The Word for Writers
Enlightened Bible Study
by Roberta Kittrell
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(You will note that a portion in the middle of this article is a portion of the Preface of THE PARABLES--UNDERSTANDING WHAT JESUS MEANT by Inrig, Gary Th.M. and D. Min.; Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 49501; 1991. I reread portions of Inrigs book which reinforced my belief that those of us who teach, preach, and write concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and the WORD. We must have our armor securely in place, and never slacken in living II Timothy 2:15. I need to ask myself why I am writing a certain piece--what is my purpose. As I grow in Christ, I find I can no longer choose a piece of Scripture and write something. God is showing me that I (we) must strive for excellence, since I ask Him to write through me and to use me.)
Scientific studies have proven that we begin learning and respond-ing while in our mother’s womb. Of course, we suspected that before the idea any scientific study was conceived. Ask any mother. The Bible attests to it. Luke 1:39-41 tells us that, after the annunciation, Mary immediately left Nazareth and went to the home of her relatives Zacharias and Elizabeth, who was pregnant. When Mary entered their home and greeted her, the baby in Eliza-beth’s womb leaped and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
This learning process accelerated after our birth. As an infant, we learned mostly by trial and error, depending on the five senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch. Through them we estab-lished many parameters of our life, even carrying some of these on into adulthood.
Next on the scene of our consciousness were our parents, siblings, other relatives, and others who were not family members--baby sitters, nursery workers, and other caregivers. We were constantly learning, ever broadening the boundaries of our own little world.
Then, for the next 6-12+ years, we were in school and sometimes were apprenticed to a trade or were gainfully employed. Ever learning, but in an increasing accelerated manner.
Sometimes there was so much to learn that we would often wonder how we were ever going to remember it all. To help us understand better or help us in remembering something, our educators would come up with examples. These examples could be hands-on experiences or unusual, yet applicable, stories that, when they later came to mind, would cause us to recall that which we had learned.
Often educators thought they are coming up with something new when they began using memory reinforcers. But they weren't. This practice probably began with Adam and Eve. They were no doubt used as the facts revealed in Genesis were passed on from generation to generation until the time of Moses. God used him to commit them to written word.
Jesus Christ was a great practitioner of this method. Remember how He often used parables in His teaching? Many times when we are reading God's Holy Bible, we have encountered that word. But, have we fully understood the meaning of the word "parable" or have we just hurried over that word into the rest of the writing?
I used to be content to give the glib answer that “a parable was an earthly story that also had a heavenly meaning.”
Then Dr. Gary Inrig, a Bible expositor, senior pastor, and conference speaker, shed some light on this mystery in his book. THE PARABLES--UNDERSTANDING WHAT JESUS MEANT. In the Preface, he writes:
"...The story becomes a mirror in which self-recognition
produces self-Understanding. Many of the stories the
Lord Jesus told have precisely that effect. To read them
properly is to see ourselves. But they are more than
mirrors. They almost always become windows into the
heart and mind of God Himself. ...They help us know who
God is. They not only expose our condition, but also point
to a divine remedy. Self-recognition without a divine
provision would bring only discouragement. The Lord's
parables bring encouragement, because in them we meet
ourselves and our God.
"...Sometimes the Lord used parables as veils...to hide the truth from people whose response to Him indicated they
were under divine judgment. This is especially true of the parables of Matthew 13, as Jesus makes clear in verses 10- 13.... [Still others] were not intended to hide, but to illumine.
"...First, the parables are not isolated stories. They were nearly always told to answer a question or address a particular situation. It is, therefore, very important to
study the context in which the biblical authors place them....
“Second, the Lord's stories are parables, not allegories. Although details may have symbolic significance, more
commonly a parable is intended to teach one main point....
“Third, as we read these stories, we need consciously to leave our [twenty-first] century Western world. Jesus' stories draw on the common daily life of first-century Palestine. To hear Him properly, we need to smell the aroma of Jewish villages and feel the dust of Galilean roads....”
Inrig suggests that, where the parables are concerned, while
familiarity does not breed contempt, it has spawned complacency.
We think we know these stories, and mentally shut down our ears and mind as they are being read and discussed. Perhaps we are to imagine we are there listening to Jesus, and try to listen as though for the first time.
In actuality, isn’t that the best way to study the Word of God? Using a historical, grammatical, eschatological interpretation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, taking the scripture in context, can open much of the Word, and actually God, to us. He will then be able to further enlighten us so that we be honed into great usability as His instruments and spokespersons.
Roberta J. Kittrell copyright 2004
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Bobbi, I enjoyed the way your article touched all the senses. I particularly liked the reminder to listen anew. "We think we know these stories, and mentally shut down our ears and mind as they are being read and discussed." Blessings, Rita