“Where is it Written”
It is great to be here in Woodstock. Many have prayed, planned, and worked to help us in the process of coming here.
This article may seem a bit heavy but I believe that we must lay a proper foundation and begin with the basics in order to be based upon the same “rock.”
Jesus is the chief cornerstone. “… built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” Eph. 2:20-21
Romans 10:9 says: “...if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
First, I want to make it very clear that the Covenant Church is a believer’s church asking everyone to “confess" that Jesus is Lord.
Second, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17
While I was learning the history of the Covenant, the common question of the early founders of the church was repeated many times. It was the question “Where is it written?” The Covenant was founded on the principle that what we believe about God is based upon the scripture rather than tradition, cultural influences or feelings.
The problem comes in where people will take the same passage of scripture and believe it says seemingly diametrically opposing things. This really isn’t the “big” problem. Often in scriptural interpretation the difference is really over our presuppositions. We can come to the text and try to “use” it to make the point of our belief rather than coming to the text and allow it to speak.
In order to avoid the “conflict of interest” between our presuppositions and what the text actually says Biblical teachers develop a list of principles that they use in looking at the Bible. Often the meaning of a Bible passage is plain and obvious. When it is not, a few logical principles can be used to help in understanding the passage.
We call this “exegesis.” The Greek word exegeomai means basically “to lead out of.” When applied to the Biblical text, it carries the sense of “reading out” the meaning. The meaning comes from the text. The noun, therefore, could refer to “interpretation” or “explanation.” So whenever we read a passage of scripture we seek to understand and interpret.
Hermeneutics takes this process to the next level and seeks to apply the text into our lives today. Many people use these terms interchangeably.
Stage One: UNDERSTAND:
What does the passage actually say?
Setting: When and where was the book or passage written?
Purpose: Why was it written?
Context: What is the book as a whole about?
Form: How, or in what form, was it written?
Words: What is the meaning of individual words?
Stage Two: EXPLAIN:
What does the passage mean?
What did the passage mean to its original readers?
What is the main point or teaching of the passage?
How does it compare with other, perhaps clearer, Bible passages?
Stage Three: Apply
What does the passage mean today?
What is an equivalent situation today to that of the original readers?
Does the passage have some specific teaching about God, man, the world, the church…?
Is there any action to be taken in the light of the passage?
Does it lead to prayer or praise?
When common sense makes good sense look for no other sense.
These two points of doctrine (believers’ church and Biblical basis) seems basic because it is. This is what the Covenant is founded upon.
“Stages” comes from Eerdmans’ “Handbook to the Bible” (Two copies are in the church library)
Kay Arthur has a little book to help a person begin to study the Bible “How to Study Your Bible”