8 Principles of Bible Interpretation [Video]

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Exegesis is the process that is used to explain the meaning and message of a text of Scripture. In this video I explain how biblical exegesis:

  1. Begins with prayer
  2. Is hard work
  3. Can be learned
  4. Gets easier
  5. Is practical
  6. Must be limited
  7. Asks questions
  8. Is not preaching.

Previous videos in the How Sermons Work series here.


What to look for in a pastor

Book Review: What to look for in a Pastor by Brian Biedebach

A book designed to help pastoral search committees ask and answer six fundamental questions:

  1. Can the man preach effectively?
  2. What else should he do as pastor?
  3. Is he qualified?
  4. Is he theologically sound
  5. Does his practical theology match his written theology?
  6. How can a church find this man?

Quite a bit of the material is fairly standard fayre on pastoral character and responsibilities. However, Brian does make four valuable contributions.

1. A brief survey of what expository preaching actually means, considering three main views, and concluding with a balanced and comprehensive definition (chapter 1).

2. The much-needed biblical emphasis that the preacher must also be a pastor, a shepherd with seven responsibilities (chapter 2).

3. A history of the evangelical and fundamentalist movements over the last 100+ years, together with helpful graphics explaining the six different groups that now exist (three evangelical and three fundamentalist groups). Very helpful in identifying both where your church is and where potential candidates are in the theological spectrum (chapter 4).

4. How to find out if a man’s theology is merely theoretical or if it is also worked out consistently in his life (chapter 5). This is the best chapter in the book and helps pastoral search committees to get beyond a man’s verbal or written confession of faith to what he actually practices. He suggests six areas to discuss with a candidate: the authority of scripture, creation, the sovereignty of God, sin, music in the church, and spiritual gifts.

Pastoral search committees will find some helpful practical material in chapter 6 and in also the appendices, which contain questions to ask a prospective senior pastor and a checklist for clarity in a call.

Although this book will be especially useful to independent Baptist churches, all pastoral search committees would find this a useful book to study early in the search process.

Buy What to Look for in a Pastor by Brian Biedebach. Brian teaches at African Bible College and is helping to establish an international church in Lilongwe, Malawi. He blogs at By the Brook.


Check out

Going outside the camp
Superb article here on the Ligonier website about one man’s struggle with his son’s mental illness and what he wants the church to learn from it.

Rainfall and things that abide forever
Augustine of Hippo once wrote: “In the study of created things we must not exercise a mere idle and passing curiosity, but must make them a stepping-stone to things that are immortal and that abide forever.”

MOOC Divinity School
With the advent of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), Scott McKnight envisages the future of the Seminary. Deliberately overstated (I think), but in some parts not from from what will become a reality.

My valuable cheap College degree
President of the American Enterprise Institute makes the moral case for the $10K BA.

Why do you encourage Christians to live more separate lives?
R. C. Sproul Jr. answers.

The Art of Restoration Amidst Detroit’s Ruined Walls
Watch how this talented artist turns ugliness into beauty. 


Children’s Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books. Further explanation of that here.

Old Testament

New Testament

May God bless you and your children as you study the Word of life.


5 Ways to Profit from Christians’ Sins

Yesterday we looked at five strategies to stop us getting pulled down by the faults and failings of other Christians. If that didn’t work, here are five more:

1. Springboard from Christians to Christ
When you are tempted to start mulling over someone’s imperfection, think instead about the opposite perfection in Jesus. If you are pained by someone’s harsh or lying tongue, consider how Jesus’ words were full of grace and truth. If a friend is condemning the pastor’s self-promotion, turn attention to the One who made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant. If you are discussing the rampant materialism of some Christians, remember also to ponder the Christ who, though He was rich, yet made Himself poor, that we through His poverty might become rich. There is no sin found in a Christian that cannot act as a springboard to Christ and his contrasting beauty.

2. See your own faults in them
It’s amazing how we can be especially hard on people who have the same peculiar failings as we do. It’s a kind of perverse technique for salving our own consciences: if I can find someone who’s even worse than me, it somehow makes me feel a whole lot better. The hyper-critical are often the most hypocritical.

When you detect that you are being especially critical of another Christian, seriously ask yourself if it’s because this is your own besetting sin as well.  Are you appalled at Lesley’s pride? Maybe it’s too much like your own. Are you horrified at Jim’s gossip? Maybe your tongue’s also out of control.  Are you aghast at the Brown’s spending habits? Maybe it’s because you’ve been in debt for years too. God may have sent these people into your life to act as a mirror to your own sins. Don’t attack the mirror; use it to see what’s wrong in your own life.

3. Measure Christ’s forgiveness
As the person who has been forgiven most also loves most, ask the Lord to show you how much you have been forgiven. The more you appreciate the depth, length, breadth and height of God’s forgiveness, the more you will love Him.

But we can do this by proxy as well. When we see how much other Christians still sin, we can get the spiritual ruler out to measure the immeasurable pardoning love of God towards them as well. And when we realize we can never find enough rulers or tapes to get record accurate dimensions of this forgiving grace, we can love God for that as well. He who has been forgiven much loves much. He who sees how much others have been forgiven, loves God for that too.

Nothing silences criticism so much as pondering how Christ has loved people like us. That He loved me and gave Himself for me is amazing. That he loved them and gave Himself for them, is sometimes even more amazing.

4. Identify the accuser
The hyper-critical tend to think of themselves as hyper-holy. However, unknown to them, they may well be at that very moment an unholy instrument in the hand of the evil One. The Devil has made a career out of maligning and denouncing Christians, so much so that He is called “The Accuser.” He lays his charges directly and via intermediaries, some of whom are unsuspecting Christians who actually think they are doing the Lord’s work. He comes with lies about Christians and he comes with truths about Christians, but whether his allegations are true or false his aim is the same, pull down Christians so as to pull down our thoughts, our emotions, and our actions. Why not ask yourself, if perhaps you are a unwitting pawn in the devil’s clever hands, doing his dirty work while he cackles in the background.

5. Keep Jesus front and center
Our minds are a vast universe demanding to be filled. Each of our senses is continually vacuuming information into our internal galaxies, sending various facts and feelings into mental orbit, darkening or lightening our lives as they go.

We can’t stop our sensory vacuums, but we can decide what gets sucked inside. We can direct our nozzles to the dark hypocrisy of other believers, or we can hoover up truths about Christ. The former creates black holes; the latter produces a non-stop sunrise (Lk. 11:34-36). Suck in the bright light of Christ; let Him and His word dwell in you richly.

Above all, consider that Jesus will yet perfect His most imperfect people and present them to His Father with exceeding joy and great glory. What a transformation! What a metamorphosis! What glory to God and good will toward men. What a Savior!

Previous posts in this series
If that’s Christianity you can keep it!
When Christians let us down and get us down
Seeing Christ in the worst Christians


Check out

Jesus doesn’t want your risk, he wants your life
Stephen Altrogge argues that being radical for Jesus ordinarily looks very ordinary.

15 ways to become like Doug the Encourager
The Altrogges are on a roll at the moment.

Please stop banging out just one Gospel note
Mike Leake: “We are cheapening the beauty of the gospel if we only emphasize one particle of it. There is enough in Jesus for you and I to write a world full of books. No need to be fixated on one aspect.”

Invest grieving energies
Where grief abounded, there did grace much more abound.

Making visitors feel welcome
Good hints here for church greeters.

How to always be ready to care for your congregation
#1 is the hardest and yet the key to it all.