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Interpreting the Bible

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
August 3, 2021 4:00 am

Interpreting the Bible

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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August 3, 2021 4:00 am

Sometimes when we read the Bible, the text seems clear and straightforward. Other times, we may struggle to understand difficult passages. So how should we approach the study of Scripture? Hear the answer on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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The jigsaw puzzle be helpful to start with the edges. First, once the frame is built.

It's easier to see where the other pieces might fit that same approach can be applied when were studying the Scriptures. Take for example a story like when we read in first Samuel 21 a story about David story doesn't make a lot of sense on its own. But as Alister Beck explains to us today on Truth for Life easier to understand when we begin to apply principles that give us a framework for interpreting the Bible. I find myself this week are referring to a phrase that I think is sort of falling out of everyday life. I maybe wrong on that and the phrase is just let me get my bearings. The reason the phrase was in mind was because as I came to the 21st chapter of first Samuel, I find myself saying as it wear out loud. I just need to get my bearings and some of you will read ahead. Others of you have only come across it. Now for the first time in this thing is I've read it, and immediately it will strike you as a fairly peculiar incident. The story of David. Once again he's on the run. He shows up at the priestly city. He asks for five loaves and the sword that he makes a run for he runs into the apparent security of foreign territory in Gath. The city of Goliath.

He is uncovered. He decides that in order to keep up the subterfuge as he's on the run he will disguise himself as a crazy person which he clearly does a very good job off and then once again he runs off and in chapter 22. He is once again found hidden in a cave. The cave off a doll and so I write it all and I read it again and I said again.

I just need to get my bearings.

Note what I want to do is provide us with a long introduction to the text. It is purposeful on my part and I hope it will prove helpful to you.

Let me enter this introduction by saying this that our use of the Bible does not end with our understanding of the text. It is actually our understanding of the text which gives us the beginning point for our use of the Bible is perfectly possible for us to read to understand the language that is use the syntax the verbs the adjectives the pronouns and so on, and understand all of that and yet to go nowhere at all. And so, in order that we don't lose our way around the text of Scripture, a number of principles are important in interpreting the Bible. And I say that, so that whether we are present in this context, or whether we are in another context, perhaps even on our own. We won't lose our way and fundamental to that as a principal and one that is no surprise to you because we make reference to it all the time is that we need to keep in mind always the main purpose of all of Scripture. The main purpose of all of Scripture which is actually to reveal the ways of God with his creatures.

The Bible you see when you turn to. It has certain assumptions built into it. One is that we are made by God to that we are made for God, but three that we have determined in rebellion and in revolt to seek to live separated from God. If you just let those words resonate with you, then you'll have the picture clearly made by him made for him, and yet we live in isolation from him and it is into that context that the Bible then gives to as God's great plan, which is of course is great plan of salvation. So no matter where we are in the Bible we say to ourselves. Now I need to get my bearings here.

We need to keep this in mind it is consequently impossible to properly use Scripture without first accepting the diagnosis that Scripture provides one of the reasons of people sick civilly and I read the Bible you didn't mean anything to me at all live consider the Bible, but I can make sense of it. Part of the answer to that is because we need to come to Scripture coming underneath Scripture and recognizing that we have to allow Scripture to diagnose our condition and the diagnosis. Our condition as rebels as sinners, as in default of God's plan and purpose, and then it provides for is the answer to that predicament in the provision of the Lord Jesus. Now it is for that reason that we want to make sure that our use of the Bible, both individually and the way we read it and also corporately in the way in which we study it is engaged in not only so that those of us who have the privilege that I'm enjoying in these moments not only so that we can provide food for the flock, but in order that we might allow the members of the flock to learn how to adequately feed themselves know Susan has a lot of recipe books and I looked at them. I know what it says but I am absolutely incapable of cooking myself is just a bunch of words to me know what is.

If that is true for some of you in terms of the Bible.

It may well be you see because it is not simply sufficient to come and hear the Bible taught is not actually sufficient to read your Bible to say something about that in a moment because it is it is possible for us to be formally committed, formally committed in our thinking to the fact that the word of God is living active and authoritative without being ourselves arrested by summoned into his presence, borrowing in reverence before the one to whom it points, now that you see explains why it is I Spurgeon says that people could listen to sermon after sermon after sermon and remain absolutely untaught and clearly unchanged because it is the work of the Spirit of God to show us ourselves, our condition and to show us Jesus as in such a way as we recognize that we must come to him individually. Personally to embrace that which is made hours in his amazing sacrifice and in the display of his love. If you think about it. For example, the Pharisees were based on the Scriptures on the I was there big thing.

We know the Bible we know the Bible we know the Bible and Jesus is the new you know the Bible but you wouldn't come to me and it is the Bible that speaks of me. If you're going to study the Bible is going to read the Bible. Number one, you need to come to with a sincere desire. A sincere desire. Secondly, you need to find a spot for you going to read your Bible and set a time. Thirdly, you need to keep your appointment. Why would you make appointments for a medical procedure or for business and show up on time and make an appointment for the reading of the Bible and hear from God and missed the appointment completely.

Fourthly, you need to come expecting to learn and willing to change. You need to read the passage and did you read the passage you need to ask questions like what is the main point of the passage or what do I learn about God father son and Holy Spirit, or what is Christ require of me today to ask of the passage is there an example to follow is a warning to heed is that a promise to trust and make sure to seek the help of the Holy Spirit to apply what you've learned and take it into the day as it has vastly different from using your Bible as eyes as I I don't know what is a big compendium of stuff that you look and see visitors a good part of moving so find something here or there is a good one. I remember that one. Yes, all Leviticus. No we don't do Leviticus. Incidentally, the reason Hebrews is in the Bible is so that when we could read Leviticus we can make sense of it. Now let's keep moving here. Number one principal.

We need to keep in mind, no matter where we are in the Scriptures and we are at the moment in first Samuel 21, we will be like when we wherever we are to keep in mind, the main purpose of all of Scripture briefly but secondarily and purposefully. We need to learn to interpret the obscure by the clear and the partial by the more complete so we come to passages of Scripture that when we read them, at least for the first time the are just almost impossible to understand. We really say right.

I made one sense, of one part of that at all. Now once again. In such cases, we have to remind ourselves that these difficulties in recognizing truth are part of the whole process whereby in coming to the Bible in its totality. We can then look for clarity elsewhere in the Bible to help us with that which we find obscure in another part of the Bible to find sections of the Bible that are more immediately accessible to us, which perhaps unpack for eyes rather brief comment that we really can get a hold of a tall and part of the adventure and it is an uphill adventure is it is not something you coming to overnight no more than you you you became very proficient enough to become a CPA having a lesser some kind of genius you had to stay up and study you at the work that material and again and again. You didn't even qualify in in their microbiology by just sitting looking at the ceiling and so why would it be that we would become students of the Bible that we would have enough information concerning the Bible to teach our children when we walk along the road and when we lie down when we get up if all that were doing in terms of the Bible is simply sitting somnambulism for half an hour listening to a man talk and thinking that somehow or another that is going to securitize a spiritual heritage that can be passed on know it is not going to happen. I guarantee you, because the pursuit and the discovery and the doing of God's will takes time and trouble and it makes us aware of the fact that none of us know individual in the course of our earthly pilgrimage ever reaches the place where we understand it all. No one in our earthly pilgrimage ever is able to say I understand the entire thing. Even Paul remember was prepared to say now I know in parts. Then I will really know is not an argument for holding up our hands and say well if you can't know. I don't care.

Rather, the reverse is the case, third principle, and move on. One that we keep in mind, the main purpose of Scripture to make us wise for salvation.

The dealings of God with his creatures to to interpret the obscure by the clear and the partial by the more complete and three to compare Scripture with Scripture and to let Scripture check our interpretation of Scripture. Second piece is important to compare Scripture with Scripture, we understand. So we go from four Samuel where will go elsewhere and we will compare in order to help our understanding.

But our interpretation then must be framed by the Scripture itself because that is the only way both to grasp the big picture and also to understand the individual parts well as I said, that's a long introduction I opened some measure, it is helpful.

I want to think that we are not simply growing generation after generation of sermon tasters, but we are actually growing generations of young men and women who said you know what, if he can understand it and he's not that bright.

I can understand it to. I can study.

After all, I've studied here. I've studied there. Why would I not give myself to the study of the Bible. Why would I not do that. That's the first principle you see with desire now with all that said first Samuel and chapter 21 and as soon as we come back to it.

I hope you will realize why it was that I have done what I've done and why I said what I've said let's select supply. One of the principles interpreting Scripture with Scripture not going to do it in its entirety. I'm just going to pointed out to you when I read the first Samuel 21. One of the questions and I said to myself is where else can I go on the Bible to help me with this and there are at least four places that we can go and I'll tell you what they are. You may want to just look at them with me but to Psalms to Psalms piece of Leviticus and Luke chapter 6 if you turn to Psalm 34 you will realize that we have a helpful heading for the Sam which says a Psalm of David. When he changed his behavior before Abimelech so that he drove them out and he went away. Okay, so what do we know we know that in this second half. All four Samuel 21, where he feigns madness. He wrote a poem and he wrote a point about it or he wrote a point coincidental with it. Who knows, but he wrote a point I like to imagine him showing up in the cable for development.

The beginning of chapter 22 and saying to his friends and his family members.

I just wrote a song I wrote in this area wrote another one. Yes, how does it go, will the verse I want you to really get a hold of his this will magnify the Lord with me and come let us exalt his name together.

Because you know what is happened to me and then he would recount for them is running in this fleeing vessel in a in a in other words, Psalm 34 is that his song of deliverance, but we don't need to stop just there because we discover that Jesus actually makes reference to four Samuel chapter 21 and for that you need to turn to Luke chapter 6. You could also church turn. For example, Matthew 12, but Luke has it in short order. Luke chapter 6 and verse one on the Sabbath. While he that is, Jesus was going through the green fields. His disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. Some of the Pharisees said why are you doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath and Jesus answered them, is quite fascinating.

Have you not read what David did when he was hungry. He and those who were with him how we enter the house of God and to can eat the bread of the presence which is not lawful for any but the priest to read and he also gave it to those within and then he said to these Pharisees. The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. When you take these passages, and particularly the passage in Luke and you realize how Jesus uses first Samuel 21.

It gives us reason to think and reason at least to consider the possibility that the hostility of the Pharisees towards Jesus may well have caused Jesus to think of the animus and animosity of soul towards David to the extent that the possibility is worth consideration. It would then allow eyes to say.

Well that is quite illuminating in as much as what we have in first Samuel and interestingly all of the rest of first Samuel is essentially the same story. It is the king on the run so the final third of first Samuel is the king making a run for it faced by the hostility of Saul and his enemies, and the final third of the Gospels is the story of the Lord Jesus Christ on the run. Is it where from the pursuing hostile aggravation of those who were his enemies and seeking to put them to death, but since you are going to make sure that any interpretation of Scripture, such as even that observation is going to be determined by your own understanding of the parameters of Scripture itself. I can rest confident in that the thing would be this to remind ourselves that, to use another idiom that is setting fading from view.

This is for real.

This is for we the same people that used to say. Just let me get my bearings also used to say this is for real. I really are. But anyway this so you say why you saying that well because we know the end of the story, at least those of us who have read ahead know the end of the story. Therefore, the temptation is for us to come to this and not to not to get the weight off what is happening here. Not not to.

I sleep get get a hold of what is happening so that so that we are to understand that for David. This is a real danger is a real danger. This is not a little story is a fabrication. This is a real danger. Remember, he said to Jonathan, there is but one step between me and death. That is how keen Saul was to kill and he was unable to just walk around like a I'm King David, nice to meet you.

He realized that he had to be involved knowing subterfuge going forward until finally, that would be over with a real danger, a real sadness real sadness. The sadness of a broken friendship.

The sadness of a relationship ended, David wet, more than Jonathan real danger real emotion real fear he's not running around here just for fun. David is not immune to these matters and we end with this thought. Consider how the picture has changed how it's changed from chapter 17, where we see them as the conquering hero but now he's homeless helpless fugitive.

Then he seemed to be in charge of the world. Now he's emotionally crushed now is vision is clouded by fear and now his attempts at self-preservation involve the use of lies and we ought to find ourselves at least say can he have forgotten so quickly when he told Goliath. The battle is the Lord's that he was able to make it very very clear that the Lord saves not by sword or by spear. Well, if that is the case, and he really believe that. Why does he have to tell lies. Now why can't he just tell the truth: the lack I'm on the run.

Just think about your own life. Think how easy it is to move from the declarations of the Lord's day morning in our praise and our abject failures on a Monday or Tuesday when we who are so bold in the presence of affirmation may actually play the Simon Peter before the servant on. I don't know Jesus. No, I am not a follower of Jesus going to understand what God is saying to us in Scripture. It's important for us to understand how to study God's word that's from today's message from Truth for Life with Alastair Bragg, a Truth for Life. We teach the whole Bible, even the hard parts. As Alastair mentioned Scripture is God's very word we believe that God speaks through his Word to open hearts to his message so that lives can be changed. That's why our mission, a Truth for Life is to teach the Bible every day. On this program.

We also carefully select books to help you guide you in your own study of the Bible so you can come to know God personally. We want to recommend to your book title. None else. 31 meditations on God's character and attributes chosen this book because it's a devotional that focuses solely on God. Each day begins with the Scripture meditation that sheds light on a different aspect of his nature or his character. Things like his compassion for his goodness or his love requester copy of the 31 they devotional none else. When you donate to support the mission of Truth for Life.

Visit our website Truth for The image in the Bob Lapine you find yourself in the middle of a global pandemic or a personal crisis where you go to find hope. Alastair reminds us that there are short-term solutions everywhere, but if you're looking for lasting hope is only one place to turn to truly listen tomorrow Bible teaching of Alastair Bragg is furnished by Truth for Life learning is prolific

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