• Please pray for me, I Rev. Chinnasamy Charles the pastor of Robertsham Baptist Church in South Africa. Our church can’t financial sustain me from me from this coming month after 25 years of full time ministry. Trusting in our God for a financial miracle in our church. Nothing is impossible with God. I am 53 old. Please pray me. Email: Charles.chinasamy1@gmail.com
    1. Here are the standards for handing the Word of God and a good foundation to use ensuring accuracy in every study. CHRISTOPHER WAYNE MILLER·TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2018 The Bible is not meant to be read it is meant to be to be studied and obeyed. How can we expect God to speak to us when we haven’t taken serious what he has spoken already in the Word. We are to study it as a whole for the true meanings and apply it’s truths to the everyday issues of life. If it wasn't for the Word of God we would not have a solid foundation to keep us from the delusions of sin and every false way. God will never contradict His Word so in the haze of uncertainty look to the Word for the answer that is both true and absolute for all time (eternal) . The devil as an angel of light he lies to us as if sent by God he will use the word too impersonate God. I know this by personal experience and by the Word. Satan as an angel of light speaks to us in the spirit and we think it is God. He even impersonates Jesus himself to us. Only the Word of God that never changes and is external is to be trusted and we are to use it to examine ourselves by. As the Bible says “Our heart are deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Depravity renders us totally unable to look within our self, we are spiritually blind The only trustworthy thing we have is the Word of God. It is established truth applicable to all aspect of life and it stands eternal. Studying and applying it should be priority number one throughout life. Remain transparent and accountable to the Word and those faithful to it! May it bless the doers of the Word according to the grace of God through Jesus and glory to God. First Prayer a for Wisdom and Revelation for myself than for all of the saints of our age. Ephesians 1 :15-23 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, 18 since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened – so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. 20 This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms 21 far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things. 23 Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. In Jesus' name. Amen In Christ Jesus’ name I pray for myself and all of the saints. Eph 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Eph 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; Eph 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, Eph 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Eph 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Eph 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: Eph 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Eph 3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, Eph 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; Eph 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, Eph 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; Eph 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. 1 Thes 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. I will start with how to interpret then move onto The expository method of Bible study which focuses on an exegetical investigation of the Bible and teaches the individual how to study the Word of God for himself. Here is an online the Bible, Bible Study Tools and an important video by RC Sproul on How to Study the Bible: I am providing various course documents on line, which you are free to download. Let me remind you that these course materials are very much works in progress. They are tentative in nature, and subject to repeated alteration and improvement. Not everything in them represents settled views on my part. The relationship between hermeneutics and exegesis Basically the distinction boils down to this (as it pertains to the Bible*): Hermeneutics is the field of study concerned with how we interpret the Bible. Exegesis is the actual interpretation of the Bible by drawing the meaning out of the Biblical text. https://www.monergism.com/search?keywords=hermeneutics+exegesis+++&format=All http://campus.wts.edu/~vpoythress/nt123/1LAll2016.pdf https://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/5-keys-spiritual-growth-2005-national-conference/how-to-study-the-bible/ [2 Peter 1:19,20 NAS] "And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation." We can’t have a "sure word" about the meaning of Scripture (or anything else) unless we have a sure method to interpret the words.The following eight rules are the center of all grammatical interpretation. They have been accepted and used by scholars from Socrates to the present. While my hope is that they will be used to “rightly divide the word of truth” of the Holy Bible, they are equally applicable to legal, historical, and other such language.Since the Bible teaches that God is not the author of confusion [1 Cor. 14:33], how can the many disagreements today between Christians and the proliferation of the cults be explained since all, or nearly all, claim to use the Bible as the basis of their doctrines?Nearly all false doctrines taught today by Christians and cultists alike can be traced to the distortion of the meaning of Biblical words. These eight rules are prayerfully offered in the hope that they may help many come to the truth of what God says in His Word.The Rev. Guy Duty said in his book Divorce & Remarriage: "When two interpretations are claimed for a Scripture, the construction most in agreement with all the facts of the case should be adopted. When all the facts of an interpretation are in agreement they sound together in harmony, like notes in a chord. Biblical interpretation is more than knowing a set of rules, but it cannot be done without the rules. So, learn the rules, and rightly apply them…." (Divorce & Remarriage, Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1967) Now beginning with Hermeneutics: The Eight Rules of Biblical Interpretation Here are the eight rules: The rule of DEFINITION: What does the word mean? Any study of Scripture must begin with a study of words. Define your terms and then keep to the terms defined. The interpreter should conscientiously abide by the plain meaning of the words. This quite often may require using a Hebrew/English or Greek/English lexicon in order to make sure that the sense of the English translation is understood. A couple of good examples of this are the Greek words "allos" and "heteros". Both are usually translated as "another" in English – yet "allos" literally means "another of the same type" and "heteros" means "another of a different type." The rule of USAGE: It must be remembered that the Old Testament was written originally by, to and for Jews. The words and idioms must have been intelligible to them – just as the words of Christ when talking to them must have been. The majority of the New Testament likewise was written in a milieu of Greco-Roman (and to a lesser extent Jewish) culture and it is important to not impose our modern usage into our interpretation. It is not worth much to interpret a great many phrases and histories if one’s interpretations are shaded by pre-conceived notions and cultural biases, thereby rendering an inaccurate and ineffectual lesson. The rule of CONTEXT: The meaning must be gathered from the context. Every word you read must be understood in the light of the words that come before and after it. Many passages will not be understood at all, or understood incorrectly, without the help afforded by the context. A good example of this is the Mormon practice of using 1 Cor. 8:5b: "…for there be gods many and lords many…" as a "proof text" of their doctrine of polytheism. However, a simple reading of the whole verse in the context of the whole chapter (e.g. where Paul calls these gods "so-called"), plainly demonstrates that Paul is not teaching polytheism. The rule of HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: The interpreter must have some awareness of the life and society of the times in which the Scripture was written. The spiritual principle will be timeless but often can’t be properly appreciated without some knowledge of the background. If the interpreter can have in his mind what the writer had in his mind when he wrote – without adding any excess baggage from the interpreter’s own culture or society – then the true thought of the Scripture can be captured resulting in an accurate interpretation.Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Our only interest in the past is for the light it throws upon the present." The rule of LOGIC: Interpretation is merely logical reasoning. When interpreting Scripture, the use of reason is everywhere to be assumed. Does the interpretation make sense? The Bible was given to us in the form of human language and therefore appeals to human reason – it invites investigation. It is to be interpreted as we would any other volume: applying the laws of language and grammatical analysis. As Bernard Ramm said: "What is the control we use to weed out false theological speculation? Certainly the control is logic and evidence… interpreters who have not had the sharpening experience of logic…may have improper notions of implication and evidence. Too frequently such a person uses a basis of appeal that is a notorious violation of the laws of logic and evidence." (Protestant Biblical Interpretation, Boston: W. A. Wilde, 1956) The rule of PRECEDENT: We must not violate the known usage of a word and invent another for which there is no precedent. Just as a judge’s chief occupation is the study of previous cases, so must the interpreter use precedents in order to determine whether they really support an alleged doctrine. Consider the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12 who were called "noble" because they searched the Scriptures to determine if what Paul taught them was true. The rule of UNITY: The parts of Scripture being interpreted must be construed with reference to the significance of the whole. An interpretation must be consistent with the rest of Scripture. An excellent example of this is the doctrine of the Trinity. No single passage teaches it, but it is consistent with the teaching of the whole of Scripture (e.g. the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are referred to individually as God; yet the Scriptures elsewhere teach there is only one God). The rule of INFERENCE: An inference is a fact reasonably implied from another fact. It is a logical consequence. It derives a conclusion from a given fact or premise. It is the deduction of one proposition from another proposition. Such inferential facts or propositions are sufficiently binding when their truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence. Competent evidence means such evidence as the nature of the thing to be proved admits. Satisfactory evidence means that amount of proof which would ordinarily satisfy an unprejudiced mind beyond a reasonable doubt. Jesus used this rule when he proved the resurrection of the dead to the unbelieving Sadducees in Matt. 22:23-33. See also: Discernment — the act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment.Learning these eight rules and properly applying them will help keep any interpreter from making errors and will hopefully alleviate many of the disagreements unfortunately present in Christianity today. However, these eight principles are no substitute for the Holy Spirit which will, if you let Him, guide you in the truth [John 14:26]. If you receive Christ into your heart, God will give you the Holy Spirit freely as a gift [Acts 2:38]. I urge you, if you have not already done so, to examine the claims and the work of Jesus Christ and to receive Him as your Savior.This paper will close with some words from King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, accepting our Lord Jesus Christ: "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb, and the interpretation." [Prov. 1:5,6] http://www.reformedontheweb.com/Pin_scrp.PDF https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2_4TWZBc54 The expository method of Bible study seeks to present truths, concepts and principles that are taught by a Scripture passage. WHY USE THIS METHOD OF BIBLE STUDY? Many books have been written on the subject of how to study the Bible. This method's value is that is teaches the expository method of studying Scripture, which focuses on an exegetical investigation of the Bible and teaches the individual how to study the Word of God for himself. The expository method of Bible study seeks to present truths, concepts and principles that are taught by a Scripture passage. It does not impose a meaning on a passage, but seeks a meaning from the passage. The basis of true expository Bible study is a thorough "exegesis" of the passage. In exegesis one seeks to investigate the literal meaning of each word of Scripture. The definition of each word is considered with its relationship to the other words in its context. ("context," refers to the verses before and after a verse and involves the environment, situation, and background in which you find a word or verse) In using this method of Bible study, you will be researching and gathering material about passages of Scripture. This method will help you to develop a systematic plan to follow in studying the Bible. It centers on completing a work sheet where the information is recorded. In completing the Work Sheet you will be amassing much information about the passage you are studying. All this accumulated information will help you to determine the correct meaning of a portion of Scripture. Knowing the meaning of a passage will enable you to discover the spiritual truths God wants revealed and their practical application in life. At the heart of this study is the Biblical truth of the "verbal plenary inspiration" of Scripture. The doctrine of "verbal plenary inspiration" teaches that every word of Scripture is inspired by God. God used human writers who He directed through the Holy Spirit to record His Word. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they wrote what God wanted said without error. What they wrote, in the original manuscripts was exactly what God wanted to say. The Bible proclaims this truth in these passages: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect,thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:21) The true child of God has a longing to know the Bible. He needs to learn how to study the Bible for himself. This is vital! Our philosophy of Biblical education today appears to be what could be called "spoon feeding." The believer depends on his pastor, Sunday School teacher, or writer of a book to feed him spiritually. However, preaching, teaching and reading books aboutthe Bible should be only part of one's spiritual diet. Each child of God, in addition to being taught by others, should be able to study the Bible and learn its principles for himself. Modern disciples of the Lord Jesus should be able to go to God's Word and spiritually feed himself and be able to defend his convictions from Scripture. We all should be students of the Bible, and hone our skills in the Word of God that we might be better instruments to reach others for Christ. God has commanded each of us to be Bible students and teachers. Our responsibility is to KNOW the Word ourselves, that we might be able to feed our own spiritual souls by feasting the on sincere meat of God's Word. The love of God is the best motivation for the believer to follow Christ. This love comes from knowing God. We can only know Him from His Word, which is the Bible. This is the power of the expository method of Bible study. This method teaches the pure Word of God as the Holy Spirit guides, inspires and nourishes us as we study. The emphasis of expository Bible study is in verse by verse examination of the Word of God. By using this method, after your study is complete, the correct interpretation and application of the verses will become clearer. You will be less likely to impose YOUR meaning on the Scripture or a meaning that is not correct. You will be letting God interpret His Word and you will understand what God truly said and meant. As you read this material - pray, ask God for strength, and for wisdom. Then make a personal commitment to put the amount of time and dedication into this study that will allow God to shape you into a more useful servant. Remember, this method is not easy or quick. It is not a short-cut to Bible training. It will require time. Before you begin, realize that this could be the turning point in your becoming a better, more skillful Bible student. It could have eternal benefit in the souls and lives of the ones God sends your way! All Christians are teachers. We teach at home, work and in daily routines of life. Some Christians have the privilege to teach from pulpits; some in classes such as Sunday School and in Bible Study classes. No matter where you are teaching this method will be of help to you. (See II Timothy 4:2) For those without formal college training this course can teach them how to study the Bible. It will help the pastor whose training has been limited to topical sermon preparation learn the expository method. The Sunday School teacher after learning this method of study will be better able to teach from the Bible and be less dependent on prepared lessons. It will teach the believer to feed himself from God's Word and become confident their knowledge of the Bible. This book is divided into two sections. Chapter One will instruct you in use of the Expository Work Sheet that will guide you step by step toward learning the expository method of Bible study. Chapter Two, will deal with the literal method of interpreting Scripture. It will teach the principles which are the basis of the expository method of Bible study. May God richly bless you as you study. Cooper P. Abrams, III Romans 12:1-2 THE OBJECTIVES OF THE EXPOSITORY BIBLE STUDY METHOD This is a practical, hands on, course designed to develop Bible Study skills by learning how to research expositorily a verse or passage of Scripture. The objectives of the method are: 1. To teach how to study and correctly interpret the Scriptures. 2. To teach how to develop a Sunday School lesson, devotional or sermon. 3. To become familiar with Bible study helps such as dictionaries, handbooks, and concordances. 4. To build confidence in one's ability to understand the Bible and to teach others. The procedures of the method are: 1. The chief activity will be personal study and practice using the Work Sheet and course instructions to guide you. 2. You will be studying passages of Scripture in detail to decide what they are saying. 3. Practical hands on use of Bible and Bible study helps will help build confidence. 4. You will learn how to start a good Bible reference library. Recommended Bible Study Helps: 1. A Study or Reference Bible 2. A Bible Dictionary 3. A Bible Concordance 4. A Bible Handbook 5. Word Study Books. (A detailed list of these books are found on pages 2-4) CHAPTER ONE EXPLANATION OF THE WORK SHEET Introduction The Work Sheet is your guide to properly studying a passage of Scripture. If you follow the outline of the Work Sheet your study will naturally develop. Do not omit any section. This course will refer to the product of your study as a lesson or sermon. This course's primary goal is to teach the expository method of Bible study. It is an added benefit that it also teaches how to prepare a Bible lesson or sermon. Sometimes lessons are one sided, being either all application or all technical information and background. This course will teach how to use both to develop a well rounded lesson that will be interesting and easier to teach. The main reason we teach and study is to make a practical application of Scriptures in our lives. Often in a lesson or sermon the context, technical information, and background of a passage is ignored. The result is the true application is missed, because the passage is not fully understood. With a proper understanding and presentation of the context, technical information and background, often the passage usually teaches itself. It is interesting and more important, if presents God's truth in a way that can be applied to our lives. Another added benefit of this method is that it gives the teacher and Bible student confidence. When you stand before the class to teach or in your personal study of Scripture you KNOW what the passage says and means! You know what God wants you to know. Each step in the "Explanation of the Work sheet" corresponds numerically to the Work Sheet. The Work Sheet is a guide to lead you in fully examining the passage of Scripture you are studying. It may at first seem awkward, but as you continue to use it you will begin to see its value. Remember this is not a short cut or quick method of Bible study - it requires time. Christ said, "seek and you will find." This method of Bible study is for the "seeker" - who by the way - will reap the blessings of being a "finder." "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee . . .I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. . . I will delight myself in thy statues . . .I will not forget thy word." Psalms 119:11, l5-l6. Our prayer should be: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Law" Psalms. 119:l8 A GUIDE TO BIBLE STUDY HELPS This course will use Bible Study helps in investigating various passages of Scripture. The following is a list of recommended helps and a brief description of each study help or aid. We are very fortunate to live in this age when we have so many valuable aids to Bible study. These books will be a good addition to your library. Only a few of the study helps available are listed below. If you were to have these books as a beginning library you would have an excellent start on building a useful library. Do not be discouraged if you do not have all the reference books listed. If all you have now is a Reference Bible, you have a great resource available to you. It would be a good investment to purchase at least one book in each category listed below. In time you might like to have several Bible handbooks, dictionaries or commentaries. Building a library is a life time endeavor. WHERE TO BUY STUDY HELPS AND REFERENCE MATERIALS There are many sources for Christians books including local Christian book stores. At Christians book stores you will normally pay full retail price for the book. Compare the prices of several sources before you buy and look for sales. We need to be good stewards of the money God gives us to use. The following two companies consistently offer reference materials at reduced prices: Scripture Truth Book Company, P.O. Box 339, Fincastle, VA 24090. - Send for a subscription to their monthly book list. Orders: 1 540-922-1273 Fax: 1 540 922-5042 Web Site: Scripture Truth Web Site Christian Book Distributors, Box 3687, Peabody, MA 01961-3687. - Write or call for a catalog. 1 508 977-5000- Web Site: Christian Book Dist. Web Site Amazon.com Web Site: - New and used reference works at really good prices. List of Other Discount Book Web Sites A LIST OF STUDY HELPS AND REFERENCE BOOKS BIBLE HANDBOOKS Halley's Bible Handbook, Henry H. Halley, Zondervan Publishing House Unger's Bible Handbook, Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press A Bible Handbook is arranged by the Books and Chapters of the Bible. It contains a wealth of information about the Bible. It includes, as the title page of Halley's Bible Handbook states, "A General View of the Bible, Heart thoughts of the Bible, Remarkable Archaeological Discoveries, Notes on Each of The Bible Books, Miscellaneous Bible Information, Notes on Obscure Passages, Related Historical Data, An Epitome of Church History, Suggestion on Church-Going."(1) This information is invaluable in understanding the historical situation of the Scripture you are investigating. There are many pictures, charts and diagrams found throughout the handbook that greatly aids in understand the historical situation of portions of Scripture. For example: The reference to Genesis 10-11, give a great deal of information concerning Egyptian history, including the Egyptian dynasties, past wars, and chronology of the period. This background information will help you to understand the period of time between the Flood and Abraham. BIBLE DICTIONARIES Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago. Zondervan's Pictorial Dictionary of the Bible, Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Publishing House,Grand Rapids, Mich. Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Herbert Lockyer, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Camden, New York. A Bible Dictionary is an alphabetical listing of the all the major words found in the Bible with their meanings. A Bible Dictionary is more like an encyclopedia than just a simple word dictionary. For example: it will list all the proper names found in the Bible, with not only its pronunciation and meaning, but also will give information about the various persons in the Bible that had that name with related Scripture references. A Bible Dictionary will furnish information on such things as money, tools, customs, geography, cities, towns and countries. It will list each Book of the Bible with an outline and historical data such as the author, date, addressee, subject and content. A CONCORDANCE OF THE BIBLE Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong, MacDonald Publishing Company. Young's Analytical Concordance of the Bible, Robert Young, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Layman's English-Greek Concordance, James Gall, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1975 The Englishman's Greek Concordance of the New Testament, George V. Wigram, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich, 1979. A Bible concordance is an alphabetical listing of every word found in the Bible with every verse in which it is used listed. If you know only one word of a verse you can use a concordance to find the reference you are looking for. The first two concordances listed above are "exhaustive concordances." This means that every occurrence of the word in the Bible is listed. Condensed concordances have only limited use as they do not list every occurrence of a word in Scripture. Strong's is probably the most popular concordance. In addition to being a concordance, it includes a Hebrew and Greek dictionary of Bible word. Strong has assigned each Hebrew and Greek word in the Bible with a number. This numbering system is used by most other reference books making Strong's Concordance a must for Bible students. The Layman's English-Greek Concordance, lists all the English words of the Bible. However, under each English word is listed the various Greek words from which it was translated with references. For example: If you were to look up the English word "accompany" you would find that no less that five Greek words are translated "accompany" in our English Bible. Each of the five Greek words has a slightly different meaning. By looking up the definition of the Greek word in a word study book such as Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament words, you would have a better understanding of the passage of Scripture. (see 4. Word Study Books) The Englishman's Greek Concordance of the New Testament, is a Greek concordance, (written in English), arranged using the Strong's Concordanceword numbering system. Without being able to read Greek, a word can be located in English in Strong's Concordance and then using Strong's numbers can be used to find the exact Greek word in The Englishman's Greek Concordance. The Greek words are arranged alphabetically and each verse the Greek word is used in the New Testament is shown. This is invaluable in determine the exact Greek word used and its proper meaning. WORD STUDY BOOKS: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nashville, 1984 Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, Harris, Archer, Waltke, Moody Press, Chicago. Word study books list the words used in the Bible with their Greek or Hebrew meaning. (Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament) These study helps are invaluable in determining the original meaning of the words of the Bible. Our English words were translated from Hebrew or Greek and often one English word was used to translate several words in the original language. It is important to know which Hebrew or Greek word the English word represents in order to determine its correct definition. COMMENTARIES , The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Charles F. Pfeiffer, Everette Harrison, Moody Press, Chicago. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Bible, Matthew Henry, MacDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Va. Romans, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich. The Bible Knowledge Commentary, An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty, Old and New Testament, John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, 1988. (Caution: Based on the New International Version of the Bible) A commentary is the written comments and explanatory notes of an author on Scripture. Many commentaries are available covering the entire Bible or just one Book. When consulting commentaries be sure to investigate the author. This information will be found on cover sheets of most books. Where the author went to school, the denomination he belongs to and other information will guide you in determining his position on the Scriptures. Just because a person writes a commentary on Scripture is no assurance what he writes will be doctrinally sound. Commentaries can greatly aid in studying the Bible, but be aware they can become a crutch if we are not careful. Use them to get different perspectives on a passage of Scripture. Be aware commentators can make errors in judgment and come to incorrect conclusions. The rule is to use them as a guide, but never as an authority. The Bible itself is our only authority. It is the Bible that judges whether the commentator is correct. The three commentaries above are very popular and are representative of most commentaries. They would be a good addition to your library. The first two are commentaries on the whole Bible and are good "general" reference to the Scriptures. Commentaries such as Barnhouse's work on Romans, because they focus on a smaller portion of Scripture, will give more detailed information than would be possible in a commentary covering the entire Bible. Purchasing several commentaries on one book will help you get a better and wider perspective on the book you are studying. STUDY BIBLES The Ryrie Study Bible, Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Moody Press, Chicago. The Scofield Reference Bible, C. I. Scofield, Oxford University Press, New York. The Thompson Chain Reference Bible, Frank Charles Thompson, B. B. Kirkbride Bible Co., Inc. A Study Bible is one in which an author has written explanatory notes in the margins. Study Bibles will have much information that aids in understanding the Bible. Modern words are given for antiquated ones. Cross references are included to guide the reader to other places in Scripture where the subject of the verse is found, or to parallel passages. Some contain abbreviated Bible dictionaries and concordances that can be very useful. BEGINNING YOUR STUDY TO BEGIN: Please go to Chapter Two, "Principles of Literal Bible Interpretation." Read and become thoroughly familiar with this chapter. This section is vital in properly studying Scripture expositorily. It will greatly aid you by teaching ten principles to guide you in correctly interpreting the Bible. An important part of studying the Bible expositorily is interpreting the Scripture passage. Use the BACK key on your browser to return to this point in the course. You will need a copy of the Work Sheet to use in this study. CLICK HERE TO GET A MASTER COPY OF THE WORK SHEET. PRINT IT AND MAKE COPIES TO USE IN YOUR STUDIES. During the course of your study if you need help please e-mail me and I will try to assist you. WITH A COPY OF THE WORK SHEET IN HAND FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW: THE SYMBOL ! DENOTES PLACES WHERE YOU WILL BE MAKING ENTRIES ON THE WORK SHEET AS YOU PROGRESS THROUGH THIS STUDY. ! FIRST: Enter the today's date. In the future it may be helpful to know when you made this study. ! SECOND: Enter the Scripture reference you will be studying. We will begin this lesson by studying Acts 9:1-31. This passage will be used as an example several times in this study. ! THIRD: Enter the title of the study if you have one at this time. It may be better to assign the study a title after you have completed your work. The title should reflect the content of your studies and will be developed as your investigation proceeds. It should relate too and reflect what this lesson or sermon is about. A good title will spark interest in the message and cause your hearers to want to know what you will be teaching. STEP l. CONTEXT. ! Read the chapter (Acts 9:1-32) at least twice from the Bible. Be sure to also read the chapter(s) before and after the passage once. (Acts 8 & 10) Read the passage until you understand what it is generally about. (l) Who is the Book Addressed to or Who is about? FIRST, determine to whom the book is addressed or who is it about. It is recognized that all Scripture is given for our benefit and is applicable in principle to all. But here we are seeking to find to whom the passage was historically addressed when it was penned and/or what it was about. a. Read the introductory material found in your reference Bible. b. Consult Halley's or Unger's Bible Handbook or a Bible dictionary or better, read both to find historical or geographical information related to the passage. c. In the Old Testament many of the books are written to Israel or about them. However, some are written to other nations . For example: From the introductory material inHalley's Bible Handbook you would find that the book of Obadiah, is addressed to Edom and is a prophecy of its destruction. The information on the Psalms would indicate that they are generally all addressed to Israel and many are about David himself. You may find Books such as the Song of Solomon hard to pinpoint. It is a poem of Solomon's love for the Shulamite girl and the subject is not specifically stated. If you consulted Unger's Bible Dictionary it would include information on how Bible scholars have interpreted the book and give you a better understanding of who and what the book is about. ! Write the pertinent information you find in this blank. In Acts 1:1, the author addresses this Epistle (letter) to "Theophilus." From your Reference Bible or Bible Dictionary you will find that this name means, "Dear to God" or "Friend of God."(2) Record what information you find about Theophilus. You will find also that the Book although is addressed to Theophilus it is written to the whole church because it is a historical record of the foundation of the church and how the church began. Sometimes who the Book to is written to is not clear. If you cannot be sure who the Book is addressed to, then try and determine who or what it is about. The Gospelof John does not have an addressee. You should record this information and then find out who or what is the book about? In consulting a Bible Dictionary you would find the Book is a Gospel about the Lord Jesus and presents Him as the Son of God the Savior (John 20:30-31).(3) If you checked a Bible commentary, such as Matthew Henry will find much introductory information as well. ! Write this information down. This could be important later in your study. Remember you are attempting to gather as much information about the passage as possible. Consider yourself on a treasure hunt making note of every clue you find. Sometimes what seems insufficient at first may later turn into a precious jewel of truth and help you understand more fully the spiritual message of the passage. The rule is record what you find. Later when you prepare your sermon or study you can decide to omit or exclude information you find. (2) Who is the Chapter About or Addressed to? NEXT, determine who the Chapter is addressed to or who is it about. The chapter could be addressed to or about someone other than who the book addresses. ! In Acts 9:1-31, the chapter is about the Apostle Paul, who is called Saul here. Ask: Are these believers? If so, what kind, Jew or Gentile? Are they religious leaders as Scribes, or Pharisees? Was this person a political leader or held some public office? It will help you to determine the context of the passage to know whom it was written. ! The book and the passage could be about the same person or subject. If that is the case,write that down. Examples: (Read each of the following passages of Scripture) Gospel of John 4... Jesus is speaking to the Samaritan woman. (She was a half Jew) Matthew 16.............Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees and Sadducees Luke 5:27.............. .It is about the call of Levi, called Matthew. Acts 1......................Christ is speaking to the disciples Acts 2...................... I t is about the disciples gathered in the upper room. Acts 10:23-48..........Cornelius, a gentile, Roman Centurion Acts 19:1-7..............It is about Paul and his encounter with the disciples of John the Baptist. The Book of Hebrews......It is addressed to Jewish believers who were in danger of turning from Christ and returning to Old Testament Judaism. Hebrews 11.............It is about the faith of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc. If your study was in the Book of Galatians obviously it was written to the "Galatians." You would record this in "STEP 1, CONTEXT, Item 1." If it your passage was from Galatians Chapter 6, is about, a sinning brother. The Book is found to be generally addressed to the Church at Galatia, however Chapter six is addressing a more specific subject, that being a sinning brother. (3) What is the Historical Situation of the Passage: Consult your Bible helps to research the historical situation. Look in your reference Bible in the introductory material before the Book. Look for: (1) the date it was written; (2) the governmental situation; (3) local situation, and (4) What were the events surrounding the situation? ! Acts 9:1-31, is the account of the conversion of the Apostle Paul. He was on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus to persecute the believers there. Christ appears to him in a blinding light and Paul becomes a Christian. Other Examples If you are studying a passage in 1 Corinthians you would start by reading the passage and consulting several Bible study helps. You would find that the Book of 1 Corinthians was written in 56 AD. The Gospel was preached in Corinth on Paul's Second missionary journey in 50 AD. He lived with Aquila and Priscilla, preaching in the synagogue until those that opposed him forced him to move in a house next door. He was accused before the Roman Governor Gallio, but the charge was dismissed. There was gross sin in the church and much need of instructions. Paul was in Ephesus when he wrote to this young church.(4) If 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, was your text you would want to include that these verses deal with a problem of incest in the church there. Checking the chapter in Halley's Bible Handbook you would discover that Paul mentioned this problem again in 2 Corinthians 2. (4). What is the Major Subject? ! In Acts 9:1-31, the major subject is the conversion of Paul. Read the passage carefully to find its subject. If it is not clear read the verses before and after the verse. You could be in the middle of a discourse that began in earlier verses. If you have difficulty deciding what is the Major Subject, consult your Reference Bible or Bible Handbook and look at the chapter headings. Example: 2 Cor. 8:16-24. Various authors list the same subject, but word the chapter title differently: Ryrie Study Bible: "Principles of giving" The Scofield Reference Bible, "Part II. The collection for the poor" (3) The Messengers. Halley' Bible Handbook: Chapters 8 and 9, Listed as, "Offering for the Mother-Church." From these titles and from reading the text you will see that the major subject is "giving."Remember, this is YOUR study. If you see something different from what is in your Bible helps,write it down also. You may want to word the title differently. (5) Who is the Author of the Book? In section "3. The Historical Situation," you recorded information about the general historical situation of the passage. This section should list information about the author. A good source for this information would be the introductory material listed before the Book in your reference bible. A Bible dictionary will give you much detailed information about the author. In some books of the Bible the author is not known. In some there may be some question as to who the name refers to due to there being several persons with the same name. A Bible dictionary will explore all the possibilities. ! The Book of Acts was written by Luke, who was a physician and companion of Paul on his second missionary journey. Read the introductory information on the Book's authorship . Consult several Bible Helps in obtaining this information. Examples: The Book of Romans? Paul - In Rome in prison The Book of James? James the half brother of the Lord and pastor of Jerusalem church. Hebrews? Unknown. Possibly was Paul or Luke. Record any information about the author. Such things as who Bible characters were related to or their occupation adds depth to your study. A Bible Dictionary would furnish this information. (6) Record any parallel references. Check the margin of your reference Bible to see if it lists any parallel references to the verse or subject. Record them and look up each reference. ! In Acts 9:1-31, you should find that your reference Bible refers to Acts 22:1-29, and Acts 26:9-19 as other accounts of Paul's conversion. In the Gospels, you would want to check a "Harmony of the Gospels." A "Harmony of the Gospels" is a chronological listing of the events in the Four Gospels. Each event in the Gospels is shown with the places that refer to it in each of the Four Gospels. Some reference Bibles have a "Harmony of the Gospels" in the back. They are found in book form such as, A Harmony of the Gospels, by A. T. Robertson.(5) STEP 2. DEFINITION OF WORDS: Definitions of words that you do not know should be recorded here. Some words in the King James, are not understood today and have taken a different meaning. Check your Reference Bible's marginal notes and an English dictionary, such as Webster's New World Dictionary, for the meanings. If there is any doubt in your mind that you do not fully understand the meaning of the word, look it up! ! In Acts 9:1-31, you might want to find out what the following words mean: V., "prick," V22, "confounded," V26, "assayed," V29, "disputed." Another way to determine the meaning is to look the word up in Vines Expository Dictionary of the New Testament (for the New Testament) or Wilson's Old Testament Word Studies (for the Old Testament). More in-depth study of Old Testament Words can be found in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. If these are not available, You can look the word up in the dictionary of Strong's Bible Concordance. To find the correct definition in Strong's follow these instructions: Find the word and then the verse where it is used. There will be a number to the right of the verse. Look up the number in the back of the concordance in the dictionary and it will give the meaning of the Greek or Hebrew word. Make sure that if the word is from an Old Testament reference use the Hebrew/Chaldee dictionary. A New Testament word should be located in the Greek Dictionary. If you have access to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament you will be able to find a much more detailed definition. It will be easier to find a word's usage by first finding the word in Strong's Concordance. Use the reference number found in Strong's and look it up in the Index of the Theological Wordbook, found in the back of Vol. II. Example: 1 Corinthians 5:6: Word "leaven." Vines Expository Dictionary gives the meaning for "leaven" on pages 362-363. It shows that in the reference, the Greek word is "ZUME" a noun. It means, "leaven, sour dough, in a state of fermentation, etc." Much information about the word is included. In referring to this passage it states it literally refers to "implied corrupt practice and corrupt doctrine respectively." This information will greatly aid you in understanding the passage. STEP 3. INFORMATION ON NAMES, CITIES, AND PLACES: Information on names, cities and places is important in understanding the Bible passage. Use your Bible helps such as your Bible dictionary and also maps to locate the places mentioned and record what you find. Most reference Bibles have good maps in the back pages. One problem with these maps is there is no "Gazetteer" (an index of geographical locations). It would be good to purchase a good Bible atlas. This makes finding geographical locations easy and fast. ! In Acts 9:1-31. Find out what you can about Damascus. Locate it on a map. Verse 11, states that Paul was from "Tarsus." Where was this city? Find out who were the "Grecians" of verse 29. Do you know where "Caesarea" is located? If you do not know find out. Other Examples: Names: Jacob: Means, "supplanter" Joshua: Means, "salvation" Place: Galilee: Northern area of Palestine, west of the Sea of Galilee. City: "Hebron": On of the oldest cites of the world located west of the Dead Sea. Its name means, "league or confederacy." It is 19 Miles from Jerusalem. Situated at 3000 feet above sea level and 4500 feet, it is a choice place for growing grapes. Abram camped there, built an altar to God, and owned a parcel of land called "the field of Machpelah" where he buried Sarah. Later in the conquest of Canaan, the city was given to Caleb, to conquer. Hebron was David's capital city before he became ruler over all Israel. STEP 4. ACTION AND RESULT! As you read and study the passage, look for "Actions" and "Results." To understand this procedure first look at the following examples: ! Acts 9:4-5. Subject: Paul's conversion. "And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: {it is} hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord {said} unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." (Acts 9:4-6) Note the what happened in these verses. Example 1. ! Acts 9: V4 (Action) Christ speaks to Paul V5. (Result) Paul responds "Who are you Lord?" (Action)Christ says "Jesus whom you persecute" V6 (Result) "What will you have me do?" Example 2: Isa. 6: V1-4 Isaiah saw God's holiness! V. Isaiah sees his sinfulness and cries "Woe is me" V8 God asks, "Whom shall I send?" Isaiah responds, "Here am I Lord, send me. Note that the natural sequence of events was first an "Action" and then a response or a "result". Looking for the "action and result" in a passage of Scripture helps you determine what happened. You will see later how this will help you to find the spiritual truths God is giving us. If you have trouble finding the Action and Result in a verse look for verbs in the verses. Example 3.: II Thessalonians 3:1-5 V1 (Action) Paul said, "Pray for us." (Note the verb is "pray") (1. Gospel may have free course and not be hindered.) (Result) You are to pray for what? (2. V2.That Paul might be delivered from persecution of wicked men.) V3 (Action) The Lord is faithful (Result) You are protected and kept from evil. V4 (Action) The Lord strengthens you. (Result) You are then able to successfully live for the Lord. V. (Action) The Lord will direct your hearts. (Result) 1. Toward a greater love of God. 2. Help you wait patiently for Christ. Sometimes the Action or Result may not be confined to one verse. The Action could be in one verse and the Result continue over several verses. What you are trying to do is to decide what each verse is telling you to do. The end result of this exercise is to find out what is the practical application of the verse or passage of Scripture. Let's look at another example: Acts 26:1-32 V1 (Action) Agrippa gives Paul permission to speak in his defense. V2 - V23 (Result) Paul tells how he came to know Christ. V24 (Action) Festus declares Paul is beside himself. V25-27 (Result) Paul continues and addresses the fact that King Agrippa, a Jew was familiar with the Old Testament. V28 (Action) Agrippa says, Paul you almost persuade me to be a Christian. V29 (Result) Paul says he longed to see Agrippa and all there saved. V30-31 (Action) Agrippa, Bernice and Festus go aside and declare that Paul is not guilty of any crime. V32 (Result) They kept Paul in bonds, because he had appealed to Caesar. With practice you will be able to determine the Action and Result of a passage. Write down your findings and then go on to Step 5. STEP 5. PRINCIPLES NOTED: After you find the ACTION and the RESULT of a passage you next seek to find the principles that are in the verses. (Read the examples in Step 4: again) A principle is a "fundamental truth, law, doctrine, or motivating force upon which others are based."(6) Principles are truths and remain the same in both the Old and New Testaments. Traditions of mankind change, as does customs, cultures, environments, governments and historical situations. A truth does not change. The application of a truth or principle may be different at one time in history than at another, but the principle does not change. Here is an example: The Old Testament clearly establishes the doctrine or principle of the separation of God's people from evil and idolatry. It is seen in God's command to the Children of Israel not to marry, enter into contacts or have close dealings with the sinful Canaanites. This principle, when it was obeyed, kept Israel from temptation and compromise. It kept them from being polluted by those who did not fear God. (Read Deut. 7:1-26) In the instructions to the nation of Israel, God told them to destroy the altars, images and places of idol worship. (Deut. 7:5) This clear commandment of God is not practiced today. Should it be? Are we commanded by God to attack and destroy false and pagan churches of today? Paul in II Corinthians 6:14-18, teaches the same principle. (Read this passage) The time, place, customs and situation are different, yet the principle is still true. What is changed is the application of the principle. Christians are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Paul says, "what fellowship or union can Christ have with the Devil?" In verse 17, quoting Isaiah 52:11, Paul warns believers to come out from the world and be separate. Thus, the principle applied in the Church Age, means we are not to form close associations with unbelievers. Paul does not tell us, however to attack unbelievers. This commandment in the Old Testament was to the Nation of Israel. It is based on the same principle as later revealed in II Cor. 6:14-18. In order to understand the relevance of the Old Testament Law to us today we must realize the Law was given to govern a nation. God's Law was Israel's "Constitution". Israel was a "theocracy". That means they were ruled by God. The Law that God gave Israel covered every area of life within their nation the same way nations today are ruled by their laws. The commandments in the New Testament are written to a church. The church, which is made up of believers, is not a nation. We are ruled by the government of the nation in which we are citizens. We are not under the Old Testament Law which governed Israel. These Laws were for Israel. This does not mean the Old Testament Law has no application within the lives of Christians today! We are to obey the principles which formed the laws of God for the Nation of Israel. To help in understanding this, let us look again at the principle of separation. Christians should live absolutely by the principle of separation from evil and evil doers, but we live in a different age. We are not a nation, but a group of believers, a church. It would be incorrect to try and apply to the church the application of the principles given in the Old Testament that dealt with separation. We are not to destroy idolaters and there places of worship! That commandment was given to Israel in the Old Testament, not to the New Testament church. In order to find the principle in a passage look for a truth. From Deut 7:1-26 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18you would find the principle of "separation." In other words, "believers are to separate themselves from close relationships with the world." This is the truth presented by these verses. There may be more than one principle found in the passage. Some could be more important than others. List all those you see. Later, if you see others and add them to your work sheet. Example: Note that in II Corinthians 9:6-8, several principles are found. "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:" (2 Corinthians 9:6-8) The overall principle is clear, "we should be freely giving to the work of the Lord. Other principles found there are (1) that if we, "give sparingly we shall reap sparingly." In verse 7, is the principle that (2) determines how much we are to give, mainly, "as a man purposes in his heart." The principle of (3) being a cheerful giver is also clearly presented. Look for God's truths in this passage and record them on the work sheet. ! Acts 9:1-8. There are several principles found in these verses. (1) Christ seeks the sinner. V3-5 Jesus appeared to Paul. (2) You cannot run from God. V. "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks". Paul tried to stifle his conscience. He knew he was doing wrong. (3) Christ wants the sinner to serve Him. V6 The Lord told him to go into the city and he would be told what to do. (4) When the sinner meets Christ he should obey Him. V8, Paul did as he was told. Can you find more? Record the principles you find. STEP 6. PROPOSITION (or APPLICATION). After you determine what God did or said, you now determine what action you should take! This is then put into the form of a sentence that will become your "proposition." The proposition is also at times called the "application". We will use the word "proposition" in this study. You are "proposing" an action by your study. Look at the principle you located in Acts 9. You should now determine what is the major objective of the passage of Scripture. This becomes the objective of your study. Ask the question? "What is this passage telling me to do?" How should this truth be applied to your life and the lives of those to whom you may teach this Scripture? This is why God gave us His Word. God's Word should become a part of us and change our lives. Applying these Scriptures to our lives will mature us and make us more Christ like. Ask, "Why is God saying this to me?" "What is God wanting me to do?" ! In Acts 9:1-8, Paul asked what Christ wanted him to do. Clearly, Christ wanted Paul to serve Him. Thus, "service" is the main application, or you could say the thought of this passage. You then form the application into a sentence that proposes something. Examples: "Christ wants us to serve Him" "We must serve Christ!" "Christ calls us is to service." Note that the above examples are all saying the same thing, but differently. The statements are proposing an action for you to take. The subject of this action is "service to the Lord." Another way of stating this action could be: "We must bow to the Lordship of Christ." Paul had, before he met Christ, openly and zealously opposed the work of Christ. But when he met Christ, he acknowledged Christ as LORD and vowed to serve Him. Make your statement short, one sentence, and to the point! Have only one major application to a lesson or sermon. Concentrate the entire message on developing that one point. In the next two steps you will learn how to express the practical application of your proposition. STEP 7 & 8. HOW AND WHY: [As you study these next two Steps record your findings on your Work Sheet. You will find that often there is not enough space on one sheet to write all you find. Use another piece of paper or another Work Sheet if you need more space.] Please note that "Steps 7 and 8" are two different ways to present the same truth. If your proposition is : "Christ's call is to service," you should next ask the question: How can I serve Him?, or Why should I serve Him?. Generally "HOW" is better than "WHY," because it is tells us what we are to do. Sometimes "WHY" is best and fits the passage better. Try HOW first then WHY. ! Acts 9:1-31. Proposition: or "We must serve Christ." Other ways to make this statement could be: "Christ's call is to service" or "When Christ calls us to service we should obey." You see then, you can state the proposition in several ways. The proposition is taking the passage of Scripture and putting it in practical terms. It is telling us to DO something. The proposition is a simple statement of what the verse is telling us to do. Truth can be taught in great detail and depth, and yet not help the student of the Bible change his life. We must understand what action the Scripture is compelling us to take. The proposition of a passage is making the truth simple and practical so we can apply it in our lives. You could say that it is taking truth understood by the head, and turning it into directing the feet. STEP 7. HOW? Ask the passage of Scripture "HOW" can one apply the principle? What can one DO, to apply the truth in his life? ! Acts 9:1-20. Your proposition is, "We must serve Christ." You next ask the passage (9:5) "How can I serve Christ?" From the passage you see what Paul did and said and what the Lord's response was. Make the answer in the form of a question, HOW? It asks the question: "How can we serve Him?" From the passage we can find several ways to serve the Lord. The key to this procedure is using the word, "BY." If you ask how to do something, you naturally respond with a "by". How can I do this? "BY" doing this. . . Note how "by" is used in the following example: 1. (V.) By seeking to find out who Christ is (Who are you Lord?) 2.(V6)By finding out what Christ would have us do, by asking,(What will you have me do?) 3. (V8) By being obedient. (Paul went unto the city as Christ told him) 4.(V20)By testifying publicly (witnessing). (Paul straightaway preached in the synagogues) This procedure becomes simple with a little practice.! ! Now read the example again and note the answers to your questions in verses 5, 6-8, and 20. Sometimes your answers will be taken from several verses as shown here. Record your findings on the Word Sheet. STEP 8: WHY? In asking WHY, we are seeking a reason or benefit to obeying the proposition. Repeat the same procedure as you followed in Step 7, but now ask WHY instead HOW. Rephrase your proposition and ask "Why should I serve the Lord?" Your answer could be stated "Because: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and is our Lord." As you study each verse or passage of Scripture you look for answers to your question "WHY." An example of WHY? It asks the question: "Why should we serve the Lord?" ! Acts 9:1-32. The proposition is "We must serve Christ!" Ask, "Why, must I serve Christ? Your answer can begin with, "Because . . . " 1. (V.) Because Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. 2. (V6-8, 20f) Because Christ has work for us to do. 3. (V32) Because service brings edification of the churches and men walk in fear of God. STEP 9. YOUR OUTLINE: This is the final step in your preparation. Now you place all your information into a usable form. ON THE WORK SHEET YOU MAY NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT SPACE TO PLACE YOUR OUTLINE. IT MAY BE BEST TO PLACE IT ON ANOTHER SHEET OF PAPER. Your outline should contain the following: Title: Make your title interesting and let it say what your lesson is about. ! "God's Call - Man's Response" Scripture: Read the passage. (Note any words which may need explaining) ! Acts 9:1-20 Proposition: State your proposition or application. ! "In Acts 9, we find from the account of the apostle Paul's conversion, the principle taught that once a man is saved, he is called into a life of service to Christ. This means you and I must serve Christ!" I. Introduction: In the introduction you prepare your hearers for the main lesson. You give them information they will need to know to better understand the context or local situation at that time in history when the Scripture was written. Also, very effective are current illustrations or situations today that are relevant to your hearers which this passage addresses. II. State your first "How" or "Why" and then support it. Support it first from the passage itself and then from other Scriptures. Reinforce your principle by using illustrations. II. "We must serve Christ because He is our Savior. A. Jesus Christ is God. (John 1:1) 1. He died on the Cross for our sins. (I John 2:2) 2. Paul saw the Resurrected Lord Jesus. (Phil. 3:10) B. Christ seeks the lost sinner and offers us mercy and forgiveness of our sins. (Rom. 5:8) 1. Even while Paul persecuted the believers Christ still loved him, and sought after Paul. 2. He seeks us today. (Rev. 3:20) Quoting other Scripture references to support your thought greatly helps in presenting the truths found in our passage. Note these Scripture passages in the outline support the statement being made. Illustrations are important to any good message or lesson! It helps clarify the truths you are presenting and also gives variety to your presentation. It makes it more palatable to your hearers. There are many places to get illustrations. In fact you can get them almost anywhere. Current world conditions, and news are good sources. Personal experiences you or someone you know has had are excellent choices. Many illustrations can be found in books of illustrations which you can purchase. One is the Encyclopedia of .7700 Illustrations, by Paul Lee Tan(7). This book has many illustrations which are cataloged and indexed by subject. One note of caution. Books of illustrations are available to everyone and it is possible to find the same illustration used by many preachers or teachers. This is also possible if you get your illustration from another's message or lesson. Illustrations which become well known and often used are not very effective when used. Be honest if you use an illustration which you "made up" or borrowed. It is dishonest to infer that a made up illustration is a true event or one you borrowed happened to you. III. State your next "How" or "Why" and support it same as II. ! "We must serve Christ because He has a purpose for our lives. IV. Next Point. Continue on until you have 3 or 4 major points. V. Conclusion: Restate the major points of your outline and lead the people to make the proper response. Sample Outline Following is an example of what your outline might look like: The information found in the outline comes from your work sheet. There will often be more information on the work sheet than you can use. Choose the information that best supports your application. Title: "God's call - Man's response" Scripture: Acts 9:1-20 Proposition: "We must serve Christ" I. Introduction: A. Paul's background. l. Education - Studied under Gamaliel. (Acts 22:3, 26:4-5) 2. Position - Pharisee of Pharisees, devoted Jew. (Gal. 1:4, Phil. 3:5) 3. Name "Saul" (Acts 13:9) 4. He was a Roman Citizen (Acts 22:28) 5. Birth place - Tarsus, busy Roman-Greek trade city in the north east corner of the Mediterranean Sea. Popular for manufacture of goat hair used in tent making. Paul was a tent maker.(Acts 18:3) B. Paul's religious activities. l. Acts 7:58 - At Stephens stoning. 2. 8:3 As persecutor of the Church. 3. V26:l0-1 Paul describes how he persecuted the church, by beatings, imprisonment, murder. 4. Acts 9:1-3 Paul was on his way to persecute the Christians at Damascus. II. To serve God we must accept Jesus Christ. Acts 9:4-5 A. It was Christ who sought Paul, Christ now seeks us. l. Through preaching, teaching, and study of the Bible. 2. Christ came to seek and to save the lost. B. Paul knew the authority of the One calling Him. l. Paul's response was "Lord." 2. He fell on his face. 3.Holy Spirit's work is to illuminate the Word of God and convict us. 4. Paul knew the O. T. Scriptures concerning the coming Messiah. 5. Paul was very religious as evidenced by the way he persecuted those he thought were heretics. C. Paul now accepted Jesus Christ is the Messiah the Son of God. l. Everything now changed. 2. Paul began a new life of service. III. We must willingly seek God's Will for our lives. Acts 9:6 A. Paul's response was "Lord what wilt thou have me to do?" B. The call to salvation is a call to service. 1. Isaiah had a similar experience. Isa. 6:1-13 2. When the Lord asked, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?", he responded "Here am I, send me." C. The Lord had a plan for Paul's life. Acts 9:15-16 1. The Lord has a plan for every believer. 2. It is seen the Great Commission. Matt. 28:19-20 3. It is seen in the gifts every Christian receives. I Cor. 12:4-11, 18, 27-28. IV. We must be obedient to God's plan for our lives. Acts 9:6-8 A. Jesus told Paul to go into the city and there he would receive instructions. B. Paul arose and immediately did as Christ said. C. God's plan for Paul was revealed through another believer Ananias. 1. God told Ananias what was His plan for Paul. 2. To receive the instruction Paul first had to obey. 3. Obeying Christ's instruction he met Ananias and Paul received his sight again. D. Paul then obeyed the first commandment to a new believer and was baptized. V. We must share the Gospel with others. Acts 9:20-22 A. Paul was saved and immediately became a testimony for the Lord. B. He boldly proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah. Verse 22 Continue on with your outline until all your points are exhausted. Generally three major points (Hows or Whys) are enough. Include more if your study needs them. After you make your first outline you should go back and read it again. You may see changes you can make which will make the outline clearer. You may make several revisions of an outline before it is ready to present. CONCLUDING REMARKS: Once you have completed your work sheet and outline, you should have a thorough knowledge of the passage. The truths you learned will help you in growing spiritually in the Lord. Further, you can now confidently address this passage with understanding and be able to explain it to others. You can also witness to someone, or stand before a class or congregation and correctly teach God's Word with confidence. It will be well to realize that you probably have more information and material to teach or preach than can be taught in your allotted time. You will learn in time from experience how to consolidate your message or lesson and present it within your time period. After you become familiar with this study method you will probably drop the use of the Work Sheet. It is only intended to be a crutch and a learning aid. As you learn the method it will become automatic for you to search the Scriptures and research the information the Work Sheet asks for. You will probably adapt it to your personal needs and study habits. You will also soon be aware that as you use this study method your knowledge of the Word of God will grow. You will be becoming a useful tool that the Lord will use in bringing others to Christ and helping fellow believers to grow also. ! Now that you have gone through the Study Guide for the first time choose another passage of Scripture. Begin a new work sheet. Research the passage of Scripture as you have learned. Select passages of Scripture you are familiar with. Later as you grow more proficient, work on more difficult passages. "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Law"Psalms 119:18 Section Two The Principles of the Literal Interpretation Introduction: It is apparent from all the contradictory teachings of the many denominations and cults of Christendom, that they all cannot be right. For the most part, each claim to use the Bible as the source of their teachings. For example, some "Christian" churches teach that baptism is necessary for salvation and others do not. Both may claim the Bible as the source of their belief. The Roman Catholic Church teaches it is the only true church, and that Peter was the first pope based on their interpretation of Matthew 16:18. No one else outside Catholicism accepts this interpretation. The cult named the Jehovah's Witnesses deny the deity of Jesus Christ. They base their teaching of salvation by works on their interpretation of Rev. 21:7 and passages in the book of James. Mormons use the Bible as the source for their practice of baptisms for the dead. This is based on their interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:29. No one else accepts this interpretation. Seventh Day Adventists have their church services on Saturday, the Jewish "Sabbath Day" and teach Michael the Arch Angel is Christ. They teach this based on their understanding of the Bible's instruction concerning the Sabbath. Baptists assert that the Bible teaches justification by faith apart from works and practice immersion for baptism. Most Protestant churches also believe in justification by faith alone, but justify their practice of baptism by sprinkling using the Old Testament Scriptures. Pentecostal churches and the modern Charismatic movement teach "tongues" and miracle healings as valid gifts of the Holy Spirit today. All fundamentalist and many other Christian denominations disagree. It is a fact that many different sects of "Christendom" use the Bible to prove contradictory teachings. Paul Lee Tan, in his book Literal Interpretation of the Bible says, "Apparently the Bible can be made to prove almost anything."(8) All claim that the Bible is the Word of God. Considering all the contradictions, which are so apparent, one must ask and get the answer to the question, "Who is right?" Surely, God is not teaching, for example, that one is saved by good works and then teaching man is saved by God's Grace without works. 1 Cor. 14:33, says "God is not the author of confusion." Apparently, there has been great latitude taken in the interpretation of what the Bible says. The word "interpretation" means to arrive at the original meaning the writer intended when he penned the words. Interpretation is not determining "application." The original meaning the author intended is the interpretation and must be found before you can apply it. A faulty interpretation produces a faulty application. The great need today, in determining what the Bible really teaches is a correct method of interpretation. If the Bible is the Word of God and God's revelation to man, then surely God would not give us His revelation without a way to find what He meant. For God not to give us a way to interpret the Bible, is to leave the interpretation of Scripture to man's wisdom that is at best faulty. To have the interpretation of Scripture rest on man's wisdom is to have "flesh" interpreting that which is spiritual. The "literal method" of interpreting Scripture taught here is God's method. It is not a new method in any sense of the word. It is the only method in which the Scriptures interpret the Scriptures. The problem today is not, that God did not give us a method of interpretation. God gave us a method, but man has refused to use it! The method that God gave is the literal method, or what man has labeled the Grammatical-Historical Method. The Grammatical-Historical method interprets Scripture by taking into consideration the context of a passage, the grammatical uses of the words and the historical setting in which they were written. The literal method, "lets Scripture interpret Scripture." The literal method is letting God interpret what He has said as He is best qualified to tell us what He means. The Bible is the complete word of God to man. Revelation 22:18, says man is not to add to the Word of God, the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, clearly states that God gave us the Bible. The verses tell us that the Bible is " . . . profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." When God "breathed" on the writers of Scripture they literally produced the Word of God, completely and accurately. The doctrine of "verbal plenary inspiration," means God chose each word for its specific meaning. When God inspired the writers to use a word it was because that word conveyed a certain meaning. It communicated a certain meaning to those who read it. This means that if we find what was the correct meaning of the word, considering its context, normal and customary usage at the time it was used, we can know the correct interpretation. Let us then look at ten principles of interpretation that let the Scripture interpret Scripture. When we say let Scripture interpret Scripture we are saying, let God interpret His Word for us. ELEVEN PRINCIPLES OF THE LITERAL METHOD OF INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE. I. FOLLOW THE CUSTOMARY USAGES OF THE LANGUAGE. We have dictionaries that are lists of words with their definitions. A word can have several meanings. But a word does have a limited meaning. As an example take the word "boat." It could be referring to many types of water craft, but it would NOT be referring to a chariot pulled by horses. The customary, and grammatical meaning of the word "boat" is a water craft. It would be improper to imply that when the writer used the word "boat" that he was referring to chariot. Often, Bible interpreters incorrectly give Scripture an allegorical or so called "spiritual" meaning. Tan, uses the following examples of an allegorical interpretation of Scripture. One interpreter allegorically interpreted the journey of Abraham this way. He interpreted it as an imaginary trip of a Stoic philosopher who left his sensual understanding and after a time arrived back at his senses. Another example of misusing allegory would be to teach that the two pence given to the inn keeper in the parable of Good Samaritan, represented Baptism and Lord's Supper.(9) Accepting what the words literally mean is a vital part of this first rule. Unless the passage says otherwise, give Scripture a literal meaning. It is a well stated rule, "that if the literal sense makes sense, seek no other sense." A. The example of Revelation 20:6. 1. For example, Revelation 20:6, states that Christ will reign for one thousand years after the Great Tribulation. This thousand years is called the "Millennium." This verse "literally" states that the time period is one thousand years. Amillennialists falsely assert that this thousand years is only figurative to support their belief that there will not be a thousand year reign of Christ on earth. They teach that although the Bible says it will be a thousand years it really means some indefinite period of time. 2. Here is the problem. If it does not mean a literal one thousand years then how do we go about finding out its "real" meaning? Their answer is simple. Let the Bible commentator or scholar tell you, because he has the education and insights that the ordinary Christian does not have. The problem with this answer is, which Bible commentator should you go to whom you can trust has the correct answer? With what criteria do you test each commentator to see who is correct. Do you see the problem? When you leave the literal method of interpreting Scripture you have no means to determine what the passage says! It is left up to each person to determine for himself what it means without any standard or system of rules to follow. Clearly, this is leads to great confusion and makes it impossible to know what God intend to tell us! 3. It is obvious from reading Revelation 20, that the thousand years is literal and not figurative. There is nothing in the passage that would suggest that the period of time is figurative. Thus if we accept literally what the Bible says we are letting the Bible interpret itself. The correct interpretation of the passage is that Christ will literally reign for one thousand years on earth! The literal meaning of the words tell us what God said. There is no confusion or misunderstanding. The question the "spiritualizers" of the Bible should ask themselves is, why did God say literally that this period of time would be a thousand years, when if He had some other period in mind. Why did not just state it plainly if meant something else? B. Often the Bible does use figurative speech. The art or skill of an interpreter, using the proper rules of interpretation combined with good sense can easily understand the meaning. In 2 Peter 3:8, Peter says that one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. Here the time period is clearly figurative. Note that the verse says one day "is as" a thousand years. It does not say one day is exactly one thousand years. It would be wrong to take this figurative statement as meaning absolutely that a day in heaven is one thousand years. It would also be wrong to use this verse to say that a when the word day is used in Scripture it means one thousand years. Note that here the Bible is interpreting the Bible. 1. In the Bible, when a verse is not to be interpreted literally it is clearly indicated. By examining the passage we know that Peter in 2 Peter 3:8, used a simile. A simile is figure of speech in which one thing is liken to another. Also, the context of this verse presents further evidence that supports this view. Peter is addressing scoffers who rejected the truth that Christ would return to earth. 2. Many have tried to use this verse to fix the long ages of evolution into the Genesis account of Creation. They believe that this verse allows for great latitude in interpreting the word "day" in Genesis 1 and 2. But if we apply sound rules of interpreting Scripture to the passages in Genesis it too shows that this is a erroneous interpretation. 3. The word for "Day" is the Hebrew word, "yom." It can mean: (10) (1) The period of light (contrasted from the period of darkness). (2) A twenty four hour period. (3) A general vague "time". (4) A point in time. (5) A year. 4. Some want to believe the "days of creation" were long periods of time, which would support evolution. They would suggest the meaning of the word "yom" is "long ages." They point to verses such as Psalm 102:2, which use the word in a general sense. "Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble..." This could mean the day was one twenty hour period or any length of time of trouble. However, to understand what the word means you must look at the word in all the contexts it is used. Look at verses such as Gen. 7:11, 27:45; Ex. 20:10; Lev. 22:277; Num. 7:24, 30, 36, 40, 48, 54, 60, 66, 72, 77-78; Psa. 88:1, 139:12, Eccl. 8:16. These verses illustrate an unfailing principle found in every use of the word, "yom." Whenever "yom" is modified by a number, or whenever "yom" is used in conjunction with the idea of day and night, or light and darkness, it ALWAYS means a normal twenty four hour day.(11) 5. The use of a number with the word "yom" is conclusive evidence that the "Days of Creation" were twenty four hour periods of time. The Bible says, ". . .the evening and the morning were the first day." The use of the words, evening, morning and first, limit the meaning of the word "day" to a twenty four hour period of time. That is exactly what it says. To interpret the time period which is stated here as meaning anything but a twenty four hour period is a gross error in interpreting what the writer meant. 6. Further evidence is found in Exodus 20:11, which supports this conclusion that these days in Genesis 1, are twenty four hour period of time. Note the statement of Moses, "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." This is as clear a statement of the time frame of Creation as can be had. Moses in connecting the six day Creation with instructions concerning the Sabbath day is conclusive evidence that the Creation was accomplished in six literal twenty four hours periods. 7. Peter, in 2 Peter 3:8, is assuring believers that God will keep his promises to us. It is pointing out that God is not confined to time as we know it. The use of the phrase "a thousand years is as but a day with the Lord" is understood as being a metaphorical reference to the fact that God is not limited by time. What we might perceive as a delay in time is within the structure of God's plan for the world. 8. If you interpret 2 Peter 3:8, literally, then you would still have only seven thousand years for God to complete the Creation. You would still not have the billions of years the evolutionist insists it took to create the world and life as we know it. In any case you can not honestly use this passage as a precedent to interpret the "days" of Genesis 1, as being anything other than a twenty four hour period of time. C. The rule is this: "Always accept the literal meaning of the words of the passage unless there is strong evidence to do otherwise." As stated earlier, "If the literal sense makes, sense, seek no other sense." We are very fortunate to live in this age. Excellent Bible helps are available to help us find the original meaning of a word. Word study books such as Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, enables anyone to research a word without knowing the language and find its original meaning. D. Syntax. Important to arriving at the correct meaning of a word is the study of syntax. Syntax is the study of the word in is grammatical setting. It deals with understanding the word's grammatical use as a verb, noun, adjective, adverb or part of speech. It also seeks to decide the tense, mood, voice, and case of a word. E. When God used a particular word He did so to convey a particular meaning. You cannot ignore the customary and grammatical meaning of a word, in its historical setting and honestly claim to arrive at an interpretation of the passage that God intended. To ignore this principle of sound Biblical interpretation is to destroy the very Word of God itself. God did not give us a subjective and confusing method of understanding His Word. God chose each and every word for its precise meaning and recorded it and reserved it so there would be no confusion. Any other method of examining Scripture other than the literal method is illogical and unacceptable. II. COMMIT NO HISTORICAL OR CULTURAL BLUNDERS. A. The Bible was written over a period of about 1400 years. During that time many historical and cultural changes have taken place. To arrive at the correct meaning of a passage you must consider when was the statement made. Next, you must consider the historical and cultural situation surrounding the passage. B. The example of God's command to stone false prophets. Deuteronomy 13:5, deals with false prophets in Israel. It states that in Israel false prophets were to be put to death. That is clearly what the passage says and what God commanded Israel to do. Does this mean that Christians today are to put false prophets to death? Obviously, we would not because we live in a different time in history and have a different culture. We live in the Church Age, and dispensationally are not in the Age of the Law as was Israel. God gave the Law to the "nation" of Israel, He did not give it to the local churches. It was Israel's Constitution, Bill of Rights and system of judicial laws. We today are in the age of the local churches and we are not the nation of Israel. God was not addressing us in these passages. However, Christians can apply the principle behind the commandment. The basis of this law was that God wanted Israel to be separated from false teachings. The churches today must keep its self from false teachers. We can apply this principle today by denouncing false prophets and remaining separate from them. It would be a wrong application of the passage for Christians today to practice putting false prophets to death. That would be a grave historical blunder. C. The historical setting of the Book of Daniel. In interpreting the Book of Daniel, one would have to consider that Daniel was a captive in Babylon. All the events of his life take place there. This historical information would be essential in understanding the Book of Daniel. D. Another example that could be confusing is the use of the names "Judah" and "Israel." Historically, the twelve tribes of Israel divided after the death of King Solomon. It is necessary to understand who the names "Israel" and "Judah" identify. The ten tribes, that occupied the northern area of Palestine, were called Israel. Most times the name "Israel" is referring to the nation as a whole or the twelve tribes. Other times it refers only to the ten northern tribes after the tribes separated after Solomon's death. The Bible addresses the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south a "Judah." The name "Judah" can refer to the Southern Kingdom (the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin). Or it may be referring to Judah alone, as the name of the tribe of David. You must consider the historical setting of the word's use to know what it refers to. III. MAKE CHRIST CENTRAL IN ALL INTERPRETATIONS. In John 5:38, Jesus said, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they that speak of me."The whole Bible is about the Lord Jesus Christ, and Christ is central in all Scripture. An example of not taking this principle into consideration would be to say that God had a plan of salvation in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament Christ came with a new plan. It would be saying the Old Testament saints were saved by the Law and the New Testament by Grace. The Book of Hebrews clearly says that the Law and all the sacrifices did not atone for sin. Hebrews 11, states that all the Old Testament saints through faith received the promises of God. Their faith was in the future coming of the Messiah and Savior who would atone for sin. Thus, Christ was central in salvation in the Old Testament as He is in the New Testament. It was Christ's death on the Cross that saved the Old Testament saints. They trusted in Him as their Messiah, before the fact of His birth, death, burial and resurrection. IV. BE CONSCIOUS OF CONTEXT A. The context of a text or verse refers to its setting within a larger portion of Scripture. It refers to the verses that occur before and after the text. This would include the paragraph, chapter and book. The situation surrounding the text is relevant in understanding its meaning. The writers of Scripture wanted to convey to their readers certain information. They wrote in the environment in which they lived. This is why knowing the background and current situation of the a Scripture passage is so important. B. For an example look at 1 Corinthians 15:32: The verse ends with the words, "let us eat, drink; for tomorrow we die." Without considering the context of this phrase it would appear Paul was teaching a person is to live a carefree life, getting all the "gusto" they can. A look at the context of the statement shows that Paul was teaching quite the opposite. He was instructing the Corinthians that there is life after death. Man will be judged and held accountable for his deeds. The point Paul made was that if there was no resurrection of the dead there was no reason to live a righteous life. In verse 34, Paul is rebuking the Corinthians for the way they were living. They were living as if there was not going to be a resurrection and this was to their shame! So we see that the context of a verse is very important and absolutely necessary for understanding or interpreting the verse. C. Many false teachings and beliefs, that are so prevalent today, can be traced to ignoring of the context of a passage. Mistakes can be made by sincere men. Other times false teachers, who have no fear of God, deliberately deceive their followers. D. The Mormons quote 1 Corinthians 15:29, as their text verse in establishing their practice of baptizing the living for the dead. Paul in making this statement was not teaching a doctrine. He was using the practice of some pagan religions of baptizing for the dead as an illustration of the universal belief in life after death. How do we know that this is what he meant? Look at the context of the statement. From the context of the statement we can see that the subject of the passage is the resurrection of the dead. Verse 12, establishes the theme Paul is addressing, "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead." Contextually, verse 29 is a part of Paul's answer to this question. You cannot honestly say what this verse means without considering the context and everything said in conjunction to this statement. The Bible nowhere teaches that baptisms for the dead are a Christian practice or Biblical doctrine. This is the only reference to such a practice in the Bible. 1. Consider the following statement: "If the Egyptians did not believe in life after death why did they go to such great lengths in preparing their dead for the hereafter?" 2. In making this statement, one would not be establishing the validity of their practice. Its validity is not being addressed. Only the fact of the practice is addressed. There is no hint in the statement that the person condoned the practices of the Egyptians. The point the writer is making is that they must have believed in an after-life because of how they prepared their dead. Paul was not establishing a doctrine and telling the Corinthians to do this. He does not say that they were doing this. He was using this practice of pagans as an illustration of the universal belief in life after death even among non-believers. 3. Let's look at another example of the importance of the context of a statement in the following: "Police today arrested Bill Smith for the murder of his wife Jane Smith. The Police reported that Bill Smith had now changed his earlier story. In an earlier statement he claimed that John Doe had murdered his wife. He now has made a full confession." 4. Suppose in reading this statement to you I only read this partial statement: "John Doe murdered his wife." This statement by itself would lead you to believe John Doe had murdered his wife. However, if you read the whole article you would see that this was not what the article meant at all. You can see in this illustration the importance of the context of a statement. Context helps determine what happened, and what is the correct interpretation of the written statement. 5. A good rule is: "A text without a context is only a pretext." It is impossible to understand any statement without considering its context. E. We must consider the following aspects of context in researching a passage. Immediate Context Broad Context Parallel Context Historical Context Analogical Context 1. The Immediate Context of the verse means the verses just before and after the verse. 2. The Broad Context of a verse addresses the verse's place within the chapter and the entire book. 3. The Parallel Context of the verse refers to other places the word or text is found. It may be in the same book or a different place in Scripture. F. An example of studying a parallel context would be consulting a Harmony of the Gospels to find other Scriptures where accounts of an event in the life of Christ are found.(12) In studying the parallel context, if the New Testament quotes the Old Testament, you would study the context of the Old Testament passage. This would help you decide why the New Testament writer quoted it and what it means. 1. For an example you will find three accounts of the Temptation of Christ. Matt. 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13. Seeking a parallel context could give a greater understanding of a statement or event, as one writer may give information another would omit. 2. Seeking the Historical Context would lead to consulting history to find the setting of the statement. The Historical Context can be found from several places. First, would be from the Book that the passage of Scripture is found. Next, you could consult one or several of your Study Helps. Book on archaeological discoveries made in the Bible lands have shed light on many Biblical events. All these findings together would show the current traditions or political situations of the passage. In language studies how a word was used in the past helps reveal what was original meaning. 3. The Analogical Context is vital to arriving at the proper interpretation of a passage of Scripture. The analogy of a passage of Scripture deals with its resemblance or similarity with the rest of the Bible. This is discussed in detail in the next section. Briefly it means that Scripture does not contradict itself. If the passage you read seems to contradict some other Scripture, then you must study further to understand the passage. 4. The great error today of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements of today that they ignore the context of what the New Testament says about speaking in unlearned languages (tongues). They fail to see the historical setting of who in the New Testament spoke in unlearned languages and when they did so. The also ignore 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, which emphatically states that when the Bible was complete "tongues ." 5. Every Scripture is interconnected to all other Scriptures. You cannot take a verse or passage out of its context, a way from the other Scripture and interpret it correctly. This leads us to the next principle of interpretation. V. INTERPRET BY THE ANALOGY OF THE FAITH. A. The Bible does not contradict itself. God did not intend the Bible to be contradictory. If a passage of Scripture seems to contradict other Scriptures the problem is not in the Bible. B. Some may object to the premise that the Bible does not contradict itself. However, at the heart of understanding the Bible is understanding what the Bible says about itself. The Bible claims to be the Very Word of God! C. The term "Inspiration" is the theological term taken from the Bible which expresses the truth that the Bible is God's Very Word. To understand inspiration we must look at two classic Scripture verses: 1. The first passage is II Tim. 3:16."All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" 2. The word "inspiration" can be literally interpreted "God-breathed." The Greek word is "theopneutos", which means "theo" = God, and "pneutos" = breathed. The Hebrew word is "Nehemiah" and is used only once in the Old Testament in Job 32:8. The verse is saying God breathed on the writers of the Bible and the wrote His Very Word. 3. The next passage is II Peter 1:21, "For prophecy came not in old times by the will of man; but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." 4. Literally the verse is saying that inspiration is the process by which the Holy Spirit moved on the writers of Scripture and what they wrote was not their words, but the word of God. Heb. 1:1, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto our fathers." God has at different times in the past, and in many ways has spoken to man. Paul and Peter add that what these men wrote was God's word. D. Examples of how God spoke to man or revealed Himself and His will. Hosea 12:10 "I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets." A literal translation of the verse says, "I spoke to the prophets, gave them many visions. 1. God spoke by angels to Abraham and Lot in Genesis 18-19. To Daniel, in Dan 10:10-21. 2. In visions. Isa. 1:1, Ezek. 1:1, 8:3, 11:24, 43:3, Dan. 7:1, 8:1, 10:1. 3. By miracles. Ex. 3:2, Moses and the burning bush. Judges 6:37-39, Gideon's wool fleece. 4. By voice directly. Ex. 19, to Moses; I Sam. 3, to young Samuel. 5. Through an inner voice. Jer. 46:1 6. By chasing lots. Jonah 1:7, Prov. 16:33 E. David said, "The spirit of the Lord spake by me and his word was in my tongue" 2 Sam. 23:2. God used men to speak to other men. When the prophets spoke what God had revealed to them, they used phrases such as "thus saith the Lord", or "the Word of God cam to me saying." They made it clear that what they were saying was from God. F. To look at the matter in a practical way, what was happening was that as the writer sat down and wrote, God "breathed" on him by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. As he wrote the Spirit guided his thoughts so that what he produced was from God without error or omission. It was literally, word for word, what God wanted written. G. In theological terms the doctrine that God wrote the Scriptures and that every word of Scripture is inspired of God is called, "verbal plenary inspiration." This is the view of Scripture which the Bible itself teaches. 1. Definitions of the words are: VERBAL = "WORDS" and PLENARY = "FULL".It means that God-breathed the very word of God in full expression of His thoughts in what the writer of Scripture wrote. This means that every word that was written was the mind of God without error. In other words, although the Bible was penned by men, it was really from God. 2. God guided them in the choice of every word and expression. This does not mean God did not allow for personality and cultural background of the writer to be used in expressing God's Words. God allowed the writers to express His thoughts in their own way. 3. This is why we must conclude the Bible is without error. God wrote it and preserves it and not man. It is the product of God, and His very Word to man. It then is without error or contradiction. 4. When there seems to be an error or contradiction the problem is in the interpretation of the verse or passage not the Scriptures. If your passages appears to be a contradiction then your course of action is to continue studying until you arrive at the correct interpretation. Many times arriving at the correct interpretation of a passage of Scripture will take a great deal of study. 5. For example lets look at one "so called" problem passage. 1 Peter 3:19 says, "By which also "He" (referring to Christ) went and preached unto the spirits in prison." At first, reading the verse appears to say that Christ after His crucifixion went into Hell and preached salvation to the lost pre-flood peoples giving them a second chance for salvation. This presents the interpreter of Scripture with a serious problem because other Scriptures clearly state man does not have a second chance to be saved. After death comes a man's judgment. Job 21:30, states the "The wicked is "reserved" to the day of destruction." Hebrews 9:27 "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Luke 16:22, the rich man in Hell, begs for mercy, but was denied even a drop of water. H. If you consider the verse in the analogy of the faith, saying that this verse teaches that Jesus gave those before the flood a second chance, is a contradiction of other Scriptures. This alerts you to the problem! In considering what the verse means you must consider the analogy of the faith. In other words, does this interpretation contradict other Scripture? Clearly this interpretation does, so you would be alerted to look for another possible meaning. I. The next step would be to take in to consideration the other principles of interpretation. Using these principles you attempt to arrive at an interpretation that is not contradictory. Principle #4, "Context," would lead to you to read the verses before and after this one. The context of the verse would show you that Peter is writing about Christ's suffering and death for the sins of the world. This is the subject of these verses. (See verse 18) Verse 20, gives us the time of the preaching to the pre-flood people. It says, "When once the long-suffering of God, waited in the days of Noah." So the preaching was done in the days of Noah, not at the death of the Lord Jesus. J. From the passage the explanation becomes clear. The pre-flood people were offered salvation, by Noah, who preached to them before the flood. The Principle, that we are to make Christ central to the Scriptures, points us to understand Christ made possible the salvation that God offered to the pre-flood people. Noah, in preaching salvation was preaching Christ! The "spirits" or the pre-Flood people who rejected Noah's warning and offer of redemption are in "prison" or hell awaiting judgment. This interpretation does not violate any doctrine of Scripture and is not contradictory. It then is the better, and correct interpretation. You see then that we are letting the Scriptures interpret the Scriptures. K. The rule is a simple one: In interpreting Scripture you must always consider the fact that the Bible does not contradict itself. If a proposed interpretation conflicts with other Scripture then your interpretation is not correct. You then must continue your study and arrive at an interpretation that is not contradictory. VI. RECOGNIZE THE PROGRESS OF REVELATION. A. In the proper interpretation of Scripture it must be understood that God gave His revelation, the Bible, to man over a long period of years. This is the doctrine of "Progressive Revelation." B. For and example, when God gave the first prophecy of the coming of Christ, He revealed very few of the details. God only revealed that, "I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." All Adam and Eve knew was that God was promising them a Redeemer, who would overcome Satan and bring and end to the curse that sin had brought to the earth. God revealed His Plan of Salvation over the whole period of the Old Testament progressively. Over time, as God worked with man, He revealed more about the Messiah and gave more details. This process took place over hundreds of years. Four hundred years before Christ's coming, the Old Testament was completed and God had revealed, the Saviors name, place of birth, year of birth, that His death would atone for sins, the virgin birth and a total of over 300 prophecies concerning Christ's coming. C. Another example is the giving of the Law. Abraham, the Father of the Nation of Israel, died having never heard of the Law. When Israel became a nation and needed laws to govern them, God use Moses and gave them the Law at Mt. Sinai. The Law given at Mt. Sinai was the "Constitution" of the Nation of Israel. It set forth principle and specific instruction as to what was right and wrong in all spiritual and civil matters. It set penalties for crimes against God and individual Israelites. It addressed everything from cleanliness to relations with other nations. D. We live now in the age of Grace. The author likes to call this the Age of Principles. Christians are not under the Old Testament law. We live by a higher rule, that being the principles of God. We obey God out of love. The law commanded men to do what is right. You do not have to command people to do right when that is what they want to do. When God gave commandments to the Church, they were given to define correct actions. E. When the Old Testament Laws were broken by the officials of Israel, namely the priests, administered justice. In the Age of Grace, every believer is indwelled by the Spirit of God who brings conviction. We also have the Word of God to instruct us in righteousness. When we sin the Holy Spirit convicts us. It is God that chastens each believer. No civil authority has that right in this age. Our civil government does not punish us when we disobey God's commandments. F. When the canon of Scripture was completed, about 90 AD to 95 AD, God had completely revealed all that man needed to know to be saved, and live for God. He even stated in Revelation 22:18, that no man should ever add to or subtract from the Scriptures. G. Another important principle to understand is that when God revealed a principle in the Old Testament, it was never invalidated by later revelation. Take for example the Law given at Mt. Sinai. Are the principles of the Law given at Mt. Sinai valid today? Surely they are! 1. The Law says we are to "have no other God before thee." (Deut. 5:7) That is a true now as it was then. 2. It is important to understand the Bible's principles do not change in time. Customs, culture, political situations may change and this in turn may change the way the principle is applied, however the principle itself does not change. 3. For an example, in Deut. 7:1f, God instructs Israel to be separated from the wicked peoples of Canaan. In 2 Cor. 6:14, the same principle is being applied to the Christians being unequally yoked with unbelievers. In both passages, God is teaching us the Doctrine of Separation. Time changed the people involved, the manner of separation, and a host of other details. Yet it is the same principle in both the Old and New Testaments. The principle is clear that a passage of Scripture can only have one meaning or interpretation, but in different circumstances can have different applications. VII. GRANT ONE INTERPRETATION TO EACH PASSAGE. When the words of Scripture were penned they had only one meaning. We should search for that one meaning. To accept multiple interpretations for one Scripture causes confusion. Scripture itself does not allow for multiple interpretations of a verse. Note that we are talking about interpretation and not about application. A passage can have several applications, however in its historical and grammatical setting it can have only one interpretation. God promised the Nation of Israel would inherit the area of land from river in Egypt in the south to the Euphrates in the north. (Genesis 15:18) In is incorrect to interpret this verse in any other way but to say God promised this land to Abraham's descendants. It does not mean God gave it to the church or anyone else. The Euphrates River does not mean the Persian Gulf or any other body of water. It has only one meaning. That meaning must govern your interpretation. VIII. CHOOSE THE SIMPLEST ALTERNATIVE In a very few instances the correct interpretations is not clear. This is a rare occurrence. There is a classic example of this found in Judges 11:30-40. Jephthah, made a vow that if God would grant him victory in battle, whatever met him coming out of the doors of his house when he returned home, he would sacrifice in a burnt offering to the Lord. When He returned home he was met by his daughter! In verse 39, it states that he honored his vow. Some interpret that verse to mean she was offered up to service for the Lord in the temple; others that she was literally sacrificed as a burnt offering. Both sides of this debate have valid reasons to accept their view. The Bible says the daughter went into the mountains for two months of mourning to "bewail her virginity" with her friends. After the vow was carried out the women in Israel each year went for four days to the lament in honor her loyalty and sacrifice. God would never condone human sacrifice. It is a simpler explanation that Jephthah gave her up to temple service to be a perpetual virgin. She was his only child and now Japhthah would have no descendants. In this example we can see that historically both views cannot be right. She either lived or died, and one or the other is true, not both. We can honesty only allow one interpretation, because it can have only one. The simplest alternative is that she lived. We can not be dogmatic and state either view is absolutely the right one. Thus, when it is not clear would should remain silent or honestly admit the meaning is not clear. IX. NEVER INVENT EXPLANATIONS TO SILENT AREAS OF SCRIPTURE A. Simply stated it means do not make up explanations to areas of Scripture that are silent and where God has not given us all the information about some topic of Scripture. B. For example, the Bible does not say where Heaven is. The Bible only indicates its direction is up. It is foolhardy to speculate that it is in some specific area of Space. Some state they believe Heaven is in the northern area of space where astronomers report there are few stars. This speculation serves no valid purpose. If the Bible is silent we then too are to be silent. To offer one's personal speculation on some subject that the Bible is silent is in a real sense adding to Scripture. Many times, one person's stated speculation becomes another's belief. C. Jesus said, only the Father knew when He would return. A well known fundamentalist evangelist of national acclaim stated in a Bible conference that when the planets aligned in 1984, the Rapture would occur. Many tracts were printed stating this view. Obviously, he was wrong. In the eyes of many people his testimony was hurt. His predictions served no purpose. If God is silent then we need to be silent! X. NEVER THEORIZE TO ACCOMMODATE MAN'S VIEWS OR MODERN SCIENCE. A. This principle is closely aligned with the ninth principle. In interpreting Scripture we should never invent explanations to areas where the Bible appears vague. We may not have the knowledge to understand some teaching or event in the Bible. The limitation is in our knowledge, not in the truth of the Word of God. When a man begins to speculate he is in fact trying to second guess God! Such speculation casts a shadow over the credibility of the Bible and our faith. It does not convince the doubters and only brings confusion. The best approach is not to invent explanations, but honestly say we do not know! B. Examples of man trying to harmonize science and the Bible is seen in the theories such as "Theistic Evolution" and once popular "Gap Theory."Theistic evolution is the product of man's trying to fit into the Bible the false teachings of the so called "science of evolution." In truth, evolution contradicts the Biblical account of Creation and there is no possible way to make the two coincide. To suppose that God used evolution to create the world is to deny the literal meaning of Genesis Chapter One. You must understand that God's Word is perfect and without error. It is inerrant, and infallible. When God said He created the earth by speaking it into existence out of nothing, then that is the Word of God on the matter. If science disagrees, then science is wrong! Science is the product of man's wisdom which is often proven faulty. The Bible is the very Word of God who is never wrong! C. On several occasions I was privileged to hear the late Dr. Charles Stevens, founder of Piedmont Bible College. One principle he stressed was that the only way to know the truth was to examine it using the "looking glass" of the Bible. In other words, we are to take the Bible and examine everything by it. We look at the world through the Bible. It is the ONLY true standard. It is the only pure source of truth on earth. The world's way is the opposite. Man with a sinful and warped mind examines the Bible and declares it invalid. Man starts out with a distorted view and can only come to a distorted conclusion. D. Such theories, such as the Gap Theory, in no way have any value within themselves. This "theory" states that between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, there is a gap in time in which the fossil record is placed. Its explanation is that the fossils are the remains of another race of man and a world that was destroyed before the present world was created. This theory is based on man's speculations of over one hundred years ago when evolution became popular. Men such as C. I. Scofield, under attack by so-called modern science, tried to accommodate the popular teachings of the then new science of evolution. He and others theorized a gap in the Biblical record between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Dr. Scofield had a limited understanding of geology. Few men in his day understood where the fossils came from. Today, we can easily explain the fossil record. It was created by the Flood when God destroyed all life on earth saving only Noah and his family and the animals in the ark. The fossils are the remains of the pre-flood world, not some world created and destroyed by God before the current Earth. All fossils are found in sedimentary rock deposits. Sedimentary rock is formed by water action such as would be caused by a world wide flood. E. Today, evolution is fast falling into disfavor and even secular science is questioning the teaching of Darwin. Yet, today the Gap Theory is still being taught by a few proponents as fact, and yet it was never anything more than a man's theory or speculation. Today, few theologians hold or teach the view, but it will probably be many years before it completely disappears. F. To try an harmonize the teachings of evolution with the Bible, theologians in fact have denied the Word of God. God said He spoke the Universe into existence, it did not evolve over long periods of time as evolution postulates. The gap theory in reality instead of clarifying the matter of Creation caused confusion. It actually supports the false theory of evolution. This author believes it aided in causing Christians to believe in evolution or some form of it. If that is so then the inventors of the Gap Theory caused many people to believe in the lie of evolution. G. We should never invent supposed solutions areas where the Bible is silent. XI. NEVER BASE A DOCTRINE ON ONE PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE. A. No doctrine should be built on only one passage or verse of Scripture. Any true doctrine of God will be found in many places in the Bible. The Mormons base their doctrine of baptisms for the dead on only one verse in the Bible. (I Cor. 15:29) No where else is the practice even mentioned. If you cannot find other places in the Bible that teach the doctrine this should alert you to a problem. If the supposed doctrine is only found in one place you should seek to find out why. In every case you will discover that what is being taught is not a doctrine. To arrive at the correct understanding of a teaching (doctrine) in Scripture you must study all related texts and then put them together. Until you do this it is difficult to know that you have all the truth revealed on a particular subject. CONCLUSION: In trying to determine what the Scriptures mean we must have a method or standard of interpretation as a guide. The literal method stands alone as the only real Biblical method. Why? Because the best interpreter is God Himself, and by letting Scripture interpret Scripture we are letting God, the Author of the Bible tell us what He means by what He said. (13) WORKS CITED 1. Halley's Bible Handbook, by Henry H. Halley, Zondervan Publishing House, 1965, Title Page. 2. Ryrie Study Bible, Charles Ryrie, Moody Press, Chicago, page 1677. 3. Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago, Page 701. 4. The Ryrie Study Bible, page 1619. 5. A Harmony of the Gospels For Students of the Life of Christ, A. T. Robertson, Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, Evanston and London, 1950. 6. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, The World Publishing Company, Cleveland and New York, 1951, page 1158. 7. Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, Paul Lee Tan, Assurance Publishers, Rockville, Md., 1979. 8. Literal Interpretation of the Bible, Paul Lee Tan, Assurance Publishers, Rockville, Maryland, 1978. 9. Literal Interpretation of the Bible, Paul Lee Tan, Assurance Publishers, 1978, pg 24-25. 10. 11. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Vol.1, p370. 12. Note: A harmony of the Gospels in a listing of the parallel verses of the four Gospels listed according to events in the life of Christ. Many reference Bibles will contain a harmony of the Gospels. A separate one can be purchased such as A Harmony of the Gospels for Students in the Life of Christ, by A. T. Robertson, Harper & Row, Publishers, New York. Robertson includes all the verses in the four Gospels in columns according to the chronology of the life of Christ. 13. "Bible Science Newsletter", Vol.26, Nr. 8, August 1988, p10. Last Updated: 12/28/2016 14:40:15 https://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/5-keys-spiritual-growth-2005-national-conference/how-to-study-the-bible/ http://biblehub.com/ http://bible-truth.org/ExpositoryBibleStudy.html#000 I hold to a Contemporary Reformed view of Theology. Contemporary Reformation Theology https://www.monergism.com/about-us https://www.monergism.com/topics/reformed-theology https://www.monergism.com/topics/education-academia/library-free-online-seminary-courses http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/contemporary.html https://www.facebook.com/groups/Christianwrittings/
      1. COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE, THE ROLE OF THE MAN AND WOMAN IN MARRIAGE. CHRISTOPHER WAYNE MILLER·SATURDAY, JUNE 23, 2018 COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE Undoubtedly the problem of communication in marriage started a long time ago. It would not surprise me to learn that the first man to say, "My wife doesn’t understand me," was Adam. It all may have started in the primordial garden when Adam asked Eve if she had eaten of the forbidden tree and Eve replied, "Tree? What tree?" The problem was compounded when God discovered their transgression and called Adam aside to interrogate him. For three hours Eve waited in solitude for the decision of her Creator. Anxiety increased by the minute until at last Adam emerged from the summit meeting that would decide human destiny. Breathlessly Eve rushed to her husband and gasped, "What did he say?" Adam shrugged his shoulders and said, "Oh, nothing!" Things have been going downhill ever since. The subject of communication in marriage is a difficult one, perhaps impossible. Someone has said that to discover the secret of communication, one must undertake the Herculean task of sailing between Scylla and Charybdis, using the sword of Damocles to cut the Gordian knot that it may fit its Procrustean bed! (Whoever said that ought to be shot.) Communication is not always easy. It involves work, pain, sensitivity, patience, and great care. Communicating is often a burdensome task, but a task that must be accomplished for a marriage to be complete. When communication falters, the marriage is in trouble. When it fails altogether, the marriage is virtually doomed. Communication is, above all, a means of knowing. In marriage it means, simply the knowing of two people. The goal of communication is knowledge—not abstract, theoretical, impersonal knowledge but personal knowledge, the knowledge of intimacy. In biblical categories, the essence of marriage is expressed in the intimacy of knowing and loving. When the Old Testament writers describe the sex act, the usual term used is a form of the verb "to know." We read that Adam "knew" his wife and she conceived. Abraham knew his wife, etc. What is the writer trying to convey? The Bible is not trying to suggest that reproduction takes place by the ability to recognize or distinguish one person from another. When we read that Adam "knew" his wife, it means more than that they had been formally introduced. Nor is the biblical writer just being polite when he uses the term. It would be out of character for an Old Testament writer to avoid candor in favor of euphemism. No, when the Old Testament speaks of sexual union in terms of knowing, it is because knowing, in every sense of the word, is at the heart of marriage. To be known and still be loved is one of the supreme goals of marriage. Many of us think that if people really knew us they would not like us. Others think, that, if people knew us well enough to understand us, perhaps they would like us. Most of us probably feel a little of both. We would like to be really known—but there remains the nagging fear that if we are known, we won’t be loved. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve enjoyed their life in Eden, "naked and unashamed." After the Fall they became aware of their nakedness and hid themselves in shame. In their guilt they didn’t want God to see them, so they became fugitives from his gaze. Yet, in an act of astonishing grace, God provided clothes for his embarrassed creatures and covered their nakedness. But the desire for the original state of being naked and unashamed remained with Adam and Eve. They wanted their nakedness and their shame hidden, yet yearned for a safe place to be naked. They yearned for a place where they could take off their clothes and be known without fear. God provided that place in the institution of marriage. God gave them a place where they could have "intercourse," which, of course, is also a synonym for verbal communication. Communication involves a kind of nakedness. In some situations, nakedness can be very embarrassing. At other times, it can be supremely exhilarating. So it is with communication. When communication is carried on in a proper way in marriage, it yields unspeakable pleasure. When it fails, the result is two people going back into hiding. The Bible gives us a model of proper communication in marriage in the way God relates to his people. It is no accident that the primary image in the Bible of God’s relationship with his people is marriage. In the Old Testament, Israel is the bride of Yahweh; in the New Testament, the Church is the bride of Christ. When God reveals himself and communicates his love to his bride, the bride rejoices. When the bride spurns God’s revelation and seeks other gods, she perishes in her spiritual adultery. To be known by God is the highest goal of human existence. To know that God knows everything about me and yet loves me is indeed my ultimate consolation. What a comfort to know I cannot pull the wool over God’s eyes—there’s no point in ever trying. The human institution of marriage should mirror that consolation. The more we are able to reveal ourselves to our life partners and still be loved, the more we are able to understand what a relationship with God is all about. The greatest consolation I have in this world is the knowledge that my wife knows me better than any person on this planet, and—guess what?—she loves me. KNOWLEDGE AND INTIMACY In the 1960s our nation experienced what has become known as "the sexual revolution." The free speech movement at Berkeley triggered a mass student reaction against traditional values and customs regarding sex. Crusades for "free love," "sex without marriage," etc., steamrolled across the land. A common protest was that the older generation was full of hypocrites. To them sex was a hush-hush thing, not openly exposed to public scrutiny. The symbol of the older generation was the lock on the bedroom door. When the adolescent of the sixties discovered that babies don’t come from storks, he looked at the lock on the door and the drawn shades and cried, "Hypocrisy!" What our children call hypocrisy, we call intimacy. Hopefully, our children will learn to understand the difference. In modern usage the term "intimacy" suggests merely a sexual relationship. But the word goes deeper than that. In its broader meaning intimacy indicates a familiar relationship that moves beyond the external and the superficial and penetrates the innermost dimensions of our life. Marriage was designed to be a relationship of intimacy. Total intimacy embraces far more than the sexual aspect. In fact, there must be a kind of intimacy preceding sexual union if that union is going to be of lasting value. Intercourse with a prostitute is intercourse without intimacy. One can have sex without intimacy. But one cannot have communication in the biblical sense of "knowing" without intimacy. COMMUNICATION AND LISTENING One essential ingredient of communication is listening. It is not a one-way street. Not only must we learn to listen, but we must learn to listen carefully. An old illustration tells of three sermons that are preached each Sunday. First is the sermon the people hear; second is the sermon the preacher thinks he gives; and third is the actual sermon given. This discrepancy between what is said and what people hear was brought home to me recently in a lecture situation. After I finished my lecture, I opened the meeting for discussion. Someone immediately asked about a certain word in my lecture. I said I couldn’t remember using that word at all. Someone else chimed in and said, with certainty, that I had used another word. Immediately the class was divided on the issue. About half of the people said I used one word and the other half argued that I used the other. I meekly suggested that I hadn’t used either of the words in dispute. But after all this arguing I wasn’t too sure. Finally, to resolve the debate, I played back the recording of that portion of the lecture. To everyone’s consternation, I had used neither of the two words. We all had a lesson in listening. In marriage, real communication often demands listening "between the lines," beyond the words being spoken. For various reasons, we frequently use indirect discourse. Instead of saying what we mean and meaning what we say, we attempt to communicate via hints and innuendoes. Then we wonder why nobody understands us. Not too long ago my wife, Vesta, left the house to visit a friend. I said, "Why are you going to Kathy’s?" She replied that she was going to get a home permanent. I asked her for the hundredth time since we’d been married, "Why don’t you go to the hairdresser like everyone else?" She carefully explained that she didn’t need to go to a professional hairdresser because Kathy did a perfectly good job, and she did it free of charge. I couldn’t argue with that, so I dropped the matter. But I was upset. Vesta couldn’t figure out why. Finally, I broke down and told her the real reason I hinted at being displeased with the home permanent routine. I said, "1 can’t tell the difference between a professional permanent and a home permanent. That’s not the point. My pride is involved in this. I can afford to pay the hairdresser bill. You make me feel inadequate as a provider." As soon as I expressed my feelings directly, instead of by hints, I saw how foolish they were. But Vesta didn’t treat them as foolish. She asked, "Why didn’t you ever tell me that?" The point is, of course, I had been telling her that for years, but I was saying it so obliquely she couldn’t possibly hear it. Reading between the lines is one thing; reading your spouse’s mind is quite another. I am not seeking to establish an axiom that all wives must always go to professional hairdressers for their permanents or their husbands will feel insecure. Rather the point is twofold: First, we must be careful to avoid discourse that is so vague and indirect that no one could get the point; second, it may be helpful to ask yourself, "Why does my spouse often bring up this issue? What is really being said?" COMMUNICATION AND GIFT-GIVING Gift exchange is one great checkpoint for communication in marriage. Hints fly as we seek subtle ways of letting our partners know what we want for Christmas or birthdays. Vesta is the practical type. Christmas would come, and she would present me with a beautifully wrapped package that would bring back the exciting memories of boyhood. I would open the package and find three white shirts. I would say, "Oh boy! White shirts. Just what I need, Honey" (While I was thinking, "White shirts! I can buy them anytime. I don’t want white shirts. I want golf clubs.") Being careful to disguise my feelings, I would go on about how great the white shirts were. I was such a good actor that the next year I would get five white shirts. For years she gave me what I needed, not what I wanted. I tried hinting to Vesta by giving her extravagant gifts. Throwing caution to the wind, I would run out and buy her an expensive new coat, straining our bank account to the limit. I’d have the coat expertly gift-wrapped and present it to her with gusto. She would open the gift and exclaim, "Honey, it’s beautiful, but we can’t afford this. I need a vacuum sweeper." What happened in this situation is that both of us assumed the other person wanted the kind of gift we wanted. We were projecting our own desires on each other. When we finally discussed this matter honestly, I got my golf clubs and she got her sweeper. THE HIDE-AND-SEEK GAME Deception is a serious barrier to communication. Lying obviously destroys credibility and violates trust. But more subtle means of obscuring the truth may also prevent effective communication. When we begin to play hide-and-seek in marriage, the most important context God provides for openness, we are in trouble. The marital game of deception is established on the false premise that "what she [he] doesn’t know, won’t hurt her [him]." I came home from the golf course one afternoon. Vesta asked me if I had a good time. I recounted the events of the day with delight. Then she asked the provocative question, "How much money did you spend?" I gave her a proper accounting of green fees, caddy fees, a couple of new golf balls, and then added five dollars for a lesson from the pro. Vesta exclaimed, "We can’t afford five dollars for golf lessons!" I meekly surrendered to her feelings and changed the subject. In the weeks that followed, my golf game improved a bit, and I kept thinking, "Two or three more lessons and I will really have this game together." (Hope springs eternal in the golfer’s breast.) So I went to the pro and had three more lessons. Only this time I didn’t tell Vesta about it and carefully instructed the pro not to send any bills to my house. He smiled in agreement, saying he had to do that for a lot of the guys. Unfortunately, the pro forgot to relay the message to his secretary. Arriving home one day, Vesta met me at the door with a knowing look on her face and the bill in her hand. I was dumbfounded, and then all I could do was stand there and laugh. Sternly she said, "It’s not funny." I replied, "I know, that’s why I’m laughing!" (I didn’t know what else to do.) She asked, "Why did you deceive me?" I gave her the myth of "I figured what you didn’t know wouldn’t hurt you." She said, "Well, it does hurt me, and it hurts me even more that you felt you had to hide it from me." I told her that I didn’t particularly enjoy feeling that I had to hide it from her either. But she was violated by my subterfuge. This experience was painful for both of us because I chose deception over truth. COMMUNICATING LOVE Perhaps the question most frequently asked by a wife is, "Do you love me?" Standard replies are often less than helpful. Answers like "Of course" or "I married you, didn’t I?" or, even worse, "Wait until tonight, and I’ll show you" do very little to communicate love. Communicating a desire for sexual gratification is not the same as communicating love. Women are well aware that a man doesn’t have to be in love to be able to enjoy sex. One sage maintained that a woman needs to be told she is loved in 365 different ways every year. The truth of this hyperbole, however, is that women usually notice seemingly small expressions of affection. (And so do men.) Husbands must discover what makes their wives feel loved, and vice versa. In my house the issue of communicating love usually comes down to apparently insignificant or even irrational things. We have a perennial crisis over lipstick. It seems as if all of my insecurities about my wife’s affection for me are wrapped up in a small tube of lipstick. I know (without hyperbole) that I’ve asked my wife 10,000 times to put on lipstick. Whenever I see her without lipstick, I take it as a personal insult. When the insults become so frustrating that I can’t stand it any longer, I give vent to my exasperation by saying, "When are you going to start wearing lipstick?" The normal reply: "When you start picking up your clothes!" Then there is the washcloth issue. Some wives are neat; others are fussy; but mine is fastidious. It seems to me that she has a neurotic concern for neatness in detail. She thinks I have an uncontrollable passion for making messy what she has made neat. I say, "How can I tell you I love you?" She says, "By not rolling up the washcloth in a ball when you’re done with it, and throwing it in the sink." How unromantic! It would be so much more exciting to demonstrate my affection by slaying a few dragons or even making a birdie for her on the golf course. Who wants to show love by hanging up washcloths? Yet when I take the extra few seconds required to wring out the washcloth and hang it neatly on the towel rack, my wife has been told that she is loved—and told in a way that communicates. I’ve let her know that I care about her labor and that I don’t regard her task of housekeeping insignificant. LEARNING TO KNOW Learning isn’t always a difficult enterprise. There are patented shortcuts to all kinds of fields of inquiry. A general acquaintance with many areas can be gleaned via casual involvement, or by a kind of intellectual osmosis. However, if one wants to move beyond a level of general acquaintance to the level of genuine expertise, the shortcut methods will not avail. To be an expert in any field of knowledge requires intensive study. Marriage brings a unique opportunity and sober responsibility to be an expert in the knowledge of one’s spouse. This requires conscious and concentrated study. Unfortunately, many people approach this task of learning in a very cavalier spirit. They make no serious effort to study their partners. For a man to understand more about the law of thermodynamics than he understands about his wife is gross neglect of duty. Of course, I am not recommending that you reduce your partner to the level of a specimen analyzed under a microscope. Always seeking the hidden meaning behind every word or gesture would be absurd. But I’m not really worried about that extreme. That’s not the problem that is systematically disintegrating the American home. Our problem is not that people are working too hard to know their mates, but that too many people are barely trying at all. The television series "The Newlywed Game" and other shows that match husbands’ and wives’ answers seem funny, but really they are tragic. They reveal not the rare or unusual but the commonplace. They provide an ominous warning that couples simply do not know each other. People are not doing their homework. To make a conscious effort to gain insight into a human being is not simply a sober responsibility in marriage, but a very special privilege. Few areas of study can be so exciting and fruitful. If it is a labor of love, that love will only be intensified. The death of my father during my teenage years was an event of momentous trauma in my life. Though many of the memories of the events surrounding his death are now dimmed and obscured, and most of the content of the eulogy by our family minister is vague in my mind, one thing stands out sharply. The minister mentioned the distinctive character of my father’s footsteps. He said that if he saw my father walking at a distance, he immediately recognized him by his footfall. He said that, if he heard my father approaching his study, he knew who it was by the sound of his footsteps. In a word, he knew my father by his walk. The thing that surprised me about all this was that my father had no observably unusual gait. He had no limp or unusual heaviness of walking. I had never noticed anything strange about the way he walked. Yet after the service my mother expressed her amazement that the pastor shared her knowledge of this less-than-obvious characteristic of my father. The minister had more than 2,000 members in his congregation; he knew every one of those members by name. He made a diligent effort to know his people. If that minister had manifested nothing else of the nature of Christ, he at least had shown the extraordinary virtue of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep. If a minister can learn to know 2,000 people, why is it so difficult for us to learn to know one person? When the Apostle Paul exhorts the women at Ephesus to submit to their husbands, he uses the term "own." Be subject to your own husbands. The word is idios, from which we get "idiosyncrasies" and "idiot." (I sometimes play a bit with the text by encouraging women to submit to their "idiot" husbands!) Actually, we know the difference between idiots and idiosyncrasies. The idiosyncrasies of our partners are worth knowing, for in them we can discover the uniqueness of the one who is our "own." There are countless easy and nonthreatening ways that a husband and wife can get to know each other. My wife and I invent little games to learn more about each other. While driving or sitting around the house, I’ll ask questions like, "If I could be anything in the world besides what I am, what would I be?" Simple questions like these often stimulate lengthy, in-depth discussions that are very illuminating. The task never ends. New insights reveal more of the complexities that make us who we are. My wife and I have been married for more than thirty years, and yet not long ago she made a surprising discovery. About five minutes before I was scheduled to lecture a rather sizable group, my wife handed me a letter from an old friend. To my shock, the letter contained a very angry tirade directed at me. The personal attack was very painful, but after reading the letter I gave no indication of its effect. I calmly handed the letter to Vesta and matter-of-factly commented, "He is very angry." I went at once to the podium and delivered the lecture. After the meeting I told her how relieved I was that the lecture was over. I had barely made it through. My stomach was churning and, as hard as I tried, I could not push the letter out of my mind. During the lecture I felt like a zombie—an aura of unreality surrounded me. It was as if I were merely a spectator rather than a speaker. Vesta was amazed. She said, "I had no idea anything was bothering you. I never detected the slightest hint that anything was wrong." Had I not revealed to my wife the real pain of the situation, we would have lived through a small part of our lives together completely out of touch with each other. How deeply aware are you of your partner’s clothes? It is nonsense to affirm that "clothes make the man," but it is equally foolish to assume that clothes have no effect on personality, attitudes, and moods. When a woman wears a new dress, she often not only looks nice but feels better as well. Military requirements of "spit and polish" are not designed for appearance only, but to help instill a snappy spirit of alertness and coordinated discipline. Uniforms not only function as symbols of a particular occupation, but help to create an atmosphere conducive to the functioning of those within that occupation. Witness the outfits and listen to the comments of the local golfers: "If I can’t play like a golfer, at least I can look like one." The feelings that are associated with clothes came home to me rudely when I went out for football in high school. Our school was a major football power. That year the team won the Western Pennsylvania Championship. Consequently, the competition was keen for every position. Those of us who were sophomores had little hope of starring on the varsity team, but we did have dreams of making the squad and consolidating our positions for future glory. The coach told me I had a pretty good lock on the starting job of junior varsity quarterback and a good chance to be backup to our star senior quarterback. I checked into summer camp with confidence and optimism. But then the moment of truth came. We lined up in the locker room to receive our practice equipment and uniforms. The seniors went first, followed by the juniors, and finally the sophomores. To further complicate matters, we lined up alphabetically. If only my name had started with A. By the time I got to the equipment manager, he was at the bottom of his stock. I was issued an oversized pair of lineman’s shoulder pads, a helmet two sizes larger than my head, and pants a full three sizes too large. I had to use my belt from my street clothes to keep my pants up. What a spectacle! When I was fully dressed, I looked like something from Notre Dame (the Hunchback!). I looked less like Johnny Unitas than Alice Blue Gown. How can a quarterback give an impression of smooth ball-handling in an outfit like that? I felt miserable—and played that way. Not only can ill-fitting clothes or uniforms make us feel and act miserable, but good clothes can make us feel good. If your wife doesn’t "feel like a woman," maybe a check of the wardrobe is in order. Of course, clothes alone will not save a marriage or cause one to disintegrate. But it is a very serious matter when a wife does not feel like a woman, and clothes can certainly contribute to that feeling. Many men have no idea what their wife’s dress size is. When a husband takes no interest in his wife’s clothes, the wife inevitably feels less than a woman. Shopping together can be an exciting enterprise as new vistas of beauty are explored. Take care not to talk your wife into wearing what might violate her canons of modesty and taste. But the point is this—clothing can be a vital point of marital communication. An aside to Christians: God calls us to modesty of dress. But there is a difference between being modest and being drab. The light of the world should be attractive and the salt of the world tasty. HOW WELL DO YOU COMMUNICATE? I’ve devised a very simple test to give couples a visible measure of their communication quotient. I ask the people to list ten things on a sheet of paper that they would like their partners to do for them, ten needs or desires that can be fulfilled by the spouse. It isn’t necessary that these be needs that are presently unfulfilled. The idea is to list things that are important to the mate. The other restriction is that the items be listed in concrete terms. No abstractions like "make me feel loved" are allowed. After this list is finished, I ask the people to use the other side of the paper for another list—of the things you think your mate would like you to do for him or her. When both lists are completed, I ask the couples to exchange papers and compare them. If all twenty items on each paper match, I recommend that the couple open a clinic and go into the marriage counseling business. (But I’ve never seen that, or anything near it, take place.) If none of the items match, there’s obviously a very serious communication problem that demands immediate attention and counseling. What most couples will learn from such a simple test is that there is room for improvement in communication. The test itself may be a catalyst for that to take place. THE PATH TEST Another test, the path test, is sometimes used as a party game. It can be threatening and misleading, so it must be used with caution. Each person is asked to imagine himself walking alone along a path. No further details are supplied except by the imagination. The person is told, "You see a key on the path. What does it look like? What would you do with it?" The people then write down their description and reaction to the key. Next the person is asked to describe a vase that he finds on the path and note his reactions to it. As the trip proceeds, the person then is told he meets a bear on the path. Again, a description of the bear and the person’s reactions are noted. Going on down the path, the person comes to some water. On paper, he describes the water and what he does with it. At this point, the trip may be terminated or other incidents of little importance tacked on. The key is supposedly the universal symbol of education. The person’s description of the key reflects his inner feelings about education. The scientifically or technically oriented person will tend to picture a very functional key such as a house key. The romantic will picture a very ornate, perhaps mysterious key. The pragmatist or materialist will tend toward a car key. Though the symbols are not absolutely accurate, they can be provocative aids to in-depth discussion about education. The vase is more dangerous for the interpreter. It is supposed to symbolize one’s life partner. On more than one occasion I have witnessed people expressing hostility toward their imaginary vase, saying they imagine smashing it to pieces. Some wax very romantic about the beauty and texture of the vase. (My wife saw a big, strong vase that was cracked!) The bear is supposed to symbolize obstacles and problems. Some people run, others hide; some walk circumspectly by the bear, while others stand absolutely still. Some people imagine roaring grizzlies standing on their hind legs, while others see cute little cubs that represent no threat whatsoever. (I saw a vicious black bear, which I engaged in hand-to-hand combat.) The symbol of water is the most provocative of all. The theory says water is the universal symbol of sex. Not only what kind of water people see, but what they do with it is significant. One couple who came to me for marriage counseling both indicated that they saw ugly, stagnant pools of water which they carefully avoided. Conversely, when I gave this test to a self-confessed nymphomaniac, she saw an ocean (in the middle of the woods!) with violent rolling waves. She said she dived into the water and it violently tossed her around and hurt her, but she still found it exhilarating. Many people, particularly females, visualize a beautiful mountain stream. They enjoy dipping their toes m the water but say the water is too cold to go swimming. Again, let me remind the reader that the path test can be a very enjoyable way of exploring inner feelings, but can also be both inaccurate and threatening. COMMUNICATION IN SEX As I indicated earlier, sexual communication is vital to a successful marriage relationship. Intercourse in the full sense of the word is involved here. The dynamics of sex are so crucial to communication in marriage that I will devote a separate chapter to the subject. In a nation that seems to be preoccupied with sex and in an age that boasts of free and open discussion of the subject, it is a total anomaly that widespread ignorance still exists. But it does, and the results are frequently devastating. For effective communication, couples must study this matter with each other as well. A close friend and fellow preacher told me this story. He had been away from his wife for six weeks on a speaking tour and he missed her keenly. When he got home, he didn’t even bother to unpack his suitcase. Leaving it by the front door, he eagerly embraced his wife and took her straight to the bedroom. After a half hour of passionate love, his wife said to him, "Honey?" He replied, "Yes, dear, what is it?" "Honey, did you remember to shut the garage door?" The incredulous husband said, "How long have you been thinking about the garage door?" She answered innocently, "Oh, about twenty-five minutes!" Needless to say, the passionate love was squelched. Conscious study of your marriage partner involves physiology as well as psychology. One of the frequent techniques employed by sex rehabilitation and counseling clinics is physiological exploration. For example, a couple may be instructed to be alone for forty-eight hours and spend this time in verbal conversation and physical exploration of each other’s body. The condition attached to the assignment is that there may not be any sexual intercourse. (Many persons with serious sexual communication problems are relieved to hear that actual intercourse is not a part of their preliminary therapy.) Most couples find that the most difficult aspect of the assignment is keeping the no-intercourse rule. When the preliminary details of communication are followed, it is difficult to resist their natural culmination. That, of course, is the point of the therapy. To know one’s spouse fully is to know him or her in body, mind, and soul. THE RAPE OF THE SOUL As you seek to know your partner fully, take care to avoid coercion. Though we must encourage each other toward mutual self-revelation, we must guard scrupulously against manipulation. Self-exposure is not always easy, and the insensitive prober can do violence to the soul. Recently I said to Vesta, "I want to know your soul, totally and completely." She reacted defensively, "Oh, no! I want some privacy. I want some part of me that is all mine." That provoked quite a discussion. I was somewhat bewildered. Thoughts like, "Why doesn’t she trust me?" and "What is she hiding, and why is she hiding it?" went racing through my head. As we talked it out, certain things became clear. She expressed her desire to be a genuine helpmate to me. She then explained her feeling about the crisis that role can produce—the loss of personal identity. She said she didn’t want to be merely "Mrs. Sproul"; she wanted an identity of her own. She wisely reminded me that the biblical union of two people into one flesh did not involve the annihilation of personal identity. The unity of marriage is not to be monistic but a unity in duality. I expressed the desire to know her soul in order to love it, but she had gotten the impression that I wanted that knowledge in order to possess her soul and exploit it. That’s the fear, and the danger is real. She will reveal her soul only when she is sure it is safe. If I want that knowledge, I must labor to establish that safety. Any other approach would be rape. QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION 1. How well do I know my partner? 2. Do I want to know and be known more intimately? 3. Am I a good listener? Do I feel that my partner is a good listener? 4. What kind of gifts do I give? What kind of gifts do I like to receive? 5. What kind of things do I hide from my spouse? 6. How do I show my love? How would my partner like me to show my love? 7. Am I a disciplined student of the knowledge of my spouse? 8. Do I like my partner’s clothes? 9. How did we do on the communication test? 10. What did the path test reveal to me? THE ROLE OF THE MAN AND WOMAN IN MARRIAGE lives we are involved in a multitude of tasks. We have roles to play and responsibilities to carry out. When we have no idea of what is expected of us in a given role or task, we have no way of measuring our performance. That may sound like a desirable state of freedom but in fact it can produce anxiety and frustration. Not long ago, educators in America experimented with grading college students on a pass-fail basis. It didn’t work. Students need to have a better idea of how well they are doing. Likewise in marriage we hear the pathetic statement, "I feel like a failure as a wife," or "I feel like a failure as a husband," because people have no idea of what is expected of them and how well they are performing up to those expectations. Thus it is important for a man and a woman to know what is expected of them in marriage. What is the role of the wife? What is the role of the husband? Everyone enters into marriage with some preconceived notion of roles. We all know childbearing belongs to the woman rather than the man. But where do other preconceived ideas come from? Most are acquired in the home. We may come up with them through conscious analysis or by intuition. By observing our parents we formulate our ideas of the role of the man and the role of the woman. When the home experiences of both marriage partners match, things can go pretty smoothly. However, when role expectations don’t correspond, tensions can develop. We won’t find two married people in America who agree on every single point of who is responsible for what. But it helps to explore these areas so that expectation can be as clear as possible. Sit down with your husband or wife—or the one with whom you’re contemplating marriage—and discuss the roles played by your parents. As a counselor said to one husband, "Try to imagine your mother married to her father or your father married to her mother." In a very real way, that’s exactly what you have in marriage, at least in terms of expected job descriptions. To see how this works out, let’s examine my own background. My father married his secretary. Before they were married, my mother had taken care of many of the details of my father’s work. That continued after they got married. Consequently, I frequently hear from Vesta, "You don’t want a wife, you want a secretary." When my father would go away on a business trip, my mother would cheerfully pack his suitcase for him, making sure he had everything he would need on his trip. Now Vesta’s father did not marry his secretary. When he went away on business, he packed his own bags. He preferred it that way. He knew exactly what he would need on his trip, and he wanted to make certain that everything he needed was securely packed. Guess what happened the first time I had to go away on a business trip after we were married. I asked Vesta to pack my suitcase. Her response? "Pack your own bag. You’re not helpless, are you? Am I your servant?" Wow! I walked away from that one thinking, "If she loved me like my mother loved my father, she would have been happy to pack my suitcase for me." Vesta walked away thinking, "If he loved me like my father loved my mother, he wouldn’t ask me to pack his suitcase." By exploring our parents’ roles, we were able to avoid a lot of further conflict in these areas. THE BIBLICAL JOB DESCRIPTION The New Testament does not provide a detailed list of specific responsibilities of the husband or wife. Nor do we find them noted on the back of the marriage license. The details will have to be worked out by the couple involved. To be sure, God not only ordains and institutes marriage, he regulates it by his commandments as well. But those commandments do not tell us who is to take out the garbage or who is to pack the suitcase. However, God is not altogether silent with respect to role and responsibility. The New Testament does provide some basic principles which are essential to marriage. The most direct commandments relating to role and responsibility we find in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In chapter five, Paul sets down the responsibilities of the husband and wife. He says: . . . be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband [Eph. 5:21-33]. Now before we plunge into an analysis of this highly controversial passage of Scripture, we must place it in its proper framework. Paul begins the chapter by saying: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma [Eph. 5:1, 2]. Thus the immediate context of Paul’s writing is the developing of what it means to be imitators of God. Here we have a general reaffirmation of the responsibility of all people in creation. We are created in the image of God and that entails the responsibility to reflect and mirror (as an image) the very character of God. The rest of the chapter is devoted to a detailed description of what this means. Paul is not concerned in this chapter about providing a practical method of imitating his first-century culture; rather, he is giving concrete instructions on how a Christian can reflect the character of God to that culture. The most important aspect of reflecting the character of God is stated in the next breath, "Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you." What follows is an explanation of what it means to walk in love. The Apostle doesn’t simply say that we should walk in love and then leave it up to us to discover the content of love. Where would we go to find out what that means? To Elmer Gantry, who tells us, "Love is the morning and the evening star, the inspiration of philosophers…?" Or to Erich Segal, who tells us that "Love means never having to say you’re sorry"? (The New Testament suggests that we should say we’re sorry even when we don’t have to.) Do we go to Hugh Hefner or Joe Namath? Why not consult the God of love, who does not let love remain an abstraction or a studied ambiguity? In this chapter Paul spells out in detail what love is all about. It involves obedience and carries with it obligation. The supreme example of that love and the measuring rod of love is Christ. This chapter will appear absurd to us unless we understand these obligations against their wider context—imitating God by walking in love. Let’s look again, bit by bit, at the passage I quoted from Ephesians: And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ [v. 21]. This verse does not apply merely to the discussion of marriage that follows. Rather, it is an introduction to a whole series of instructions involving various spheres of authority. Paul deals with the authority structure of the marriage, the family (children and parents), and the household (slaves and masters). The point of the statement is simple. All of us are called to positions of authority and positions of subordination—submission to authority. People have authority over animals; parents have authority over children; civil magistrates have authority over civilians. No one is given ultimate or absolute authority in this world except Christ. He rules over all lesser authorities by virtue of his office as King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus in this passage we are taught that imitating God and walking in love involve being subject to authority. This subjection is to take place in the "fear of Christ." That is, all authority is under Christ. When we disobey lesser authorities, we are guilty of disobeying Christ. You cannot serve the King and honor his authority by rebelling against his appointed governors. To say you honor the kingdom of Christ while you disobey his authority structure is to be guilty not only of hypocrisy but of cosmic treason. Submitting in the fear of Christ as beloved children means not a servile fear such as a prisoner has for his captor but the filial fear that a son has for his father, fear that does not wish to offend one whom he loves. Behind all of these words echoes Christ’s clear statement: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). THE ROLE OF THE WOMAN IN MARRIAGE Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord [v. 22]. This is, undoubtedly,one of the most unpopular verses in the Bible. It has been the target of almost unlimited criticism in our day. For penning these words, the Apostle Paul has been called a "male chauvinist," a "misogynist," and an "antifeminist." The verse is not popular with many people who are militant for the cause of women’s liberation. I suspect that some who read this book will read no further than this point, throwing the book in the wastebasket as being "more male supremacy propaganda." If you are so inclined, I can only beg you to hear Paul out before you dismiss him. He is not setting forth a case for male supremacy, nor engaging in a diatribe against women. Suppression or exploitation of women is not his concern. He is writing about what it means to imitate God and to walk in love in marriage. When Paul calls the woman to be in subjection to her husband, he roots his argument in creation. He does not appeal to the status of women in the first-century world. He does not seek to perpetuate a concept of the inferiority of women found in the distorted cultures of ancient Greece or Rome. He is dealing with the role of woman as it is established in creation, maintained in the Old Covenant, and reaffirmed in the New Covenant. To see Paul merely echoing his culture at this point is to do violence to the text and gross insult to the Apostle. In creation, woman is not called to the subordination of a slave to a tyrant. It is the subordination of a queen to a king. In creation Adam and Eve are given dominion over the earth. Together as God’s deputy monarchs, they rule over the earth. We read in Genesis: And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" [Gen. 1:28]. Eve was created to be a queen, not a slave. Her role was that of helpmate to her husband. Throughout the narrative of creation, we hear the refrain of God’s benediction—God creates and then says, "That’s good!" But finally the malediction comes as God observes something that is not good. The very first negative judgment we find in Holy Writ is a judgment on loneliness. God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone." So God responded to the situation of loneliness by saying, "I will make him a helper suitable for him" (Gen. 2:18). So God created woman and brought her to Adam. What did Adam say? Did he say, "A slave! just what I always wanted"? Did he say, "Thank you, God, for this object that I can exploit at my pleasure"? God forbid. Adam was elated with this new and vital creation, exclaiming: This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh: She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of man [Gen. 2:23]. What does it mean to be "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh"? This is a graphic, concrete Hebrew way of expressing the notion of essential unity. Man and woman are one in essence. That is to say, Adam and Eve are equal in dignity, value, and glory. In essential unity there is absolutely no room for inferiority of person. The man and woman are equal in every respect except one—authority. Two different tasks are given to people of equal value and dignity. In the economy of marriage, only the job descriptions are different. Perhaps the ultimate analogy that we have for the notion of essential unity with economic subordination is the classic view of the Holy Trinity. When Christians confess their faith in the Trinity, they usually do it with the following formula: "The Trinity is one in essence but three in person." The three members of the Trinity are equal in glory, value, power, holiness, omnipotence, omniscience, etc. The Son is no less divine than the Father. All are fully God, being co-eternal and co-essential. The list could continue, but the idea is clear. With all this essential unity, however, in redemption there are levels of subordination. What is meant by the "economy" of redemption has nothing to do with finances or the gross heavenly product. Economy in this context has to do with how the plan of redemption is carried out. It deals with the division of labor of the Trinity. The Father sends the Son to redeem the world, the Son doesn’t send the Father. The Holy Spirit is sent by both Father and Son, yet is equal to the Father and Son. Thus we see that in principle the notion of subordination does not carry with it the notion of inferiority. It is significant for our study that Christ willingly submitted to the Father, without a word of protest. It is precisely that willingness that we are called to imitate in submitting ourselves to authority. When the New Testament calls wives to be in subjection to their own husbands, there is no hint of female inferiority. That notion is neither explicitly stated nor implied. When the idea is wrenched out of Scripture, it is done so by twisted minds. What is called for is a division of labor in the economy of marriage. The role of leadership is assigned to the man and not to the woman. In the women’s liberation movement we have seen a massive protest against male supremacy. Women are marching to recapture their dignity. How did they ever lose it in the first place? Because God created Adam before he created woman? Because Moses was a male chauvinist? Because Paul was a misogynist? Certainly not. The loss of female dignity came about when sinful male arrogance declared the myth that preeminence in authority meant superiority in dignity. Men arrived at the gratuitous conclusion that, since God put them in charge of the home, it must have been because he knew they were intrinsically better—wiser, more intelligent, and all the other nonsense men have claimed for themselves. Unfortunately, many women in protesting their loss of dignity and taking steps to correct the problem have bought the lie that the men started. They’ve fallen into the trap of thinking the only way of restoring their dignity is by removing men from their position of authority and claiming that prerogative for themselves. To usurp the authority of the husband is seen by many as the only possible solution to the problem. When this happens, the authentically noble and just aspirations of women’s lib degenerate to a peasant’s revolt that will leave women worse off than they now are. When a good principle or institution is abused, some will always seek to destroy the principle or institution altogether—"throwing out the baby with the bath water." Others of a less militant stripe say they are not interested in replacing male supremacy with female supremacy—exchanging one set of oppressors for another. They want equality, not revenge. It is from this more moderate wing that we get another myth—the myth of the 50-50 marriage. I call the idea of a 50-50 marriage a myth because it doesn’t correspond to reality. No one has a 50-50 marriage, and no one ever will. A 50-50 marriage does not exist, because it can’t exist. Try to imagine a marriage with an absolutely equal distribution of authority. What happens when the husband and wife disagree on a policy decision? Suppose, for example, your daughter or son wants to go to a dance. Now no external authority covers the issue. God neither commands nor prohibits your children from dancing. The civil authorities leave it up to you. Suppose the husband is convinced the child should not go to the dance and the wife is equally convinced that she should. Who decides the issue? Some might suggest at this point that issues like these can be dealt with in advance by agreeing that the father decides policy with respect to the son and the mother decides with respect to the daughter. Or you might agree that all social decisions are under the jurisdiction of the wife and economic decisions under the jurisdiction of the husband. That would be fine if there were an absolute line of demarcation between sociology and economics. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Or perhaps the problem could be solved by agreeing in advance to submit to binding arbitration in the case of a stalemate. Pity the poor third party. He would need the collective wisdom of nine justices of the Supreme Court. Then the problem of enforcing the decision remains, since either party could still declare a wildcat strike. What really happens when people agree to a 50-50 marriage is one of two things. Either the marriage is paralyzed by a "Mexican standoff" or it becomes a perpetual power struggle to gain 51 percent or a controlling share of the authority stock. In reality, a marriage of equal distribution of authority is a marriage without leadership. Fifty-fifty authority in the final analysis means no authority. Thus the 50-50 marriage, which seems so attractive at first glance, under scrutiny reveals itself to be a euphemism for marital anarchy. How is the submission of the wife to be carried out? According to Paul it is to be done "as to the Lord." This means several things. Let’s look first at the analogy Paul makes between marriage and the relationship of Christ to his Church. The wife is to submit to her husband as the Church submits to Christ. In a real sense, the husband is called to be the lord of the home. He carries the authority of Christ. Submission "as to the Lord" also includes the idea that, in submitting to the authority of the husband, the wife is submitting at the same time to the authority of Christ. For a healthy marriage, it is vital that the husband be the head of the house. Most women are well aware of that. I have yet to find a woman who said she wanted to be married to a man she could dominate. As a general rule, women want leadership from their husbands, though they do not want tyranny. What Christian woman would find it difficult to be submissive if she were married to Christ? But that’s the problem—no husband is exactly like Christ. To submit to anyone less than Christ is difficult in a marriage. Yet it is Christ who commands women to be submissive to their sinful, fallible husbands. In this sense Christ is the silent partner of the marriage. It is hard for a wife to submit when she disagrees with her husband. But when she knows her submission is an act of obedience to Christ, and honors Christ, it is much less difficult. What happens if the man doesn’t want to assume the responsibility of leadership and refuses to act as head of the house, deferring all the decisions to his wife? What if the man wants his wife to be his mother rather than his wife? This can be a very difficult problem. In such situations women tend to step into the void and assume the authority, even when they have no desire to lead. This is not a good solution to the problem. The woman is free to use all of her skills and power of persuasion to help the man carry out his responsibility, but she must not assume the authority that is not hers. This problem was brought home to me recently in a slightly different situation. A teenage boy told me that he was a Christian but both his parents clearly repudiated the Christian faith. He said to me, "Doesn’t the Bible teach that the father is supposed to be the spiritual leader in the home and function as the ’priest’ of the household?" I agreed. Then he asked, "Since my father refuses to assume that responsibility, isn’t it my responsibility to assume the spiritual leadership of the home?" I said to the boy, "Absolutely not. God has called you to be a Christian son, not a Christian father." The fact that his father neglected his duty in no way entitled or demanded that his son assume that role. I told the son that the best way to bear witness to Christ in his family situation was to be a model Christian son, bending over backwards to be as obedient as he could possibly be to his parents. The same principle applies to women who are married to men who neglect their duty. Paul elaborates on the analogy of Christ and the Church by saying: For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body [v. 23]. In this verse the analogy of lordship is reinforced. The Church does not share authority 50-50 with Christ. Christ does not rule by referendum. The Church has no veto power or power of impeachment. The Church is not a democracy; it is a kingdom. And so is the home. Just as Christ reigns in sovereign authority over the Church, so the husband has sovereign authority over the wife. This does not mean, however, that the husband never listens to the wife’s requests or petitions. Again the analogy with Christ is important. Christ hears the groans of his people. He is pleased when they bring their requests to him and tell him their desires. The Church is not required to walk five paces behind her groom and exist as a nonentity. Neither is the wife. May the wife ever disobey her husband? The biblical answer to that is clear. There are times when the wife not only may disobey, but must disobey. The husband is not the only authority in the wife’s life. She is also responsible to the authority of God and the authority of the state. What if the authorities conflict? Obviously the higher authority must be obeyed. A simple rule of thumb in these matters is this: A wife must disobey her husband when her husband commands her to do something God forbids or forbids her from doing something God commands. (This same principle applies when obedience to the state conflicts with obedience to God.) For example, if a husband orders his wife to murder, steal, or commit adultery; it is the moral obligation of the wife to disobey him. Conversely, if the husband forbids his wife to attend church on Sunday morning, she should go anyway, since God commands her not to forsake the assembling together with the saints for worship. Yet it’s not always easy to apply this principle. What about going to the church social? Does God command you to do that? What if your husband’s decision makes you unhappy or oppressed? Does God command you to be happy? Does he command you to be free of oppression? Here is where the imitation of Christ touches the heart of the woman’s role. To imitate Christ in the task of submission may involve a real participation in the humiliation and the suffering of Christ. There are times when the wife may disobey, but she must be very careful to insure that disobedience is done in order to obey God. It is easy to develop a false spirituality, distorting the commandments of God in such a way as to provide a spiritual subterfuge that covers the real desire to disobey her husband. Beware of the multitude of sins people commit in the name of some form of liberation. THE ROLE OF THE MAN IN MARRIAGE If the woman seems to have a difficult task in submitting to her husband, how much more difficult is the responsibility given the man. Not only is the man commanded to love his wife (which in earthly terms may be quite easy), but he is commanded to love her as Christ loved the Church. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her [v. 25]. On the surface it seems the Apostle is giving some naive counsel. Picture a man telling a marriage counselor he doesn’t love his wife anymore. In fact, he says he can’t stand her. She has become ugly and sloppy and is always nagging, etc. Finally the marriage counselor turns to the man and says, "What you need to repair your marriage is to love your wife." Some advice! What is the man supposed to do? Push the button and—bingo! He’s in love again? Certainly not. The way the word "love" is normally used in our society, it is impossible to create it by an act of the will. I can’t decide to be in love. When we talk about love, we usually do so by speaking of it in the passive voice: "I fell in love," or "Zing went the strings of my heart." Love in the world’s view is something that happens to me, not something I can conjure by shutting my eyes, taking a deep breath, and making a decision. But in the New Testament, love is more of a verb than a noun. It has more to do with acting than with feeling. The call to love is not so much a call to a certain state of feeling as it is to a quality of action. When Paul says, "Love your wives," he is saying, "Be loving toward your wife—treat her as lovely." Do the things that are truly loving things. If the husband doesn’t feel romantic toward his wife, that does not mean he can’t be loving. To be sure, romance makes it a lot easier to be loving, but it is not a necessary prerequisite for fulfilling the biblical mandate. How are husbands to love their wives? How much love is required of the man? Paul says like Christ loves the Church. How much does Christ love his Church? Notice that Paul adds that Christ "gave himself up for her." The kind of love Christ has for the Church is self-sacrificial love. Consider the substance of Christ’s sacrifice for the Church. He gave everything he had, including his life, for his bride. He withheld nothing. How much patience does he have with his Church? How often must he endure loss of affection and rebellion? Is there any problem that a man could possibly have with his wife that Christ hasn’t had with the Church? Yet he continues to love her. What if the wife refuses to be submissive, must the husband still love his wife? Does Christ still love the Church? Again, if one partner refuses to obey his responsibilities and violates his role, that does not relieve the other person from responsibility. God does not say, "Wives be submissive to your husbands when they are loving," or "Husbands love your wives when they are submissive." Two wrongs still don’t add up to a right. Retaliation brings no honor to Christ. One of the most important dimensions of the analogy between Christ and the Church and a husband and his wife is the importance given to the wife. Christ never regards his bride with a casual interest or considers her of secondary importance. That’s no small thing. Consider the responsibilities that belong to Christ as King of the cosmos. He is not a do-nothing king with only titular importance. He is an extremely busy king. His is the responsibility for maintaining the entire universe. He must see to it that the sun rises every day, the stars remain in their courses, earthly kingdoms rise and fall, and a host of other things. But with this schedule, he still has time for his bride. If ever a husband had a right to neglect his wife, it is Christ. Yet the petitions from the Church are not relegated to the attention of minor angels in a heavenly bureaucracy. Christ intercedes for his people daily. He is never "away on business" and never "too busy" for his bride. He gives himself without reservation. What woman would mind submitting herself to that kind of love? It is all too easy for married men to view their wives with steadily diminishing importance once the wedding is over. Before that, the man expends an enormous amount of energy seeking to woo and win his wife. He enters the courting relationship with the zeal and the dedication of an Olympic-bound athlete. He gives his girl his undivided attention, making her the center of his devotion. When the marriage is achieved, our athlete turns his attention to other goals. He figures he has the romantic aspect of his life under control and now goes on to scale new heights. He devotes less and less time to his wife, treating her as less and less important. In the meantime the woman, being accustomed to the courting process, enters the marriage relationship expecting that to continue. As the marriage progresses, she finds herself devoting more attention to her husband than she did before the marriage, while he is devoting less attention to her. Now she is washing his clothes, cooking his meals, making his bed, cleaning his house—maybe even packing his suitcase. At the same time, he is becoming less affectionate (though perhaps more erotic), taking her out less, and generally paying less attention to her. This syndrome, when allowed to continue unchecked, frequently results in an affair. The affair, popularized by novels and romanticized by Hollywood and television, has become a national epidemic. At one time in my ministry I was counseling sixteen couples who were having marital problems with a third party involved. In every case I asked the unfaithful partner the same question, "What is it that attracted you to this person" In every single case the answer was essentially the same, "He made me feel like a woman," or "She made me feel like a man again." It’s easy to make a woman feel like a woman during courtship. It’s not so easy to do it in marriage. It simply cannot be done if the wife is regarded as being of secondary importance. When Paul speaks of the necessity of the husband giving himself to the wife as Christ gave himself to the church, he is touching the very heart of marriage. Certain kinds of men are particularly vulnerable to wife-neglect. Men involved in public service can easily delude themselves into thinking their work is more important than their wives. Clergymen and doctors must especially be wary of this as they are always on call. Though it can never be a substitute for daily concern and attention for the wife, the annual honeymoon can be a great boon to a growing marriage. After ten years without one and then finally experiencing the opportunity of being away together for a week, Vesta and I resolved never to go through another year without a honeymoon. We go away without the children, and we can then give our undivided attention to each other. I’ve asked many couples if they ever go away like this, and they often say no. "We can’t afford it," they usually say. Yet these people have two cars, a color TV, etc. I would love to have two cars, but I can’t afford that and a honeymoon too. Vesta and I find these honeymoons so meaningful that they represent a necessity and not a luxury in our budget. Paul elaborates further on the analogy of Christ and the Church by calling attention to the purpose of Christ’s sacrificial self-giving: …that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and blameless [vv. 26, 27]. Christ’s goal is to present his bride in "all her glory." Why does he want to do that? Christ has intrinsic glory—the glory of the only begotten Son of God. He certainly doesn’t need any more glory. The Church has no intrinsic glory. Any glory the Church has is derived. It gains its glory exclusively from Christ. Christ doesn’t need the Church yet his passionate concern is that his bride possess the fullness of glory. When the New Testament speaks of the Church’s glory, it is speaking of its dignity. By analogy, the husband is called to give himself to the purpose of establishing his wife in the fullness of dignity. When he uses his authority to destroy his wife’s dignity, he becomes the direct antithesis of Christ. He mirrors not Christ but the Antichrist. After marriage the biggest single influence on the development of the wife’s personality and character is the husband. When a man comes to me and complains that his wife has changed since they got married, I immediately respond, "Who do you suppose changed her?" In a sense, the wife a man has is the wife he has produced. If he has a monster, maybe he ought to examine his own nature. In the Ephesians passage, it is clear that the husband is called to be the priest of his home. The man is responsible for the spiritual well-being of his wife. Her sanctification is his responsibility There is probably no male task that has been more neglected in our society than this one. The Christian Church in America is becoming a feminine organization. Count the heads in your church on Sunday morning and see how many more women are present than men. My adult education classes are filled with women whose husbands are home in bed or at the golf course on Sunday morning. While the wives are growing spiritually, the husbands are going to seed. I get a lot of static from men whose wives are bugging them to get more involved in the church. A man should know more about the things of God than his wife and certainly more than his children. He should be the primary teacher and prime example for his wife. This is an awesome responsibility—a responsibility for which every husband will be held accountable. The priestly role of the husband is not optional, but mandatory. In seeking the sanctification of the Church, there is a sense in which Christ seeks to change his wife. So the husband is called to change his wife. But that change is not supposed to ruin her. The change is to be toward a higher conformity to the image of Christ. We should seek to present our wives to Christ as holy and blameless, being without spot or wrinkle! Paul goes on to say: So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body [vv. 28-30]. How much do you love your body? How much time do you spend trying to make it look nice and feel good? Oh, what we go through for the sake of our bodies! Right this minute, as I am penning these lines, I am about to go crazy for the sake of my body. I am trying to lose twenty pounds by means of Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution. I’m "purple" and the pounds are beginning to go. But for a carbohydrate addict this diet is not my idea of fun. I’d give my kingdom for a loaf of bread or a baked potato! What do you do when someone attacks your body? I know I become defensive when someone tries to harm me. I’m always a little amused and even more annoyed when someone attacks me verbally and as soon as I begin to reply the person says, "don’t get defensive!" It’s like Hitler mobilizing his panzer division for a blitzkrieg and telling the Polish chief of state not to get defensive. The Apostle’s point is clear. Husbands are called to love their wives as their own bodies. Does that not imply that the husband will do everything in his power to protect and defend his wife from any possible harm? He is to be her knight in shining armor, guarding her in body, mind, and soul. Finally, the husband is called to nourish and cherish his wife. Do you cherish your wife? That is, do you put a high value on her? Do you enjoy the advances of other women or do you regard them as a threat to your cherished marriage? I began my professional teaching career at age twenty-six. Being a college professor who deals with girls only a few years younger can be very hazardous. For many young women there is a certain charisma attached to the professor, especially if he is young. Some make it a point of sorority honor to try to seduce these men. I remember one young thing who behaved in a very seductive way, both in clothing and manner. After one examination, she came to my desk to turn in her paper and in a super-sultry voice said to me, "I have a very difficult time expressing myself with words, Mr. Sproul." I turned red and said, "Unfortunately, Miss—, words are all that count on this exam." Though I was flattered and my ego was titillated, I soon learned that indulging my ego to such flattery could be a serious threat to my marriage. If that sort of thing happens now, a little defense buzzer rings inside of me, and I feel insulted rather than flattered because my cherished marriage is at stake. I remember reading the results of a poll taken among married couples. The poll asked, if you had it to do over again, would you marry the person you’re married to now?" The answers were staggering. A vast majority answered, "No." How much do they cherish their partners? While driving one day, I asked myself the same question, adding one new dimension. I asked the question, "If I could be married to any woman in the world, to whom would I like to be married?" In an instant, without hesitation, the answer came—Vesta. What a thrill to know that in the privacy of my own soul I could say that. My wife submits to my authority, but she is no slave. She is feisty and spirited, every inch a woman. She is a helpmate, and I wouldn’t trade her for anyone. She knows she is cherished. What kind of role do you play in your marriage? Does your role imitate God? Do you walk in love? If you do, you have a happy marriage. QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION 1. What roles do you fulfill in the home? 2. What roles did your parents fulfill? 3. Does Christ have the authority to regulate your role? 4. Does subordination mean inferiority? 5. What is a helpmate? 6. Do you want a 50-50 marriage? 7. Do you want male "leadership" in the home? Is it there? 8. When can a wife disobey her husband? 9. What is the difference between biblical love and Hollywood love? 10. What does it mean for a husband to "give himself" to his wife? 11. Why do people have affairs? 12. What makes you feel like a man? a woman? 13. How often do you go away together? How can you manage it more often? 14. Who is the spiritual leader in your home? 15. What does it mean to "cherish" your spouse? Sproul, R. (. C. (1975). The intimate marriage : A practical guide to building a great marriage. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
        1.  — Edited

          I have had Faithlife awhile now but never use it. Is it suppose to be more social? How do you find others like minded in faith on this site? Can anyone help? Please help desperately seeking reformed minded brothers in the sea of falsehood of today. If anyone Has Facebook I need more faithful to the truth of biblical doctrine. Seeing the masses lead astray on social media is as depressing as watching mainstream news. It is discouraging. https://www.facebook.com/groups/Christianwrittings/
        2. Some very strong points, his 7 steps make sense but when he writes about the hidden or uncontested sin he implies that the winner must Cossacks all and surrender all at the time of asking for the Holy Spirit or you will not receive Him. Odd but that concept challenges the process of sanctification when the Holy Spirit begins teaching counseling you guiding you through something. If we wait until we are perfect in submission before we can receive the fullness of His power then we true will miss out,
          1. I'm so sorry, and praise the Lord by life the Dr. Sproul, but he is the dweling place at the Lord reason of your lecture and sermons. Praise to the Lord.