before anyone.
- In the sentence of life, the devil may be a comma - but never let him be the period.
- Don't put a question mark where God puts a period.
- Are you wrinkled with burden? Come to the church for a faith-lift.
- When praying, don't give God instructions - just report for duty.
- Don't wait for six strong men to take you to church.
- We don't change God's message - His message changes us.
- The church is prayer-conditioned.
- When God ordains, He sustains.
- WARNING: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning.
- Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.
- Most people want to serve God, but only in an advisory position.
- Suffering from truth decay? Brush up on your Bible.
- Exercise daily - walk with the Lord.
- Never give the devil a ride - he will always want to drive.
- Nothing else ruins the truth like stretching it.
- Compassion is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back.
- He who angers you controls you.
- Worry is the darkroom in which negatives can develop.
- Give Satan an inch and he'll be a ruler.
- Be ye fishers of men - you catch them and He'll clean them.
- God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
An honest man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.
The tailgating woman hit the roof and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection.
As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer.
The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.
After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.
He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'What Would Jesus Do?' bumper sticker, the 'Follow Me to Sunday-School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk."
"Naturally," said the policeman, "I assumed you had stolen the car."
"Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:" 2 Corinthians 3:2