Sunday, January 30, 2011

Proper Study of the Bible

So, now that we have seen that the Bible is God’s inspired revelation to us and that God wants everyone to read and understand His Word, the last question that remains is how should we study God’s Word?  After all, don’t portions of the Bible mean different things to different people?  I mean, just look at all of the variations of ‘Christian churches/denominations’ that there are.  Since most denominations share the 66 books of Scripture (some have more and a few have less, but I won’t go into detail on this at the moment), how can there be so many differences? 
The main reason is the way in which scripture is approached.  Basically, there are two different approaches.  The first approach, called eisigesis, means coming to the Bible with prior assumptions and wanting to fit our own ideas into what the Bible appears to be saying.  The second approach, called exegesis, means coming to the Bible wanting it to teach us, setting aside our own presuppositions and letting the Bible change us.
From what we have seen so far, which is the correct approach?  Let’s answer that question by asking a few more questions.  Is the Bible God’s word or man’s word?  Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:20-21, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  From this we can see that the Bible is clearly God’s word.  Another question is whether man is the final authority or God?  Another way of asking this is who is wiser God or man?  Proverbs 2:6 tells us, “For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  Obviously, God is wiser than man.  With the answers to these two simple questions, I think the answer to our overarching question is clear; we need to let the Bible teach and change us by setting aside our own presuppositions, exegesis. 
Now that we understand that we need to let God’s Word teach us, let’s leave this discussion with a few final thoughts.  First, in letting God’s word teach us, we need to interpret Scripture LITERALLY.  The basic axiom that needs to lead into any study of Scripture is ‘if the literal sense makes sense, make no other sense.’  Secondly, there is only one correct interpretation of Scripture.  While this won’t be the most popular statement that is made in our post-modern, every-philosophy-and-thought-is-valid world, this is a valid statement.  After all, again, this is God’s Word and not our own and He has a specific purpose for writing each word, chapter, and book.  While there is only one correct interpretation of Scripture, there can be many applications from that interpretation.  God’s word doesn’t change and the teaching of His Word applies to every person in every part of the world.  Finally, Scripture must be interpreted within its context.  If you remove one or two verses from out of its context, this is where you can begin to have many varied interpretations of Scripture and begins to allow our own presuppositions to guide us rather than God’s Word.  I hope that you have been convinced that the Bible is God’s Word, that He wants EVERYONE to read and understand it, and that now you will allow God’s Word to teach you as you study Scripture literally within its proper context.

No comments:

Post a Comment