Summary: The principles of - consistency, figurative language, progressive revelation, caution, priority, application and obedience.

Final Principles

Video Bumper (Bible)


This is our final conversation in our series, ‘Understanding The Bible…’ Week number 10!

MAN – it has been a fun, challenging and rewarding time of study.

NOW – let me give you a heads up on where we will be heading in the coming weeks…

Just a four week series…

9/09 – The Power of Words

9/16 – Out of the Over flow

9/30 – Speak life

10/07 - Truth in love

LIKE – I said this week is the final conversation in our series ‘Understanding The Bible.’

NOW – let me remind you of the goals we set as we launched out on this journey back in June…

Goal #1 – To take a look at the overwhelming evidence that demonstrates (contrary to the onslaughts of modern culture) that The Bible is not just another book or mere ink on paper, but that it really is from God, the Maker of heaven and earth.

AND – this goal was accomplish as we spend 5 weeks talking about things like….

• Canonization

• Transmission of the text, and

As we saw that the bible is – unique, accurate (historically and it’s text) supernatural (knows stuff only God could know… future events and pre-scientific knowledge)

AND HOW DESPITE – being written over a period of 1500 years, by 40+ people, living on 3 continents and in 3 languages

IT STILL – has one single, unifying theme throughout

The Coming Christ

Goal #2 – Motivate, encourage, challenge and inspire people to read the Bible like never before… because it is from God and because in this series they will be given tools and principles that will equip them to understand it better.

AND – we have been attacking this 2nd goal since July 29th by unpacking several principles of Hermeneutics.

AND MGCC – I gotta tell how encouraging it has been for me to see how hungry some of your for understanding the word of God better.

NOW - so for we have talk about…

• The Principle Of A.I.M.

Your aim in studying the bible is to figure out the author’s intended meaning

• The Principle Of Context

AND B/S – when it comes to hermeneutics,

Context is what? KING

And as KING is must rule over our understanding of any passage.

• The Principle Of Observation

This principle is about is about approaching a biblical text like a detective… with a notebook in our hands asking lots of questions and looking for clues to the passages meaning.

• The Principle Of Genre

The bible is full of many different types of genre…

(wisdom, poetry, historical narrative, prophecy, law…etc)

And we must interpret our passage in light of the genre it was written in or we may get it wrong.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me… - Ps 51:5

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. – Pr 16:3

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. – Pr 22:16

AGAIN – these are found in the genre of proverbs, not prophecy (thus says the Lord)…

OKAY – this is where we have been….

AND THIS MORNING – in a conversation I am calling…

“Final Principles…”

AND – what I intend on unpacking today are the following principles…

• The principle of consistency

• The principle of figurative language

• The principle of progressive revelation

• The principle of caution

• The principle of priority

• The principle of application and

• The principle of obedience

Alright B/S - let’s do this…

I. The Principle Of Consistency

AND THIS – is where you ask yourself if your understanding of a particular passage is consistent with what the rest of Scripture teaches.

AND LISTEN – when it comes to the principle of consistency there are…

2 things to keep in mind

#1 – If your interpretation of a verse (especially an obscure one) contradicts clear teaching else where then your interpretation is most likely wrong.

UNDERSTAND – obscure or unclear texts are to be interpreted in the light of clearer texts on the same subject.

AND WHEN - there is no other text to which an obscure text can be compared, you should generally try to put the simplest possible meaning on the words.

AND NOTE ALSO – that it is unwise to build core doctrines based on your interpretation an obscure text… Again especially when those doctrines contradict clearer teaching found elsewhere.

FOR EXAMPLE - some have built an elaborate doctrine based on this obscure and hard to interpret text found in 1 Corinthians 15

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? – 1 Corinthians 15:29

AND BASED – on this text this group of people have adopted for 100+ years the practice of being baptized for someone who is already dead.

From there website

Jesus taught that baptism is necessary for you, and for anyone who has ever lived, to receive salvation. But there are some people who never had the chance to get baptized while they were alive… God is merciful and wants all His children to receive the blessings of baptism, and this is why we perform baptisms for the dead.

During a baptism for the dead, a living, worthy member is baptized on behalf of someone who has already died. This sacred ordinance includes full immersion in water, just as a baptism is performed for a living person… Anyone who is at least 12 years old and is worthy… can be baptized for those who have died.

UNDERSTAND – there is no other place in Scripture you see people being baptized for the dead.

AND LISTEN – to interpret this obscure verse by Paul in this way contradicts the entire Gospel message about personal - faith, repentance, confession and that Hebrews 9:27 teaches that ‘man is destined to die once and then face the judgment.’

SO WHAT – is Paul teaching here…

REMEMBER – context is king.

UNDERSTAND – all of 1 Corinthians 15 is Paul’s powerful defense of the resurrection of Christ.

YOU SEE - he is responding as a theologian to a spirit of skepticism that had emerged in the Corinthian church.

Apparently word had come to him that some people in the church were denying the Resurrection.

SO PAUL – is like okay that what you think, well have you considered the implications of that.

• If there is no such thing as resurrection, then Christ is not raised.

• And if Christ is not raised, that means you’re still in your sins.

• And if this is true, then those who have fallen asleep have perished. The dead are dead. We’ll never see them again; it’s all over.

YOU SEE – Paul is using form of argument, the ad hominem (ad home in nem) argument, in which you argue on the other person’s grounds and show the inconsistency of their position.

Paul, in essence, is saying in 1 Cor 15:29,

“I know some of you people are out there practicing baptism for the dead and at the same time saying that there’s no resurrection. What in the world are you doing it for?”

In other words, he’s showing the folly of denying resurrection and practicing something that would depend on resurrection for it to have any meaning.

But Paul is in no way endorsing the practice of baptism by proxy.

The principle of consistency… is vital to proper interpretation.

And again 2 things to keep in mind.

#1 – If your interpretation of a verse (especially an obscure one) contradicts clear teaching else where then your interpretation is wrong.

#2 – No verse can mean less than what it says but it can mean more in light of other Scripture…


They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." – Acts 16:31

In this verse we see that belief is connected to our salvation.

It cannot mean less than what it says…

And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, - 1 Peter 3:21

In this verse we see that baptism is connected to our salvation.

It cannot mean less than what it says…

BUT UNDERSTAND – both of these verses can mean more in light of other Scriptures…

YOU SEE – other Scriptures that also talk about how repentance and confession are connected to our salvation give the fuller and more complete understanding…

II. The Principle Of Figurative Language

UNDERSTAND – the bible is full of figures of speech & figurative language… “A word or phrase that is used to communicate something other then it’s literal meaning.”

AND AGAIN – this should not surprise us because the bible is written language and language is – full of figures of speech…

“If I told you once I told you a thousands times…”

“Don’t let the cat out of the bag”

“I heard it straight from the horses mouth”

“It’s raining like cats and dogs”

What truths are being communicate here?

OKAY – Let me give you a few reasons why the Bible uses Figurative language…

1) It adds richness to language

“the Lord is my Rock”

2) It attracts special attention

“the tongue is like a fire”

3) Makes abstract ideas more concrete

Like God’s care and compassion…

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. - Dt 33:27

4) It aids memorization (Is 40:31, John 7:38)

5) It abbreviates an idea packing great truths is a powerful package (The Lord is my Shepherd)

6) It encourages reflection (Psalm 1)

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,

“A word or phrase that is used to communicate something other then it’s literal meaning… However, the truth it communicates is literal.”

• The tongue is destructive

• God is a place of safety and security

• God’s care is real, powerful and tender

III. The Principle Of Progressive Revelation

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. – Hebrews 1:1-3

QUESTION – who do you think has more authority when it comes to Scripture The Prophets or the Son?

AND WHO – do you think spoke with a greater understanding of the full and complete revelation of God the prophets or the Son?

B/L we interpret…

• The OT, in light of the NT

• The lower, in light of the higher

• The incomplete, in light of the complete

• The shadow, in light of the reality

• The promises, in light of their fulfillment (in Christ and in His church)

In other words the NT is the hermeneutical norm.

LIKE – if Jesus, Mark, Luke, Matthew, John, Paul, Peter…etc say this is what an OT promise or prophecy means, that is what it means.

UNDERSTAND – the Bible is not level on all subjects…

LIKE – the way of salvation…

In the Gospels – when people ask what can they do to have eternal life… answer follow the law

After the cross when people ask… - repent and be baptized.

IV. The Principle Of Caution

QUESTION – is the diet of a newborn baby any different than the diet of a 24 year old?

SURE – it is? Why? Because there are some things that a three month old is just not ready to eat.

HERE – is another question.

Can something we eat ever mess us up?

Food poisoning (China July of 2005)

HEY – do you see where I am going with this?

LET – me tell you, there is something that scares me as much as people in church not reading and studying the word…

AND – that is when people start eating just anything that is out there in books, on TV, podcasts, conferences, etc…

GUYS – you need to be careful about what you eat…

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. – 1 John 4:1

If you are new to the bible don’t start in Daniel or Revelation…

Start in – John or Mark, then maybe… James, Ephesians, Genesis

V. The Principle Of Priority

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. – 1 Cor 15:3,4

DID – you catch what Paul said in those verses?

HE – says that there are some truths which are of “first importance.” AND – what are those of first importance truths?

THE - death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

UNDERSTAND – the Bible is not a flat landscape.

INSTEAD - it has great variety in contour and geography

I MEAN - there are mountain peaks, ridges and valleys...

LISTEN THOUGH - every word of the Bible is important, not every word is equally important.

AND THOUGH - every text contributes to the whole, not every text is of equal weight.

FOR EXAMPLE - the apostle Paul spoke regarding both the resurrection of Christ and the jewelry of women.

QUESTION – are these topics of equal importance?

Of course not!

I MEAN - we can disagree regarding jewelry, but to disagree regarding the Resurrection could prove fatal.

NOW - does that mean that parts of the Bible have no value?

No. It just means that some parts have more value than others.

LET ME – try to illustrate this…

I am holding three bills… a 1,5 and 10 dollar bill

Which bill has the greatest value?

Does that mean that the other two have no value?

NO – they just have different values.

BOTTOM LINE - the wise Bible student knows which verses are $1 verses and which are $10 verses.

The good student majors in the majors and minors in the minors.

AND GUYS – if we are not careful we could end up getting this backwards (the religious people in Jesus’ day did just that).

CHECKOUT – Matthew 23;

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. - Matt. 23:23,24

MGCC – if we are not careful we may find ourselves (like them) straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.

Focusing on, spending our time and energy on - something obscure and hard to understand…

WHILE IGNORING – things that are easy to understand and that are of higher importance and of greater value that God talks about all through His Word, things like…

(love, faith, humility, compassion, forgiveness...)

VI. The Principle Of Application

The goal of application is to take a text written to a specific group of people, in a certain place, facing a particular situation and use that text to deal with contemporary issues in our life and time.

Exegesis pulls the principles from the text while Application places those principles in modern contexts. In other words, we draw from a time bound text a timeless truth for a timely situation.


SO IF – we have situations that are similar, we can use the text specific commands and apply it to our modern situations.

For example… here are some specific commands that still find similar situations today…

• Husbands love you wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25)

• If someone sins against you, you need to first go to that person privately (Matthew 18:15)

• Children obey your parents (Ephesians 6:1)

• Fathers do not exasperate your children, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

• Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (Col 3:13)

• Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what it helpful to build others up according to their needs. (Eph 4:19)

• Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

Now if the situations are different, are dissimilar… this is where we need to do some work and uncover the general principle that lays with the text.

Here are 2 examples…

Greet one another with a holy kiss. – Romans 16:16

QUESTION – if we did that next Sunday would it have the same meaning as it did back then?

(note mention 5 times)

It meant a warm, welcoming and friendly greeting.

So how could we apply that today?

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. – John 13:14

Today it would mean I am honoring you

Back then it was just a servant do his job.

It was an act of service…

What are some ways we could apply that same principle today.

UNDERSTAND – this is the goal of Biblical interpretation…

TO – discover these principles, and appropriately (and humbly) suggest actions that in our day will allow the body of Christ to live out these commands and principles in our everyday life and interactions.

Simply put, we don’t correctly understand the Bible until we do what it says. That is not to simply say that can understand something intellectually and not obey it.

I’m suggesting that true understanding involves existential involvement so that you don’t correctly understand something until you practice it. – Mark Moore

VII. The Principle Of Obedience

Application - is the understanding of how you are to live out a particular passage of Scripture.

Obedience – is actually living that passage out in your life.

OKAY… - I would like to plagiarize 1 Corinthians 13

If I memorize the entire Bible and can read both Greek and Hebrew but do not apply it to my life, I know nothing.

If I understand theology, philosophy, and sociology but to not live out the words in the text, I prove nothing.

If I can fathom all mysteries and solve all problem passages, but I do not love God or my fellow man better, I accomplish nothing.

We are convinced that the single most serious problem people have with the bible is not with a lack of understanding, but with the fact that they understand most things too well.

The problem with such a text as “Do everything without complaining and arguing” (Phil 2:14), for example, is not with understanding it, but with obeying it – putting it into practice.

– Gordon Fee (Understanding The Bible For All It’s Worth).

“If you love me, keep my commands… Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”…

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. – John 14:15, 23,24

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him.

– 1 John 2:3-5

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31,32

As the rain and the snow

come down from heaven,

and do not return to it

without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

12 You will go out in joy

and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and hills

will burst into song before you,

and all the trees of the field

will clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper,

and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.

This will be for the LORD’s renown,

for an everlasting sign,

that will endure forever. – Isaiah 55:10-13