Here is a book that I wished I had read in my early years as a Christian. I did read it years before launching this website however, and lately I found myself being drawn to reading it again. As a matter of fact, I plan to read this or a similar book every year from now on. It is critical that I do so.
As those of you who have been following this blog website already have noticed, I have quoted many Bible verses and given my impressions and applications to them. When I do this, it is always in my thoughts and in the back of my mind the seriousness of these attempts. Because of that, I always endeavor to correctly employ the principles of this book to a given Bible theme or narrative.
One thing I have learned in the process is that the immense power of the Bible can be seen in the tremendous number of life applications that can be derived from its passages. But this is best possible when its verse(s) is (or are) properly interpreted.
So, how would you know if any of my scripture interpretations posted in this website is correct or incorrect? It depends on how long you have been a believer in God and how well you have studied the Bible. Also you may have noticed in my posts how often I have given you disclaimers to many of my statements by saying, “I believe such and is true” or “such and such are just my thoughts on this.” That means that whatever I believe or think about on a particular passage, you do not have to believe or accept. And whether you agree or not agree with any of my interpretations will not affect your salvation. Okay?
A major reason this blog website came into being was because of my experience with several religious teachings I have been espoused for much of my life. I felt a need to share with others online the lessons I learned about inaccurate, incorrect and false teachings I had previously believed for years to be absolutely correct, sure and true.
Ever since high school and afterwards, I have studied the Bible in search of truth and meaning in life. I was immediately surprised by how many Christian, religious organizations came across to me proclaiming “truths” that no other Christian church has. How could this be? Why can’t Christians agree about what the Bible teaches?
As years went by, my eyes were increasingly opened as to how easily I can (and was) deceived. Because of that, I have decided not to find myself so easily changing affiliations from one church membership to another. Yet, there are so many conflicting Christian teachings out there in the religious world – all in the name of God and Jesus Christ and all claiming the authority of the Bible for their beliefs. What is a Christian to do?
So, as of today, with all this in mind, I am once again reading this fairly well-known book: How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart. The main premise of the book is that the Bible can be understood by most anyone if read and interpreted properly. Gordon Fee’s book goes into guidelines and principles that must be taken account when getting to know God’s mind and what He is telling you in the Bible rather than merely obeying someone’s highly unwarranted and poorly substantiated dogmas.
I know I risk rambling a little off topic here, but here is one thought (mine of course) I want to share: The Bible is very important for each Christian, but, if someone were to tell you that you definitely, without question, need to read the Bible in order to be saved, I am sure many of you will agree that would not necessarily be the case. There have been, throughout history, Christians who did not even know how to read. Many were illiterate, perhaps never having had the opportunity of getting an adequate education – especially in getting to know the Bible.
During the Middle Ages, many Christians did not know how to read Latin, and the Latin Vulgate Bible, perhaps the only Bible in town at that time, was in the possession of only the Roman Catholic clergy and was never adequately presented to the parishioners. Did the parishioners lose their salvation for not reading the Bible on their own? No, of course not.
Hearing the Word of God and following through on it is also important. Many who heard the words of Jesus Christ as He went about from town to town and believed on Him, did so without reading any New Testament epistle.
Nevertheless, today, many of us Christians are encouraged to redeem the time and study the Bible as much as we are able. We are admonished to daily feed on the Word. Unlike the Middle Ages, we Christians have enviable resources available to learn about the Bible.
Many of you Christians listen to Biblical programming on Christian radio stations. You have television preachers and ministries to watch. Many of you can absorb and re-absorb Biblical sermons given by pastors everyday online and through DVDs. These all may or may not not contain misinterpretation of Scrpture.
For example, as I stated in my previous post, “Two Separate ‘Day of Pentecost’ ?” the Day of Pentecost was celebrated by many Christians around May 15th this year rather than on June 12th. This is an example of taking a Jewish and Christian historical event out of its Biblical, historical context. I am not saying that all Christians should have kept Pentecost this year on June 12, but just wanted to state how misinformation can easily be disseminated within a Christian church service.
I would not have even mentioned all of this if I were not aware of increasing numbers of Christian zealots and proselytizers who will see these type of errors and entice Christians away from the church they are affiliated. These Christians would then be confronted with other teachings which most likely are even more twisted and taken out of context.
I remember being told by a member of one these groups (that I now know to have taught many doctrinal errors) to read the Bible for myself and prove if what he was informing me was wrong. I was told to read the Bible on my own and to prove what he was teaching was accurate. I remember not adequately being able to disprove him and to end up eagerly believing him.
So, books such as this one, How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth, are invaluable tools to understand and use in helping us spot errors and misconceptions that have been sown into our theology. In the back cover of the book it says:
“A few essential insights into the Bible can clear up a lot of misconceptions and help you grasp the meaning of Scripture and its application to your twenty-first century life.“
This book will help you understand:
1. Why it is not wise to use only one Bible translation. And about choosing a good one.
2. How to read the Bible contextually. In context.
3. Exegesis. With examples.
4. Hermeneutics. With examples.
5. How the Bible can be read literally, historically, as prose, etc.
6. How to read and understand the Law and Covenants given to ancient Israel.
7. How to read and properly understand the prophets of God.
8. How to read and properly understand the Psalms and Proverbs.
9. How to read and properly understand the gospels.
10. How to read and properly understand the parables of Christ.
11. How to read and properly understand the Epistles by the apostles.
12. How to read and properly understand the book of Revelation.
13. And much, much more….
I am NOT suggesting to read ONLY this book. There are several others that are good as well. And I hope to introduce more of them in the future for you to check out if you wish – and have the time 😋.
If you go to the Bible with your own agenda you will come away with your own answer.
– Thought For Today (part 12) number 1.
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Author, Gordon D. Fee, is Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Author, Douglas Stuart, is professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.