On page 138 of Walter A. Elwell's and Robert W. Yarbrough's textbook "Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey 2 ed." (1998, 2005) it says that "In many ways, Jesus was confronted with the same problem that preachers today face on a Sunday morning how to tell people something they have some acquaintance with, but in such a way that they will see it afresh and be changes by it." First, I do not consider Jesus having a problem preaching the word so others could understand it. After all, wasn't it Jesus as God who created language in the first place? Jesus knew exactly what to say to these humans He created. The only problem I see is sinful humans like us who aren't always ready to "hear" what Jesus has said. Even a Holy Spirit filled preacher on Sunday who teaches the word the way it is intended to be taught has the problem of the clogged ears of the people in the pews. If they don't want to "hear", then they won't. The ones who understood Jesus had he "ears to hear." Still, even today as then, and as the disciples found out for themselves, without the Holy Spirit in you, you will not understand a single word that is preached. That is the way God designed the message of Christ, to be understood by only those who are truly His.
On page 156 of the same textbook it says that "The rise of historical criticism is a vast subject. In reality there is not a single type. From the beginning it existed in numerous forms. Scholars around the world work constantly to understand its developments and effects." Okayquestion: if a subject has more than one form and is still under development, why should I use it if even its developers don't know exactly how to use it if the form isn't fully completed yet? I have come to learn that if the Holy Spirit is not being asked to help in the process of developing anything, then that thing is man-made and will only reflect a man's interpretation. I believe if the Holy Spirit is not involved then the formers are either un-regenerated into Christ, or they are "Christians" who are taking matters into their own hands.
Which leads me onto page 159 of the textbook: and then there's hermeneutics! I have studied this method of interpretation and have found it to work well for reaching a clear interpretation of scripture. Bible-believing people have come up with this powerful way to really know what scripture is saying to us. You don't have to be a scholar to interpret the Bible using this method. What does this scripture say to me on the surface? What was this scripture saying to those who first heard it? In what context of the surrounding passages does this scripture fit? What other scripture in the Bible will help me understand the meaning of what is being said? What do I need to know about the scriptures author? What do I need to know about the culture in which this message was given? And if you want to go deeper: what words do I need to look up in their original language so I can know what the original hearers were hearing? I love hermeneutics way of making interpreting the Bible easier with its condition, method, and aim process. Nothing could be simpler.
Elwell, Walter A., Yarbrough, Robert W. (1998, 2005). Encountering the new testament: a historical and theological survey 2 ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Comments: "To think that at some point or another I may have actively been engaging in one of these methods or another without academically understanding the ramifications is just another eye opener, and gives new meaning to "making proper understanding difficult" (p.161)."
Author's Response: I don't know, but call me simple. Doesn't anybody just read the Bible anymore and follow what it says? With all of these "criticisms" floating around out there one would think that you have to be an academic to even open the Bible. Must we be reminded that Jesus spoke to people who had little or no education at all, and He expected the people to "hear" Him in everything He said. Did He not rebuke His own disciples over and over again for not understanding the message He proclaimed over and over in their hearing for three long years?
How hard is it to understand the message to love your neighbor? Should I study this concept by using every commentary, bible dictionary, or bible handbook in my possession before I actually do go out and love my neighbor? Most of what Jesus preached was understood by those with the ears to hear. Those that didn't get the message truly didn't want to get the message, the same as today. Look at how many academics "study" the teachings of Jesus and are not yet saved because, even with all their time and effort in studying the words of Jesus, they just don't get it. I firmly believe that those who criticize Jesus don't really want to know the real Jesus like we as born-again believers do because, if they did, the Holy Spirit would have called them into the kingdom a long time ago.
Comment: "To get his message across, Jesus would sometimes bury his meaning somewhere below the surface in order to force listeners to think about what he said (pg.139)."
Author Response: I believe that Jesus did used this method because He knew that those who really wanted to know what He meant would take the time to deeply think about what He said. Think about today: we are in this school to study God and Christianity because we want to go deeper either in our relationship with Jesus, or we want to learn how to teach these things to others depending on how we are gifted to do it. And then there are those Christians who never read their bibles.
Jesus said that, if we loved Him, we would follow His ways. Well, did not Jesus seriously study the scriptures from the time He could read until He began His ministry? Like the people in Jesus' day, if we really want to know the Lord and want Him deeply in our lives, then we must study and do His Word. To finish, I believe that those who understood Jesus wanted to truly understand His words to them, and those that didn't want to spend the time figuring them out. How true this is today...
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.
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