Tag: New Testament

  • Why Obey Some Laws and Not Others?

    Image from the Book of Kells, a 1200 year old ...
    Image from the Book of Kells, a 1200 year old book. Category:Illuminated manuscript images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Why do I (try to) obey the Bible’s command not to lie, yet feel comfortable ignoring commands instructing me to sacrifice certain animals or to not cut my hair or trim my beard? This seeming contradiction leads some to write off all of the Bible’s teachings as irrelevant and many Christians as out of touch.

    The Old Testament contains at least three types of laws: Ceremonial, civil and moral.

    Ceremonial laws dictated how God’s people, Israel, were to worship Him. Leviticus prescribes many sacrifices that were to be brought to the Lord. The New Testament shows that Jesus’ death on the cross was the sacrifice that all the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to. Since Jesus died once and for all I no longer look to the Old Testament law to instruct me in worship. I worship God by the new and living Way – Jesus Christ.

    Civil laws dictated how God’s people were to live in community together. Civil law includes commands about how to harvest fields, how to build houses and how to cook dinner. These laws express God’s desire for purity and justice among His people.   However, since these laws applied to the government of a specific nation at a specific time in history, they do not apply to us today.

    The Moral law, revealed in the Ten Commandments, show God’s holiness and reveal His moral standard. Neither His holiness nor His moral standard ever change so this law does apply to us today. God is holy and He is cultivating a people who delight to be like Him.

  • 10 Tips from Grudem on Bible Interpretation

    Grudem’s chapter in Preach the Word offers some helpful reminders on correctly interpreting the Scripture.

    1. Spend your earliest and best time reading the text of the Bible itself.
    2. The interpretation of Scripture is not a magical or mysterious process, because Scripture was written in the ordinary language of the day.
    3. Every interpreter has only four sources of information about the text:
      1. The meanings of individual words and sentences
      2. the place of the statement in its context
      3. the overall teaching of Scripture
      4. some information about the historical and cultural background.
    4. Look for reasons rather than mere opinions to give support to an interpretation, and use reasons rather than mere opinions to attempt to persuade others.
    5. There is only one meaning for each text (though there are many applications).
    6. Notice the kind of literature in which the verse is found.
    7. Notice whether the text approves or disapproves or merely reports a person’s actions.
    8. Be careful not to generalize specific statements and apply them to fundamentally different situations.
    9. It is possible to do a short or long study of any passage. Do what you can with the time you have, and don’t be discouraged about all that you cannot do.
    10. Pray regularly for the Holy Spirit’s help in the whole process of interpreting the Bible.
    Grudem goes on to encourage his readers to keep the “big picture” in mind with 6 other reflections.
    1. The Bible is a historical document. Therefore, always ask, “What did the author want the original readers to understand by this statement?”
    2. The original authors wanted the original readers to respond in some way. Therefore always ask, “What application did the original author want the readers to make to their lives?”
    3. The whole Bible is about God! Therefore we should always ask, “What does the text tell us about God?”
    4. The center of the whole Bible is Jesus Christ. The entire Old Testament leads up to him and points to him, and the entire New Testament flows from him. Therefore, we should always ask, “What does this text tell us about the greatness of Christ?”
    5. All history can be divided into several major “ages” or “epochs” in salvation history. Therefore, we should read every passage of the Bible with a salvation history timeline in our minds and constantly remember where every passage fits on the timeline.
    6. Themes: Because the Bible is a unity (it has one divine Author though many human authors), there are many themes that develop and grow from Genesis to Revelation. Therefore, for each significant element in any text, it is helpful to ask, (a) Where did this theme start in the Bible? (b) How did this theme develop through the Bible? and (c) Where is this theme going to end in the Bible?
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