Copyright 2006 So-lu’shunz Leadership Services
The Bible is not always easy to understand. And we are held accountable for how we absorb it into our lives. Proverbs 4:23 makes it clear that each of us is responsible for his own heart. Consequently, many of us begin our study by reading commentaries and articles by those who we figure should know what they are talking about. These supplementary studies can be very valuable, if we adhere to a few simple rules at the outset.
First and foremost, beware of opinions presented as truths. The opinions of men can and do end up becoming the teachings of men, which then become the traditions of men and the traditions of men render the Word of no effect (Mark 7:13; Romans 4:14; Mark 7:8,9). * Begin with prayer, a good place to begin any endeavor! Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to understand (Ephesians 1:18) and your heart to receive the incorruptible Word (1 Peter 1:23). Pray for wisdom (James 1:5) to rightly divide the Scripture (2 Timothy 2:15).
* Now read everything the Bible says about the subject, or the particular Scripture you are attempting to rightly divide, by following any references to supporting Scriptures in both Old and New Testaments and using your concordance. At this point, you are filling your spirit with the Word. Do not make the mistake of being anxious about understanding all of it at this point.
* Be sure to read the passages preceding and following each Scripture to gain an awareness of the passages context.
* Be diligent in your word studies, using your comprehensive concordance to understand the nuances of the original Bible languages.
* Finally, formulate a statement in your own words, a paraphrase based on your study. Check and recheck to make sure you have not put your own spin on it. This exercise alone may be enough to illuminate the study for you, to open up the confusing Scripture or to provide you biblical continuity of teaching. If not, and you are looking for some supplemental teaching on the subject, continue reading.
* Now read what others have to say. Stay with teachers who consistently stand firmly on what the Word has to say and who dont veer off into the realm of opinion, those who have shown to be careful in their study and trustworthy in their interpretations.
* Immediately discount any commentaries based on negativity or criticism of others. There may be a germ of veracity, sincerity or authenticity buried underneath, but those who resort to a negative approach pass along with it a spirit Christians do not need to embrace. Their approach will ultimately tear down any truth and sincerity they may have begun with.
* Be wary of absolute attitudes concerning areas of Scripture that are in question among trusted Bible scholars. It is necessary for each of us to remain teachable, open to the Holy Spirit giving us interpretation beyond what may have become (disputable) denominational doctrine.
* Make it a rule never to argue Scripture. The Word of God is not debatable; it is revelatory. God does not need your abilities as a disputer to bring about revelation in another. He says, for I am watching over My Word to perform it. (Jeremiah 1:12). He only needs you to speak the uncompromised Word, to say what He says the Holy Spirit will reveal to others (Ephesians 1:17) and God will perform it (Isaiah 55:11)
Above all, do not become discouraged by any lack of understanding or by discrepancies among Bible teachers. The Word of God is meant for you and with the help of the Holy Spirit, spending time each day in the life-giving, delivering, encouraging, empowering, comforting Word of God, will lead you to understanding. Know that God has promised it will accomplish His will and He Himself will bring it to pass.