As believers in, and ministers for Jesus Christ, our lives must become vessels of the presence, control and empowerment
of the Holy Spirit, growing us in the teachings and lifestyle exemplified by the earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
There comes a point in our Christian walk where we realize Jesus Christ is not only our Savior, but that He must become
our Lord (Master) also. The Apostle Paul defines what the Lordship of Jesus Christ truly is when he writes to the church at
Philippi in chapter 2:10-11 “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The word in the original text used for our English word ‘Lord’ is more accurately translated ‘master’.
In Matthew Jesus says "No one can serve two masters.
Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both
God and Money”. Jesus is literally saying that a person cannot be owned by two masters simultaneously. A man can
only have one master. The issue here is not whether God and money are the master of one’s life. It is the issue of control,
and who will retain control of one’s life. This is the point of crisis when the need for one master in one’s life
is made obvious. At this point Christ can no longer be just Savior, He must now become “Master” also. It is a
decision of surrender that an individual must consciously make before the Lord that invites the Holy Spirit to take control
of the lifestyle, the appetites and the outcome of life.
For some, this recognition of need happens at the exact same crisis point of salvation. But for many others, it is
indeed a separate point of crisis and realization that happens later in their Christian life. For many believers it happens
during mental or physical crisis or trauma or desperation, such as illness, divorce or financial gloom. It is an awaking,
a conviction of the Holy Spirit to step forward in faith and to increase the personal measure of commitment to the Christ-like
We often call this process which takes place from that moment of crisis or realization the process of our sanctification.
The dictionary defines sanctification as “being separated to become holy or sacred”. This process of separation
is what the Apostle Paul clearly defined to the Corinthian church when he said in1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name
of our Lord Jesus Christ-- their Lord and ours. The word “together” clearly defines the
two separate categories of Christian believers. Those who have been, or are being “sanctified
in Christ Jesus and called to be holy” and “those who call on the name
of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Very clearly, it is possible to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and not have come to
the point and process of sanctification.
Sanctification is definite separation from sin, dedication to God in every aspect of our life, the process of conforming
to the image of Christ as a new creature being shaped and molded. Sanctification is also a position and process of expressing
love of God and for all mankind. Jesus issued a response to anattorney’s question over which
one was the greatest commandment when He said in Mark 12:29-31"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (NIV) By this Jesus was saying that loving God is a key factor in
the sanctified life, but also it is as important to love everyone, in a sense as God would love them. Jesus places such an
equal amount of importance on both aspects of not only loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, but also loving
your neighbor (or literally anyone you come in contact with in life) in that same way. This is a continuous cycle of experiencing
God’s love and then expressing God’s love to a worldaround you that is lost and dying without a relationship to God in their
life. In effect, what He is saying is that you cannot truly love God in the purest form unless you love the world around you
enough to reach out to them (seek the lost) and share God’s love which has been made manifest through the person of
Jesus Christ with them.
As we individually yield more control to the Holy Spirit in our lives, we will experience a deeper and more Godly lifestyle
andpersonal relationship through commitment to Jesus Christ. Paul writes to the Philippian Christians in chaptertwo and says Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--
not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
This act of ‘working our own salvation out’ is actually the practical way of living our lives in a way in which
the sanctification process is being effected. The original text gives us a definitive that clearly states we are to protect
ourselves both morally and physically from that which would destroy us spiritually. As we engage in this process or activity,
we are becoming more controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit and can become more effective in the Kingdom of God as revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul also wrote to dear friend Timothy, a Christian who he mentored into the ministry of the gospel, and
said these words in 2 Timothy 2:21-22 If a man cleanses himself from the latter(he
has just talked about wickedness and false doctrines being taught), he will be an instrument
for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth, and
pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. The statement
of ‘If a man cleanses himself’ strongly implies two things. First, that a man can choose to participate or allow
this cleansing to take place. Secondly, it makes it obvious that there is this point of crisis, or event in which this act
indeed takes place. After this crisis and during this process of sanctification, the believer then becomes fit for use by
the ‘Master’. This is the point at which the process of sanctificationcontinues
onward, and we in that process, run from evil desires (in other words we don’t seek after those evil things), and we
now seek after faith, love and peace along with those other believers who have a purified heart in their walk with Jesus Christ.
The Process of Sanctification
Dr. A.B. Simpson in his book “The Fourfold Gospel”, stated that there are four steps in the process of
receiving the sanctification process into one’s life. First we must be convinced of our need to sanctified by a revelation
of God. Secondly we must come to Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as our sanctifier. Thirdly, we must surrender all that we
are to His control. And finally, we must believe that He is willing and able receive and act upon the consecration we make
in our surrender.
My wife runs a very large catering business that primarily serves a local denominationally owned seminary. From time
to time I have gone to the kitchen there and assist her in various aspects of food preparation and serving. One day while
watching her, this illustration came to me about the act and process of sanctification in the life of the believer.
One day I saw her take a big stainless steel cooking crock off the shelf and take it to the sink and cleanse it thoroughly.
She was exceptionally careful to make sure it was very clean and rinsed free of the soap she had just used to clean it with
(salvation). She then put some water in the crock and took and set it on the counter next to the stove. For the next several
minutes she retrieved various ingredients from the cupboards or the pantry or the walk-in cooler and added them to the water
in the crock in a specific order, one by one. She knew what the recipe called for and exercised a very precise order in which
the ingredients were to be added.
Sometimes she would add an ingredient and then stir it in. Other times she would just simply sprinkle some herb or
spice across the top surface of the mixture and let it sink into the other ingredients. As I watched her I noticed that there
were times that it appeared that she had forgotten about the potential stew, walking away from it to start or continue other
aspects of the upcoming meal that was to be served . When I questioned whether or not she was ready to work on it again, she
would simply tell me “It’s OK, the ingredients just have to blend together for a while”.
Finally when she knew everything was ready she turned the burner on the stove on and placed the fully prepared crock
of ingredients on the stove to cook (the moment of crisis in sanctification). Then I watched as she begin to experience the
potential of the stew develop. She would return repeatedly to it, stirring it, looking to make sure it had the right appearance
and consistency, and smelling the aroma that was now becoming a very inviting appetizer to all of us in the kitchen. Occasionally
she would take a small spoon and sample the taste just to make sure all the ingredients were mixed in right proportions (the
process of sanctification).
Eventually it was ready and was served to all the students at
the seminary. Everyone enjoyed it and was nourished by it (our eternal life in the presence of God and all the saints who
have gone on before).
So often there are many times between that point of our salvation and the crisis point of our sanctification that God
is very faithfully adding the right ingredients in the right proportions in the correct sequence into our spiritual lives.
Then comes that moment of crisis when the potential of what God has been doing starts to materialize. We then begin to yield
the aroma of what God has planned for us to become, because He is in control. We are then no longer “sitting on the
counter” merely holding the potential of being what God wants us to be, but nowwe are placed on the “stove” and become what God is desiring through this experience.
Control and Power
As stated earlier, sanctification is a process within the believer in Jesus Christ that not only empowers them to do
the works desired by a righteous God, but also to be completely controlled by that same loving caring God. Both elements of
control and empowerment are necessary.
Someone or something can be empowered and yet be completely out of control. On the other hand, someone can be controlled
by someone else or something else and never empowered to accomplish the given task The accelerator of a car can be depressed
to the floorboard empowering it, but if there is no one in the drivers seat to control of the direction and braking of that
car, it is completely out of control even though it is empowered.It is our consciencedecision to allow the Holy Spirit to not only empower us to accomplish works of righteousnessfor the advancement of the Kingdom of God, but also to control the manner and means
by which those things are accomplished and made manifest in our lives.
In Ephesians 4:20-24 we find a threefold process in which we see theevidence of sanctification
and the believer’s walk with the Spirit. It says You were taught, with regard
to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in
the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.(NIV)
This speaks of the intentional process of taking off “the old self” much as you would a change of clothing. Then
it addresses the change of heart or the thought process of our attitudes, and how they are to be made new. This can only be
accomplishedby the empowerment and control of the Holy Spirit actively working in our lives which
results in the putting on of “a new self.”
The Ultimate Goal
The ultimate goal of the Christian believer is not to get to heaven. It is to become more like Jesus Christ in action,
motivation and expression. The process of sanctification brings us into a more Christ-like posture in life as we become more
obedient to His voice and His will and direction for our lives. This submissive process which we enter into grows as we yield
more control to the Holy Spirit, receiving the power needed to reflect the life and glory of Jesus Christ in our daily living.
Sanctificationis the manifestation of the righteousness of God in Christ-like form upon the willing surrendered believer.
The process of sanctification is a dynamic (or powerful) and continuous process within the life of the believer which
matures as time goes on. Jesusaccurately illustrated this in John 7:37-39 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come
to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By
this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given,
since Jesus had not yet been glorified.(NIV)
This process of sanctification is never completed in mortality. However, it will be culminated just as Paul told the
Corinthians in I Corinthian 15:43 “it (this mortal life) is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power, when we pass from this
mortal life into the immortal and timeless presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we stand face to face with Jesus Christour Savior and Sanctifier, our sanctification will become complete in His presence. In I John 3:2-3 we
read Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been
made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope
in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. This very amply defines what the completion of our sanctification will be
in the full presence of Jesus Christ, when we become like Him. This passage also charges us to engage in or be yielded to
this process of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, referring to it as a purification of our lives to imitate the life and
personage of Jesus Christ. I Thessalonians 5:23 says May God himself, the God of peace,
sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Being Gifted by God
For many involved in ministry it is easy to see a natural ability or talent within themselves and mistakenly think
of it or even refer to it as a gift from God. While it is indeed from God, it is not a spiritual gift. It is simply a talent.
Knowing the difference in makes the picture clearer in the minister, and helps them become more readily used by God in the
spiritual gift(s) He has placed within them.
Talents are abilities God places in us from birth, whereas spiritual gifts are independently placed within us at the
point of our conversion to Christianity by accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. The purpose of a talent is to bring
glory to the person, whereas the purpose of spiritual gifts within us is to bring glory to God. Talents are fueled by human
efforts to develop the ability to do. Spiritual gifts are fueled by the Holy Spirit. Talents may at best last a lifetime.
Spiritual gifts are eternal.
There are five primary reasons why each Christian is endowed with spiritual gifts. They are as follows:
1). To bring glory to Christ’s church. 1 Peter
4:10-11 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully
administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If
anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.(NIV)
2). To Build or equip the body of Christ Ephesians 4:11-13
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists,
and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built
up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole
measure of the fullness of Christ.(NIV)
3). To complete the work of the body of Christ 1 Corinthians
12:24-25 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined
the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the
body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.(NIV)
4). To build unity in the body of Christ (see the two
previously quoted passages in statements 2 & 3)
5). To include every Christian in the ministry of the
Lord Jesus’ work. 1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each
one of you is a part of it.(NIV)
In the book of Romans Paul gives a list of spiritual gifts that function in the body of Christ. Romans 12:6-8 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying,
let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if
it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging,
let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give
generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.(NIV)
Another list of spiritual gifts that the Lord may give to any Christian
is found in I Corinthians 12:8-10 To one there is given through the Spirit the message
of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge
by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts
of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous
powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing
between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to
still another the interpretation of tongues.(NIV) 1 Corinthians 12:28 And
in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers
of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking
in different kinds of tongues. (NIV)
Still another listing of gifts is found in Ephesians that defines the leaders within the body of Christ and in each
congregation of Christians. Ephesians 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,(NIV) These gifts are sometimes referred to as the five-fold gift ministries.
Here are the various gifts of the Spirit and what their basic definitions are. As you read through this list, make
note of which ones are applicable in your own life :
Administration = ability to plan, organize and coordinate
Apostleship = ability to communicate the gospel across cultural barriers, establishing and governing new Christian churches
Contributing =ability to discern and respond to material and financial needs
Discernment = ability to distinguish between Godly or satanic behaviors, influences and spirits
Encouragement = ability to strengthen others through understanding, counsel and challenge (exhortation)
Evangelism =ability to lead unconverted persons to a saving knowledge of Jesus
Christ and a personal relationship with Him.
Faith =ability to trust God in extraordinary ways
Healing = ability to function as the instrument of God’s healing grace in the lives of others
Helps = ability to assist others in the exercise of their gifts and talents
Interpretation of Tongues = ability to understand the meaning of what another says in tongues and communicate that meaning to others
Knowledge = ability to know information about a person or situation as directly revealed by the Holy Spirit
Leadership = ability to communicate vision for ministry and to inspire confidence to act together in a particular endeavor,
to preside or rule.
Mercy = ability to experience and express genuine empathy and compassion for persons in personal distress; also called
Miracles = ability to function as an instrument of God’s supernatural intervention in the lives of others.
Pastor = ability to provide spiritual care and guidance to others for their personal growth and spiritual development - often
referred to as “shepherding”
Prophecy = ability to proclaim the word of God with clarity and persuassiveness
Teaching = ability to explain the Christian faith to others with clarity and revelance
Tongues = ability to speak in a language one has not learned
Serving =ability to care for the temporal and material needs of other persons
ina spirit of love and joy
Wisdom =ability to exercise keen insight and guidance in a particular situation.
Bearing Spiritual Fruit
The fruit of the Spirit is listed by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5: 22-23 But
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.(NIV)
This is a brief description of how each of these fruits can be recognized in someone’s life:
Love = unconditional giving of one’s self
Joy = an attitude of celebrating God’s goodness
Peace = a quiet confidence
Patience = a willingness to wait on God’s timing
Kindness = relating to others in a caring, supportive manner
Goodness = exercising high moral and ethical values
Faithfulness = consistent and ongoing trust in and obedience to God
Gentleness = using strength in a controlled and humble manner
Self-Control = exercising mastery over one’s thoughts, desires and appetites
Jesus Christ also taught his disciples about these same fruits of the spirit. John 15:1-8 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every
branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have
spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither
can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he
will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown
away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in
you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves
to be my disciples.(NIV)
To abide means that we live in close relationship with Jesus Christ. What Jesus is really saying is that He is the
one who produces these spiritual fruits or attributes in His followers lives. It is not something that they do or generate
even because of their salvation experience. This passage of scripture admonishes us to stay connected to (or dependent on)
Jesus Christ because if we don’t none of these things can be produced in our lives. The fruit of the spirit can only
be produced by the Holy Spirit. It is not a result of our own efforts or our good deeds.
A Life of Prayer
Prayer is considered to be one of the greatest privileges and one of the greatest responsibility of the Christian.
Many have debated the areas of how much and how often, but the Bible shows examples and teaches us that prayer is a lifestyle
of communication and relationship with God as much as it is an actual event.
In 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 it says Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In
every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (KJV) Notice the emphasis of “continuing
on” in these three verses used in the words ‘evermore’, ‘without
ceasing’ and ‘every thing’. The aspect of prayer is nestled
in between the joyous aspects of rejoicing and giving thanks.
If we believe the theological implications that God does nothing apartfrom prayer, then we are forced to see prayer
as an awesome responsibility that through its processes brings glory and honor to God. If we don’t pray, God does not
move. If we pray according to His will, He will move. And when He works and moves amongst us, He will be glorified and we
will be satisfied. John 14:13-14 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that
the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.(NIV)
We are instructed through scriptures
to pray for many things. We are taught to pray for those who persecute us or cause us trouble [Matthew 5:44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,(NIV) & Luke 6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.(NIV)]. Jesus Christ prophetically instructs us to
pray for safety and timeliness in our coming circumstances [Matthew 24;20 Pray that
your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.(NIV) & Mark 13:18 Pray
that this will not take place in winter, (NIV)].
Jesus also teaches us to pray that we don’t fall into temptation [Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'(NIV) Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."(NIV) &
Luke 22:40 On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into
Paul asks the church at Rome and at Colossi to pray that the message of that God has given him will be well received
[Romans 15:31 Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my
service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there,(NIV) & Colossians 4:3,4 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for
which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.(NIV)]
The Word also tells us that we should pray that we no do anything wrong [II Corinthians 13:7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that
you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.(NIV)].
Paul sets the example by praying that spiritual eyes would be opened [Ephesians 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called
you, the riches of hisglorious
inheritance in the saints,(NIV)]. Paul also writes to the church at Ephesus and says to pray for understanding to know the greatness
of the love of Christ [Ephesians 3:17-19 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through
faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how
wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that you may be filled
to the measure of all the fullness of God.(NIV)]
Prayer is a vital and important part of our spiritual lives. Without it communication with God is void. We can hear
God’s voice through prayer and through meditating. If we are not willing to dedicate time out of our lives to specifically
pray and communicate with God, we cannot have a healthy relationship with God.
Fasting is a spiritual act in which one elects to give up a normal activity such as not eating to spend the time praying
and communing with God. It is a spiritual sacrifice. Fasting can be a very effective way of intensifying your prayer life.
There are many Biblical examples given to us about the importance of fasting and praying in tandem. It is an excellent indicator
that you are serious and mean business with God. God truly appreciates this type of sacrifice, when it is done with a correct
motive and to seek His exclusive will in the particular circumstance of concern.
A Student of God’s Word
The Holy Bible is God’s written word to all of humanity. As Christians, we believe that it is complete and without
error. We believe that it is inspired by God in its original text and is useful in every aspect of our life. 2 Timothy 3:15-17
and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you
wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting
and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.(NIV) To be able
to have and to study God’s written word to us is a tremendous and valuable privilege. We are not only commanded to study
God’s word, but we are also encouraged to listen for His knowledge, truth and instruction for the purpose of living
this mortal life in accordance to God’s will for our lives individually.
There are two primary approaches to Bible study. The first one is what we call deductive study procedures. The other
approach is called inductive. Deductive Bible study begins by observing the general topics and themes of the Bible as they
blatantly appear. It is always followed by a search for support to these themes and topics. Deductive Bible study basically
allows the student to express a position or doctrine derived from such general themes or topics, and then go to the scriptures
to find support or defense for the particular doctrine or position.
Inductive Bible study is used by the objective or impartial student. It is an approach to the Bible without any predisposition.
It is a “listening” style of bible study that doesn’t “second guess” the emphasis or doctrine
of scriptures based on previous knowledge or instruction. The Bible student that uses an inductive approach to the scriptures
makes conclusions based on what the scripture is actually saying, because they are not searching or studying scripture with
a position to defend.
There are four basic stages in the process of studying the Bible. The first is observation. This may be blatantly obvious
to the serious Bible student. You must spend time reading the Bible. It is often helpful to read the same passage more than
Be careful to note the portion of scripture you are reading. The Bible was not original inspired by God in chapter
and verse. Man has divided the scriptures up that way for the sake of easier reading and organization. Example; If you have
been reading a couple of chapters and one particular verse jumps off the page at you. Go back and read the entire chapter
it is contained in. If it is at the end of that particular chapter, read the next chapter after it. You may find that indeed
the subject matter has changed in the new chapter. But you also might discover that the following chapter ads more definition
or explanation to it.
Be sure not to skip around in a book or section of the scripture you are reading. Read continuous sequential passages.
Example; Don’t read the just the third and sixth chapter of the book of Daniel, read the third, fourth, fifth and sixth
chapters in sequence.
The second stage is called interpretation. To many, interpretation is the scariest part of Bible study. This is because
we feel we will err in the development of the interpretation. When we interpret scriptures we simply attempt to give them
more definition or explanation. It is obvious that certain scriptures are housed in Godly mystery and can never be fully interpreted.
We must recognize this and be content to occasionally respond to ourselves and others with the very acceptable “I don’t
There are three filters we can use in the interpretative process with scriptures. The first filter is called the cultural
filter. If it is at all possible to learn about or discern the cultural setting of the time and location that the selected
passage of scripture is discussing, it will be an obvious help in understanding the passage a little easier. The culture is
very simply defined as the conditions and development of the environment. Example: If you are reading a passage of scripture
from the book of Daniel, it would be helpful to know that Daniel was writing during a period of time when the nation of Israel
had been exiled into Babylonian captivity. It would probably shed some light on the message in scripture if you knew the conditions
the people of Israel lived under in Babylon. Sometimes even the geographical setting and conditions will help you better know
the environment and its influences.
The second filter we can use is called the society or sociological filter. The society filter deals with the people
that live within the cultural setting of the selected passage of scripture and their customs, attitudes, interaction and language.
Once we see what the normal inclination of the society is in various circumstances, we will better be able to paint a bigger
picture of the explanation or interpretation. Knowing the person(s) likes and dislikes, preferences and ideals that is speaking
or being spoken to or about will also bring into the picture a more definable viewpoint.
It is vitally important that you have access to or be able to at least occasionally research the original language
of the text of scripture you are reading.Remember, the language is part of the
sociological picture. People in any society communicate verbally to each other. Since we are reading an English translation
of the Bible, we must be keenly aware that not every word can be translated precisely word for word. The English language
does not parallel the Greek and Hebrew 100% word for word. Some words in the English Bible were added for clarification of
the text. Some words were used more often in the English language at certain time periods around the time of the particular
translation you are reading. Example: A King James Bible will use “thou”, “thee” and “thine”,
whereas a New International Version might use words like “you” or “yours” in the same text. The simple
use of a Strong’s Concordance will shed much light on the original Greek and Hebrew texts. (see SBS1016 Bible Study
The third filter is the most important part of the interpretation process. It is called the self-illumination filter
of scriptures. This is where we must search the scriptures to see what other scriptures say about the specific passage we
are reading. With this filter, we literally let the scriptures interpret themselves. In much of scripture this can be done
as we begin to correlate and organize passages of scripture together. Be careful not to just take a phrase or a verse out
of its text for comparison because it uses the same word as the passage you are looking at intently. There must be a mutual
or reciprocal relationship between the two passages of scripture. Again, also be sure to examine the original text language
to be sure these passage are discussing and related to the same thing.
Many times we ignore this last filter of self-illumination of scriptures for the sake of knowledge and intellect. Much
of the time scripture will interpret itself very accurately. We simply have to search the scriptures like the Bereans of Acts
16 to see the corresponding and related passages. Here is a cute definition that might help explain this process in the “big”
picture sense of the word. The New Testament is contained in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is explained in the
One of the most shining examples of this would be the Tabernacle Moses built in the wilderness as the children of Israel
journeyed to the promised land. This construction and priestly ministerial organization of this tabernacle is recorded in
Exodus chapters 19-32. This religious process of Judaism remains rather dry and statuesque until you read through the New
Testament passage of scripture in Hebrews chapters 4-9. Then you see that whole ritualistic practice in the Jewish religious
community in an entirely different light. The very best way to interpret scriptures is to let scriptures interpret themselves.
The third stage in the Bible study process is called evaluation. In this stage we simply place a relative value on
the passage of scripture we are studying as to the content and meaning. Does the passage have a nominal or exceptional value
to the reader or hearer. Evaluation can only be done correctly between the stages of interpretation and application.
In the evaluation process, the Bible student must determine how valid and what potential impact the selected passage
of scripture can have on its reader. Sometimes that is all a matter of who the hearer or reader is or will be. All of this
must be brought into consideration when assigning a relative worth or value to the selected passage of scripture.
The last stage in the effective Bible study process is application. What effect or potential change will the scripture
make on its readers or hearers? Is it something they can use to bring about a closer relationship with God?
This process takes the truth in fact or principal that the scripture contains and applies it to the reader’s
spirit, mind and actions to effect a positive change of some degree. The application of the scripture to the lifestyle andprocesses of the heareror reader should
empower them in some new and special way to enhance their relationship with or understanding of God.
Sometimes the gleaning of truth will impact the hearer or reader in an unexpected way. Even though the initial contact
with the truth gleaned from a passage of scripture may seem painful or negative, we must see the long and/or full term process
of the application of the truth in the Word of God will make. Many times the surgeon’s knife may be painful upon initial
contact, but when the repair is completed and recovery is fulfilled, the patient will be better off than prior to the surgical
experience. Hebrerws 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than
any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes
of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of
him to whom we must give account. (NIV)