It is the assigned task of every true Christian: followers of Jesus, to diligently study the Word of God. Listening to a sermon on Sunday mornings is not “studying” the Word. This may prove enlightening, but God desires to speak directly to each of His children and He does that through Bible study.
2 Timothy 2:15 says:
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (NKJV)
The King James version says it more directly: Continue reading A Prayer of Preparation for Bible Study
In our modern, technology filled society we are quite familiar with user’s manuals. They offer important (supposedly) safety warnings, not because we’re stupid but because we’re litigious. If the manufacturer does not clearly state that we are not to shove our hand into a whirling cutter, some will file suit against the manufacturer for doing so and claim they were injured because they were not informed of the danger. The manual offers detailed instructions for the operation of the device, including helpful sections on maintenance, troubleshooting, and contact information for the manufacturer when you need service.
However, manufacturers know that in our rush to begin using a new device, we often refuse to sit down and read through the manual first. They, therefore, include a Quick Start card that tells us the most essential information to get us going. We will refer back to the manual as we have need of the other information.
The Bible is the operator’s manual for humanity. It gives us information of the product’s origin and development, detailed information for proper operation, tremendous trouble-shooting information, details on how to contact and communicate with the manufacturer and a peek at upcoming product improvements. And, like any comprehensive manual, it includes a Quick Start Guide: the book of John. Continue reading A Quick Start Card for the Bible
People like to say that there are many interpretations of the Bible. They say this in order to justify their viewpoint when it differs from that of established thought. This is why we have SO many denominations of the Christian church. The problem is that if we allow people to interpret the Bible any way they want, in order to validate their precepts, we end up with the mess we have where denominations are constantly squabbling over points of scripture. Sniping at one another creates disunity in a body that should be perfectly united in the love of God. Some are trying to rewrite the Bible because they can’t force existing scriptures into the mold they want to follow. God does not allow us to “interpret” His word. If we change His word, it is no longer His word, but our word and we are no longer believing in God, but in a god of our own design. That is idolatry, even if we use the traditional names and images. Continue reading Interpretations
One of our problems with honest Biblical interpretation is that we want our Bible to specifically address every issue. We want it to give simple, pat answers to all our complicated questions. When it does not, we twist and bend certain passages to give us our desired result. We tend to manipulate the Word of God to suit our own interpretation. We will not accept the Bible’s limitations.
The truth is, the Bible does not explicitly supply us with easy solutions to all our problems. It is not so much an answer book as it is a study guide. For this reason it is dishonest to make certain passages say things never intended. The Bible is God’s inspired Word on many issues and it gives us direction and guidelines for all issues, but a specific conclusion on so many matters is ours to discover.
In no way does this minimize the authority of Holy Scripture. In reality it allows the Bible to point to something greater. If the Bible had told us everything, there would have been no need for the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples before His departure that He had much more to tell them, but they were not ready to grasp it. He announced the coming of the Holy Spirit who would lead them into all truth. Here, then, is our clue for approaching today’s complex issues. Our Lord has not left us without a Leader. We must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Of course, a question arises. How do we know our understanding is of the Spirit? For one thing, it will be consistent with the scriptures. It will reflect the spirit of Jesus as He dealt with the issues of His day. There will be no malice or jealousy in the way we discuss our opinion. We will be open to what others have to say on the matter. We will be firm in where we search for truth, but not dogmatic in our decisions. We will leave room for the Holy Spirit to correct our mistakes and redirect our thoughts.
A closed mind on any issue cannot enjoy the fruit of the Spirit. We are not sufficient within ourselves to have all the answers. We do not own the scriptures and neither do we own the Holy Spirit. We must allow them the freedom to speak to us whenever and however they choose.
There is a wonderful peace in permitting the Holy Spirit to control our lives, even our interpretation of scripture. Love is a marvelous tool for learning. It equips our mind and emotions to discern truth and error without agitation.