Interpretation Of The Scriptures (book review)

Bible reading and Bible study will be of immeasurable benefit to the reader if the Scriptures are interpreted correctly. Fortunately for us, A.W. Pink gives us some timeless principles for doing just this in his book Interpretation Of The Scriptures.

Pink acknowledges something that the Apostle Peter also acknowledged: sometimes the passages we read in the Bible can be challenging to understand. But Pink quickly adds, “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.”

In this book, Pink systematically gives us guidelines for the proper and effective interpretation of the the Scriptures. He does so by using many of the age-old maxims of logic and hermeneutics, but he also emphasizes the invaluable role the Holy Spirit plays in our Bible reading times. After all, the Holy Spirit was the One who inspired the writing of the Scriptures, so He is best able to illuminate the true meaning to our hearts and minds.

This is NOT a book exclusively for pastors and Bible teachers (although both will be greatly benefitted by studying this text), but it is for anyone who wants to read the Bible accurately, with an eye toward correctly applying the principles that God gives us.

I’m not sure how many times I have read through the Bible in my life, but while reading Interpretation Of The Scriptures I noticed a new attention to concepts and insights that I had previously overlooked. I highly recommend that all serious readers of the Bible read this book as well.

Thursdays With Oswald—What “Religious” Things Perplex You?

Oswald ChambersThis 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.

What “Religious” Things Perplex You? 

     If we are perplexed over the question of sanctification, or about the baptism of the Holy Ghost, we ourselves are the reason why we are bothered. God has written a Book, and the phrases “sanctification” and the “baptism of the Holy Ghost” are His, not man’s; why do we not go to Him about it? 

     We are the reason why we do not go; we dare not go. If we honestly ask God to baptize us with the Holy Ghost and fire, anything that happens is His answer, and some appalling things happen. If we accept the revelation that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, are we prepared to ask God to fulfill the purpose of the Holy Ghost in our body? If we are, watch the consequences—that friendship must go, that book, that association, everyone of them must decay off like a lightning flash. 

     If anyone has a difficulty in getting through to God, it is never God who is to blame. We can get through to Him as soon we want to, there is nothing simpler.

From The Psychology Of Redemption

I believe Chambers’ line of reasoning goes like this:

  • God has revealed His full will in the inspired words of Scripture.
  • The same Holy Spirit Who inspired the Bible can illuminate our hearts.
  • We don’t have insight because we either don’t ask for it [James 1:5], or we don’t really want to hear the truth [James 4:3].
  • Asking for help while posturing ourselves to obey will quickly bring clarity—“Jesus Christ’s life must work through our flesh, and that is where we have to obey. So many go into raptures over God’s supernatural salvation, over the wonderful fact that God saves us by His sovereign grace (and we cannot do that too much), but they forget that now He expects us to get ourselves into trim to obey Him” (Oswald Chambers).

The Counselor Instructs Us

The life of Jesus“The Counselor” is the name Jesus gave to the Holy Spirit. Looking at the definition of the word Counselor, there are four main things the Holy Spirit will do in our lives which corresponds to another well-known passage of Scripture—

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Counselor teaches/instructs, rebukes, corrects, and trains. And He does this through The Word that He inspired.

The Bible is one huge “the Holy Spirit said” Book. Men wrote the words of Scripture as the Counselor Spirit inspired them (2 Peter 1:19-21). That same Counselor then helps us apply those inspired words to our lives.

Jesus is our Ultimate Example of One Who was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and fully controlled by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1). The Counselor helped Jesus the Man be able to apply the inspired Scripture:

Jesus told His followers to received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8), so we could be His witnesses in the world (see Acts 8:26-35 and 10:38-43).

“God does not give us power to imitate Him: He gives us His very Self. … We are not put into the place where we can imitate Jesus; the baptism of the Holy Spirit puts us into the very life of Jesus.” —Oswald Chambers

This should be our normal life! But if we discount the Holy Spirit—or even discount our worthiness to commune with The Counselor—we begin to accept sub-normal as normal, and the normal become miraculous and only obtainable by a few “spiritual giants.”

The Father’s desire is for all of us to bear a strong, unmistakable family likeness to Jesus. Christ relied on The Counselor, so we must as well.

Next Sunday I will be continuing our series on the Holy Spirit called The Counselor. If you are in the Cedar Springs area, please join us.

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!

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