Monday, September 15, 2008

How to read a Bible passage about doctrines

In Christianity, doctrines are not merely something to be believed. The rituals and doctrines we practice contain spiritual power. When encountering a doctrine, ask yourself:

1. How do we know this Bible verse is important to a particular doctrine?
2. Is there a possibility that this is the Bible writer’s own opinion?
3. Find all the Bible verses regarding this doctrine?
4. Read the passages in at least two other translations.
5. St Paul tells us to rightly divide the word of truth. This means you should look for all the Bible passages which speak on this issue.
6. There is a God-side and a human-side to every command or doctrine. For instance, we are told to love others as God loves us. When looking at a doctrine, ask what is the God-side of this doctrine? What is the human side?
7. What does the mission statement or creed of your denomination state about this particular doctrine? Why?
8. Most denominations believe the same things on the important issues. They generally believe everything found in the historical creeds – the Apostles’ Creed, the Athanasian Creed, etc—and differ only on minor doctrines. If your denomination differs in a doctrine from other denominations, find the verses that support your denomination’s view? Find verses that do not support it.
9. Why is this doctrine important? What is it supposed to accomplish in a believer’s life?
10. Is it possible that this doctrine was changed by the New Covenant, or by the death and resurrection of Christ?
11. Often doctrines come about because of the mistranslation of a particular word, a cult-leader’s misreading of the King James Version, bad reading comprehension or Scripture-twisting? Make sure you understand all the words in this passage, and that you understand the culture that produced this Bible passage?
12. Are there any specific requirements about how this particular doctrine or sacrament must be done?
God gives healing virtue when hands are laid on us for healing; it is our responsibility to trust, obey, give thanks, and confess one’s belief in His word. Study the concept of “laying on of hands” You will see that the God-side states that something is given when a minister of God lays hands on someone– healing virtue, a spiritual gift. What is a believer’s human responsibility when hands are laid on him? Do a concordance search.
Every word or command of God is like a seed. When God speaks a word into a believer’s life, that word has the power within it to heal or to accomplish what God sent it out to do. Read the story of the parable of the seed. Or read the story of Peter walking on the water. What was the command, seed, or word? What is the human-side or the human responsibility?
Jesus told us that when we pray we must believe that God has answered us, and then we will receive what we have believed. Read about the incident of the cursing of the fig tree? What does the cursing of the fig tree say about waiting, seeing, and believing while we pray?
Paul states that if we live under the law of sin and death we cannot be under the law of love. Either we live legalistically by faith in our righteousness or we live as God’s children by faith in God’s loving grace. The early Christians worshiped on the Lord’s Day because it was the day of Christ’s resurrection. They collected their tithes on the Lord’s Day and St John received his revelations on the Lord’s Day. The Spirit of God descended on Pentecost, the fiftieth day – seven weeks and a day-- and the festival of first fruits, the jubilee. It symbolized a new birth of grace and new freedom from the law. Compare this with Psalm 118: This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Study the book of Galations. What does this say about the freedom Christians have in Christ? Is there any rule about how or when Christians should pray?
Paul states it is best not to marry, unless one is burning with passion. In Genesis, God declares that it is not good for the man to be alone. The writer of Proverbs says he who finds a wife finds a good thing. Write an article about divine commandment, human experience, societal opinion.
Examine The Preacher’s (Ecclesiastes) comment about never having found a good woman in 1000. Examine the story of Deborah and Barak. Research the city of Corinth and the worship of Bacchus. How does this connect to Paul’s attitude toward the Corinthian women? What do you think about women preachers?

1. Read Paul’s letter to the Colossians to see what Paul says about rules and regulations.
2. If you have not read the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, please read it.
3. Do a search in your concordance for the word “tradition.”
4. Compare Jeremiah chapter 31:33, Isaiah 58, Isaiah 66, the book of Malachi, Mark 2:23-26, John chapter 16.
5. Go to the library and find a book on religious traditions.

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