Issues and Answers

How To Study The Bible, Part 1

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: C A Murray (Host), Lee Gugliotto


Series Code: IAA

Program Code: IAA000365

00:01 ¤ ¤
00:30 Hi, Welcome to Issues and Answers.
00:32 I'm C. A. Murray. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever gotten
00:36 a flyer in the mail or perhaps you've turned on your television
00:39 set or the radio and heard a preacher or a teacher talking
00:43 about a piece of scripture, discussing a piece of scripture,
00:46 that sounded somewhat foreign to you. You've looked at that
00:50 scripture and you've gotten one idea from it but what you're
00:53 hearing sounds totally different than what you got from it? Well
00:57 the issue is how do you discuss or how do you look at the Bible
01:01 and read out of the Bible what it has to say to you. That's our
01:06 topic for today, Bible Study. And here with me to really talk
01:10 about this issue is Dr. Lee Gugliotto. Good doctor, good to
01:14 have you here. It's good to be here.
01:15 Now we could say Gugliotto or we could say Gugliautto or from
01:18 Brooklyn you would say Gugliautta.
01:19 That's true. Probably the easiest thing is just call me
01:23 Lee. Most people are relieved to hear the name Lee.
01:27 The good doctor is Brooklyn born and we were talking about having
01:31 sometime in New York myself. But he's traveled the world and
01:36 his burden has been for the last several years Bible study, how
01:40 to study, what to study, how to study so that you're reading out
01:44 of the Bible what it has to say to you as opposed to reading
01:48 into the Bible your own preconceived notions or what you
01:51 would like the Bible to say. So That's our burden today. That's
01:54 the issue we want to wrestle with-how to study the Bible
01:58 and get what the Bible has to say to us. Yeah, Yeah. I guess
02:02 Lee the easiest question to ask is what is Bible Study?
02:06 Well you know there are a lot of answers to that question and
02:11 many people feel certain that their answer is the best. For me
02:16 I think the Bible should determine what Bible study is.
02:20 So let's take a look at a couple of passages and see if we can't
02:24 understand what Bible study is. We could start by looking at
02:30 1 John chapter 2 and verse 27. That's the first letter of John,
02:36 not the gospel. First letter of John chapter 2 verse 27.
02:40 We'll wait to see when we get there because by the time we get
02:43 there everybody at home should be there. I sure hope they have
02:47 their Bibles out. I sure hope they do.
02:49 And are staying with us. That's important.
02:51 Verse 27 reads: As for you the anointing which you received
02:55 from him abides in you and you have no need for anyone to teach
02:59 you, but as his anointing teaches you about all things
03:03 and is true and is not a lie and just as it has taught you, you
03:07 abide in him. Now there's a couple of startling things in
03:11 that verse. Number one you probably want to know is what is
03:15 this anointing that abides in me and what does John mean when he
03:20 says because of this anointing you don't need anyone to teach
03:24 you because the anointing teaches you. Well, let's start
03:29 by talking about what anointing is. Anointing in the Old
03:33 Testament refers to the idea of oil being poured out on a person
03:39 equipping him with the Holy Spirit for his work; usually for
03:44 priests and kings. Now that sounds very ancient and what
03:48 does that have to do with people today. Well according to
03:52 Revelation 1:5 and 6 Jesus has made us kings and priests both,
03:57 you see, to God as Father. So that means that each one of us
04:02 needs an anointing to equip us for our ministry as kings and
04:07 priests for God. According to Ephesians 4:30 we have been
04:12 sealed, every true believer, has been sealed by God with the
04:18 Spirit until redemption day. So we have this anointing, the Holy
04:24 Spirit has been poured out on us and preparing us for our kingly
04:29 and priestly work. And who is this Holy Spirit that has been
04:35 poured out upon us. Well if you go to John chapter 16 and we
04:42 could pick it up at verse 13: But when he the Spirit of Truth
04:47 comes he will guide you into all truth for he will not speak on
04:52 his own initiative but whatever he hears he will speak and he
04:56 will disclose to you what is to come, so the Spirit that has
05:00 been poured out on us is none other than the Holy Spirit who
05:05 is also our divinely appointed teacher. Get the picture. We've
05:11 been anointed with a Spirit who will be with us until redemption
05:15 day and that Spirit is the Holy Spirit who guides us into all
05:19 truth, God's divinely appointed teacher.
05:22 So when we talk about the anointing then are we talking
05:25 about a sort of formal bestowal of the Spirit?
05:28 We're talking about something that happens to every believer.
05:32 See this is not some kind of special ceremony but this is
05:35 another way Paul uses of describing what happens to each
05:39 one of us at our conversion. So The Holy Spirit has entered our
05:43 lives. He is the Spirit who empowers us for all of this
05:47 wonderful ministry that God has called us to but at the same
05:50 time he's our teacher. And he'll be with us until the day of
05:54 redemption, which is why John says you don't need another
05:58 teacher. You have an anointing that will last forever and so
06:01 you don't need anybody else to teach you. And that's a question
06:06 because you know we talked to a number of people about Bible
06:10 study teaching and it amazes me. I would like to know even myself
06:15 I've heard many answers. Why is it that people would want anyone
06:20 else to teach them other than God's Holy Spirit. We have the
06:25 Spirit that guides us into truth He's an infallible teacher. He
06:30 always leads us into truth and every pupil of his gets an
06:35 education that is divinely inspired and divinely transacted
06:40 So why would anybody want anyone else to teach them?
06:43 It amazes me but a lot of people don't realize what God has done
06:49 and so they want to sit under Chehe ministries or other
06:53 ministries reading books and so on rather than actually get into
06:57 the Bible to study for themselves.
06:59 Now having said that you have a Ph. D. in this so obviously
07:04 there are pitfalls that have to be avoided that one must work
07:08 their way around and through. You know, you start off as a
07:11 babe and then you get your sea legs where you get a little bit
07:15 stronger. So there are some things even when we sit under
07:17 the presence of the Spirit when we're going through word
07:20 ourselves that we need to avoid that we need to look at.
07:22 Well one is first of all one of the great misconceptions about
07:27 Bible study. I want to go back to John 16:13 again. OK. But
07:31 he the Spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all truth
07:35 for he will not speak on his own initiative but whatever he hears
07:40 he will speak and he will disclose to you what is to come.
07:44 Verse 14: He will glorify Me for he will take of mine and will
07:48 disclose it to you. Verse 15: All things that the Father has
07:51 are mine, therefore I said that he takes of mine and will
07:55 disclose it to you. Get the picture. The Holy Spirit is not
07:59 original. When he speaks to us he is repeating what he is told.
08:03 And who's telling him these things? Jesus is telling him
08:07 these things. So the first thing we need to understand about
08:10 Bible study is Bible study is not getting in your Bible to
08:15 learn about Jesus. Bible study is getting into your Bible to
08:20 learn from Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit's ministry Jesus is
08:25 our teacher. Jesus is the one who is actually speaking to us.
08:30 Now I think if people understood that more clearly they would not
08:35 elect to take substitutions for Christ as their teacher because
08:39 Bible study is not an academic exercise, it's not a research
08:44 project. It's an experience with Jesus. So that's one of the
08:48 first and most important, I think, misunderstandings about
08:52 Bible study that need to be cleared out.
08:54 Lee, that's an important point. The point I hear you making is
08:58 why would you want to get it second hand? Get it straight
09:01 from the source. You can get it from Jesus, go to the source.
09:04 And if you get it from Christ and getting it from Christ is
09:08 more than just learning facts. Getting it from Christ is an
09:11 experience whereby Jesus is able to transform us and work within
09:16 us and bring us further along in our progress in the Christian
09:20 life. So it's not a matter of, oh I need to look up something
09:24 and find out about it. Every time we open our Bibles we
09:28 ought to consider it an opportunity to be with God.
09:31 In fact, one of our pioneers once said that God's word isn't
09:36 merely written but spoken. The Bible is God's voice speaking to
09:40 us just as surely as though we could hear it with our ears.
09:45 If we realize this that God himself addresses us in our
09:49 Bibles then with what earnestness we would search it's
09:53 precepts, with what determination we would
09:57 open it's pages. Even the reading and contemplation
10:02 of the scriptures would be regarded as an audience with the
10:05 infinite. Powerful, powerful.
10:06 Every time you open your Bible you may not see it because
10:10 you're still in your surroundings but you've been
10:12 transported into the throne room of grace with God and you have
10:17 a personal interview with God and his undivided attention and
10:21 the Infinite One, the God who knows everything, is prepared
10:24 to instruct you about anything and everything you want to know.
10:28 That's Bible study.
10:31 All right, then let's move around because the question
10:32 as we prioritize then we need to wrestle with what then is the
10:39 most important aspect of Bible study? Where do we start?
10:43 Well it's actually now where we start. You have to have a goal
10:47 and that determines where you start. The most important aspect
10:51 of Bible study is clearly application because what does it
10:54 matter if you've been very careful about analyzing the text
10:58 and allowing it to speak to you and authenticating what you're
11:02 getting from the Bible by looking up words and places and
11:06 people and things. What good is all of that if it doesn't change
11:10 your life? I mean James makes it very clear. We're not supposed
11:14 to be just hearers of the word. We're supposed to be doers of
11:19 the word. So all Bible study must be geared in the direction
11:24 that will enable us to go from the scriptures to real life and
11:29 to allow the Bible to have the full impact on us that it really
11:33 should. So before we open the pages I
11:35 think you're saying we have to be prepared in mind and heart to
11:38 say whatever I find here, whatever the Spirit shows me,
11:41 I'm going to do.
11:43 Absolutely. Yeah, you have to come to the Bible prepared for
11:47 change, always come prepared for change. Another thing about
11:52 Bible study-there are two approaches to Bible study. Some
11:56 people study the Bible... I'm sure the audience at home has
12:00 heard these words... Inductively and others study deductively and
12:05 then some blend the two. But let's differentiate between the
12:09 two. The deductive student of the Bible comes with an agenda.
12:13 The deductive student of the Bible has something in mind and
12:17 comes to the Bible looking for support for what that person
12:22 already thinks and is governed by preconceived notions and
12:26 these preconceived notions have an effect on what the person
12:31 gets out of the Bible. Because they're trying to deduce from
12:35 the scriptures what they can that fits with what they already
12:39 know. Now inductive Bible students are different.
12:42 Inductive students of the Bible don't come with any particular
12:46 agenda other than to learn. So when they come to the Bible
12:50 instead of saying you know I need to see if I can find such
12:54 and such in the scriptures or does this back up what I already
12:58 know. You come to the Bible just with the idea I want to learn
13:03 and so I'm willing to just gather information. I'm going to
13:08 hold myself back from drawing conclusions. I'm just going to
13:12 study and I'm going to gather information and then when the
13:16 Holy Spirit convinces me that there's nothing else left to
13:20 collect, then it seems to me I have enough finally to start
13:25 drawing conclusions from the text and without a set agenda
13:30 you can learn virtually anything from the Bible.
13:33 Yeah, Praise God. I think you'll agree with me, the Bible is such
13:38 a broad book, such a comprehensive book that
13:40 if you come with a preconception you will find things to support
13:45 your preconception. You know, whatever it is you come with
13:48 you'll find enough stuff in there to sort of build a little
13:51 platform on. Yeah, that's very true and I
13:53 find that that is the case. You know, we've talked with a lot of
13:56 people; we've been teaching Bible study now for many years.
13:59 Ever since we won that gold medallion for the handbook,
14:02 we found ourselves in the midst of discussions on hermeneutics.
14:08 People at home are probably going Herman who? Hermeneutics.
14:13 Hermeneutics refers to the principles of Bible study. It's
14:17 the machinery, the methodology and the techniques you use for
14:21 Bible study as opposed to interpretation itself, what we
14:26 would call exegesis. That's another fancy word.
14:29 Yeah. I was going to ask you to just take a little left term and
14:33 deal with those two terms: exegesis and eisegesis, what they
14:36 are and what mistakes attend from them both.
14:38 Yeah, you see exegesis is leading out of scripture, you're
14:42 not manufacturing, you're not reading into it. Eisegesis is
14:46 read into scripture what you're hoping to find there, what you
14:50 think you see there. Exegesis is reading it out, so that is the
14:54 actual practice of Bible study. But hermeneutics is the basis.
14:58 It's the principles by which we study the Bible. So a lot
15:02 depends on your hermeneutic and across Christendom there are a
15:07 great deal of things that we all agree on. When we wrote the
15:12 handbook, what we did was we dwelt on these sound principles
15:17 of interpretation that just about everybody agrees with
15:20 and we got a gold medallion from the Evangelical Christian
15:24 Publishers Association because scholars of many different
15:27 denominations looked at the book and said you know I can agree
15:31 with that because the principles were sound. It's when we attempt
15:36 to do the actually interpretation of the Bible some of us have
15:40 extra principles that we use. Some people come to the Bible
15:45 for example and have a very strong literal bent when they
15:49 come to the Bible. Others are a little more open and are willing
15:54 to take each text as it comes and ask God to help them to see
15:58 what is the sense they should take that passage in. And it
16:03 does make a difference because I can remember, this is a true
16:07 story, back in 1958 the Braves were playing the Yankees for the
16:11 world series and I remember it was the last game, ninth inning,
16:15 and Warren Spawn is on the mound for the Braves and Leo Durocher
16:20 is the manager of the Braves. Elston Howard comes to the plate
16:23 for the Yankees, power hitting catcher for the Yankees. There's
16:27 a couple of guys on base and Durocher is a little frightened
16:31 so Durocher calls time, comes running out, comes up to Warren
16:35 and says Warren you know we've studied some movies of this guy.
16:39 You know you've faced him before so whatever you do don't give
16:42 this guy a high inside fast ball that's the last thing you want
16:46 to do. He leaves, runs back into the dugout and Warren goes into
16:49 his major league windup, if you remember Warren Spawn, that big
16:53 windup and fires in a high inside fast ball which Elston
16:57 Howard creams for a three-run homer. Now you'll probably say
17:01 Durocher is probably saying didn't I just tell you not to do
17:05 that. Well the problem is the last thing on our mind is what
17:10 we actually enact, the next thing we do. And so if you come
17:15 to the Bible with preconceived notions, those preconceived
17:19 notions are going to govern the way you view scripture and as
17:24 much as people love the Lord and really want the Bible to speak
17:28 to them, I mean after all, God speaks to us through his word.
17:31 So you want to listen for that still small voice. As much as
17:35 you want to do that you find that your preconceived notions
17:39 do color the way you approach the scriptures and they actually
17:43 taint the results you get. So that is another difficulty you
17:48 you have to get past.
17:49 All right. Before our time slips away I want you to wrestle with
17:52 for me, then given this foundation that we set, how do
17:57 we actually study the Bible? And, if you will, because you've
18:00 spent a lifetime doing this and teaching this, what are some of
18:03 the major mistakes that you see people committing in Bible
18:06 study? How do we do it and what are the pitfalls we need to sort
18:09 of dance around as we try to study?
18:11 Well one of the first things you don't want to do is just rush in
18:14 to study a text. You may assume I've heard things about this
18:18 text, I've been told about this book, this passage, and you rush
18:23 right in to look at that passage The probability is that you're
18:28 going to isolate that passage from its context. The context is
18:33 the world the writer created for the words, people, places and
18:37 things in his book. You cannot understand them unless you see
18:41 them against the backdrop of that world. If you disconnect
18:46 them from the writer's reasons for writing, or the time in
18:51 which he writes or the location he's dealing with and the
18:55 circumstances of the people in the book and the situations and
18:59 so on. If you detach it from those things you can make the
19:02 Bible say just about anything you want it to say. And so
19:07 context is key. You must get the context. To start with you
19:12 should get a big picture of the whole book. Do not rush into a
19:16 passage but get a big picture of the whole book.
19:19 This is important Lee and I want to stay with this just a second.
19:23 Because having taken your course having sat under you, you stress
19:27 context quite a lot. You do not rip a text out of its context.
19:32 So you're saying rather than just dive into that one text
19:34 look at the whole book, look at the milieu that it sits in
19:37 before you go to that text and don't just go there because
19:40 you're going to go sort of off.
19:42 Well you can make a passage say anything you want. So when you
19:46 come to the text you should come to it gradually starting with
19:50 the big picture of the whole book: Who wrote it, when did he
19:53 write it, where did he write, who was he writing to, who does
19:57 he write about to that audience? Why does he write the book?
20:00 And so on. And you want to get an outline of the book so you
20:04 can start to see how parts of the book fit together. If you
20:07 have a particular passage you want to study, you can move in
20:11 on that passage now because you can see where it fits in the
20:14 book. One of the things that people should remember is try to
20:18 study the book a passage at a time. Even if you want to just
20:22 learn what one verse means, don't tackle that verse by
20:26 itself. Look in your Bible, almost any Bible, whether it's
20:29 just a reading Bible or a study Bible like this one, when you
20:33 look in your Bible, you'll notice that there are
20:36 subheadings throughout the Bible Those subheadings are dividing
20:41 the book into passages, that is units of thought, collections of
20:46 verses that are all dealing with one subject or one topic, one
20:50 main character, one event, or so on. So it pays to study those
20:55 verses together as a unit because they're all dealing with
20:58 that topic. Even the verse you want to learn about is part of
21:02 this collection that works together as a single unit.
21:06 So you want to study the Bible a passage at a time. Find out
21:10 what the passage before has to say and the simplest way to do
21:14 that is to see what does the passage before have in common
21:18 with the passage
21:19 that you want to study. Just look at what they have in common
21:24 So for example if I'm studying Psalm 23 and I look at Psalm 22
21:27 which is... You know the book of Psalms breaks up into various
21:31 psalms. Each psalm is a passage. So Psalm 22 is the passage
21:36 before Psalm 23. When I look at Psalm 22, Psalm 22 is about a
21:40 life and death struggle for David. He is under attack. He
21:45 expects to die. His enemies are closing in, they're about to
21:49 destroy him. We see his faith take a hit and then bounce back,
21:54 take another hit and bounce back and finally out of nowhere
21:59 he just suddenly says I will let the whole congregation of the
22:04 righteous know how you delivered me from death.
22:06 It's like whoa, faith finally just triumphs there and then
22:10 he talks about that and then he talks about how he's going to
22:14 let the congregation know, the uttermost parts of the earth are
22:17 going to know about this. He even says that he's going to
22:20 throw a tremendous banquet, a feast that he's going to
22:24 celebrate God rescuing him from this certain death situation and
22:28 everybody's going to come and eat. Even the poor are going to
22:32 come and eat and be satisfied. Well you read all that. Then you
22:37 get to Psalm 23 and Psalm 23 David talks about yea though I
22:41 walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
22:45 evil for thou art with me. Thy rod and they staff they comfort
22:49 me and in the next verse, thou preparest a table before me in
22:53 the presence of mine enemies. There's a connection between
22:57 these two Psalms. Psalm 23 seems to be reflecting on the
23:02 circumstances of Psalm 22 where David was going through the
23:06 valley of certain death. Death was hanging over him like a
23:11 specter and he was fearless about it and by faith he claims
23:16 victory, promises God he will celebrate with everyone and
23:20 there'll be a table and he'll let everyone know that God set
23:23 the table for him because it's God's victory they're
23:26 celebrating. So you see the connection. And then you could
23:30 do the same thing when you look at Psalm 23 and Psalm 24. You
23:34 start looking for what do they have in common. Because these
23:37 passages before and after are going to help you to understand
23:41 basically the context of that little part you want to
23:46 understand. So I mean we could go into more detail about that
23:48 but I mean that's a pretty good idea.
23:51 I'm sort of pausing here a little bit. It's a little
23:54 counterintuitive but it's also very, very important because
23:58 you're saying if I want to really understand the 23rd
24:01 psalm I don't start with the 23rd psalm. I start with Psalm
24:05 22 or maybe even 21, but I get a whole context with that. So
24:09 long before I get Psalm 23 I've done serious study in the verses
24:13 that precede it and maybe even those that come after it so I
24:16 can understand the one that I'm really keying on.
24:18 Absolutely. In fact, if you look at an outline of the book of
24:21 Psalms you know the book of Psalms breaks up into five books
24:24 The first book seems to deal with law and kingship, the
24:29 foundations of the Jewish experience. Then the next part
24:34 deals with the temple. Then you start trying to understand that.
24:38 Why would the temple follow on kingship. Well the problem is
24:42 that not everybody can keep the law, not everybody is perfect
24:46 all the time and not everybody obeys the king, disobeys and so
24:49 on. So what do you want to do with it. If you want to go to
24:52 with it? You want to go to the temple where you find
24:55 forgiveness for sin and you can reconcile with God and reconcile
24:59 with those you've hurt and so on. And so you can see...
25:02 And then Psalm 23 is right in that first section, law and
25:05 kingship that prepares us for the temple. So I mean, you want
25:09 to understand Psalm 23 see it in a bigger picture, see it in the
25:13 bigger picture, so context is very important. The second thing
25:16 that you really need to do is you need to do some analysis.
25:20 One of the things that we show people to do is look for
25:23 repetition. Writers repeat what's important to them the
25:27 more they repeat them the more important it is. So if you look
25:30 for repetition what you're going to see is the way the writer's
25:33 thoughts flow through the passage. What you do is every
25:37 time you see something that's the same, similar or related
25:41 mark it with one color. You find something else. Look at that
25:44 thing. What's the same, similar or related to it. Mark it with
25:48 another color. Pretty soon you have all these different colors
25:51 and you can see how the book breaks up and without being a
25:56 scholar of Hebrew or Greek or an expert in exegesis you can
26:00 see insights into what's happening just be using a simple
26:04 technique. Then you want to look up things. Find out what these
26:08 words meant in the original language. Use a Strong's
26:11 Concordance. You want to see the people, places and things in the
26:14 original setting so look them up in a Bible dictionary and get
26:18 some insights into who they are. Then you can lay out all your
26:22 research in front of you and then you can go verse by verse
26:25 and start pulling things together trying to understand.
26:28 And the way people learn is they ask questions. You know people
26:33 don't just look at the Bible and yep I understand, I understand
26:36 that. As they're going through their mind is trying to
26:39 understand everything. There are certain laws of thinking. What
26:44 we try to do is we try to get what we see to fit what we
26:47 already know. But when we don't understand, we ask questions.
26:50 That's what those definitions and descriptions are for and as
26:53 you start to pull things together it all starts to come
26:56 together. Before you know it, the Holy Spirit has put you in
27:00 touch with the writer and you understand the book and you
27:03 understand the passage and it's been a tremendous blessing and
27:06 and a journey. Praise God, praise God. You know
27:08 we have just begun to scratch the surface of this weighty and
27:13 important subject. Weighty and important because our eternal
27:18 destinies depend upon it. It's dependent upon the fact that we
27:22 have read and studied and know what to do before we attempt to.
27:26 Bible study is as much a Christian life principle without
27:30 which you can't life normal Christianity as prayer. So you
27:34 got to be able to study the Bible for yourself or how can
27:37 you live the normal Christian life?
27:39 Good Doctor thank you so very much.
27:40 It's been great to be here.
27:42 This is just the beginning of a series of programs that our good
27:47 doctor is going to be out guest. Join us again here on
27:50 Issues and Answers as we talk more about these things that
27:53 affect not only today but tomorrow and forever.
27:56 God bless you.


Revised 2015-07-21