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A Theology of The Word

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

"We believe God gave us the sixty-six books of the Bible to be received as the inspired, authoritative, and infallible Word of God for salvation and life. The documents of Scripture come to us as diverse literary and historical writings. Despite their complexities, they can be understood, trusted, and followed. We want to do the hard work of wrestling to understand Scripture in order to obey God. We want to avoid the errors of interpreting Scripture through the sentimental lens of our feelings and opinions or through a complex re-interpretation of plain meanings so that the Bible says what our culture says. Ours is a time for both clear thinking and courage. Because the Holy Spirit inspired all sixty-six books, we honor Jesus’ Lordship by submitting our lives to all that God has for us in them." - Renew Network Faith Statement

Support Scriptures: Psalm 1; 119; Deuteronomy 4:1–6; 6:1–9; 2 Chronicles 34; Nehemiah 8; Matthew 5:1–7:28; 15:6–9; John 12:44–50; Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:42; 17:10–11; 2 Timothy 3:16–4:4; 1 Peter 1:20–21.

How do we interpret the Bible?

The Bible must be read by seeking God and with an awareness of the world of the Bible and understood through observation, interpretation, and application to how we live today.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” — 2 Timothy 2:15
Discussion Questions:
  1. Why is it important to interpret the Bible accurately?

  2. What are some of the lenses that you or others have used in the past that have caused you to misinterpret a passage of Scripture?

  3. Why should we try to become familiar with elements of interpretation such as culture, history, philosophies, and languages of the original context when we seek to understand the Bible?

  4. Of the “distances” of the text (time, linguistic, geographical, cultural, spiritual), which is the most difficult for you to cross when you interpret Scripture? What are some tips for helping you cross this distance?

  5. We must approach Scripture with humility and an obedient heart. How can you apply humility and obedience in your personal Bible study and when you disciple others?

What is the Old Testament?

The Old Testament is thirty-nine books containing God’s promises, covenant laws, and guidance for ancient Israel throughout its history. It served as a tutor to lead Israel to recognize their need for a coming Messiah.

“I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.” — Psalm 119:7
Discussion Questions:
  1. Why is it important to understand the layout of the Bible in general? Why the Old Testament in particular?

  2. Why might God have chosen to give us his truth in an unfolding set of historical events?

  3. What is the significance of God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 for understanding salvation?

  4. What are some of the key differences between the old covenant and the new covenant?

  5. Why was it necessary for God to make a “second” covenant?

What is the New Testament?

The New Testament is the apostles’ teachings in twenty-seven books that reveal a new covenant through Jesus the Messiah and how the covenant was lived out in the early church.

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. — Jeremiah 31:33
Discussion Questions:
  1. What is something about each of the four Gospels that makes them unique?

  2. Starting with the miraculous birth and ending with the resurrection, what are some of the major events of Jesus’ life as told in the Gospels?

  3. Why is the book of Acts important for disciples of Jesus to understand?

  4. What are some of the doctrines taught in the letters of the New Testament (the “epistles”)? Why are some of them called “General Epistles”?

  5. How can the Pauline letters be used to clarify, encourage, or promote unity in the church today?

  6. In your own words, describe what is meant by the phrase “blood of the covenant.” What is its significance in your life?

How is the Word our Final Authority?

As the Word of God, the Bible guides our convictions and character, and, when properly understood, it has authority over all other thoughts, practices, and claims to inspiration.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” — 2 Timothy 3:16
Discussion Questions:
  1. What does it mean to say the Bible is “infallible”?

  2. What Scriptures point to the authority of the apostles’ teaching?

  3. In your own words, describe the goal of the New Testament.

  4. Does the Old Testament still carry authority in our lives as disciples of Jesus? If so, in what ways does it?

  5. How does the authority of Scripture influence our daily lives? Give specific examples.

  6. How would you describe to a non-believer why you believe in the authority of Scripture?

How did we get our Bible?

Our Bible has come together through a process guided through by God through his Holy Spirit, which includes revelation, inspiration, and canonization.

“For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. — 2 Peter 1:21
Discussion Questions:
  1. What do the terms “revelation,” “inspiration,” and “canonization” mean?

  2. Describe how revelation and inspiration are connected and why their connection is important.

  3. What are some of the ways God revealed his character in his Word?

  4. With regard to canonization, why is it significant that Jesus and his apostles continually cited and alluded to the Old Testament?

  5. How did the early Christians determine which books were authoritative and included in the Bible?

  6. Why are you grateful that we have the Bible?

Biblical Interpretation Principles:

"The aim of good interpretation is simple: to get at the 'plain meaning' of the text.” - Fee and Stuart
16 rules of interpretation by John Oaks:

1. Every passage has one meaning.

2. The most obvious meaning is usually the correct one.

3. Always allow the author’s explanation to stand.

4. Always interpret a passage within the context of the passage; the book, and the situation.

5. An interpretation of a passage should conform to the environment of the author.

6. Rightly divide books by dispensation, covenant and setting.

7. Interpret every passage in the light of all others.

8. One passage will often explain another.

9. Let plain passages interpret difficult ones.

10. All passages on a subject must be studied before a conclusion is drawn.

11. Observe the proper balance of scriptural truth.

12. Passages should be interpreted in harmony with the idioms contained.

13. Rightly divide the language (grammar and figures of speech).

14. Learn to distinguish the figurative from the literal.

15. Know the meaning of sentences, phrases and words.

16. Rightly divide books by type of literature (poetry, apocalyptic, historical, doctrinal,


7 ways for reading by Ed Anton:

1. Read reverently

2. Read prayerfully

3. Read communally

4. Read humbly

5. Read carefully

6. Read Christologically

7. Read obediently.

- What did this scripture mean to the original audience?

- A text cannot mean what it never could have meant to its author or his or her readers.

- A word is always to be given its literal meaning unless other considerations forbid it.

- Let the Bible explain itself.

- Look to harmonize. There is no contradiction in scripture.

- General is trumped by more specifically applicable.

- Choose the probable over the possible interpretation.

- When multiple translation committees choose the same definition of a word they’re probably right and you are probably wrong.

- The clear doctrinal teaching passages trump the narrative passages.

- Figure out how to obey it rather than avoid it.

Can you trust the Bible?

Book recommendations:

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