Are you Settling for an “85% Hermeneutic” of Scripture?

A close friend confided a few years back that he applied the “85/15 Rule of Learning” to studying the Bible.  I sat in stunned silence as he described how a person can learn “pretty much everything that needs to be learned” … or 85% … of any subject matter, by using only 15% of one’s mental effort.  When applied to studying Scripture, he didn’t see the point of expending another 85% effort to extract the final 15% that biblical truth may have to offer.

That conversation spurred a wide range of emotions … confusion, frustration, anger, disappointment, disbelief, etc.

I’ve pondered his theory for many hours, plus I’ve prayed long and hard about its implications for Bible study, both individual and corporate. My initial emotions have settled into a stronger conviction …

  • The Bible is worth 100% of our effort to hear, read, study, memorize, meditate, unpack, teach, apply and obey!

“Can I get an Amen”?!

God did not create us and then turn us loose to try and figure out how to live this life on our own.  He carefully prepared an “Operator’s Manual” to show us the way and provide the necessary guidance.  As followers of Jesus we must focus our full attention and effort on His Word.  How can we, or why would we settle for anything less?

For nearly six decades of following Jesus, I’ve been involved with innumerable in-depth Bible studies, including hard-to-decipher books like Daniel, Malachi, Galatians and Revelation.  For example, during a 14-month group study of just the first 11 chapters of Revelation, there were ample illustrations of what can be uncovered in that final 15% of God’s truth.  Prior to this in-depth study, I had never seen the primary emphasis on God’s grace in this final book of the Bible.  His grace far overshadows the “shock & awe” of His judgments yet to come!

During one of the first post–Resurrection encounters that Jesus had with two of His disciples … on the road to Emmaus … Jesus harshly rebuked these two for not believing ALL that the Old Testament scriptures revealed.

  • “He said to them, ‘How foolish and slow you are to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into His glory?’  Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Luke 24:25–27

Jesus calls them “foolish” [ἀνόητος] … a very negative term meaning ignorant, unwise, not understanding.  He also calls them “slow” [βραδύς] … translated as dull, inactive, slow to believe.

Cleopas and his colleague were angry, frustrated and confused because their expectations regarding the Messiah had not been met.  Today, as 21st Century followers of Jesus, we continue to create expectations of Jesus based on our needs and desires, instead of on the full revelation of God’s Word.  This is why the apostle Paul stated,

  • “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose [counsel] of God.” Acts 20:27

To repeat something I wrote in a blog post on March 25th, instead of practicing a weak and shallow Christianity, based on our personal opinions and misconceptions of Who Jesus is … He invites us to “Whole-Bible” Discipleship!

“Christ–like character is not formed from a random collection

of favorite texts and personal experiences;

But by digesting whole books of the Bible;

Allowing the Holy Spirit, Who inspired these books,

to determine our spiritual diet.”

This is also why I urge you, exhort you, encourage you, and strongly recommend that you follow the example of the “noble-minded” Bereans who …

  • “… received the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”  (Acts 17:11)

Peace & Joy!

~ tr







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