The New Testament motivates us toward spiritual growth in a number of ways. It tells us what we should avoid, but also tells us what we must pursue. In this lab, John Piper shows us that the pursuit of joy motivates wholehearted obedience.
Principle for Bible Reading
Wrestling with a Difficult Text
The book of Hebrews contains some hard-to-understand passages. But instead of running from them, God blesses us with understanding as we, like Jacob, wrestle with God in his word.
So, when difficult texts have you in a headlock, what can you do? Here are a few options:
Identify what is clear from the passage. Start with what you can figure out from the passage as a whole and then return to the unclear parts.
Find the main point. Often the confusing parts do not contain the main point of the passage. Identifying the main point can give us clues for discovering the meaning of the difficult passage.
Look for clues within the book and surrounding context. Search the book for key words and phrases found in the tough passage.
Cross-reference. Utilizing cross-references, especially when a New Testament verse cites from the Old, helps us to have a fuller understanding of what the authors were trying to communicate.
Ask specific questions of the text. Addressing a challenging text as a whole can seem insurmountable. But breaking a passage down by asking specific questions about it can unravel the meaning, question by question and answer by answer.
Use a trusted commentary. Be careful with commentaries. This caution includes trusting bad commentaries and relying too much on good ones. But commentaries can be used well and great biblical scholars give helpful insights.
- Think of the last time you went through deep suffering. Did the hope of a future life comfort you at all?
- What reasons does Hebrews 12:1–2 give for running the Christian race with endurance?
- Whether you are suffering or not, spend some time this week thinking about the life to come.