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SAMPLE MATERIAL FROM A BIBLE STUDY WORKBOOK IN THE SERIES

PROVE ALL THINGS WORKBOOK

Expository Introduction

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: THE MATERIAL IN THIS SECTION IS TAKEN FROM ONE OF THE BOOKS IN THE OVERCOMING LIFE SERIES, PROVE ALL THINGS.THIS EXPOSITORY ALSO CONTAINS ADDED MATERIAL ABOUT THE BIBLE ITSELF AND HOW TO USE IT TO BEST ADVANTAGE. THE ANSWERS ARE PROVIDED AT THE END OF THE WORKBOOK AND DO NOT HAVE TO BE THE EXACT WORDING IN MANY CASES. YOU SIMPLY NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE CAUGHT THE CONCEPT OR PRINCIPLE FROM THE WORD OF GOD.]


Interpretation of the Scripture should be done in the light of certain principles.

We must view parts of the Bible in relation to the whole, or otherwise the Bible will seem to contradict itself in certain places. Since the Bible is the work of one mind the mind of the Lord it does not in actuality contradict itself. When we cannot understand something that seems to be a contradiction, it is because of human limitations or a lack of full knowledge.

The first principle and primary rule of Biblical interpretation is:
We must interpret any scripture by other scriptures

By referring to other verses about the same subject, we can get a more complete picture of that subject.

A good concordance is a great help in studying the Bible. The most well-known one is Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; however, Young’s and Cruden’s also are good reference works.

The science of interpretation is called hermeneutics from the Greek word hermenuo, which means to interpret or explain .

Let us use the incident in Acts 4:18-20 as an example of how to use scripture to interpret scripture where there seems to be a contradiction:

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

This scripture describes the day when the council of elders in Jerusalem, which had authority over all religious matters, ordered Peter and John not to speak any more of Jesus or of the things He had done. The apostles knew the Old Testament writings told them to submit to authority. Yet, we find them saying they have to speak about the things they saw and heard to be right in the sight of God!

Looking at 1 Peter 2:13-15, it also seems to contradict what Peter and John did that day in Jerusalem.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

However, by studying the rest of Scripture, we see that Peter ‘s instructions in his first epistle do not really contradict his actions as recorded in Acts. We find from the rest of the Bible there are limitations to submission to earthly authority. We will find that we are not to obey earthly authority, civil or religious, if it contradicts God’s authority (Colossians 1:16-18).

Other scriptures that show us how to know when to obey earthly authority and when not to are found in:

  • Words spoken by Jesus and later recorded in Matthew 22:36-38, which told them to love the Lord above all things and all people. Along with that were Old Testament admonitions that the apostles knew well, which said that, if someone loves God, he will obey Him.
  • Peter’s words in Acts 5:29-33, where it is recorded that he told the authorities that they ought to obey God rather than men.
  • The words of Gamaliel, one of the religious authorities presiding at the hearing, when the apostles continued preaching about Jesus. The wise priest and scholar said the men should be left alone, because if something is of God, it will stand (Acts 5:38,39). In other words, if what Peter and John were saying was not of God, it would not last but die away.

(Please read the three passages of scripture mentioned above before continuing with this lesson. In fact, it would be good to find and read all of the Scripture references mentioned in these lessons.)


Other Principles of Interpretation

A second principle of interpretation then is to establish a fact or truth in the mouth of two or three witnesses in referring to Scripture. This means there should be at least two or three scriptures verifying a doctrine, or principle (Deut. 17:6, 19:15; Matt. 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28). It takes more than one scripture to prove a doctrine, a point, or a principle.

Another good way to use your concordance is to make a topical study of any subject to see what God s Word has to say in different places on a particular subject or topic. Most Bibles have small concordances in the back of them so you can look up different topics to get a broad view of that subject. However, you need a larger one, such as Strong’s, to research a topic thoroughly.

The third important principle of interpretation is known as: “The Law of First Mention .” In testing Scripture by Scripture, it is important to look for the place in the Bible that a subject, attitude, or principle is mentioned for the first time and see what it meant there. “The Law of the First Mention” states that wherever a concept or topic is first introduced in Scripture there are certain foundational principles laid down by that first mention which govern and fulfill it. It is like a legal case that is settled in the Supreme Court. Once a decision is reached on that case it becomes a “land mark case.” “Land mark cases” then set a precedent for future cases. In the study of any topic in scripture we should find where that topic is “first mentioned” and build our study on that foundation. Again, this requires looking up words or phrases in a concordance.

Some other guidelines of interpretation are:

  1. Scripture should always be accepted literally unless it is clearly figurative or symbolic. Spiritualizing too much can dilute God’s Word, while literalizing too much can bring bondage and legalism. The Holy Spirit is our guide.
    For example, in Revelation 12:4, Satan is described as being cast out of Heaven with a third part of the stars going with him. To understand what this means, let us first apply “the law of first mention.” Going to the concordance, we find the word stars first mentioned in the book of Revelation in Revelation 1:20. We see in that verse the interpretation for stars is angels, or messengers of God . We use the first mention in Revelation, instead of the first mention in Genesis, because Revelation is full of “symbolic pictures” of literal things, while Genesis is a book describing literal events. We now can understand the interpretation that one-third of the stars means angels, and therefore, they were cast out of Heaven with Lucifer (the dragon) to the earth.
  2. We should pray and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word to us before beginning any study. Then we can understand by revelation. The Lord at times may speak a direct message to us from His Word (which will be the application of His Word to our spirits).
  3. However, avoid using the Bible like fortune telling . Some people open the Bible to a page, then point to a verse with their eyes closed, and use that for guidance and direction. Sometimes, for “baby” Christians, God will go ahead and give them a message that way, but continued use of that method amounts to fortune-telling, much like reading tea leaves, and the enemy will get involved sooner or later. In seeking God it is permissable to ask the Lord to lead you to a scripture in the Bible that will help you find an answer to your current problem. One of the best way to get answers from God is to spend time daily in prayer and studying the Word, then in our times of study, the Holy Spirit makes the Bible alive to us.
  4. Trust God’s Word above all else. We must believe fully in the integrity of God’s Word and give it first place, if we are to know the God who wrote it. A new Christian will not understand the Word as well as a mature Christian, who has studied the Bible enough to get an understanding in his spirit of the way God thinks and acts.

Here are some scriptures from the Word written by four different men who were inspired of God. Their writings covered a period of time ranging over about 1,500 years, yet each of them verify the faithfulness of God’s Word to us.

Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
. . . . . . .. . Numbers 23:19
(Moses)

The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever. Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
. . . . . . .. . . Psalms 12:6,7; 138:2
(David)

I will hasten my word to perform it.
. . . . . . . Jeremiah 1:12
(Jeremiah)

The scripture cannot be broken. Thy word is truth.
. . . . . . . John 10:35; 17:17
(the Apostle John)

It takes trust that God wants to open up His Word to you, and faithfulness in studying it and waiting on Him to gain true understanding and knowledge (John 6:51,52,60,66; Hebrews 5:12-14). It does not make any difference what things look like, if God said it, He will do it. Although what we see happening is beyond our personal experiences with God, we should still choose to believe God s Word in spite of our lack of understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

In addition to the Bible itself, we can and should use and appreciate the writings and works of godly men and women throughout history. They were raised up by God to teach others the knowledge of His Word and to lead others in faith (Ephesians 4:11-15; 2 Timothy 2:2).

One example of a Christian work outside the Bible that has lasted for more than two hundred years and has been invaluable to many is the classic, Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan. This is a very good book that gives a graphic picture of the overcoming Christian walk through this world.

However, even in listening to men and women of God or in reading their works, we must prove what we hear to be scriptural. That is a Christian s individual responsibility, as we saw in an earlier lesson. Some scriptures that tell us how to do this, in addition to the material in earlier sections, are: Mark 4:24, Matthew 7:20, and Matthew 12:33.

In addition, here are some practical guidelines for proving or testing those who teach or preach:

  1. Notice the words of their mouths. Jesus said that the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart (Matthew 12:34).
  2. Notice their lifestyles (Matthew 12:33).
  3. Notice the fruits of their spirits (Galatians 5:22,23)

On the other hand, do not expect perfection in any leader. No man or woman has all the truth or is to the place where God is not working in them any longer. There was only one perfect man: Jesus Christ. Men will fail at some time or other. Only God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus will never fail us.

If leaders are put up on pedestals as “stars” or “heroes and heroines”, our expectations will sooner or later turn to disillusionment, and then we will be tempted to judge them. However, we may look to them as godly role models and as examples, when we see Jesus demonstrated in their lives.

Here are some more don’ts concerning our right attitudes to leaders:

  • Do not exalt spiritual leaders as special persons, but do honor and respect their offices in Jesus and listen to them.
  • Do not put them above God.
  • Do not expect them to do our praying for us. Do not expect them to make decisions for us. Check out any counsel with the Word, and remember that we are individually accountable to God for our personal choices and decisions. They may help us come to right decisions based on the Word of God.
  • Do not refuse all of a teaching or all of their advice simply because it is not possible to agree with part of it. We should accept what is right and throw out the rest if we know it is not right. However, if the part we cannot accept is something we may not yet understand, then we would be wise to lay it aside for the time being and study to understand it.
  • Do not have an unteachable spirit so that truth cannot be received when it comes in different teaching or preaching styles or in a different type of word usage.
  • Do not accept a teaching if it does not glorify Jesus and His kingdom. However, a hard word that glorifies God and His Word can be God’s correction to us, when it is movtivated by love for us. Test the spirit (attitude) of the person delivering that word.

We also need to test or prove our calling from God. If we truly are called of God to do a special work for Him, we must know the answers to the following questions:

  1. What has God called me to do?
  2. When does He want me to do it?
  3. How does He want me to do it? (In other words, what is His plan for doing this work?)

In conclusion, then, principles for interpreting the Bible are:

  1. Let Scripture interpret Scripture.
  2. Prove an interpretation in the mouth of two or three witnesses.
  3. Find the first time a certain subject is mentioned in Scripture and study that for its fuller meaning (the law of first mention).
  4. Take the Bible literally wherever possible and as it makes sense. Consider it from the standpoint of God’s power, ability, and character.
  5. Gain familiarity with the Bible as a whole. In other words, get to know the forest, not just what some individual trees look like.
  6. Do not handle the Word of God deceitfully (2 Corinthians 4:2). In other words, we should not make it say what we want it to or what someone else has told us it says. And, do not use it as “fortune-telling.”

Lesson for Section Four

[Author s Note: All Scripture references that answer these questions have been given. Please do not look at the answer pages until the questions have been answered. This is an expository lesson to help Bible students learn more of the ways and Word of God.]

  1. What is the primary rule of Biblical interpretation?
    ___________________________
  2. Explain the principle to be gained from the examples used in the expository introduction about the Apostles Peter and John and their use of the primary rule of interpretating the Bible.
    (Matthew 22:36-38; Acts 5:29-33, 38, 39) ___________________________
  3. What is the second main rule of Biblical interpretation?
    ___________________________
  4. What is the third rule of interpretation that directs us to locate or find a topic or concept where it is first introduced in the Bible called?
    ___________________________
  5. According to this method of interpretation, what would the “stars” of Revelation 12:4 be referring to?
    ___________________________
  6. List the other four guidelines given in the expository introduction to this section:
    1. _________________________
    2. _________________________
    3. _________________________
    4. _________________________
  7. What is one of God’s plans for teaching us His Word, according to Ephesians 4:11-15 (especially verses 11,12)?
    ___________________________
  8. In listening to men, what must we first do (Mark 4:24)?
    ___________________________
  9. What is the Biblical test for “proving” men (Matthew 7:20,12:33-35)
    ____________________________
  10. List the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23).
    1. ___________________________
    2. ___________________________
    3. ___________________________
    4. ___________________________
    5. ___________________________
    6. ___________________________
    7. ___________________________
    8. ___________________________
    9. ___________________________
  11. What are some practical guidelines for proving or testing spiritual leaders?
    1. ________________________
    2. ________________________
    3. ________________________
  12. What is the proper perspective to have of leaders? [See the don’ts in the expository introduction.]
    1. ________________________
    2. ________________________
    3. ________________________
    4. ________________________
    5. ________________________
    6. ________________________
    7. ________________________
    8. ________________________

    [Author s Note: For the rest of the Lesson, refer back to the Review Outline in Section One for Prove All Things, as well as to the book itself.]

  13. A guideline for proving true or false doctrines can be found in 1 John 4:1-8. [Anti means “against” or “instead of” ; Christ means “the Anointed One”. So the “spirit of antichrist” in those verses means someone or something that is against or is being offered as a substitute for Jesus, the true Christ, anointed of God as His only begotten Son (John 3:16).] False doctrines deny:
    1. ________________________
    2. ________________________
    3. ________________________
    4. ________________________
    5. ________________________
  14. We can know if a doctrine is true, if:
    1. ________________________
    2. ________________________
    3. ________________________
    4. ________________________
    5. ________________________

    [When the Spirit of God ministers a strong word, it will have God’s authority, stability, and love undergirding it.]

  15. All supernatural manifestations, such as dreams, visions, revelations, prophecies, voices, and so forth should be tested or proved by the Word of God. We can know something supernatural is not of God, if it:
    1. ______________________
    2. ______________________
    3. ______________________
    4. ______________________
    5. ______________________
    6. ______________________
      Reference: James 3:13-18
    1. God’s wisdom and His manifestations produce good ____________________________.
    2. List some other things from James 3:13-18 that God’s wisdom produces:
      1. ______________________________
      2. ______________________________
      3. ______________________________
      4. ______________________________
      5. ______________________________
      6. ______________________________
      7. ______________________________
      8. ______________________________
  16. Proving and testing our calling from God is a must. We must know without a doubt the answers to the following questions before stepping out into a fulltime ministry (Romans 12:7). If I believe I am called of God, I must know:
    1. _______________
    2. _______________
    3. _______________
  17. Judging is also part of the testing and proving we are to do as Christians. Jesus didn’t tell us not to judge, but rather how to judge (Matthew 7:1-5). How are we to judge?
    1. __________________
    2. __________________
    3. ___________________
    4. ___________________
    5. ___________________
  18. Some people erroneously believe Old Testament saints were saved by works and New Testament saints are saved bygrace. But the law is the will of God, and grace is His undeserved favor and power to do His will. We do not obey the law to be saved, but because we are saved. The law points out sin. Grace saves from sin. Law and grace both are as valid today as in the Old Testament.

    Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.


    Matthew 5:17

    An example of grace in the Old Testament is found in the story of how God dealt with David after he sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband killed.

    And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.


    2 Samuel 12:13

    1. How are saints of all ages saved? __________________________________
      _________________________
      _________________________

      1. Define mercy: ____________________
      2. Define grace: ____________________
    2. How are we to judge ourselves? _________________________
    3. Judging ourselves involves: _________________________
      _________________________
    4. Judging ourselves frees Christians from being judged by God.

      And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.


      John 12:47,48

      Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God .


      Jeremiah 2:19

      1. The judgment of God on evil works can also be expressed as: ____________________
        (See page 16 of Prove All Things.)
      2. As Christians, who took our penalty for us? ____________________
      3. If Jesus took the penalty for us, must we still undergo it? ____________________
      4. How does God chastise His children who are rebellious? ____________________
    5. In judging ourselves, we must guard against Satan’s false accusations, because a) The Holy Spirit reproves or convicts of sin, while b) Satan condemns and accuses.
      1. What is the conviction of God ? ______________________
        Reference: John 16:8; 1 Corinthians 10:13
      2. What is the condemnation of the devil? ______________________
        Reference: John 3:18-21
    6. In judging ourselves, we must not forget the sins of omission as well as the sins of commission.

      Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.


      James 4:17

      1. Define sins of commission. ______________________
      2. Define sins of omission. ______________________
      3. Would prayerlessness be sin for a Christian? ______________________

Anything short of a total commitment to God is sin.


Overcoming Life Memory Verses

The suggested memory verses for this lesson are:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 ).”

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).”


If you want to order the Overcoming Life Bible Study in digital or hard copy books go to the Chapel Bookstore.

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