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Monday, May 30, 2011

Applying the Scriptures Correctly


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Harod J Berry
MUCH CONFUSION HAS resulted in our churches and in the lives of many Christians because of the practice some have of applying the Scripture without first interpreting it.  Many Christians attend church Sunday after Sunday and yet when asked to explain a simple passage of Scripture they are completely at a loss.  And the individual Christian is probably not entirely to blame.  He or she may have sat under Sunday school teacher and pastors who have never really explained the meaning of the Bible in the first place, but rather brought only devotional thoughts that warmed and challenged the heart of the time without producing a lasting effect.


It is also a matter of concern that those churches which have “special meetings” year after year do not always experience spiritual growth in the lives of their people.  Of course, if the meetings are primarily evangelistic, they will be aimed at the unsaved and not at the Christian.  In some cases legitimate “revival” services are held for the purpose of reviving Christians in their daily walk with the Lord.  But even where there has been this kind of meeting the growth of Christians is hardly noticeable.  Why? It is deplorable to see Christians stimulated for the moment without any real and lasting effect in their lives.


We who teach the Word of God need to analyze our teaching.  Are we just applying truths to people’s lives without first explaining the Word of God as it is?  Are we trying to tell other how to live without explaining the Scriptures which tell them what they have in Jesus Christ which will enable them to live as they ought?  If we are not interpreting –or explaining—the Scriptures as well as applying them, we risk producing zeal without knowledge and making people susceptible to false cults which will offer their explanations of the Scriptures.

To be worthy of its title, Bible study should incorporate at least four basic elements; observation, interpretation, application and correlation.


Observation.   It is obvious that one cannot properly interpret a passage of Scripture until he has observed that is in that passage.   This involves not only being aware of what is in the passage but also of what is not in it.   A case in point is what is often referred to as the curse of Ham, one of the sons of Noah.  Many people are under the impression that Ham was cursed for looking upon the nakedness of his father, Noah


However, as one observes the facts as presented in Genesis 9:20-27,  he sees that Ham was not cursed Verses 24 and 25 make this clear:  “When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.  So he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.’ “*   Therefore, Canaan was the one cursed, not Ham.  Proper Bible study depends on careful observation.


Interpretation.  Having observed the facts, it is then necessary to understand their meaning in a given context.  Particular attention should be given to noticing to whom the passage was written and with which time period it deals.  Matthew 24: 14 provides an example when it says, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”  These words of Christ were given in answer to the questions:  “Tell us, when will these things be and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?”  (v.3). the coming of Christ in view here is not His coming for the Church at the Rapture before the Tribulation begins (I Thess. 4:13-18).   This Church had not yet come into being, and the Israelites were not looking for Rapture but for Christ’s coming to earth to establish the kingdom of God on earth.  Thus, the coming referred to is Christ’s Second Coming which will take place after the Tribulation (Matt. 24: 27-31).


Chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew do not deal with the Church, but the events relating to the Tribulation.  Thus, properly interpreted, the requirement that the gospel of the kingdom first be preached to all nations before the end comes refers to the end of the Tribulation, not to the end of the Church Age.  For the Church, Christ’s coming at the Rapture is imminent—it can take place are any time.  No prophecy needs to be fulfilled before Christ comes to catch up the believers of the Church Age.

APPLICATION.  Having carefully observed and interpreted a given passage, the Bible student is then prepared to apply to his own life and to the lives of others truths he has discovered.  Although there is only one proper interpretation for a passage of Scripture, there can be many applications.  One a passage is understood in its historical setting, it can be applied to our lives in many different ways because of our various experiences.


Even in the Old Testament, which was mostly written to the nation of Israel, we can discover principles that can be applied to our lives.  Whether a Scripture passage is written to Israel or to the Church, we always see the principle that when an individual obeys God, he is blessed by God.  And when and individual refuses to obey God, blessing is withheld.


John 12:1-8 brings pointed applicat9on when the interpretation is clear.  Many of Bethany anointed the feet of Jesus with a precious ointment which Judas said could have been sold “for three hundred denarii” (v.5).  The depth of Mary’s devotion becomes clear when one realizes that in Bible times a denarius was apparently the normal pay for a day’s labor (see Matt. 20:1-16).  Mary was showing her devotion by anointing the Lord with ointment that equaled about a year’s wages how many of us are willing to show our devotion now to the same extent?


Correlation.  Because our teaching and preaching normally touch upon only a few verses or a chapter at one time, the impression may be left in the mind of fragments of teaching on various subjects.  Thus the teacher of the Word of God needs to be careful to show how a given passage fits into the Book from which it is taken and, where possible, relate it to the message of the Bible in its entirety.  This will help   the hearer to appreciate the unity of all the Scriptures.


The Author with his wife Donna Berry
Where the principles of sound Bible study have been followed, churches have found and increasing interest among believers, for nothing compares to the proper exposition of the Word of God for producing lasting results in the Word.
                                              
                                           by Harold J Berry

The Author is the Retired Chairman of the Board Back to the Bible


Source: Confident Living Magazine, an official publication of Back to the Bible India.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reflecting God's Glory




ReflectingGod'sGlory                                                                                                    

by Theodore Epp

Exodus 34:1-4,26-35

Moses was changed when he came down from the mountain. Earlier, he had asked to see the glory of the Lord, but when he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of stone, he did not know "that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him" (Ex. 34:29).

Moses did not realize that his face reflected the glory of God. This was proof of the closeness between Moses and God, and it revealed to those who saw him that he had truly been in the presence of God's glory.

"When Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him" (v. 30).

Moses still did not realize the extent to which his face reflected the glory of God. He was not glorious in his own eyes, but he was in the eyes of others.

Every day before you go out to meet the world, spend some time with God by reading His Word and talking to Him in prayer. Spending time in His presence will bring the sunshine of heaven to your face, and others will observe this in you throughout the day.

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18).


A Secret Believer

by Theodore Epp

1 Kings 18:1-7
As Elijah, in obedience to God's command, set out to meet Ahab, he saw that the famine was very severe in Samaria, one of the areas ruled by Ahab and inhabited by the Israelite people.

Apparently it extended beyond Ahab's kingdom, but Samaria seemed to be getting the brunt of it. This, of course, was in line with God's judgment--He was disciplining His people.

The Prophet Isaiah wrote: "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it" (Isa. 1:19,20).

This principle was literally fulfilled before Elijah's eyes. The people had rebelled, and they were not eating of the good of the land.

Obedience to God is the key to His blessings upon us. The Israelites had suffered for three and a half years because of their disobedience, but because of the obedience of a man of God, the Lord's judgment would be lifted.

The first man Elijah met, however, was not Ahab but Obadiah, the governor of Ahab's household. Obadiah held a position of prestige and influence in overseeing Ahab's household and possessions.

But instead of Obadiah's lifting up Ahab, apparently Ahab tended to drag Obadiah down so that he was more concerned about herds and possessions than about the will of God.

Does this speak to our hearts? Perhaps God allowed this man's life to be included in the Scriptures to teach us this lesson.

"In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him [Christ]" (Eph. 3:12).




Theodore Epp:

1904-1985
 

Theodore H. Epp, The founder director of Back to the Bible Radio Broadcasts was an American Christian clergyman, writer, and a radio evangelist.  
 
He was born in Oraibi, Arizona, the son of Russian Mennonite immigrants. His parents were missionaries to the Hopi Indians there. After graduating from Oklahoma Bible Academy, Epp attended Hesston College, Hesston, Kansas and the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now, Biola University), Epp received a ThM degree in 1932 from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
 
He started his ministry as an Evangelist and radio preacher in Goltry, Oklahoma and then relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he established the Back to the Bible radio program. It was first broadcast May 1, 1939, on a local station and was eventually syndicated as a daily, 30-minute program to more than 800 radio stations worldwide by the time of his retirement in 1985.  Epp wrote 70 books and numerous magazine articles.  To know more about Epp and his beginning ministry click here
Source:
Confident Living Magazine, A Back to the Bible Publication.

 

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Signs Do Not Nourish


by Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth Elliot
It is the enemy who tempts us, as he tempted Jesus, to demand always some visible proof of the miracle-working power of God: "Tell these stones to become bread" (Mt 4:3 NEB). A miracle would validate our own claim to be in close touch with the Father. But the important thing in life is not to be vindicated, nor to see miracles, but to walk by  faith--that is, to take God at his word. So shall we live.

So shall we follow Christ, content to do without the startling, the dramatic evidences that God is God, believing instead--in the face of all the enemy's taunts--the spoken Word of Him who calls Himself the I AM. Even in the  wilderness, even in our isolation and hunger, we need not ask for more than the Bread of Heaven.

Give us this day, Lord,
Not the miracles our human hearts long for,
Not the proud but brief satisfaction of saying to doubters,
"I told you so!"
But give us daily bread--only that which You see will truly nourish us in our pilgrimage towards home.


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Source:

Devotions.org, a ministry of Back to the Bible.
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'Faith' Through the Fire


By Charles Haddon Spurgeon 

                              Wherefore hast Thou afflicted thy servant? Numbers 11:11

C H Spurgeon (Known as England’s“Prince of the Preachers,
Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try your faith. If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test. Gild is afraid of fire, but gold is not: the paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test.

It is a poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable, but that is true faith which hold by the Lord’s faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father’s countenance is hidden.


A faith which can say, in the direst trouble, “Thought He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” Is heaven-born faith. The Lord afflicts His servants to glorify Himself. For He is greatly glorified in the graces of His people, which are his own handiwork.

When “tribulation worketh patience, and patience, experience; and experience, hope,” the Lord is honored by these growing virtues. We should never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; not enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the winepress; nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The wisdom and power of the great Workman are discovered by the trials through which His vessels of mercy are permitted to pass.

Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shades in the picture to bring out the beauty of the lights.
Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven, if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth? There are many other comfortable answers to the question with which we opened our brief meditation; let us muse upon it all day long.


END NOTE:

C H Spurgeon (Known as England’s “Prince of the Preachers,” delivered his first sermon at the age of 17. he assumed the pastorate of London’s New Park Street Chapel three years later. His spiritual insights often found expression in writing, including this excerpt from his popular devotional Morning and Evening.  Read More about C H Spurgeon click Here

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Defeating the Flesh

By F B Meyer

“David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.” (2 Sam.3:1)

The War between the flesh and the Spirit is long, but the end is sure. As the Baptist said of Jesus, so must the flesh say of the Spirit: He must increase; I must increase.

Sometimes, in the long strain of the war, our spirit dies down. Will the bugle never cease to ring out its alarm? Will the assaults never come. To an end? When shall we able to lay aside sword and breastplate, and to enter the land of rest? Oh to be able to say with the Apostle, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, and I have kept the faith.”
F.B. Meyer (1874-1929)
was one of the Victorian
England’s most outstanding
Evangelist and devotional
Writers. He stressed the
urgency of living fully
consecrated to God.
Thorough soul-stirring writing,
Meyer continue to impact lives
decades after his death.

Yet take heart. The assaults diminish in frequency and strength in proportion as they are faithfully resisted. Each time you resist successfully you will find it easier to resist. The strength of the vanquished foe enters the vanquisher.

Moreover, ultimate victory in the wearying battle is secured. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5). It makes a great difference to the soldier, when he belongs to an All Victorious Legion and serves under a Captain who never lost a fight. And there can be no doubt as to the issue in your heart or mine. “He must reign till He has put all enemies under his feet.”


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He Stayed on the Cross



They nailed the hands of Jesus to the Cross
And pierced His feet to hold Him to the tree.
My heart cries out, “Why would the Son of God stay hanging there
And die disgraced in pain and agony?”
The soldiers scoffed, “Come down if You’re the Christ.
If You be God, Then prove Your word is true.”
Though tempted thus, He stayed upon that cruel
Cross and prayed,
“Forgive them, Lord they know not what they do.”
 It was His love for you and me, and not the nails,
That held the Savior on that awful, cruel tree.
It was His love, and not the nails, that kept Him there.
Though challenged, too, by jeering crowds,
He stayed and won the victory!
He stayed and conquered death and hell
For you and me on Calvary!


—Eugene L. Clark 


Author of the famous song 


"Nothing is Impossible"


Through You,
I can do anything,
I can do all things,
'Cause it's You who give(s) me strength,
Nothing is impossible
Through You,
Blind eyes are opened,
Strongholds are broken,
I am living by faith,
Nothing is impossible!

I'm not gonna live by what I see,
I'm not gonna live by what I feel

Deep down I,
Know that You're here with me
I know that, You can do anything

I believe, I believe,
I believe, I believe in You



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Source:
Confident Living Magazine, A Back to the Bible Publication.


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Friday, May 20, 2011

Blind Doubt

Show me your God” the doubter cries.
I point to the smiling skies;
I show him all the woodland greens;
I show him peaceful sylvan scenes;
I show him winter snows and frost;
I show him waters tempest-tossed;
I show him hills rock- ribbed and strong;
I show him hear the thrush’s song
I show him flowers in the close-
The lily, violent, and rose;
I show him rivers, babbling streams;
I show him youthful hopes and dreams;
I show him maids with eager hearts;
I show him toilers in the marts;
I show him starts, the moon, the sun;
I show him deeds of kindness done;
I show him joy; I show him care,
And still he holds his doubting air,
And faithless goes his way, for he
Is blind of soul and cannot see!

—John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922)
J K Bangs, the famous author of Alice in Blunderland




















Pic. Credit. fantasticfiction.co.uk
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