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The Bible is God’s gift to us. If we want to know God—who He is, what His character is like, what He likes and dislikes, how He deals with us people, what His plans for us are, what He wants us to do, what He wants to tell us in the different situations of life to comfort, encourage, challenge, guide or teach us—this is what we need to read. When all other religions of the world are based on man’s own conjectures about God, here is what God Himself has revealed to us.
For many centuries after the Bible was completed, it was monopolised by the priestly class, and ordinary people had to depend on whatever interpretation was handed down to them. But now that the Bible is available in most languages so that ordinary people can read it for themselves, many people are making mistakes in understanding it due to a lack of knowledge about how to interpret it in the right way. So much is packed into this book, that unless we learn how to unpack each truth in the right way (the Bible refers to this as ‘rightly dividing the word of God’), we can make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes can be very costly, as when someone follows a wrong way for his salvation, or a father assumes God is going to heal his child without any medicine, based on his understanding of the Bible, and finds out too late that he was mistaken. We don’t need to be great Bible scholars with knowledge of Greek and Hebrew (though that would be helpful in its own way), in order to understand what we need for common life. But we do need to understand some rules and guidelines about interpretation without which we can go wrong very easily. These rules are not difficult to understand, and in this book I am going to keep things simple. Those who want to be involved in Bible translations or deeper theological issues would find it necessary to master the subject of Biblical hermeneutics (the technical term for interpreting the meaning), among other things. But this book is especially for ordinary Christians (and not for Bible scholars), who want to understand the Bible and learn to use it in their practical life.
What I would be doing is to go through the major guidelines for understanding the Bible along with some examples where people commonly make mistakes.
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