Issues and Answers

How To Study The Bible, Part 3

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: C A Murray (Host), Lee Gugliotto


Series Code: IAA

Program Code: IAA000367

00:05 ¤ ¤
00:29 Hi and welcome once again to Issues and Answers. My name is
00:33 C. A. Murray. We've been talking about Bible study over the last
00:37 several shows. You ask yourself the question, how difficult can
00:41 it be, how tough can it be? You open the Bible, you study. Well
00:45 it can be if you don't follow a few very, very important rules
00:49 and we've been talking about those rules that help us in
00:52 studying the Bible and understanding what God has to
00:56 say to us when we have this audience with Jesus. Are we
00:59 listening? Are we getting the information as he wants us to
01:03 have it? And to help us again wade through all of that is our
01:06 friend, Dr. Lee Gugliotto. Lee good to have you here once again
01:10 Good to be back. We had a good time and before we
01:13 go to today's subject, before we deal with the issue, I want to
01:17 just highlight a number of resources that you have for
01:21 those who may have their interest piqued just a little
01:25 bit by watching this program. The good doctor has the Quick
01:30 Study Bible Handbook which is something that he wrote or put
01:35 together. And then a number of other really wonderful things. I
01:38 love this Ring Around the Rabbi. I would buy this just for the
01:43 title. And then you have How to Lead a Home Bible Fellowship
01:48 With Christ In Charge. I know these are just a sampling of a
01:51 wide number of things that you have to offer. How do we get
01:54 this material or contact you? You've got material on Bible
01:57 studies, your courses are accredited to Griggs University,
02:00 I'm giving you all of this stuff now. But how do we get a hold of
02:03 you and get a hold of some of these materials?
02:04 The thing to do is to go to our website. Our website is
02:08 www. One more time.
02:17 www. They can leave e-mails, they can
02:23 find our phone numbers. There's a variety of ways to get a hold
02:30 of us. Now you conduct a weekly Bible
02:32 don't you? Yeah, we have quite a few weekly
02:35 Bible studies. We meet on Monday nights. We have several on
02:40 Monday night, we have two on Tuesday night, we have another
02:44 on Thursday night. Those Bible studies have been very precious.
02:49 We've had people that kind of come and go because our goal is
02:53 to train people to study for themselves and to move on and
02:57 start their own groups. We also have morning devotions, 7:30
03:02 a. m. every morning, Pacific time we have devotions. In order for
03:07 people to join our on-line study groups or to join our morning
03:11 devotions, they need to e-mail us their address. So if they go
03:15 to our website, they'll get the e- mail address and they can send
03:19 e- mail to me, or to my wife Jolynn, and they send that
03:24 e- mail to us and we'll e-mail them an invitation and then the
03:29 morning of the devotion or the evening of the study about 10
03:33 minutes before, they'll just click on the address in their
03:36 e- mail and type in the code that's given to them in the
03:39 e- mail and they'll be taken right into the Bible study.
03:42 Uh-huh. Now your life's goal really is to give men and women,
03:47 individuals, the tools for Bible study so that they can get the
03:52 most out of studying the Bible.
03:53 Yeah, you know I can understand why the apostle Paul was so
03:57 thrilled about bringing Jesus to people who had never heard him
04:01 before. He really enjoyed bringing the light of the gospel
04:05 into dark areas and then as he connected with people and
04:08 connected them with God, the lights would come on and that
04:12 was his thrill. Our thrill, my wife's thrill and mine, is
04:16 giving people the tools to study equipping them for study; not
04:21 telling them so much what passages mean or what things
04:26 are saying so that they agree with us. We're more concerned
04:30 about connecting people with Jesus, making him their teacher
04:34 and giving them the tools to study with him in the school of
04:37 Christ. So that is our thrill and we love watching the lights
04:41 come on. I like the idea. You said
04:44 something just a few shows ago. You said, why get your
04:48 information second hand. Using these tools and the word of God
04:52 you can have a sort of one-on- one audience with Jesus.
04:57 Amen, that's the whole point. Getting equipped is not as
05:01 difficult as people think, but it does take practice. You know
05:06 if you realize as I quoted earlier from one of our
05:09 pioneers, if you realize God is going to speak to you then that
05:14 just removes all the obstacles. People get earnest about getting
05:19 into their Bibles. They can't wait to open their Bibles and
05:23 get in there and study. And so if people practice, what they're
05:26 doing is they're meeting with Christ every day and Jesus is
05:30 changing their lives. We have many different levels of Bible
05:34 study and things that we equip people to do, but the important
05:37 thing is to get in there and get started.
05:40 Let me challenge you and at the same time sort of knock the pegs
05:43 out from under an argument which may arise. Because this is
05:46 Issues and Answers some says Lee, why can't I just open the
05:50 Bible and read it?
05:51 You know there's a world of differences; different
05:55 languages, different people, different customs. Everything
05:59 is different. It's so different that it's impossible to just
06:03 pick up the Bible and just read it and be able to grasp what
06:06 it's trying to say. At the best you're going to get little bits
06:10 here and there. The translations we're using, these translations
06:14 in English are doing their best to capture the original
06:18 language and the original sense of words, if possible, but even
06:24 at that English just isn't a very powerful language, it's not
06:28 strong enough, it doesn't have the vigor, the vitality to
06:32 capture Hebrew and Greek and Aramaic. So you need training.
06:37 You know we're not talking about becoming scholars, but you need
06:41 some training and you need tools like a study Bible. You
06:45 need a good English dictionary, a good Bible dictionary. You
06:49 need a Strong's Concordance. If you have those things I mean you
06:53 can really dig into the Bible. And if you've got Bible software
06:57 that'll just speed up the process and put at your
06:59 fingertips numerous tools that instead of having a stack of
07:03 books sitting on your shelf you just go to your computer and
07:07 there they are.
07:09 So for that person that is saying to themselves well here
07:12 comes another batch of rules and regulations, you're not
07:15 trying to make us PhD's. Just give us some simple tools that
07:18 with practice become easier and assure that we get the most out
07:21 of our Bible study.
07:22 Yeah, when we talk about hermeneutics and principles of
07:24 interpretation what's happening is scholars have studied and
07:28 they have recognized certain things that Jesus followed,
07:32 rules that Jesus followed, that the New Testament writers
07:36 followed, that the apostles, the prophets in the Old Testament.
07:40 I mean, the Holy Spirit was guiding and there are certain
07:44 principles that govern their writings. As you recognize these
07:47 principles they give you insights into understanding what
07:51 these writers are trying to say. So that's what we're doing.
07:54 We're not just give people arbitrary rules. We're equipping
07:58 them with insights gained from having studied the Bible. You
08:02 begin to notice relationships and like we said principles and
08:06 so on, that actually should govern the way we attempt to
08:10 understand the scriptures.
08:12 That makes it much less fearsome for someone who is sort of
08:16 tackling this to know that it can be done. All right. A couple
08:20 of the ways that people get tripped up. We want to sort of
08:23 tackle those today. That's the issue we want to talk about.
08:27 So today I want you to wrestle, if you will, with precepts,
08:30 principles, symbols and figures of speech because there's a lot
08:33 of all of that in the word of God.
08:35 Yeah, let's tackle figures of speech and symbols, let's tackle
08:40 those first. Again, I mentioned a few programs ago that some
08:44 people come with a bent toward a literal understanding of the
08:49 scriptures and that causes them problems. Others are too quick
08:54 to leap at fanciful interpretations of the
08:57 scriptures and so on. Let's just say that the literal sense, it's
09:03 not the preferred sense of the text, but suspect the things
09:08 would be literal unless you can see it in the passage that it's
09:12 asking you to take things either figuratively or symbolically.
09:16 Now let's talk about that. Figurative language is
09:20 language that cannot be taken literally because figures of
09:24 speech take natural things and stretch them beyond the natural
09:29 sense of the word. So for example, if we're reading a man
09:33 ran across the street, that's pretty simple, that's literal.
09:36 You can just picture a man running across the street.
09:39 But if we say a man ran across the street like a scalded dog
09:43 now that's a different story. Now we have to compare running
09:47 across the street with a dog going arf, arf, arf, you know
09:51 scalded and just haphazard running down the road. So that's
09:56 stretches the meaning of the word run and so that's
10:00 something you have to deal with. So in the scriptures there are
10:04 numerous figures of speech, many many, many figures of speech.
10:08 Fortunately about 80 percent of, that's about four out of five,
10:12 deal with comparisons and contrasts. So six main figures
10:17 of speech stand out. The first would be similes. Similes are
10:22 statements that show similarity, OK. And similes
10:26 usually are dealing with objects that are vaguely, they vaguely
10:31 resemble each other because a simile is a comparison using the
10:35 words like or as and if you didn't use the words like or as
10:38 you wouldn't even know these objects resemble each other.
10:43 For example, the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. OK...
10:47 How is the kingdom of God like a mustard seed? Do they look
10:51 alike, smell alike, are they shaped alike, same color? You
10:55 You know, do they weigh the same? I mean obviously many of
10:58 those things are not true so when you're looking at a simile
11:02 comparing two things that vaguely resemble each other
11:04 the resemblance is usually one main point of resemblance, OK.
11:10 The kingdom of God and the mustard seed resemble each in
11:14 that they both start off small and they grow into something
11:17 huge, something enormous. If you take a figure of speech and you
11:24 expand it into a full length feature story now what you get
11:29 is a parable. A parable is based on a simile, a very vague
11:34 similarity between usually two entities and now what happens is
11:39 the story, the parable, is driving home that one point of
11:43 resemblance. So in spite of the fact that other sentences have
11:47 been added to the simile, they are not adding more ways they
11:51 resemble each other but they keep emphasizing from different
11:55 angles that one point of resemblance. So for example, the
11:59 parable of Lazarus and the rich man: In the parable of Lazarus
12:03 and the rich man what you have is two men being compared to
12:07 one another; one is rich, one is poor. When they die, however,
12:11 they swap places. Now what is the point of comparison, the
12:16 point of resemblance between these two guys. Well the idea
12:20 is very simple, that you cannot judge a book by its cover and
12:25 you cannot judge what a person's final destiny is by
12:28 just looking at him in this world. You see, people don't
12:33 come into their final reward until after they die. So the
12:37 lesson of the parable is again you know they thought the poor
12:42 man was unrighteous. The rich man, because the Pharisees
12:45 valued wealth, they thought he was a righteous man. The fact of
12:48 the matter is we couldn't tell until after they died because
12:52 no one comes into their final reward until after they die.
12:57 So that's a parable. Now a metaphor is different from a
13:01 simile. A metaphor is where two things that resemble each other
13:05 very strongly are compared and they resemble each other so much
13:09 you don't need the words like or as. In fact, you can call one by
13:13 the other one's name. So Jesus says I am the true vine. What
13:19 Jesus is saying is he and a vine have a lot in common. So in John
13:24 15:1: I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener my Father
13:28 is the husbandman, OK, the vine dresser. It's pointing out one
13:33 point of resemblance right away that just like a vine has
13:37 someone looking after it, Jesus has someone looking after him
13:41 and obviously those who are connected to him. That's the
13:44 Father God. And these you don't have to
13:47 really stretch your imagination to see it. It's kind of right
13:49 there in your face.
13:50 Because one is called by the other's name it's very simple.
13:55 The thing then is that he expands it into a full length
13:59 story. When you expand a metaphor into a story you get an
14:03 allegory. See in an allegory what's happened is sentences are
14:07 added to the original metaphor and what do they do? They bring
14:12 out more ways that the two objects resemble each other.
14:15 Because they do resemble each other in a number of ways.
14:19 So you know Jesus starts adding, he's got branches and the
14:23 branches are pruned and so on to bring out more of the various
14:27 ways that he and the vine resemble each other. The whole
14:32 thing is of course, I am the true vine because there is a
14:36 counterfeit vine. The nation of Israel used to be the vine of
14:41 the Lord, but now Jesus says I am the true vine and the kicker
14:46 is that his Father is looking after him, no longer looking
14:51 after the nation of Israel. The Father God looks after him and
14:56 then of course the lesson of the vine is if you want to come
15:01 under the care of the covenant God then you need to belong to
15:05 Jesus Christ. Then the covenant God will be looking after you;
15:09 he's no longer looking after the nation of Israel.
15:12 Now of course the Bible uses these over and over again,
15:14 they're found throughout the word of God.
15:16 Absolutely. Figures of speech are everywhere. Two more
15:19 figures of speech and I'll just do them quickly. One would be
15:25 analogy. You know, let's see blank is to sadness as a smile
15:30 is to happiness. What is the blank? Well the blank is
15:35 obviously a frown. A smile is to happiness is the key. The part
15:40 of the analogy that's complete is the key. A facial expression
15:44 gives away happiness. What is the facial expression that gives
15:49 away sadness. Obviously it's a frown. So that's how you're able
15:54 to tell which way it works. Paul uses analogies over and over
15:59 again. In fact, analogy was one of the main teaching tools of
16:03 the first century. The rabbis used them. In fact, Hillel, you
16:08 may remember, there were two great rabbis in Jesus' day,
16:12 Hillel and Shamai. Hillel compiled seven principles of
16:16 interpretation, all of them are wrapped around analogies. Jesus
16:21 used at least five of Hillel's seven principles. Paul used them
16:25 all. So they're very important. So learning how to tell what
16:30 analogies are enables you to understand a lot of Paul that
16:34 seems to escape people. Once you recognize that the bigger
16:38 relationship between the things he says makes it easier. Then
16:42 there's also idiom. Idiom is an exaggeration that is mind
16:46 boggling. For example, the apostle Paul says in Romans
16:49 9, he starts off with I'm telling the truth, I'm not
16:53 lying. What he's about to tell is so startling like people are
16:57 going to go WHAT? You can't be serious. So what he's going to
17:02 say is that for his kinsmen according to the flesh, he
17:06 wishes he was accursed, cut off from Christ. Now does he mean
17:10 that? No. Don't take it literally. It's an idiom. What
17:14 Paul is doing is he has feelings that run so deep about his
17:18 disappointment over his fellow Jews rejecting Jesus that he can
17:23 only get them across by exaggerating, stretching. So he
17:28 tells a whopper. You know, like you said, he tells a whopper in
17:32 order for people to get the message. Boy, his feelings
17:35 really run deep. OK. Now those are figures of speech. Figures
17:39 of speech, again, are the same thing as before only they've
17:43 been stretched beyond normal. A symbol is different. A symbol
17:48 doesn't represent itself. A symbol always represents
17:52 something else and a symbol always represents something
17:56 greater than itself. So symbols are like signs. Signs never
18:01 point to themselves, they always point to something else. Symbols
18:04 always point to something greater than themselves. Now
18:08 there were three guidelines for interpreting symbols. If people
18:12 will follow them they'll stay out of trouble. The first one is
18:15 that symbols are so flexible you cannot assign permanent
18:20 meanings to them. Ah, that's important.
18:23 See for example what represents Jesus? Well we could say the
18:27 lion represents Jesus; he's the Lion of the tribe of Judah. But
18:32 a lion can also represent Satan, the roaring lion who seeks whom
18:37 he may devour. At the same time you can't just say a lion only
18:41 represents Jesus because Jesus is also represented by the lamb.
18:47 So they're so flexible you can't assign them permanent meanings.
18:52 Let the context tell you what symbols mean.
18:55 Now that would keep, I say keep us out of a lot of trouble,
19:00 realizing that what may be true in this case depends on the
19:04 context, may not be true over here. And if you try to assign
19:08 the same meaning to that symbol you can get off base.
19:11 You can get into a lot of trouble. Now another guideline
19:14 is that because symbols only approximate. Remember they're
19:18 pointing to something greater than themselves, you cannot make
19:22 the symbol and what it represents synonymous with each
19:24 other. You can't take all the little details and... So work
19:28 with the symbol in the general sense. For example, the head of
19:32 gold in Daniel chapter 2. Don't start trying to make
19:35 interpretations about eyelashes and eyes and the nose and the
19:39 mouth and the ears and all of that and the chin has a beard on
19:44 it instead of being clean shaven I mean, the thing is head,
19:48 general idea. The head is the top, the chief of something, you
19:53 know, in the first place. So work with headship that way. OK.
19:58 The third is the most important. Symbols always follow a pecking
20:02 order. They do. That is if there's a higher symbol in the
20:08 same context, then the symbol you want to interpret gets its
20:12 meaning from the higher symbol. So you always interpret the
20:16 highest symbol first, otherwise you may misunderstand the
20:20 symbols that rely on it for meaning. So for example like
20:23 Daniel chapter 2. Everybody wants to interpret the body
20:27 parts but you can't interpret the body parts until you
20:30 interpret the higher symbol, but body and understand its
20:34 symbolism, then you can understand what the body parts
20:38 mean. So the body for example in Daniel 2 represents history
20:42 that unfolds in the days of Daniel till the end of time.
20:46 How does it symbolically do that? Well are any of the body
20:50 parts out of place? No they're there. They're all in place.
20:55 So that as you go from head to toe, as the symbol unfolds, then
20:59 everything unfolds in order, in its place. OK. Number two, are
21:04 there any gaps in the body? No. If there were gaps in the body
21:08 then it would unfold up to the gap, pause and then resume on
21:12 the other side. So there are no gaps. So the history represented
21:17 by the body is uninterrupted history. And then third, you're
21:22 dealing with a body that doesn't have any amputations. If there's
21:26 an amputation, the history could only unfold up to the amputation
21:30 and then it would have to stop because there would be nothing
21:34 left to continue. So we don't have any amputations so the
21:38 body of Daniel chapter 2 represents history that unfolds
21:41 continuously. So if you're going to interpret the body parts now
21:45 you have to understand that the body represents history that
21:50 unfolds in sequence, in order, uninterrupted and continuously.
21:54 OK. Now let's go to the body parts. What do the body parts
21:58 represent? They represent the kings and the kingdoms that
22:02 operate during that history. Because they're part of a body
22:07 now are they really separate kingdoms that take turns
22:09 dominating the world or are they connected in some way? Are they
22:14 like progressive parts of one unfolding empire that dares to
22:19 challenge the kingdom of God for supremacy? Well very simple
22:23 way to understand that. Go to parallel revelation in Daniel
22:27 chapter 7. We have these beasts that parallel the body parts of
22:32 Daniel chapter 2. The first beast is the lion and the lion
22:35 represents Babylon. OK, we don't have time to go into all the
22:39 symbolism. You can study this for yourself and of course I
22:42 hope you're going to do that because that's what we're here
22:47 for is to get you to study for yourself. So the lion represents
22:51 Babylon. The second beast represents Medo-Persia, it's a
22:54 bear, OK! Question: Where is the lion when the bear comes up
22:59 out of the sea? Answer: Look at the bear. What does the bear
23:04 have in its mouth? Ribs. Three ribs representing the remains,
23:09 it's a carnivorous beast, of its three victims, Lydia, Egypt and
23:15 Babylon. So where is Babylon? In the belly of the bear. OK. Let's
23:21 cut to the chase. We'll go to the fourth beast that comes up
23:25 out of the sea. OK. When the fourth beast comes up out of the
23:31 sea... Let's do it this way. What kind of claws or nails does
23:36 the fourth beast have? In Daniel chapter 7 you're expecting iron
23:42 iron nails, right, or iron claws that's what they are. No.
23:44 Actually they're made of brass or bronze depending upon your
23:49 translation. Where does it get brass or bronze claws? From the
23:53 previous beast, Greece. So Greece is inside of the fourth
23:58 beast. And the object here is to understand that in the fourth
24:05 what Daniel says. The three beasts lose their dominion for
24:08 awhile but they go on, they exist in the fourth beast.
24:12 The continuity then is the ideology goes through all of it.
24:16 Absolutely. Think of it this way geographically. Babylon is
24:20 defeated. Does it disappear? No. Medio-Persia swallows it up and
24:23 expands the borders. Greece comes along and conquers Medo-
24:26 Persia. Does Medo-Persia disappear? No. Neither does
24:30 Babylon, both swallowed up into the third beast who expands the
24:33 borders and then the fourth does the same with the first three.
24:36 So their all connected to one another. They are successive
24:40 stages of one developing world empire. I mean, understand.
24:45 When is Babylon finally destroyed? Well, chapter 2.
24:49 When the rock, the stone, that's uncut by human hands smashes the
24:53 statue. Notice it doesn't say the fourth kingdom but the
24:57 statue, treating it as one entity, on the feet and the head
25:00 of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of
25:02 brass, legs of iron, feet of mixed iron and clay are all,
25:05 destroyed, and I love this part, together. They're all destroyed
25:08 at the same time. Now if you go into the New Testament and you
25:12 look in Revelation chapter 13, verse 1: The dragon stood on the
25:15 sand of the seashore and then I saw a beast coming up out of the
25:21 sea having 10 horns and seven heads and on his horns were 10
25:25 diadems and on his heads were blasphemous things. Now that's
25:29 what it is. But then he describes what it looks like in
25:32 verse 2: And the beast which I saw was like a leopard and his
25:35 feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of
25:39 a lion and the dragon gave him his power and his throne and
25:42 great authority. Did you notice what it is? It's a composite of
25:46 the first three beasts. So here it is. They are interconnected
25:50 in one developing thing. Now, what's the implication of this?
25:54 There are several. Number one because the history unfolds
25:57 without interruption continuously and in sequence
26:02 then you cannot take the body parts and move them around.
26:05 Understood, yes, yes. See all the body parts are in
26:07 where they are and frankly this is not Daniel's idea, this was
26:11 God's idea. So when you try to move the body parts and say
26:14 well this should really be at the end of time and really
26:17 shouldn't be here because it really represents the last seven
26:20 years of earth's history or something, you're insulting God.
26:24 OK. The second thing is because the beasts live on in their
26:28 successor and they exist without interruption
26:31 continuously, then when you start looking, say at the end of
26:35 time, for Rome well it can't be Rome that just comes up again
26:38 at the end of time. It has to be a Rome that's been with us ever
26:42 since it first came on the scene and exists without interruption
26:46 continuously. Now that's a powerful tool for
26:48 correct interpretation, the fact that there's continuity and each
26:52 is part of the successive one. That's powerful.
26:55 Exactly. Now you begin to understand why Babylon is fallen
26:59 is fallen, because it falls twice. It falls the first time
27:03 historically and it's replaced by Medo-Persia you know in the
27:06 succession, but then at the end of time it's finally ultimately
27:10 destroyed and when it's destroyed all the beasts are
27:13 destroyed and the kingdom of God reigns supreme.
27:15 Yeah, yeah. That's a good understanding of the figures and
27:20 symbols and it keeps you, Lee, from error. It keeps you
27:24 centered and it gives you sort of a historicists perspective.
27:28 You can't change the history. Each follows the other and is
27:33 part of the other. Absolutely, absolutely.
27:35 That's a good understanding. Good information. Thank you very
27:38 much Doctor. Praise the Lord.
27:41 Bible study can be interesting, can be fun, can be a blessing
27:44 when you follow a few very simple rules. Our time is all
27:47 gone. Join us again on Issues and Answers. God bless you.
27:51 We'll see you soon.


Revised 2015-07-21