11 Quotes From “Interpretation Of The Scriptures”

In my review of A.W. Pink’s book Interpretation Of The Scriptures, I noted that any student of the Bible will benefit from reading this exceptional book. The quotes I want to share today are for that universal audience, but I will also be sharing some additional quotes soon that are specifically aimed at those who are Bible teachers or pastors.

“God does not ask for blind credence from us, but an intelligent faith, and for that three things are indispensable: that His Word should be read (or heard), understood, and personally appropriated.”

“Moreover, the obscurity is not in them [the Scripture], but in the depravity of our nature which resists the holy requirements of God, and the pride of our hearts which disdains seeking enlightenment from Him.”

“It has pleased God to furnish His people with gifted instructors, and instead of haughtily ignoring them we ought (while testing their teaching—Acts 17:11) to accept thankfully whatever help they can afford us.”

“Methods of Bible study are only of relative importance; but the spirit in which it is studied is all-important. It calls for no argument to prove that a spiritual book calls for a spiritually minded reader. … Only where there is honesty of soul and spirituality of heart will there be clearness of vision to perceive the Truth; only then will the mind be capable of discerning the full import of what is read. … None but the Spirit of Truth can write God’s Law on my heart. Here, then, is the first and most essential qualification for understanding and interpreting the Scriptures, namely a mind illumined by the Holy Spirit.”

“That which conflicts with what is taught, plainly and uniformly, in the Scriptures as a whole, and which whole is set before us as the alone rule of our faith and obedience. This requires from the expositor not only a knowledge of the general sense of the Bible, but also that he takes the trouble to collect and compare all the passages which treat of or have a definite bearing upon the immediate point before him, so that he may obtain the full mind of the Spirit thereon. Having done that, any passage which is still obscure or doubtful to him must be interpreted by those which are clear. No doctrine is to be founded on a single passage.”

“By divorcing a verse from its setting or singling out a single clause, one may ‘prove’ not only absurdities but real falsities by the very words of Scripture.”

“The word for ‘search the Scriptures’ (John 5:39) signifies diligently to track out, as the hunter does the spoor of animals. The interpreter’s job is to bring out the sense and not merely the sound of the Word.”

“To a very large extent, and far more so than any uninspired book, the Bible is a self-explaining volume: not only because it records the performance of its promises and the fulfillment of its prophecies, not only because its types and antitypes mutually unfold each other, but because all its fundamental truths may be discovered by means of its own contents, without reference to anything extra or outside itself.”

“Assuredly God has not subordinated His Word to our reason for us to accept only what commends itself to our judgment. Nevertheless, He has furnished His people with this faculty, and though insufficient of itself it is a valuable aid in the understanding of Truth. While reason is not to be made the measurer of our belief, yet it is to be used as the handmaid of faith, by comparing passage with passage, deducing inferences and drawing consequences according to the legitimate laws of logic.”

“The concordance will stand [the Bible reader] in far better stead than the best dictionary.”

“There is a middle ground between hastily condemning or accepting, namely to weigh carefully and prayerfully what is presented, testing it by other passages and by our own experience.”

Handling Tough Texts

How do you handle a hard passage in the Bible? Peter wrote this about Paul, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand….” But if we don’t take the time to wrestle with that passage, Peter says this is what happens next: “…which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

So here’s a 5-step plan I use when I am working through a challenging passage of Scripture.

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you

All Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), and the same Holy Spirit lives in a Christian (1 John 2:20). Think about that: the same Holy Spirit that inspired an author to write the words of Scripture is the same Spirit that will illuminate them to you!

  1. Read the difficult passage in context

We will make our task much easier when we “zoom out” from the difficult text and read the whole passage surrounding the difficult verse/phrase. Perhaps we need to “zoom out” even farther to understand why the whole chapter or book was written.

  1. Identify the parts that are clear

Start off by identifying the parts that you do understand, and then see what light that shines on the tricky text.

  1. Cross reference with other Scriptures

Never, ever, ever draw a conclusion from just one passage of Scripture. Paul reminded his audience that he used the “whole counsel of God’s Word” (Acts 20:27) in forming his sermons. If the challenging passage contains an Old Testament passage, look it up; if it references an historical event, read that history. I also like to use biblegateway.com’s excellent search feature to find cross references.

  1. Draw conclusions on what appears to be the main point

Only after you have done step #1-4 should you attempt to draw some conclusions. You will set yourself up for error if you draw a conclusion first, and then try to find other texts in the Bible that agree with you.

The Apostle Peter writes something rather challenging in his first letter. In fact, Martin Luther said this about 1 Peter 3:18-22: “A wonderful text is this, and a more obscure passage perhaps than any other in the New Testament, so that I do not know for a certainty just what Peter means.” If you would like to see how I walk through the 5-step plan on this “obscure passage,” please check out the video below.

3 Steps To Better Bible Studies

Inspired WordThe Bible is God’s inspired Word—literally, that means it is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If the Holy Spirit inspired the Word to the biblical writers, He can best illuminate the same Word to you as you read and study it.

This is how Jesus said the Holy Spirit would help us handle God’s Word:

Teach (John 14:26a). This word means to teach by holding a discourse with someone (or in this case, with Someone). Reading the Bible is meant to be a dialogue, not a monologue.

Remind (John 14:26b). The Holy Spirit is actively involved in us recalling and applying the Word to the situations in which we find ourselves. The Bible tells us to study to be prepared (1 Peter 3:15) and to handle God’s Word like a good worker (2 Timothy 2:15). We are also told not to pre-plan what to say if we are put on the spot, but that words would be given us (Matthew 10:19) as the Holy Spirit recalls to our memory which we have studied.

Convict (John 16:8). This word means both to refute and to confute. Confute simply means proving something is wrong. Refute means to show us we’ve reached a false or illogical conclusion, perhaps a conclusion we reached without giving it very much thought.

Guide (John 16:13). We get a good idea of the meaning of this word from the negative use of the same word—Can a blind man lead [the same word for “guide” in John 16:13] a blind man? Will they not both fall in a pit? (Luke 6:39). We can trust the Holy Spirit to lead us to the truth in the Scriptures that we can apply to our lives.

Quite simply better Bible studies come from:

  1. Praying for the Holy Spirit to illuminate Scripture to you as your read it.
  2. Reading the Bible.
  3. Obeying what the Holy Spirit illuminates to your heart and mind.

Try it and see what happens. I think you’ll like the results!

Links & Quotes

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Some readable reading from today.

I find the science driving “global warming” or “climate change” to be more philosophy than science. A new report notes, “Even if we were to stop emitting greenhouse gas emissions entirely, we would not moderate the Earth’s temperature more than a few tenths of a degree Celsius by the end of the century.” Read more in this post: Obama Hasn’t Healed The Planet.

I love the Bible Overview Project. Here is a cool infographic on the least popular book of the Bible.

“How could it [the Bible], assailed so strongly from every side, have resisted if it had relied upon human protection alone? Rather, by this very fact it is proved to be from God, because, with all human efforts striving against it, still it has of its own power thus far prevailed. Besides this, it is not one state, not one people, that has agreed to receive and embrace it; but, as far and as wide as the earth extends, it has obtained its authority by the holy concord of divers peoples, who otherwise had nothing in common among themselves. Such agreement of minds, so disparate and otherwise disagreeing in everything among themselves, ought to move us greatly, since it is clear that this agreement is brought about by nothing else than the divine will.” —John Calvin

I don’t agree with everything in this post ‘The Idol Of Church Growth,’ but I definitely agree with this statement: “The question churches should be asking is not ‘How do we grow our church?’ but ‘How do we grow His kingdom?’ Sadly, those interests are often kingdoms apart.” 

Ask to summarize his theology, Karl Barth said, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

“There must be illumination before revelation can get to a person’s soul. It is not enough that I hold an inspired Book in my hands. I must have an inspired heart.” —A.W. Tozer

Thursdays With Oswald—The Realness Of The Holy Spirit

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Realness Of The Holy Spirit

     The Holy Spirit makes Jesus Christ both present and real. He is the most real Being on earth, “closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.” Simply receive the Holy Spirit, rely upon Him and obey Him and He will bring the realization of Christ….

     The Holy Spirit is seeking to awaken men out of lethargy; He is pleading, yearning, blessing, pouring benedictions on men, convicting and drawing them nearer, for one purpose only, that they may receive Him so that He may make them holy men and women exhibiting the life of Jesus Christ. How the devil does rob Christians who are not thinking on Pentecostal lines of the tremendous power of the Presence of Jesus made real by the Holy Spirit!

From Biblical Ethics

When Jesus said He would never leave us, He fulfilled this promise by sending the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our constant Guide, our wisest Counselor, our kindest Teacher, and the illuminating Spirit of Truth.

Think about this: The same Holy Spirit who inspired the writing of the Scriptures, is the same Holy Spirit Who will illuminate those Scriptures to you. How the devil does rob Christians who are not thinking on Pentecostal lines!

Holy Spirit, I willingly yield to Your illuminating and transforming presence in my life today!

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