3 Principles for Studying God's Word
This week, I began a Wednesday evening study on the first few chapters of the Bible which gives us the details of the beginnings of our universe, the beginnings of mankind, and the beginnings of all living beings.
It occurred to me that the approach one takes to Genesis 1 and 2 sets the tone for how one approaches the rest of the Bible. If you cannot take God at His word in Genesis 1 and 2, can you really take Him at His word anywhere else?
People often ask me what I believe about the Creation of the World. I get questions like, “Preacher, are you young earth or old earth?”, or “Blake, do you think God used evolutionary processes in creation?”, and the most common one “Pastor, is a day really a day in Genesis 1?”
In this post, I’m not trying to answer any of those questions, though I may later. In this post, I am simply wanting to address the subject of how we approach God’s Word. Some would call it the study of “hermeneutics”, which is a word that comes from the Greek language meaning “to translate, interpret”.
So, here are three principles for developing the right hermeneutic when it comes to the Bible:
1. Be Born Again
Why state this? I make this point first because I believe it is one of the main reasons we have so much bad interpretation of the Bible in our world today. We have too many people telling us what the Bible means, and they don’t know who God is. That’s a big problem!
Nobody could tell me what “To Kill A Mockingbird” means better than Harper Lee. Thus, if I want to really know what the Bible means, I must know the author, personally.
When we are saved, God gives us His Holy Spirit. He, the Holy Spirit, is the interpreter of Scripture for us. He gives us understanding that we, otherwise, would not have.
2. Remove Your Presuppositions
Undoubtedly, we have all grown up in various situations, lifestyles, and cultures. Often, we are prone to project our own experiences on God and His Word. For example, because we think something is right, we automatically assume it is right in God’s eyes.
When we come to the Bible, we must come understanding that God’s thoughts are not ours and His ways are far higher than ours. We must be willing to let Scripture speak on its own accord with out our help.
Furthermore, as believers, we must be willing to agree with the Bible even when we don’t agree with the Bible. My response to the Bible is not to change it to line up with me, but I must change myself to line up with the Bible.
3. Let the Text Speak for Itself
Somewhere along the line in Church history, it became very popular to make literal passages figurative. For instance, many now believe that Noah’s Flood was not a real event but a story to teach us a lesson about good and evil. Where do we get this interpretation? Certainly not from the Bible.
Many people now teach and preach that the book of Revelation is a figurative book teaching us that good will eventually triumph evil. This is a human invention that must be avoided. Are there figurative passages in God’s Word? Sure! How can we tell where they are? We must let the Bible interpret the Bible, and it does that very well.
Paul told Timothy that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but…because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from truth.”
As believers, let us hold fast to the Word of God and believe every word of it as pure, true, and right. The Bible is our only hope.