God's Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. It convicts us of sin, delivers the blessed hope of salvation, and shows us how to live. How can we best understand the Scriptures in a world that is so full of confusion and competing ideas?
We live in an age where God's Word is often read and preached upon subjectively — the attitude of reading verses in isolation and asking ourselves what it means to us. While God's Word is certainly always relevant, the problem with this approach is that the verses taken out of context easily become over-allegorised and disconnected from their true meaning.
We'll do well to studiously and prayerfully search God's Word, and here are some useful guidelines for reading the Bible on its own terms:
1. | A passage of Scripture is always to be taken in its plain, natural and literal sense, unless there is something in the text itself, or in the context, that clearly indicates that it is meant to be figurative.
2. | A passage is never to be torn from its connection, but it is to be studied in connection with what goes before and follows after.
3. | Scripture is to be interpreted by Scripture, the dark passages are to be compared with the more clear, bearing on the same subject.
4. | We can never be fully certain that a doctrine is Scriptural until we have examined and compared all that the Word says on the subject.
5. | We have to respect the distinction between Law and Gospel, neither confusing nor separating the two. Likewise, and closely related, we have to respect the distinction between Justification and Sanctification.
6. | The Old Testament is the foundation of the New Testament, and the Old Testament is read through the New Testament.
7. | The Bible should be read Christologically! All of Scripture ultimately points to or culminates in Christ. God's Word is, generally speaking, not about us but about Christ. It does contain direct application for us, but typically, it is indirect through Christ. All doctrines that are void of or minimise Christ should be disregarded. Christ crucified is the heart and centre of everything.
Blessings in your studies! +
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