Living the Christian Life – Chapter 5: How to Interpret What You’re Reading

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries6 Minutes

In order to properly apply the truth of Scripture to our lives, we must first learn how to read and interpret the Bible for ourselves. Every believer should make it his or her goal to eventually read through the whole Bible.

One of the biggest mistakes many Christians make is to ascribe to Bible passages meaning that the original text never intended. The best way to approach Bible study is with a goal of discovering first what the Biblical texts meant to the people for whom they were originally written. In other words, in order to apply meaning from the Scriptures for ourselves today, we must first discover what the meaning was for the readers then. This technique is called “inductive Bible study” (more on this in chapter 10).

This kind of study is not intended to take the joy from daily devotional reading of the Bible. Instead it will enhance devotional reading because the principles and insights gained from this exercise will open new and exciting understanding of the Biblical text. This will deepen and broaden your daily time in communication with your Heavenly Father.

Logos vs. Rhema

The apostle John used the term logos” in relationship to Jesus Christ as the Word made flesh (John 1:1, 14). As the logos, both the Bible and Jesus are eternal, and they are one. The written Word is a revelation of the Living Word. Theologians have said that the Bible is not simply one book God could have written; it is the only book because it is a revelation of Himself, and there is only one revelation of God.

The logos word is given to all man—it is God’s revelation to the world. But people must act upon this written word in order to receive all from the Scriptures that God intended for them.

Millions of people own a Bible, and many may even read it. But it is just lifeless text until we act on it in faith. God has given us amazing promises in His word, but unless we step out in faith to receive them as our own, they will be just like the lifeless family Bibles that sit unread on many people’s shelves.

We can have the Word come alive for us as we read and study the Scriptures. The Lord will often speak to us out of the Scriptures by what is known as a rhema word—a Holy Spirit-inspired Word from the Logos that brings life, power, and faith to perform and fulfill it.

It is a personal word—a rhema—that God illuminates for you from the general word—the logos—that He has given to all mankind. As you are seeking the Lord by reading His Word, specific things may leap out of the page and come to life—this is a rhema for you. God will bring something to your heart. The Holy Spirit will quicken it to you—this is one of the ways that God leads us through His Word.

It’s important to remember that what we believe to be rhema from the Word of God must be evaluated by both the Spirit and the context of the logos. It must not only agree with the letter of the Word, but with the spirit of the Word as well. The rhema word is dependent upon the logos just as a branch is dependent upon a vine.

A helpful daily process for developing your relationship with God is through a program called Reading God’s Word with Purpose, designed by Rev. Chuck Huskins of Reconciliation Ministries. The simple steps include:

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit for revelation from God’s Word (to open your spiritual eyes, ears, and heart to receive from God).
  2. Read one chapter from a book in the Bible (the Gospel of John is a great place to start).
  3. Write down what jumps out to you when you read the Scripture (a word, verse, multiple verses, a phrase, theme, etc.).
  4. Write down why this jumped out to you.
  5. Write down how this insight from God’s Word changes the way you will live your life.
  6. Write down your prayer for the day based on this revelation from God’s Word.


[1] Little, Paul. Know Why You Believe. Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1968.

[2] Albright, William F. Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1955.

[3] Albright, William F. “Towards a More Conservative View.” Christianity Today 18 January 1963: 3.