La Mesa Adventist Community Church

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The Berean Way

Learning to Examine the Bible

Acts 17:10-12

10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.  11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.  12 Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.


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What does it mean to “examine” the scripture?

One of the threshold issues in determining what it means to examine the scripture is to analyze our own attitude with which we approach the process. Do we come to the Word of God with an agenda, intent upon finding proof for a preconceived opinion or position? If so, we need to step back and start over.

The purpose for examining the Scripture is to determine what Scripture says, not what we think it says or what we want it to say or what someone else tells us it says. Any other thought process is the rough equivalent of saying to God “I will tell you what I want to hear and you say it to me.” When our prayer is built around our direction to God rather than His direction to us, we are attempting to put an idiot on the throne of the universe.

So it is with the study of His Word.

When we come to the text of the Bible, our first step should be to leave our preconceptions at the door. The only way that can truly be done is to precede the study of the Bible by asking the Holy Spirit to guide our thought process and to release us from the shackles that bind us to what has always come before. Then and only then can we truly have a frame of mind that which frees us up to allow the text to present what it truly has to say.

Next, we need to read the words. Too often, we read a text that we have known all of our lives and simply brush over what the words actually say. We come to believe that we know what it says so well that we do not feel the need to examine the words. In reality, that is the true starting point for exacting examination of the Bible.

Now that we know what the words say, what do they mean? If you are reading the King James Version for instance, does a particular word that you are reading now have the same meaning that it did in 1611? That will have an impact upon what the text means. As well, what is the meaning of the word in its own setting.

That leads to the third inquiry. What is the context into which the word, phrase or text is set? This layer has two pieces. What is the context within the textual material? Next we need to ask about what is the meaning within the historical context. The book of Philemon is a nice little letter to just another church member until you come to understand the Roman thought process on the issue of slavery. Without that understanding, we will still benefit from the reading of that letter, but it becomes a revolutionary consideration when properly set in the context of the ancient thought process on the relevant issue.

With these simple steps in mind, we are ready to till the rich soil of God’s library of books, postcards and letters to us. 

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