TGOC Bible Class Curricula - How To Study The Bible (1st Quarter) - Lesson # 1: The Importance of Hermeneutics
The study of biblical hermeneutics is the science of biblical interpretation.
The word “hermeneutics” comes from the Greek word hermeneuo meaning “to translate, interpret, or explain.” (Biblical Interpretation: Principles and Practice, Kearley, Myers, and Hadley, editors, p. 31).
God frowns heavily upon those who remain spiritual simpletons (Hebrews 5:12-6:3; 1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
God desires that man matures in the knowledge of His word and is pleased with those who study and grow thereby (2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:2).
The “man of God” of 2 Timothy 3:16,17 is a man whose life is dedicated to learning and following the precepts found in God's word.
The Bible Was Meant To Be Understood
Studying biblical hermeneutics is important.
God expects mankind to understand His word.
If it is the case that a proper knowledge of the Bible is necessary for the salvation of the soul, then it necessarily follows that knowing how to properly interpret the Bible is essential.
Some claim you cannot know God's word (i.e, that you can never arrive at the truth). Jesus claimed, on the other hand, that you can know the truth (John 8:31,32).
Those who falsely teach that the Bible cannot be understood are, by implication, attacking the very nature of God Himself. If God was not able to/did not reveal His word in such a way that man could understand it, then either (a) God is deficient in power (the Bible, however, claims God is all-powerful, Exodus 15:6) or (b) God did not love man enough (in which case all would be lost since God required man to follow it, yet made it impossible for man to understand enough to do so, James 1:22; Romans 1:16).
The Old Testament itself claims the Bible can be understood (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). The parents were to teach God's word to their children. If children can learn the word of God, adults certainly can!
Deuteronomy 29:29 – There are some secret things that belong to God, but there are some things that have been given to us in principle to understand.
Ezra 7:10 – Ezra had set his heart on God's word to keep it and to teach it. We must purpose in our heart to seek God's word, to do it, and to teach it to others.
The New Testament itself claims the Bible can be understood (2 Corinthians 1:13; Ephesians 3:3,4; 5:17; 1 Timothy 2:4; John 7:17; 1 John 5:13).
Serious Results From Biblical Ignorance
There are serious results that come from biblical ignorance.
A study conducted by Barna research group reveals, “Bible reading has become the religious equivalent of soundbite journalism. When people read from the Bible they typically open it, read a brief passage without much regard for the context, and consider the primary thought or feeling that the passage provided. If they are comfortable with it, they accept it; otherwise, they deem it interesting but irrelevant to their life and move on. There is shockingly little growth evident in people’s understanding of the fundamental themes of the scriptures and amazingly little interest in deepening their knowledge and application of biblical principles.” (December 18, 2009 barna.org).
Application Question: How many of you surf the internet, click on something, and read it for 5 seconds, and then get off to something else? Do we treat God's word this way?
A report by the American Bible Society reveals, “If they do read it [the Bible], the majority (57 percent) only read their Bibles four times a year or less. Only 26 percent of Americans said they read their Bible on a regular basis (four or more times a week).” (April 4, 2013, huffingtonpost.com).
Research conducted by Lifeway reveals, “While the majority of churchgoers desire to honor Christ with their lives and even profess to think on biblical truths, a recent study found few actually engage in personal reading and study of the Scriptures…When asked how often they personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible, a similar number respond "Every Day" (19 percent) as respond "Rarely/Never" (18 percent). A quarter indicates they read the Bible a few times a week. Fourteen percent say they read the Bible "Once a Week" and another 22 percent say "Once a Month" or "A Few Times a Month.” (September 6, 2012, www.lifeway.com).
Application Question: Does this describe me as a person?
If a person's knowledge of the Bible is erroneous, then it follows that his/her doctrine will be also (cf. 2 John 1:9-11).
Ignorance of the Bible can result in division (Romans 16:17,18; Amos 3:3).
Ignorance of the Bible can put a person's soul at risk (2 Peter 3:16,17; Hosea 4:6).
Why Do We Not Study The Bible?
19. Application Question: Why do we not study the Bible as we should?
20. (1) Too busy to read or lack of priorities (Matthew 13:20)
21. (2) Too distracted to read well (particularly with use of electronic media, Matthew 13:19]
22. (3) Too confused to read with understanding (A lack of knowledge, Matthew 13:19)
23. (4) You think you know enough or know it all.
24. (5) Intimidation.
25. (6) Not entertaining.
Application: Think and meditate upon how the Parable of the Sower applies to a lack of Bible study (Matthew 13:1-9).
Why Is It Important To Study The Bible?
26. The Bible is primarily how we come to know who God is - through Jesus Christ (John 20:30,31; 2 Timothy 3:15). We can know God through natural revelation (Psalm 19:1,2); but it is more important that we have a revealed knowledge of Jesus Christ (John 20:30,31).
27. It is how we come to know what it means to be Christ-like (Romans 15:1-7). The Jews and Gentiles were to be unified in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-6). They were to get along. There were those who were weak and others were strong. The strong were to be like Christ because He did not please Himself. Paul is quoting from Psalm 69, a Messianic Psalm. Some of the Gentile and Jewish Christians (who were stronger in knowing the distinctions) were to manifest the attitude of Christ. That is why the Old Testament was written for our learning (Romans 15:4).
28. It is how we learn the apostolic instructions (1 Corinthians 14:27; 2 Peter 3:1; 1 John 2:1). These men were guided directly by the Holy Spirit.
29. It is how we grasp the big picture of the plan of God (Ephesians 3:1-6). Sometimes we can get so bogged down in the details (which are important) that we miss the big picture. As the old saying goes: “We miss the forest for the trees.” Sometimes people lose interest because they don't see all the pieces fitting together. The revealed mystery in Ephesians 3 is that the Jews would be fellow-heirs with the Gentiles in Christ.
30. It is how we protect ourselves against false teaching (Galatians 1:6-9). The world is filled with many “spiders” of false philosophies ready to entangle us in its web of lies and deceit (Colossians 2:8). We must not relive “Josiah moments” in each generation that comes along (2 Kings 22,23; Judges 2). Josiah was a young king who was given a lost Bible. He opened it up and read the Scriptures. He realized that they had not been practicing the law of God. There are many congregations of the Lord's church (who are now divisions – Romans 16:17,18) because they no longer practice what the Bible teaches.
31. It is how we learn what God desires in marriages and raising children (1 Peter 3:1-7). Have you ever noticed that those who need marital counseling are the same persons who never come to Bible study, rarely come to worship, etc.? If we will apply the Scriptures in our marriages and family, we will have better families who are dedicated to giving God the glory.
32. It is how we grow into maturity and ultimately cultivate teachers, elders, deacons, and preachers (Hebrews 5:11-14). It takes a lot of time and effort to help train young men to preach the gospel. They have to study God's word. If we do not study God's word, then we become spiritually malnourished and will fail to raise godly leaders in the home and the church (as is increasingly becoming the case now).
What does “hermeneutics” mean?
Is interpreting the Bible a difficult task?
Does God expect man to learn and know the truth?
What are the implications if one says that one cannot learn the truth?
List some Old Testament passages which teach that one can know what God's word means.
List some New Testament passages which teach that one can know what God's word means.
How can division occur as a result of Bible ignorance?
By failing to learn God's word, how will this put one’s souls in jeopardy?
What are some reasons we do not study the Bible as we should?
Give some reasons why it is important to study the Bible.
[Credit is given to some brethren for some of the material presented in this lesson as well as some of the upcoming lessons in this series.]
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