03 June 2012

Inductive Bible Study, Part 6C: Identifying The 3 C's

Dear Lissy,

We're socked in with a cold rain for the next several days, so I'm hoping to make some headway on this series (which began here).  We are still on the second task in analyzing a chapter, observe the chapter carefully.  Once again, all three "Cs" should provoke 5W/H questions. Finding these three Cs is fairly simple, but they provide material for hours of meditation.  Don't treat them lightly:  they contain some of the broadest and deepest truth in the Word of God. Although at this point we're just collecting observations, the truths you'll discover are so profound, you can't help but begin to apply them.

Contrasts allow God to highlight truths for us in a unique way.  By showing us the opposite truth, we begin to apprehend the truth itself.  I'll use one of my favorite verses, Ecclesiastes 7:8 to illustrate.
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 
Here we have patience contrasted with pride.  I would naturally contrast patient and impatient or proud and humble.  Solomon through the Holy Spirit has chosen to contrast patience and pride.  Through this he is making it very clear that impatience = pride and patience = humility.  This verse puts one of my besetting sins, impatience, into a very ugly light and convicts my heart tremendously.  The wisest man who ever lived also ties the character qualities of patience and humility with finishing the job.  Ouch. In just this one short verse, the Lord has revealed a pride problem in my life that requires attention.  As we relate this particular passage back to the main theme of Ecclesiastes, the emptiness of life without God, it unlocks another whole jewel box of truth.

Take time to go through the passage you're studying, looking for and marking contrasts.  A few key words that you may find to indicate contrast are althoughbut, but rather, except, however, much more, in spite of, nevertheless, only, otherwise, whereas, and yet.  Be careful with yet as it can be a word indicating chronology rather than contrast.  Don't get too hung up on finding the clue words:  look instead for contrasting ideas.

Marking:  Underline each portion of the contrast with a squiggly line and connect the two on your Scripture worksheets.

Contrast focuses on the differences, comparison focuses on similarities.  In both cases these figures of speech provide a wealth of truth in a few succinct words.
  • Simile uses like or as to compare a spiritual truth to a physical one.  "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way" is one of the best definitions of sin in the Bible.  Whole books have been written expanding the seven words of the simile in the beginning of this verse.  Other key words include Also, Just as, Likewise, More, More than, So as, So also,  and Too.
  • Metaphor illuminates an abstract spiritual concept by restating it as a concrete physical object.  "We are his people and the sheep of his pasture" paints a vivid picture of what it means to be Jehovah's people.
These figures of speech or "picture" language are abundant in both Hebrew and Greek and can shed a great deal of light on the truths we're studying when we meditate on them.  They abbreviate many thoughts into a single picture and make abstract/intellectual ideas more concrete.

Marking:  Circle each part of the simile or metaphor and connect the two on your Scripture worksheets.

Words of conclusion provide a summary, result, or a logical conclusion.  The words therefore, wherefore, so, because*, for*, now, that, thus, so that, so then, and for this reason appear almost 15,000 times in Scripture.  *Because and for are technically words of explanation, not conclusion, but they fit best in this group.

Whenever I hit a word of conclusion, I stop and anticipate what my human mind would expect to be the logical conclusion based on the evidence just given before I read what the Spirit of God presents as the true heavenly result.  This simple practice reveals a great deal of unexpected truth.  In Phillipians 2:9 there's a "wherefore" after the famous kenosis passage.  What do I expect (humanly)?  I would expect to find that Christ's emptying and death provided a way of salvation for mankind.  Instead, I find Christ's exaltation by God and the universal confession of Christ as Lord.  Whoa.  Time to stop and think this through.  In verse 12, he continues with another "wherefore" based on Christ's kenosis and exaltation that directly affects every hour of my day-to-day life.  As Pastor likes to say, "This is juicy stuff!"

You probably remember Daddy saying "When you see a therefore, you need to go back and figure out what it's there for."  Make sure you understand both sides of a word of conclusion:  the truth and the heavenly result/logical conclusion before you move on with your study.

Marking:  Double box words of conclusion on your Scripture worksheets.

Taking the time to write out charts of the contrasts, comparisons, and conclusions in the passage you're studying is extremely valuable.  It's also worth the time to make lists of 5W/H questions relating to each C -- if you can type as fast as they fly into your brain!

Constantly Cherishing and Caring for you,

Inductive Bible Study, Part 1: Preparation
Inductive Bible Study, Part 2: Read
Inductive Bible Study, Part 3: Seeking the Context
Inductive Bible Study, Part 4: Book Summary Key
Inductive Bible Study, Part 5: The Choice
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6a: Chapter Analysis
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6b:  Identifying Key Words
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6C: Finding the 3C's
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6D: It's About Time
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6E: Keep Digging
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6F: Word Studies
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6G: Considering Context
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6H: Application Brings Transformation 
Inductive Bible Study, Part 7: Wrap It Up!

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