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Summary: Three important keys to understanding the Bible are content, context and clarity.

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3 Keys to Understanding the Bible

Intro: Talk about the Bible…

66 different books

40 different authors

written over 1500 years

Written in at least 3 different original languages

books of history, prophecy, poetry and letters.

And we are supposed to read it and apply it to our modern, everyday lives. This is not always a simple task.

Try this one on for size…

Luke 16:1-9

Jesus told this story to his disciples: “A rich man hired a manager to handle his affairs, but soon a rumor went around that the manager was thoroughly dishonest. 2 So his employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about your stealing from me? Get your report in order, because you are going to be dismissed.’

3 “The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? I’m through here, and I don’t have the strength to go out and dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. 4 I know just the thing! And then I’ll have plenty of friends to take care of me when I leave!’

5 “So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ 6 The man replied, ‘I owe him eight hundred gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Tear up that bill and write another one for four hundred gallons.*’

7 “ ‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take your bill and replace it with one for only eight hundred bushels.*’

8 “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the citizens of this world are more shrewd than the godly are. 9 I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.

Does this mean we should be dishonest about how we deal with others? With money? Does it mean that we should do our very best to get what we need at the expense of others… not to mention our own integrity?

Absolutely not! When we read this passage of scripture we must take look for at least three things…

1. Content – What does it say… not just at first glance, but what does it really say.

3 “The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? I’m through here, and I don’t have the strength to go out and dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. 4 I know just the thing! And then I’ll have plenty of friends to take care of me when I leave!’

Jesus is not holding up this dishonest man as an example… first Jesus exposes the primary goal of this guy… His primary goal is to take care of Number 1 without any regard to how it impacts those around him. His dishonesty, laziness and pride demand that he do something to meet his needs.

And it is true that the citizens of this world are more shrewd than the godly are. 9 I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.

Then Jesus comes to part of his central point in sharing this story… he points out that those who don’t have a relationship with him, citizens of the world, are good at taking care of what they see as their number one priority… themselves. Jesus is saying that we, as godly people, should act intelligently in how we strive to meet our number 1 goal… which is supposed to be growing in the Lord, sharing the good news of Jesus love and grace, and making a difference in our world… which is a matter of stewardship.


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Talk about it...

Robert Heller

commented on Sep 9, 2006

I believe this will be helpful to my congregation in Bible study

David Spirek

commented on Aug 22, 2007

This is a helpful start for my sermon preparation on this topic. Thanks for posting your sermon!

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