Lesson 1 - What Does the Bible Say...

Most times that I hear a question about the Bible it starts with, "Where in the Bible does it say.....?" Of course that is the right way to start a serious question since the Bible is indeed the only way we have to understand God's will and instructions for us. The Bible is a small book. It is easy to read. It is readily available. It is inexpensive. It has been around for a long time. It is recognized by most as God's Word. However, for some reason, it is unread by the vast majority of people, even those who regularly attend a church. There are several "reasons" this may be the case:

1. People feel (or have been told by religious leaders) the Bible is too hard to understand.
2. People allow the preacher, elders, parents, or others to read it for them and tell them what it says.
3. People don't feel the urgency of reading it until they are in their older years.
4. Society has taught us the Bible is a fairy tale and if you read and believe it you are not an enlightened mind.

So asking the question, "Where does the Bible say...?" is good but the danger is we tend to select a few verses, read them, and move on. Plucking small pieces of God's will out of their overall context will be build lasting understanding, however. It is critical to have some proper context about the scriptures before focusing in on the "Where does the Bible say....?" questions.

In this lesson we will establish some simple rules and context for studying God's Word so we can truly examine the scriptures for what they say, and not what we want them to say. The rules will allow us to us logic and reason during study instead of relying on emotions or feelings. Since emotions are fluid they are an unreliable filter through which to the search for answers. Furthermore, every human has differing levels of emotions. So using these varying level of emotions will produce different results.
Rule 1
When the Bible gives specific instruction on a subject (who, what, when, why, how) it is inspired, authoritative, and complete as it is written.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

When God has spoken on a subject, what He said is final. We cannot add to it. We cannot take anyway from it. In His Infinite wisdom God delivered His Word to us. He took great care to tell us exactly what He wanted us to know. For us to suggest He left out thoughts, ideas, or practices is a mistake. Likewise for us to think He adding some things that would not apply as time passed, or cultures changed suggests we don't believe in an all knowing God who transcends time and trends. In the book Silence of the Scriptures, by Phil Sanders, it is put like this (paraphrased); "God spoke, then shut up His own mouth, and we have no right to reopen God's mouth that He Himself shut up."

Rule 2
When the Bible does not give specific instruction on a subject (who, what, when, why, how) we are at liberty to freely act in love.

Galatians 5:13
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Not every single "thou shall" and "thou shall not" is covered in the Bible. If they were the pages would reach to the sun. Instead God gave us specific instructions in some matters and left us to live our lives in service to Him, and our fellow man, with love in others. Listen carefully, this is most often the area that cause the world to see Christians as hypocrites! When we cannot back our actions, or condemnation of actions, with God's Word we earn the title hypocrite. Throughout the years well meaning religious folks have added many additional "commandments" to God's Will. These additional "commandments" are justified using ideas like:

1. They will make people better and more religious.

There is no way to "out better" or "out religious" God. If He didn't make the rule it is not worth having no matter how good it makes us feel about ourselves!

Revelation 22:18
For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;

2. Religious leaders made a rule so we must follow it.

Jesus condemned the Pharisees for doing this exact thing! Yet today we have elders, preachers, and others adding to God's Will under the idea that they have some sort of Godly authority to do so. Leaders cannot bind a rule on anyone without authority from God.

Matthew 15:12-13
Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"
13 But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."

3. It's tradition.

It the tradition is based in Bible teaching then it is a proper practice. However, if is not, then it is merely warrants the title "tradition." No all traditions are sin, but binding them on others to that point is.

Colossians 2:8
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Rule 3
Everything we do, say, and think should be rooted in love of God and our fellow man.

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 14:15
If you love Me, keep My commandments.

Love is why God does what He does. It should be why we do what we do. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love never fails. We may have the right biblical facts, we may come to church regularly, we may be the best speaker or song leader. If we aren't rooted in love we are nothing. This is never more true than when sharing the gospel (which is the ultimate sign of love) in a kind and patient way.

Rule 4
Recognizing the context of a verse, or thought, is the only way to understand it.

Acts 20:27
For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

Too many people practice "fortune cookie" religion. Take a verse here, and a verse there, and weave together what we want to believe with these morsels of information. Frankly this is the easy way to feel good about ourselves and feel justified. However when we ignore the context of the verse(s), or thoughts, we ignore the bigger picture God has in mind for us.

One of the areas context is most often abused is having a proper understanding of the Old and New Testaments. Too many people look into the books from Genesis and Malachi guidance when these books have been fulfilled and set aside by the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. The Old Testament, and it's people, had the purpose of preparing a pathway for the Christ to come. Once He does, it is fulfilled and no longer has authority in our lives.

Matthew 5:17
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Matthew 26:28
For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

John 1:17
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:3
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

Hebrews 8:7
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.

Hebrews 8:13
In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Galatians 4:21-31
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written:

"Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband."

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

Rule 5
Command - Example - Necessary Inference

Interpreting the Bible using Hermeneutics removes our own desires, emotions, and biases and helps us focus on what is being commanded, shown, and reasoned by God:

1. Command

These are the "Thou shall" and "Thou shall not" parts of scripture.

2. Example

When we look at what the Christians did in the Bible, under the authority of the Holy Spirit, we must do the same things. Likewise when we look at what they avoided, we should avoid those things.

3. Necessary Inference

In those "grey areas" we can often find concepts and ideas that will lead us to find God's Will. As an example; the bible says 1 Corinthians 6:19 says our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The context of the verse is discussing sexually immoral behavior. However the thought that our bodies are not our own can lead us to understand that we should treat them with respect in all things and avoid harming them with drugs, self mutilation, suicide, and other things too.


Not that we have a framework by which we can look into the Bible to answer our questions and find instructions for life we can get started with studying the specific questions that were asked. We will spend time on each question and answer it as completely as possible. If you do not understand something being taught please speak up. If you hear a question, and you already know the answer, share your thoughts. Even if you know the answer listen carefully because you may hear something that will help you explain it to someone else.

-About heaven, as in the new heaven and earth?
-Where does the bible say we can have a youth minister?
-What about A/V aids?
-Musical Instruments
-Self Worth?
-Tattoos and other markings?
-Coming to church Sunday and Wednesday night?
-How do I talk to someone about church who will not listen?
-What if I have friend who is a Christian but doesn't act like it?