The writer of Hebrews speaks as if the Word of God can stand alone apart from any crafty psychology or tear jerking stories. Please understand I'm not against illustrations that unfold truth and help us grasp the original meaning. I'm concerned that we forget that God's Word can do what nothing else can. The writer says in Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." This is POWERFUL and comforting! As a preacher of the Gospel I believe that my call is to be faithful to the text and help explain what God is saying. Many of us can encourage others to change but I believe that God is the one who brings real, lasting change. We can truly trust God's Word to stand alone apart from adding our good psychology about what we might feel about the matter. God's Word will stand the test of time and not return void; all we are called to do is to be faithful to what it truly says as we communicate it.
I'm blessed to be leading a large group of high school students in a Life Group. We are beginning to study another book, the book of Acts and have recently studied 1 & 2 Corinthians. They are developing good study practices for inductive Bible study that will be used for a life-time. Allow me to recommend some key questions you should consider when studying the Word of God:
- Who wrote this and to whom was it written?
- When was it written?
- What were the issues at hand and why was it written?
- What was happening at the time that this was written--in the community or church?
- Where was it written and what is known about the place?
- What might you be able to find about about the geography / typography?
- What is happening in the preceding and following chapters?
- Is it consistent to other Scripture?
- Does my interpretation make sense as it relates to the surrounding text?
- How does this apply to me or should it?