Ask the Right Questions

Knowing God BibleNot long ago, I read Asking the Right Questions: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible by Matthew S. Harmon. Harmon does a good job exploring a series of questions any student of the Bible can ask while reading the Scriptures. It struck me as I read his short book, I already do the same thing – sort of unconsciously. I’m always asking questions of the text as I read. It’s a way of study, a seeking to understand flowing from a desire to know God.

How can you know God? Do you struggle in your knowing of God? If we’re honest, I think many labor with little success here. I believe the only sure or accurate way to truly know God intimately is through the Scriptures.

So, how should we read? Every reader needs a lens by which to read through. I’ve come to believe the lens in which we read Scripture is through Jesus commands. What are His commands? They’re simple, to love God and to love others. If this becomes the lens in which we both interpret and apply the Bible, then the following might become your actionable plan.

Next time you are reading the Bible, ask yourself three questions about the text:

1) What do I find out about God and my relationship with Him?

2) What do I find out about others and my relationship with them?

3) How am I to be and do? 

Asking these questions as you read through the Scriptures allows you to interpret the passage in light of Jesus’ commands. Do you remember what Jesus told the expert of the law in Luke 10 when they discussed these two commands? Jesus said, “Do this, and you will live.” That’s right…you’ll live. A life worth living is discovered in the application of God’s truth.

So, to further explain, let’s take a sample passage from the Bible and ask these three questions.

Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. Luke 9:28-36 NIV84

1) What do I find out about God and my relationship with Him?

  • He invites me to experience life with Him – join Him. Jesus took Peter, John, and James to join Him. Much in the same way Jesus invites us to join Him.
  • Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and prophets. Jesus is joined by Moses (law) and Elijah (prophets) who spoke of Jesus’ departure which Jesus was about to accomplish in Jerusalem. They were not informing Jesus of His certain role, but we now know it to be the culmination of both the law and prophets.
  • Jesus is unique. While Moses and Elijah were great in their right, Jesus is unique and greater. Peter’s mistake is to create a shelter for each as three equals. They’ll hear the word of God as He proclaims the uniqueness and greatness of His Son.

2) What do I find out about others and my relationship with them?

  • There’s value in the community or company of believers. For Peter, John and James not only experienced community together but witnessed incredible things together.
  • I learn from Peter that sometimes it is best to be quiet. Too often I’m rash to make a statement about an observation and yet it’s often best to sit and observe. Let it soak in first.
  • I think there are experiences and insights we’re not ready yet to discuss. You need time to think through, meditate or contemplate before you vocalize. Not everything we learn or observe is to be taught.

3) How am I to be and do? 

Maybe for me, it’s simply standing in awe of this one named Jesus. I think it is way too easy to become complacent with the holy. What are the things Jesus taught me in the past – the things yet to be shared? Maybe I need to take a few moment this week, and both remember and contemplate.

Here’s the homework. Take each passage listed below this week (one a day) and ask yourself the three questions. Meditate and contemplate on your insights.

  • Psalm 23:1-6
  • John 7:53-8:11
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
  • James 1:19-27
  • Matthew 28:16-20

Care to share any thoughts here?

3 thoughts on “Ask the Right Questions

  1. Pingback: Homework Day One (Psalm 23) | Brad Hoffmann's Blog

  2. Kathy Lowry

    53 Then they all went home, 8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
    2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
    But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
    9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
    11 “No one, sir,” she said.
    “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
    What do I find out about God and my relationship with Him?

    Because He is righteous, if He forgives me, then no one can condemn me, because He is God, and does the will of the Father, by forgiving me. He hopes and expects me to react by accepting His forgiveness and change the way that caused me to sin in the first place. He is patient, and in control, and can answer any questions I have for him, so if I listen, His direction is clear.

    What do I find out about my relationship with others?

    I should not fear man’s condemnation. No one has a perfect life where they have not gone against God or man. Jesus can provide a way out of any situation, so I should trust Him and His Word to give me guidance if I’m in a seemingly impossible situation with others.

    How am I to be and do?

    I am to be empowered to go to His Word for advice and correction. His Word may convict me of change, but it will not condemn me. Once I am forgiven, I should be compelled to forgive others with the compassion and understanding that Jesus has taught me through His Word.

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