This weekly blog contains expositional Bible teaching on topics related to practical Christian living. 

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Handle with Care Part 7

Handle with Care Part 7:  Application of Scripture

 

Proper handling of God’s Word involves three core principles:   observation (What does the Bible mention?),  interpretation (What does the Bible mean?),  and application (Why does the Bible matter?).  Today, I will address application.


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Handle with Care Part 6

Handle with Care Part 6:   Interpretation of Scripture (Part 4)

 

Distinguishing between descriptive and prescriptive reading of scripture helps prevent us from forming false claims, false hope, and false doctrine. To clarify, prescriptive reading consists of passages which identify a step by step process for Christians to follow.


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Handle with Care Part 5

Handle with Care Part 5:  Interpretation of Scripture (Part 3)

 

For the past several blogs, I’ve argued that handling God’s Word with care requires a commitment to hermeneutics grounded in purpose and pledge of interpretation.  Today, I’ll address the practice of interpretation based on descriptive and prescriptive reading of scripture.


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Handle with Care Part 4

Handle with Care Part 4:  Interpretation of Scripture (Part 2)

 

Last week, I discussed how hermeneutics helps us handle the Word of God with care and addresses the purpose and pledge of interpretation.  The latter includes three premises of interpretation consisting of definitions, contexts, and Truths.  On today, I will address the third premise.


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Handle with Care Part 3

Interpretation of Scripture (Part 1)

 
In last week’s blog, I defined three principles of handling (preaching and teaching) God’s Word with care:  observation, interpretation, and application.  I also discussed how observation enables us to quickly identify misconceptions about Bible “facts” such as the Adam, Eve, and

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Handle with Care Part 2

Introduction to Observation, Interpretation, and Application of Scripture

 

Many people are familiar with optical illusions such as the Old Couple.  Depending on where you look, you may see two older people facing each other or two younger people facing each other beginning from the foreheads to the chins. This begs the question, “How is it possible for you or someone else to view the same thing but have different points of view?”


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Handle with Care Part 1

It’s amazing how we treat a box based on what’s written on it.  Unless we see some clear instructions to do otherwise, we might throw it, stack other things on top of it, or carelessly place it on a floor.  

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How Deaf and Dumb are We? Part 5: The Anonymity Problem

We all have excuses, especially involving our availability or willingness to do church work. Phrases like “I didn’t understand,” “Sorry for being late,” or “The meeting was yesterday?” might

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How Deaf & Dumb are We? Part 4: The Articulation Problem

Moses suffers from five problems that also parallel our challenges as Christians.  The first three problems (am, ambassador, and authority) relate to “deaf” behavior that occurs whenever we hear God’s Word but don’t listen to or apply it in practical ways.  Today, I will discuss Moses’ “articulation” problem that relates to “dumb” behavior because he fails to declare what God’s Word says and fears the consequences of his communication.
 
In Exodus 4:10-12, God counters Moses’ pitiful and indefensible excuse that he can’t convincingly articulate God’s plan to deliver Israel from Pharaoh and to the Promised Land.
 
“Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say” (NASB).
 
Moses claims that lack of eloquence or public speaking skills disqualify him to declare God’s message.  He also states that language and speech impediments hinder him from being an articulate, engaging, and convincing messenger.  Unlike his problems I addressed in previous blogs, this “articulation” problem comes from Moses’ false humility and fear of responsibility.  In other words, he lied and in so doing, squarely rejects God’s sovereign will.
 
Acts 7 records Stephen’s summary of God’s love and protection for Israel throughout history.  He says the following about Moses in Acts 7:21-22: “‘he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home.  And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.”  Stephen’s account is certainly not revisionist history or an attempt to retroactively justify God’s disappointment with Moses. In other words, Moses was clearly aware of God’s providence in allowing him to receive the best education and training under Pharaoh’s rule.
 
God responds to Moses with a staggering series of questions involving the human body and a command that quickly debunk the “articulation” problem.  First, God declares His creation and sovereignty. The word “made” in the phrase “Who has made man’s mouth?” speaks not only of God’s creation of man’s body but more importantly, God’s divine appointment.  Stated differently, God chose Moses to be His prophet and uniquely equipped him with education and life experiences that would help, not hinder, the message. Moses’ mouth is an instrument through which God’s Word would be proclaimed.
 
Second, God speaks of ears and eyes which are the methods through which people would internalize Moses’ proclamation.  Instead of Moses worrying about how people would respond to his delivery, it’s God’s business to judge their response to accept or reject the message.  Did Moses really feel the messenger trumped the message?
 
Third, God removes Moses’ excuse by commanding him to be obedient and speak to the Jewish leaders and ultimately Pharaoh when He says “Now then go.”  This phrase is an imperative or command and not a suggestion. God’s sovereign will, will be done and He will not allow Moses’ fear and doubt to override it.  This idea is echoed in scripture centuries later when Jesus includes the similar imperative for Christians: “Go therefore” when explaining the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19).
 
Despite God’s stern statements, we should avoid any sanctimonious attitude about Moses’ “articulation” problem by pretending we can’t also suffer from the same condition.
 
What reasons do we give God about why we can’t express what the Bible says about life, the Gospel, and salvation?  We may point to limitations in our education or cultural experiences that hinder our clear presentation of the Gospel.  Since when did not speaking the “King’s” English prevent us from expressing our confession? 2 Peter 2:16 reads “but [Balaam] received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.”  I’m convinced that the same God who unctionized a “mute” or dumb donkey to reprove and rebuke can do at least the same for us!
 
We may also convince ourselves that only preachers or “Bible scholars” can proclaim the Gospel.  Not so. Do they have access to a different Bible than us? No. Does God recruit super saints while we wander aimlessly in life?  No. Such self-deprecation is not only invalid but dangerous; it’s antithetical to the Great Commission which Jesus explains “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
 
Wiersbe challenges us by saying:  “God does not need eloquence or oratory; He needs only a clean vessel that He can fill with His message.” 1  Well said.

  1 Wiersbe, Warren W. Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1993. Print.


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How Deaf and Dumb are We? Part 3: The “Authority” Problem

Imagine wanting to share life-changing information with your peers but hesitating because you lack credibility.  There’s no problem with the message but there is with you, the messenger.  People might justifiably

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How Deaf and Dumb are We? Part 2: The “Ambassador” Problem

 
In the previous blog, I discussed how Moses’ burning bush encounter with God recorded in Exodus 3 reveals five problems that we face when hearing God.  The first one is an “am” problem.  On today, I will address the second one:  the “ambassador” problem.

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How Dumb are We? Part 1: The “Am” Problem

Calling someone deaf and dumb isn’t normally a nice thing to say unless they are hard of hearing or cannot speak.  There are exemptions, however, because some people have good hearing but they don’t listen.  They hear what God says in His Word but don’t always listen to or apply what they hear.

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