Introduction: My granddaughters are beginning readers. I watched a
video of one of them reading her Bible. When she faced a more
difficult word, she would sound out the letters, and then consider
whether that word made sense in that sentence. We should never get
over determining how the words of the Bible work together to make
sense. How is the best way to do this? Let’s see what the Bible
teaches us on this subject!

  1. Belief

    1. Read Luke 24:36-37. What would cause the disciples think
      that Jesus was a ghost? (Dead people who visit are not

    2. Read Luke 24:38. What is Jesus really asking? Drill down
      to what is at the bottom of His question? (Why do you
      presume that I am still dead?)

    3. Read Luke 24:39-40. Let’s look at how Jesus goes about
      changing their presumptions about Him. What is the first
      approach Jesus takes? (He gives them practical proof. He
      appeals to their sense of sight and touch. Jesus’ hands
      and feet would show the marks of His crucifixion.)

      1. What is an equivalent today for helping someone to
        correctly interpret the Bible? (To show how the Bible
        has changed you or changed someone else.)

    4. Read Luke 24:41. Why did the disciples not believe their
      sense of sight and touch? (They were overwhelmed with joy.
      It was “too good to be true.”)

    5. Read Luke 24:42-43. How is this different than showing His
      hands and feet? (This is still physical proof, but it also
      involves their understanding of the difference between
      humans and spirits in terms of the life process.)

      1. What is an equivalent today for helping someone to
        correctly interpret the Bible? (Instead of a snapshot
        of the life of a changed person, you would show how
        they approach problems differently. Their thinking
        process has changed.)

    6. Read Luke 24:44-45. How is Jesus changing their
      presumptions now? (He turns to the Bible to prove this is
      what was supposed to happen to Him.)

      1. The equivalent today would be teaching an unbeliever
        through a Bible study. Why did Jesus not start His
        proof with the Bible?

        1. Is there a lesson in this for us today?

    7. Read Luke 24:46-48. Jesus is quoting the Bible. He seems
      to have Hosea 6:1-3 in mind. Let’s read it. What new
      element has Jesus added to His proof that He is risen? (He
      points to a text that not only mentions the third day for
      restoration, it sets out the path for the disciples – they
      will “press on” to acknowledge Jesus’ work as His as
      witnesses. What could be better than a prophecy that
      mentions the work of the person that you are trying to

    8. Read Luke 24:49. What additional proof will the disciples
      be given? (They will be “clothed” with the power of the
      Holy Spirit!)

      1. Have you considered adding this to your understanding
        of the Bible?

        1. Will the Holy Spirit reinforce (or challenge)
          your understanding of the Bible?

        2. Should you invite a nonbeliever to look for the
          leading of the Holy Spirit?

    9. Read Hebrews 11:6. What is the ultimate requirement for
      interpreting the Bible? (Faith! A belief that God can
      change things.)

  2. Our Limitations

    1. Read John 9:1-2. What caused the disciples to believe that
      blindness came about because of sin? (Their spiritual
      understanding is filtered through their existing beliefs.)

      1. Is this a problem for us in understanding the Bible?

    2. Read John 9:3. What is required to believe Jesus? (The
      disciples would put away their belief that sin caused

    3. Jesus gives the blind man sight. Let’s skip down a few
      verses and read John 9:14-16. What prevented the Pharisees
      from believing that Jesus healed this man? (It was their
      understanding of the Bible and the nature of sin.)

      1. What motivated others to argue that Jesus was not a
        sinner? (Their understanding of the Bible that
        sinners could not perform miracles.)

      2. Do you see that we have two different understandings
        of the Bible that result in different conclusions?

        1. How should we avoid this problem? Can it be
          avoided? (The Pharisees argue that their
          understanding of the Bible prevents Jesus from
          having performed this miracle. The other group
          accepts the miracle and Jesus’ role in it. This
          second group looks for a correct understanding.
          Following the course of the second group helps
          us to set aside prior thinking in understanding
          the Bible.)

    4. Read John 9:19-22. What motivates the response of the
      blind man’s parents? (They are afraid of being “put out of
      the synagogue.”)

      1. Does this reflect a problem today when we try to
        understand the Bible? Are we afraid to reach certain
        conclusions because of the reaction of those within
        our church?

      2. If we read the views of early leaders of our church,
        we find exhortations not to allow what we have
        believed in the past to control our present
        understanding. However, the established church tells
        us to hold on to the “pillars” and to rest on the
        “firm foundation” of current belief. Which is
        correct? Are both wrong?

    5. Read John 9:30-34. What was feared happened – the man is
      thrown out of the synagogue. What do you think about the
      logic of the formerly blind man?

      1. How important is logic to understanding the Bible?
        Can it be a trap? (While I understand the warnings
        about pride and human reasoning, I believe that logic
        is essential as shown by this formerly blind man.
        Recall two weeks ago our discussion about the
        dishonest servant ( Luke 16:8), and how the master
        commended him for being “shrewd?” That counsels
        common sense.)

      2. What do you think about the formerly blind man’s lack
        of deference to the religious leaders? (His lack of
        deference arises from a combination of his
        understanding of what happened to him and his
        religious beliefs. That is much different than simply
        being disrespectful.)

    6. Read John 9:39-41. Do we struggle with blindness in
      interpreting the Bible? How can we cure this? (In our
      story Jesus intervenes to fix the blindness of those who
      want a cure. Today, we can call on God in the form of the
      Holy Spirit, if we are willing, to fix our blindness.)

    7. Read 2 Peter 3:15-16. How easy is it to correctly
      understand the Bible? (This text tells us that some things
      written by Paul are “hard to understand.”)

      1. What is at stake if we distort the Bible? (Our
        eternal life. We must be very careful in studying to
        try to reach the correct understanding.)

        1. Is this a matter of intelligence? When you
          think back to school, some students understood
          the subject better than others. Are some, who
          are less intelligent, at a disadvantage in
          understanding the Bible? (We all have equal
          access to the Holy Spirit. Those who think they
          are smart, may be at a disadvantage because of
          pride of opinion.)

    8. Friend, will you approach the Bible with a mind open to
      its truth? Will you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into
      a correct understanding of the Word? Why not resolve to do
      that right now?

  3. Next week: Language, Text, and Context.