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Summary: With Dec. 21, 2012 (the END OF THE WORLD!) just days away, it’s a good time to remind our people of 5 principles of interpreting Scripture that will help them not be deceived by false predictions that bring fear and concern. These 5 principles will help

END OF THE WORLD

BIBLE STUDY

5 Principles for Interpreting Scripture

2 Tim. 2:15

INTRODUCTION

A. HUMOR: Lack of Appreciation

1. A collector of rare books ran into an acquaintance who told him he had just thrown away an old Bible that he found in a dusty, old box. He happened to mention that Guten-somebody-or-other had printed it.

2. "Not Gutenberg?" gasped the collector. "Yes, that was it!"

3."You imbecile! You’ve thrown away one of the first books ever printed. A copy recently sold at auction for half a million dollars!"

4. "Oh, I don’t think this book would have been worth anything close to that much," replied the man. "It was scribbled all over in the margins by some clown named Martin Luther."

B. TEXT

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of truth.” NIV

“Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” KJV

C. DOOMSDAY, DEC. 21, 2012

1. We’re only 16 days away from the so-called end of the world, Dec. 21, 2012. There have been 1.9 Billion Google searches of this subject!

2. There’s no real threat on that date; it’s mainly a media event – to make a movie and to increase ratings of news outlets. The media loves a good crisis or controversy!

3. Here’s a few recent news stories showing the public panic:

a. “Russia attempts to quell end-of-the-world panic.”

b. “French officials ban access to sacred mountain which believers claim will be refuge.”

c. “Los Angeles survival groups brace for Dec. 21, 2012 and beyond.”

4. Someone is always trying to predict a “Doomsday.” As French Mayor of Bugarach village Jean-Pierre Delord told the Guardian, "This is the 183rd end-of-the-world prophecy since antiquity.” Obviously, the world is still here!

5. SOURCES.

a. This prediction is based on the supposed fact that the Chinese Calendar, the I Ching, created 5,000 years ago, ends on December 21, 2012.

b. This happens to coincide with the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 -- hence the predicted doomsday date of Dec. 21, 2012.

c. Some posts on the Internet claim that the Books of Revelation or Daniel support this prediction. That is absolutely NOT TRUE.

D. THESIS

1. Tonight I want to talk about 5 rules for interpreting the Bible that will help us interpret it correctly. These 5 principles form the acronym “LIGHT.”

2. The title of tonight’s message is “End of the World Bible Study: 5 Principles for Interpreting Scripture.”

First, to correctly handle the Word of truth, follow:

I. ‘L’: THE LITERAL PRINCIPLE

A. THE DIFFERENT SCHOOLS

1. Since the first century, there have been many "schools" of interpretation, such as the allegorical, literal, devotional, etc.

2. The Allegorical interpretation assumes a hidden meaning behind the actual versus. Thus, the book of Joshua becomes an allegory of the soul’s victory over sin and self. Obviously, this is not the literal meaning.

3. The Devotional interpretation places emphasis on the edifying aspects of Scripture. The problem of both is at the Bible is spiritualized and the same verse may be interpreted in quite opposite directions by different interpreters.

4. The Literal Principle means that we are to interpret the Word of God just as we interpret other forms of communication -- in the most obvious and natural sense.

5. The plain and proper meaning of a biblical passage must always take precedence over our theological persuasions, presuppositions, and paradigms.

6. We can’t interpret the Bible in a willy-nilly fashion (“a locust equals a helicopter”)or we’ll end up with a serious error. If a passage can mean anything, then it means nothing!

B. LET THE BIBLE SPEAK FOR ITSELF

1. Peter said, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” 1 Pet. 1:20-21.

2. You can make the Bible say anything you want (especially apocalyptic literature) if you neglect the literal principle.

3. When our fertile imagination becomes the source of interpretation we are in dangerous territory. Let the Bible speak for itself and just admit up front that there is some you may not fully understand.

4. The task of the interpreter is twofold: to determine the original intended meaning of the verse or passage (what did it mean to them back then), and secondly, to translate the text to the 21st-century (what does it mean to us here and now?).

5. A. text cannot mean what it never could have meant to its authors or its readers. The Book of Revelation never said anything about Dec. 21, 2012!

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