Practical Bible Study: Where to Begin

Y’all know me and if any Idiom applies ( Beating a Dead Horse) when it comes to the bible, it is CONTEXT. You cannot read a verse of  Holy Scripture and say this is what it means without understanding the context in which it is written. This article, written for those in seminary, is still very informative for lay folks too. – Mike 

The Masters Seminary Blog

Practical Bible Study: Where to Begin

Brad Klassen | 
Stage 1: Context

Location! Location! Location! If you’ve ever consulted a real estate agent about the first step in finding a home, you’ve heard this refrain. You don’t begin with square footage or the number of bedrooms, although those are crucial parts of the discussion. You begin by identifying the area on the map in which you want to live.

The study of the Bible is no different. When digging deeper into the meaning of a biblical text, the first order of business is to remember the refrain, Context! Context! Context!1 From the Latin terms con (meaning “together”) and textus (meaning “woven”), the word context refers to the surrounding elements into which a given text was woven by its author.

These surrounding elements are essential for giving the text its meaning and purpose. For example, think of the biblical text you want to study as a pocket that has been sown into an article of clothing. The meaning of that piece of material comes from its connection to the rest of the garment. Moreover, the way in which that piece of material has been connected will determine its usage—whether it is a front pocket on a pair of jeans to hold your keys, a shirt pocket to hold one of those nerdy pen protectors, or an inside pocket on a jacket to keep your passport safe from pickpocketers. If you came across that piece of material detached from its article of clothing, you would scarce know what to do with it. It is the rest of the garment that gives that piece of material meaning.

The same is true for any given statement of Scripture. For instance, take Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three have gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.” These words have been invoked countless times over the past weeks in response to the social distancing measures prescribed by the government in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. Even though we can’t meet as usual with our local church, we can be encouraged by the promise of Jesus’ presence even when we meet at home in a group as small as two. But is this the proper use of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20? No. His words have been detached from their context—a context that actually refers to Jesus’ instruction concerning church discipline! True is the saying, “A text without a context becomes a pretext.”

It is helpful to recognize that a text’s surrounding elements can be grouped into two categories—one of which is unwritten and the other of which is written. The first category refers to historical context, to that non-written dimension of elements like the geography, culture, and specific circumstances of the writer and his immediate audience. The second category refers to literary context, to that textual dimension that includes the immediate and larger context of the writer’s written work and even the antecedent Scripture to which the writer may refer. Both categories of context are important, and the student of Scripture must get a handle on these elements before he endeavors to dig deep into the text itself. How does this look in practice?

1. Discover the text’s historical context.

The goal of this step is to become acquainted with the world of the writer and his audience. It considers such things as: the identity of the writer; the place and time at which he wrote his text; the identity of the recipient(s); and the practical circumstance that precipitated the writing.

This step arises out of the reality that any given text of Scripture was recorded in response to an historical need for the word of God. In other words, it’s important first to understand that the texts were situational before we begin to consider the implications of their transcendence. We must grasp that they were timely before we can properly delight in their timelessness. It is this reality that gives the texts of Scripture the quality of clarity. They were God’s response to real needs, whether it was the need of the people of Israel as they prepared to enter the Promised Land (the book of Deuteronomy), the need of Jews returning from exile to repent of their complacency toward God’s law (the prophecy of Malachi), the need of a believing Roman official for accuracy concerning the life of Christ (the Gospel of Luke), or the need of seven local churches facing the challenges of stagnation, false teaching, and persecution (the book of Revelation). The goal is to begin with this context in the forefront of one’s mind—to read the text from the perspective of the original writer and his immediate audience.

How is this accomplished? Begin by reading the entire biblical book which contains the text you desire to study. The books of Scripture often provide significant historical details missed by students who dive immediately into the exegesis of the text. Next, review the “Introduction” to this book of Scripture in a study Bible, such as The MacArthur Study Bible or the ESV Study Bible. These introductions provide concise and accessible summaries about authorship, recipient, date, location, and occasion. Third, make the effort to access several of the best commentaries that contain introductory chapters dedicated to these background issues. This extra effort in background study will yield dividends later in the process.

2. Survey the text’s revelatory context.

Consider what parts of Scripture had already been delivered prior to the writing of the book in which your text is found. It is possible that this previous revelation is being assumed by the writer of your text, and so should be assumed by you as a reader as well.

For example, if you desire to dig deep into Daniel’s prayer recorded in Daniel 9, you’ll need to recognize that Daniel’s prayer was built upon his own study of the antecedent prophecies of Jeremiah—particularly Jeremiah’s prophecies of the “seventy years” (compare Dan. 9:2 with Jer. 25:11–12; 29:10). Consequently, you’ll need to begin there, where Daniel began. Or, if your goal is to understand Paul’s teaching on the Day of the Lord according to 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11, you’ll need first to trace the development of this concept chronologically in the Scriptures from its beginning in the Old Testament prophets. Otherwise, you’ll construct an understanding of the Day of the Lord in a vacuum—a vacuum which the apostle Paul did not share.

This step accounts for the progressive nature of special revelationBy recognizing where a text is located in the historical flow of divine revelation helps you identify the backdrop which gives a particular text meaning. This can be done through a quick step of consulting a chart listing all the books of the Bible and their assumed dates of composition (some books can be dated more accurately than others). A better and longer-term approach is to practice daily Bible reading chronologically—that is, reading through the books of Scripture according to their date of composition rather than according to the order in which they appear in our English Bibles.

3. Recognize the text’s book context.

This step identifies the scarlet thread that ties the biblical book together. It locates the foundation which supports and connects all the parts of the book from 1:1 to its end. In a word, it answers the question, Why was this book written?

Repeated reading of the book is fundamental to this step. In some cases, this repeated reading will uncover direct statements which indicate the writer’s overall purpose. These direct statements may occur at the beginning of a work (e.g., Jude 3), in the middle (e.g., 1 Tim. 3:15–16), or at the end (e.g., John 20:30–31). In other cases, this repeated reading will uncover recurring words or phrases which indirectly reveal the writer’s purpose. For example, Moses’ repetitive use of the phrase “these are the generations of” indicate that his purpose in writing the book of Genesis was to provide an account of origins (see Gen. 2:4; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12; 36:1, 9; 37:2).

At other times, a biblical book’s purpose will be more difficult to recognize. This is not a literary defect, but an intentional effort on the part of the writer to elicit careful consideration. After considering various clues (the chief exhortations in didactic books, the focus of narratives and their arrangement in historical books, etc.), you can find answers, once again, in the book introductions of a study Bible and in the introductory sections of good commentaries. The reader who thinks he knows the purpose of the biblical book, but cannot state it clearly in his own words, is most likely mistaken. A reader who successfully understands a biblical book’s central argument will be able to state it in a concise statement: “The purpose of this book is . . . .” Ultimately, the better you understand this book context, the better prepared you will be to interpret its contents.

4. Discern the text’s structural context.

The goal of this step is to detect the most prominent features of the book’s literary structure. It requires viewing the book as if under an x-ray machine, so that any given text can be appropriately placed within the book’s literary skeleton—not merely in terms of chapter and verse location, but in terms of the book’s flow of argument.

Once again, repeated readings and surveys of the book are important in order to identify its main sections. You must look for crucial transitions in the writer’s thought, transitions which may be biographical, historical, geographical, logical, or theological in nature. As you read, begin to construct a working outline. This outline should be general at first, focused on the areas where major transitions occur (e.g., Eph. 4:1–3 serving as the transition from Paul’s indicatives in chapters 1–3 to his imperatives in chapters 4–6). But as you read in progressively greater detail, add depth to your outline. Then, consult the outlines provided in the appropriate book introduction in a study Bible and your select commentaries to review the accuracy of your own findings.

This outline provides a crucial interpretive map for handling your text later in the process. Once you begin the careful work of exegesis, you will encounter moments where decisive interpretive decisions are necessary. Crucial to success will be your ability to connect the decisions you make to the emphasis the writer is making in the particular section in which your text is found.

5. Identify the text’s immediate context.

The breadth of contextual analysis was broadest in the first step. Since then the focus has progressively narrowed. Now, in this final step, the focus is most restricted. It is turned upon the paragraph that precedes the text you aim to study, and the paragraph that follows it. Spend time acquainting yourself with the contents of these paragraphs by repeated, careful reading.

Bernard Ramm provides a helpful illustration to explain the importance of these entry- and exit-paragraphs:

The material before the passage is the radar which guides the approach, and the following material is the radar of the leaving. And if we can track the material approaching and leaving the particular passage, we have the framework in which the passage is to be understood.2

Indeed, the importance of this immediate context cannot be overemphasized. This writer has heard numerous sermons over the years by students who have made assertions in their expositions which clearly exposed their ignorance of the surrounding paragraphs. This context is no less mandatory for sound Bible interpretation than the radar which guides a plane’s landing or departure.


Every interpreter must recognize that the more he interprets apart from context, the more he interprets according to convenience


The need here is not a better understanding of one’s own context, or even of the context of another contemporary reader! Indeed, we hear all too often today that the best way to minimize the influence of one’s own bias is to read the text of Scripture through the experience of the other sex, from the perspective of a different culture, or with the lens of a different skin color. These are all beside the point. The need of the hour is to learn to interpret the biblical text in its biblical context. Anything else will lead to a pretext for error.

For more on everything from hermeneutics to homiletics, see the free guide: Handling Scripture

[This article is the first of a four-part series summarizing a sound approach to Bible study.]

Is God’s Primary Concern My Earthly Blessing?

Another in the Frequently Abused Verses Series 

by Jeremiah Johnson / Friday, July 19, 2019

In the lead-up to the Truth Matters conference in October, we will be focusing our attention on the sufficiency, authority, and clarity of Scripture. Of our previous blog series, none better embodies that emphasis than Frequently Abused Verses. The following entry from that series originally appeared on October 7, 2015. -ed. (For other articles in this series just type Frequently Abused Verses into the search bar on the right). 

Is God’s Primary Concern My Earthly Blessing?

Just as a single cell of cancer can metastasize until it spreads throughout the physical body, a single false doctrine can multiply itself and spread throughout a body of believers. A great forest fire can be started by one spark.[1]

Throughout this series on Scripture’s “Frequently Abused Verses,” we’ve seen how God’s Word has been misunderstood and misapplied, as well as instances when it is intentionally twisted to accommodate blasphemous lies and spurious doctrines. Today we’re going to consider how the misappropriation of one verse—3 John 2—triggered a heretical movement that has been a scourge for God’s people and blight on the testimony of the church for more than half of a century.

The Roots of the Prosperity Gospel

Not long after Oral Roberts’s death—and amidst a tidal wave of glowing praise for the pioneering televangelist—John MacArthur wrote this summation of the preacher’s life and ministry:

Oral Roberts’s influence is not something Bible-believing Christians should celebrate. Virtually every aberrant idea the Pentecostal and charismatic movements spawned after 1950 can be traced in one way or another to Oral Roberts’s influence.

One of his primary legacies is the prosperity gospel. As John explains in the article quoted above, the prosperity gospel “is the notion that God’s favor is expressed mainly through physical health and material prosperity, and that these blessings are available for the claiming by anyone who has sufficient faith.”

Roberts might not have been the first person to teach that false doctrine, but through his television ministry he served as its chief herald and the primary catalyst for its rapid growth and widespread acceptance.

And according to Roberts’s biographer, David Edwin Harrell, Jr., the televangelist’s commitment to the prosperity gospel was born out of a crisis of faith and a new perspective on an overlooked verse.

Out of this period of spiritual trauma came a sequence of instantaneous insights, revelations as Oral viewed them. The first occurred one morning as he read III John 2: “I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as they soul prospereth.” Oral had rushed out of his house one morning to catch the bus to class when he realized he had not read his Bible as was his custom. He returned, hastily grabbed his Bible, opened it “at random,” and read III John 2. He had read his New Testament, he reported, at least a hundred times, but this verse seemed brand-new. He called Evelyn and read it to her. “That is not in the Bible,” she challenged. “It is,” Oral replied, “I just read it.” “Evelyn,” he said, “we have been wrong. I haven’t been preaching that God is good. And Evelyn, if this verse is right, God is a good God.” The idea seemed revolutionary, liberating. They had been nurtured in a belief system that insisted “you had to be poor to be a Christian.” Perhaps it was not so. They talked excitedly about the verse’s implications. Did it mean they could have a “new car,” a “new house,” a “brand-new ministry?” In later years, Evelyn looked back on that morning as the point of embarkation: “I really believe that that very morning was the beginning of this worldwide ministry that he has had, because it opened up his thinking.”

Oral’s new-found insight was soon put to a practical test. The agent was a Mr. Gustavus, a neighbor who owned the Buick automobile dealership in Enid. Mr. Gus liked Oral, and, although he was a “nonreligious” man, he listened to his neighbor’s preaching occasionally and liked his emphasis on the “here and now.” One morning Mr. Gus noted that Oral’s car looked “pretty bad” and suggested that he buy a new one. It seemed a preposterous idea. Cars were still “practically unobtainable” in these postwar months, and there was no slack in the Robertses’ tight budget. But Mr. Gus showed them a way; he sold their old car for the “highest ceiling” price and acquired a new Buick for Oral at “dealer’s cost.” Mr. Gus, Oral, and Evelyn drove together to Detroit to pick up the car. As they drove back to Enid in their “brand new . . . long, green slick Buick,” Oral and Evelyn pondered the significance of this seemingly impossible turn. Evelyn asked Oral to stop: “We have just got to hold hands and praise the Lord for this car.” For Oral, the “new car became a symbol to me of what a man could do if he would believe God.” Nor was Mr. Gus through. He kept egging Oral on. “Son, the message you are preaching is too big for one town,” he told Oral, “the country is waiting for it. . . . Preach it, son. And you will stir this generation.” [2]

Of course there are plenty of other Bible verses that have been contorted by prosperity preachers to support their false teaching—we looked at one of them earlier in this series. But 3 John 2 is the textual soil that sprouted Roberts’s prosperity gospel, and the massive family tree of prosperity preachers who have carried on his heretical legacy.

And when you consider how the lies of the prosperity gospel have permeated and poisoned the church, you understand why the details matter, and the damage that can be done when we play fast and loose with God’s Word. The careless reading and application of this one verse has spawned multiple generations of false prophets and fraudulent healers who have feasted on the spiritually naïve and theologically shallow. And by continuing to perpetuate Roberts’s false teaching, they further tarnish the testimony of God’s Word and His people. In many parts of the world, the face of Christianity is a sneering charlatan with his hand out, preaching the get-rich gospel of health and wealth to people who have neither.

When it comes to biblical interpretation, the details are vitally important.

True Prosperity

And in the case of 3 John 2, the details make the true meaning of the verse abundantly clear. In his short letter to a man named Gaius, the apostle John wrote, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”

The reality is that the apostle’s words are not a prophecy of blessing. As John MacArthur explains in his commentary on 3 John, “The phrase ‘I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health’ was a standard greeting in ancient letters.” [3]

The salutations of the epistles are rich with doctrinal truth (cf. Romans 1:1-7Galatians 1:1-51 Peter 1:1-2). But it’s not theologically safe or hermeneutically sound to turn a greeting to a specific audience into a promise for all believers.

Moreover, the apostle’s words here don’t support an emphasis on physical blessings like health and wealth, since that’s the opposite of the point John was making. He was praising God for the good report on the quality of Gaius’s character. As John MacArthur explains, the apostle’s focus was spiritual prosperity.

“Prosper” translates a form of the verb euodoō. The term, used only here, Romans 1:10, and 1 Corinthians 16:2, means “to succeed,” “to have things go well,” or “to enjoy favorable circumstances.” The first use of prosper in verse 2 refers to Gaius’s physical health, as the contrast with the last part of the verse makes clear. The apostle’s wish was that Gaius’s physical health would be as good as that of his spiritual.

John’s concern for Gaius is a pastoral desire that he be free from the turmoil, pain, and debilitation of illness so as to be unrestricted in his service to the Lord and His church. . . .

But [in contrast to his physical condition] Gaius’s healthy soul brought far more delight to John. He knew he had a vibrant spiritual life. To borrow from some other apostles, Gaius was among those who are “sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13); constantly “grow[ing] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18); “walk[ing] in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). [4]

When considering how the Lord might bless us, we need to keep in mind that His blessings are not merely for our benefit. As long as He grants us breath, He has use of us for the work of His kingdom. It stands to reason then that even the physical blessings we enjoy have eternal purposes—and for the sake of His glory and His church, we need to pursue those purposes.

God is in the business of building His church, not handing out Buick’s.

SOURCE

Other Related Resources:

The Abundant Life

Bible Text Prosperity Preachers Wish did not Exist

Wisdom for Today – Joshua 1:8

 

On Whose Door Is Christ Knocking?

In the lead-up to the Truth Matters conference in October, we will be focusing our attention on the sufficiency, authority, and clarity of Scripture. Of our previous blog series, none better embodies that emphasis than Frequently Abused Verses. The following entry from that series originally appeared on September 30, 2015. -ed. (For other articles in this series just type Frequently Abused Verses into the search bar on the right). 

by Jeremiah Johnson / Wednesday, July 17, 2019

On Whose Door Is Christ Knocking?

Is it really “abuse” if a verse is used inaccurately to make an important point?

The short answer is, “Yes.” We should not be so careless and cavalier with Scripture, or think so highly of ourselves, that we can impose new meaning—even if it is valid—on the inerrant, sufficient Word of God. If the point is worth making, it’s worth making from the appropriate text.

Which brings us to the verse before us today: Revelation 3:20 is certainly one of the most familiar and frequently-quoted verses in the church. It’s a particular favorite for evangelists, camp preachers, and anyone else who wants to lend some urgency to the call of God on a sinner’s life

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). In the hands of many preachers and evangelists, the verse paints an attractive, compelling picture of Christ’s pursuit of the sinner, and highlights the need for an immediate response.

But is that an accurate interpretation of the verse—is Christ truly at the doorstep of each sinner’s heart, pleading to come in? And if not, on whose door is the Lord knocking? Let’s tackle those issues one at a time.

Is Christ Knocking?

We use a lot of clichés as shorthand in the church, and not all of them are helpful or even accurate. For example, many Christians talk about “asking Jesus into your heart.” And while that phrase might have some vaguely biblical underpinnings, it doesn’t shed any light on what it truly means to repent and believe. If anything, it muddles the sinner’s responsibility in salvation; it dulls some of the sharp edges of the gospel.

In the same way, the common misapplication of Revelation 3:20 has done more harm than good. Yes, the mental image of Christ knocking on the door of a sinner’s heart is moving. But it’s not accurate—it’s a caricature at best, and it comes at a high theological cost.

Put simply, Christ isn’t pleading on every sinner’s spiritual doorstep. Jesus doesn’t need to beg or badger anyone into the kingdom of heaven (John 10:27-28). Salvation isn’t merely a matter of the Lord getting a foot inside the door of your heart—it’s a work of total transformation (Ezekiel 36:26). And most important of all, salvation is not triggered by an act of the sinner’s will—it is God’s intervening work that rescues us from the just penalty of our sin (Ephesians 2:4-9).

In fact, the abuse of Revelation 3:20 often goes hand-in-hand with talk of “asking Jesus into your heart” and other man-centered versions of the gospel message. One way to protect yourself and your evangelism from such skewed perspectives is to closely adhere to biblical language when you’re explaining the gospel.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:1-9, emphasis added)

Train yourself to think about the gospel in those terms, and you’ll insulate yourself from the influence of man-centered theology, and the temptation to reinterpret God’s Word.

Whose Door?

The door in Revelation 3:20 was not a vague spiritual metaphor—it was a specific door. And while Christ wasn’t physically knocking, His words were directed to a specific group of people, and should not be watered down or applied carelessly to just anyone.

The context of Revelation 3:20 is Christ’s letter to the church at Laodicea—also known as the lukewarm church. In Revelation 3:14-22, the Lord condemns them for their spiritual self-deception and apathy. Christ says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot” (v. 15). They did not openly reject Christ, but neither did they exhibit any spiritual zeal or authentic love for God or His Word. They professed to know Christ, but He had no place in their assembly.

And lost in their self-deception, they risked being spat out of God’s mouth altogether (v. 16). Their only hope was to truly repent (v. 19).

In the context of Revelation 3, then, Christ was standing at the door of the Laodicean church, eager to re-enter the congregation through the genuine repentance and salvation of its members. In his commentary on this passage, John MacArthur explains the imagery of verse 20:

Though this verse has been used in countless tracts and evangelistic messages to depict Christ’s knocking on the door of the sinner’s heart, it is broader than that. The door on which Christ is knocking is not the door to a single human heart, but to the Laodicean church. Christ was outside this apostate church and wanted to come in—something that could only happen if the people repented.

The invitation is, first of all, a personal one, since salvation is individual. But He is knocking on the door of the church, calling the many to saving faith, so that He may enter the church. If one person (anyone) opened the door by repentance and faith, Christ would enter that church through that individual. The picture of Christ outside the Laodicean church seeking entrance strongly implies that, unlike Sardis, there were no believers there at all.

Christ’s offer to dine with the repentant church speaks of fellowship, communion, and intimacy. Sharing a meal in ancient times symbolized the union of people in loving fellowship. Believers will dine with Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9), and in the millennial kingdom (Luke 22:1629-30). Dine is from deipneō, which refers to the evening meal, the last meal of the day. The Lord Jesus Christ urged them to repent and have fellowship with Him before the night of judgment fell and it was too late forever. [1]

What does repentance look like? Far from merely opening the door of your heart to Christ, true repentance reflects the conviction of your sin and the deep desire for righteousness. Here’s how D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones³ defined this important doctrine:

Repentance means that you realize that you are a guilty, vile sinner in the presence of God, that you deserve the wrath and punishment of God, that you are hell-bound. It means that you begin to realize that this thing called sin is in you, that you long to get rid of it, and that you turn your back on it in every shape and form. You renounce the world whatever the cost, the world in its mind and outlook as well as its practice, and you deny yourself, and take up the cross and go after Christ. [2]

The Urgent Call of the Gospel

When it comes to applying and interpreting Scripture, the details matter; good intentions are not enough. We bring the authority of Scripture to bear in sinners’ lives only inasmuch as we handle it accurately. We have a responsibility to the Lord, to each other, and to the unsaved world to proclaim the excellence, inerrancy, and sufficiency of the Bible. And we can’t fulfill that responsibility if we’re assigning our own meaning to God’s immutable truth.

With that in mind, you may still want to inject some urgency into the call to repent the next time you share the gospel with friends or family. Rather than falling back on a misappropriation of Christ’s words in Revelation, why not make a biblically sound argument? Here are a couple passages that convey the sinner’s urgent spiritual needs.

Isaiah preached to the apostate nation of Israel pleading with them to return to the Lord:

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

And in Acts 17 Paul ended his gospel appeal to a crowd of philosophers with these words:

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30-31)

These and other passages (cf. Acts 2:37-40Hebrews 4:6-7) can be rightly used to urge unbelievers or those lost in self-deception to respond to the gospel by repenting and turning to Christ. What good is our evangelistic zeal if we aren’t biblically sound?

³= added; also note I added some of the bold and red letter words for emphasis. 

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