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Final notes for E for E class

About 90 of us last Saturday at the Equipped for Excellence Conference got a crash course in How to Study and Interpret the Bible. It was a lot of fun! There's just no way to do justice to the whole field of  hermeneutics in four hours, but I do hope my seminar and the 'tools' we learned were helpful. I could not have asked for a more attentive, encouraging, and thoughtful class. These people were eager to learn!

We didn't get through the last few pages of our handout, so I have included the material with answers below. At the bottom of this post, you'll also see how I outlined and preached 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. This will  give you an example of how the Teaching tool was applied in my own ministry in the very passage that we studied together.

Thanks again for all who attended!


The ‘So What?’ tool

• Once we have ascertained the meaning of a passage within its historical, grammatical, and literary context, and have used all the appropriate tools of interpretation to learn the author’s purpose, we are finally ready to ask “So What?” Bible Study is never just for more head knowledge. Now we need to meditate on and apply God’s Word! Ezra sets a wonderful example for us:

Ezra 7:10 (NASB) 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

“The great purpose of the Bible…[is] to produce a spiritual effect in the life of the man that reads it…All the historical, doctrinal, and practical truth of the Bible is for one purpose: to promote the spiritual prosperity of man. The Bible is not an end; it is a means. Its purpose is first of all to make us wise unto salvation, and secondly to benefit us in our Christian life through doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:15-17). The end result is that we might be men of God completely equipped in good works.”(Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation, p. 96)

• While there is only one correct interpretation, there are many applications. Now it’s time to invite God’s Spirit to bring many different applications to mind. Ask these questions:
  • Are there any specific commands? What are we to do or not do? Does anything in the Bible limit the original application? What are common obstacles we face? What are common excuses we use?
  • Are there any general principles and behavior? Who are we to be or not be? Where else does the Bible teach this? What would be a specific example of this? What are common obstacles we face? What are common excuses we use? What does this teach us about our beliefs, our habits, our priorities, our attitude, our emotions, and our desires?
  • Are there any examples to imitate or avoid? What would I have done in their shoes?
  • Are there any biblical symbols that give us a fresh way of seeing something abstract?
  • What are the key doctrines, and what actions that should flow out of them? Where else does the Bible teach this? How do these doctrines contrast with modern psychology?
  • What divine promises are present, and how do they teach us what God rewards and punishes?
  • Are there any songs or prayers present? What do they teach us about what we should desire, and how we should worship?

• Narrow down to 1 or 2 main applications.

• Try re-writing the passage in different ways: 1st person; emphasis; contrast; modern lingo

• Consider different areas of your life and different backgrounds of students in your class: child, adult, new Christian, growing Christian, nominal Christian, mature Christian, ignorant unbeliever, skeptic, self-righteous, worldly, from heaven, from God, different occupations - student, blue collar, white collar, homemaker, parent, middle age, retiree

• Try role-playing a situation where this would apply.

• Ask how should I specifically implement change in the next week?

• Practice: Using the questions above, what are some applications of 1 Corinthians 1:1-9?

The Teaching tool

• Teaching is both science and art. What you say and how you say it depends on your gifts, age and maturity of your class, amount of time given to teach, etc.

• When teaching a class or small group, the inductive Bible Study approach is usually best, with heavy interaction from the class. Lead your students on a journey of discovery. Try making up questions to guide you through the text. Six kinds of questions to use:

  • Observation questions
  • Meaning or interpretation questions
  • Doctrine development questions
  • Timeless principle
  • Application questions
  • Implementation questions

• See the series “Preparing and Teaching Bible Studies” by Jack Hughes.

• When preaching a sermon, follow this order:
  • Study your passage using the appropriate Bible Study tools we have learned
  • Write out the main thought of the passage in one sentence
  • Determine the central thought of your sermon
  • Create your outline
  • Write out your preaching notes or manuscript
  • Add your introduction, conclusion, and illustrations

Our tool "workshop" where we practiced using all our Bible Study tools on Saturday was 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. Here are my two outlines and two sermons on this passage, so you can see and hear the final fruit of my own personal Bible study, sermon preparation, and actual delivery:

"Saints in Sin City" (1 Cor. 1:1-3)
  1. The church of Corinth (vv. 1-2)
  2. A message of hope (vv. 2-3)

     Here's the audio:

 "The Riches of God's Grace" (1 Cor. 1:4-9)
  1. God's past grace: salvation (vv. 4, 6)
  2. God's present grace: spiritual gifts (vv. 5, 7)
  3. God's future grace: participants in the return of Christ (vv. 7-8)

     Here's the audio:

Again, I invite everyone who attended the class to keep in touch.
You can email me at: desertpastor at gmail dot com.


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