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Crafting a Worldview: Part 1 (Bible)




by Seth Pierce



Last year I learned how to snowboard—well, mostly learned. In addition to a wonderful new sport opening up a world of breathtaking snowy landscapes, I picked up several spectacular bruises.

I was almost lucky enough to get a concussion when I forgot to fasten my helmet and took an edge wrong; catapulted through the air, I only had a split second to say Jesus’ name as my body—and my head—smacked against the side of the hill. I lay there for a moment, eventually enduring the helpful ski patrol asking me if I was OK and if I knew what year it was.

“Yes, yes—fine . . . 1989, now leave me alone!”

As with any new venture, mastery requires hard work, determination, and the occasional “yard sale”1 on the side of an unforgiving mountain. The same experience is true in the realm of crafting a worldview—the lens through which we see reality accurately.

Sadly, most people don’t put the time in and fail not only to learn the way to maneuver through life, but to enjoy the exhilarating rush that comes from mastering the art of seeing life clearly.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7, ESV).2

So whom do we ask, what are we looking for, and where are the doors to knock on in order to craft a worldview?

Christian apologist and theologian Ravi Zacharias suggests that a worldview must answer four questions:

   • Where did I come from?
   • What is life’s meaning?
   • How do I define right from wrong?
   • What happens to me when I die?

Put another way, we must explore origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.3 For the Christian the Bible is our starting point to discover truth. There are other ways, to be sure, but for now this is God’s most specific revelation of truth—especially as we read about Jesus Christ. But the problem for most Christians is that they have read the Bible before. We are so familiar with the stories within the pages of Scripture that we have a cursory, clichéd view of the Bible because most of us never make the leap from being spoon-fed premade studies and Sabbath school lessons to feeding ourselves.

Construction tools

With the big four questions in mind we open the pages of Scripture and begin to read. It’s good to have a Bible reading plan, and many can be found online at Web sites such as www.ewordtoday.com/year.

Read for the big picture first

After reading a passage of Scripture, ask: What is the theme? Just as your bedroom may have a theme of space exploration, My Little Pony, or some action figure—sections of Scripture have themes, such as justice, hope, and love. What’s the theme of what you’re reading?

Concordance

An annoying habit some people have is looking up Bible words in modern American dictionaries such as Webster’s. The problem is that the Bible is written in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek—not twenty-first-century American English. Words can change meaning, and we don’t want to read something into the text that isn’t there.

For example, John 11:33 says: “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (NIV).4 We would assume that “deeply moved” meant sad. However, the Greek word used means “snorting mad.” Jesus was furious. Why? Because in the previous verses we not only learn that Jesus’ friend had died, and death is considered an enemy, but there were those present who questioned His love for Lazarus.

You also discover interesting things such as the Greek word for “witchcraft” in Revelation 9:21 is pharmakeia, which is where we get our English word “pharmacy.”

This brings up the next issue . . .

Context

We frequently cherry-pick texts from all around the Bible and quote them (usually to people we disagree with) in an effort to make them say whatever we want. A classic example is the biblical admonition to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, NKJV).5 This text has been used to make the point that all of us must be sinless in order to be right with God. However, if we read the verses before this text, we find out that it isn’t talking about being sinless at all—it’s talking about loving your friends as well as your enemies. Go ahead and look, I’ll wait . . .

Read the verses before and after each text in order to grasp the full meaning of what is being said. The Bible writers weren’t playing Scrabble with their words—they organized them very specifically. Your job is to determine why. 

Bible Dictionary

Another common phrase heard, especially in Adventism, is to be careful of “Eastern religions.” Usually this means Eastern “mysticism,” which tends to eject the intellect like a black diamond run does a newbie snowboarder. But the West has dangerous ideas too—one of them is thinking that Christianity started in the eastern United States in the nineteenth century.

The characters and stories of the Bible are thousands of years old—we need help getting into their world. A Bible dictionary gives you not only cultural insights—such as what wells, feasts, and temples were like—but also maps of the ancient world to locate where Bible stories are taking place.

If you trace the travels of Samson during his flirtations with the sultry Delilah, you discover that each time he goes into “Philistine territory” he goes further and further away from home. The lesson being that sin draws you deeper into its world as you flirt with it—making it more costly to escape its clutches.

Commentary

Simply understood, this is a series of books that offer comments on Bible verses by people who have studied the ancient world/languages. This becomes especially helpful when dealing with tricky verses—such as when Jesus appears to call a woman a dog in Mark 7:24-30.6

This may seem more about Bible study than worldview—but it’s the Bible that primarily informs that worldview. If we don’t understand how to study it, then we will drift into a worldview that seems biblical because we have a handful of misunderstood texts, but will ultimately fail us in life’s more precarious paths. 
These tools will help you in your biblical travels. Use them, and at the end of each study session ask: What does this tell me about origin/meaning/morality/destiny? Keep a journal full of answers. They will become increasingly sharper and more profound. 

Next week we will look at what tools help us outside of the Bible.

But for now you have work to do.

With the aid of these tools/concepts, try to study Genesis 1-3 before next week.

1
A ski term for when someone crashes so badly it sends all their equipment in every direction.
2 Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
3 Ravi presents this in a short video you can watch at: http://vimeo.com/47662226.
4 Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
5 Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
6 I recommend starting with the The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary—available online at www.whiteestate.org, for purchase at www.adventistbookcenter.com, or as an app for your digital device.

Seth is a pastor and author residing with his family in the Pacific Northwest. He enjoys Warrior Dashes, Spartan Races, reading, and collecting crazy stories, which he keeps in a secret file. You can connect with him at www.sethjpierce.com.


 





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