Annually, on the first Sunday of the year, I take questions from our congregation in place of the usual expository sermon. Many have shared that it is one of their favorite traditions at Grace Chapel. This conversational sermon style allows us to get into topics and address questions that certain pericopes of Scripture may not address.
I will be honest—though it saves me a week of sermon prep, it is more nerve-racking than a usual Sunday. I am never sure what questions will come, and I have to be ready to give a biblical defense for just about any topic that could be raised. You can watch the first or second services here, which were different questions.
Here is a sampling of the questions I received yesterday that I didn’t get to, and there were many more:
- How should I tithe? Is it my first 10 percent? Do I wait until I’m out of poverty?
- Should Christians watch R-rated movies?
- Are we supporting abortion when we pay taxes to a government that funds planned parenthood?
- How do you move past/let go of what a person believes was their future of promises to a new beginning? As well as knowing full and clear that God is leading you to a new path with new people?
- After confessing to God, should I also confess to those I have transgressed against and if so how?
- Does the Bible say men and women must have a wedding to be recognized as married by God?
- What do you think heaven is like?
- How does God’s mercy work with His perfect justice?
- How to honor god while challenging and wrestling with him?
- I know that God gave us free will, but it also says that God knows our decisions and the choices we will make. If he knows our decisions, qnd the paths we will take, then do we really have free will. Or is what we choose to do not really a choice?
- What advice do you have for sharing the scriptures with people with vastly different worldviews?
- What is the best way to start when wanting to create a positive thought life and end negative self talk?
- Do you think that during God’s creation He chose to evolve somethings? Making both creation and evolution part of the process?
- Can you explain the trinity? Why is there 3 in one God?
As Christians, we must always go to the Bible for guidance. The Bible is an invaluable source of wisdom that can help us make decisions that lead our lives in a God-pleasing way. We need the Bible’s teachings to teach us how to live and make decisions. However, finding answers to our questions it isn’t always easy to do this without making mistakes or coming up with conclusions that aren’t accurate.
We should stay curious and Christ followers and go to God’s Word for answers. But how can we make sure we use the Bible correctly? Let’s look at some tips for practicing biblical interpretation in everyday life.
Read Carefully & Contextually
The first step is to read the Scriptures carefully and contextually. In other words, don’t just skim through them or jump right into interpreting passages without taking time to understand them within their context. This means reading multiple versions of the Bible to understand better what specific passages mean and how they fit together. It also means looking at each passage’s historical context to understand its original meaning and purpose.
I shared in our Q&A yesterday that I will always start my sermon prep by reading the Bible passage in five different translations. This practice alone helps me understand the passage more fully and in context. Anyone can do this with the free or inexpensive tools on the internet that offer various translations.
Take Time To Reflect & Pray
Applying the Bible to life is done by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are not left to our own devices to come up with meaning and application— the all-knowing and all-powerful God helps to apply God’s truth to our life. We must take time to reflect on what we’ve read and pray about what we are reading. Even this morning, in my own quiet time, I stopped to pray multiple times, simply asking that God make His truth clear and relevant to my own life.
If you want your interpretation to be accurate, it’s essential that you as the Lord to apply His truth and the power of Jesus to your life, while respecting the context the passage was written in originally. This will help ensure that your interpretations are based on God’s revelation rather than just personal opinion or preference.
Often, underlying principles can be applied across many different circumstances. For instance, Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” – this is a principle that applies far beyond the original context of this passage and can be wrapped around your life situation. Consider what kind of advice could be taken from this principle when making relationships or career choices. Trust the Lord to help you make sense of your thinking, motives, or actions that should be changed in light of this truth.
Seek Out Other Perspectives
Finally, don’t be afraid to seek out other perspectives from reliable sources such as pastors, teachers, and theologians who may have different opinions than yours but are still knowledgeable about scripture and its interpretation. Reading books, listening to sermons, and reading articles and commentaries are all excellent practices when trying to make sense of a passage’s meaning. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to interpreting scripture correctly; people will give different conclusions depending on their backgrounds, education and experience. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to a more mature believer for help if you’re having trouble understanding a particular passage or topic!
Practicing biblical interpretation in everyday life involves more than simply reading scripture—it requires careful consideration, prayerful reflection, and an openness to hearing other perspectives as well. By taking these steps when trying to understand God’s word, we can ensure that our interpretations are accurate and true while still allowing room for differing voices and views from other believers in Christ! After all, we are all here working together towards one common goal—to better apply the Gospel to our daily life.
So stay curious. Seek out God and his truth by asking good questions. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.