The Bible Can’t Mean to Us What it Did Not Mean to Them

Teaching a Bible study for new Christians has been an interesting experience to say the least. First, I am amazed at their desire to know God and learn more about Him. Even though their knowledge of the Bible might be limited, their strength of faith, belief that God exists, and desire to follow God’s plan for their lives are very strong.

In addition to their strong faith, they (almost) always ask some difficult questions during our Bible study on Sunday afternoons. Several weeks ago I learned about the assertiveness I need to have when attempting to teach Biblical truth. We were studying Galatians 5:13-14 which says, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love” (NLT). This is a verse that clearly tells us that we are to use the freedom we have in following Jesus Christ to serve others in love.

At Bible study a woman attempted to ask a question of this verse looking at it as a commandment about what we need to do to be saved and go to Heaven. She asked if we need to do good works to go to Heaven or if we are saved by faith alone. I know that the Bible cannot mean to us what it did not mean to the original readers, so I quickly responded to the question that as we study the Bible we need to keep in mind what point the author is attempting to teach his or her subjects. And in this case, with Galatians 5:13-14 we are being told by Paul to serve, not whether we go to Heaven or not based on that service.

In past years of Bible study I would not have had the insight and knowledge of how to study the Bible, but because of my knowledge of how to correctly teach the Bible from FPU and Steve Elliott, I was able to successfully be assertive and hopefully lead that woman to see the text as it is.

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at