Studying Scripture
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Summary: The Bible is an ancient book. What is the value of studying Scripture today, and how would we even begin?
 
 

What are the Scriptures for?


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One of the purposes of God's Word is to give us hope. Romans 15:4 says, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."

The Scriptures make us wise unto salvation. They show us the plan of salvation and how we can appropriate its benefits to ourselves, and become reconciled unto God, and someday live in the earth made new (2 Timothy 3:15).

The Scriptures reveal Jesus as Saviour. "Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). The Scriptures referred to here is the Old Testament. Those who teach that these Scriptures are not applicable to us do not understand what Jesus is saying.

If we want to find more about Jesus, we need to not restrict ourselves only to the Gospels or Paul's books. The entire Bible will reveal the beauty of God's character.

How Do We Study the Scriptures?

#1: Ask for God's help. When we study the Scriptures, we need to study wisely and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

We do not naturally understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14). In order for us to understand the Bible, we need to have our minds enlightened by the renewing effects of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:23,24). This is a very important principle that many forget. People think that they can just open the Bible and start figuring things out all by themselves. That is one reason why so many denominations, factions, and differing opinions exist in Christendom.The opinions or deductions of man of God's Word are seen as sufficient to understand Scripture. But it isn't. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned and we require help from the Inspiration behind the written Word. 

The Holy Spirit guides us as we study. "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). As we open our hearts to the Spirit's influence and compare spiritual things with spiritual, God will guide us. Before studying the Bible, we should always ask the Holy Spirit to be with us so that we can rightly discern what the Word is trying to tell us.

#2: Compare Scripture with Scripture. When studying the Bible, we must compare Scripture with Scripture, "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line: here a little and there a little" (Isaiah 28:10). We must remember that the Bible is not one book but 66 books written over a period of 1500 years. That very fact allows us to use the Bible to interpret itself. When we do this, we will discover truth.

Fotolia © Thomas Perkins.

As we study the Bible, we need to approach it with an open mind, willing to follow what it shows us. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:17).

God does not desire us to be ignorant. He has caused His Word to be written so that anyone can understand it if they want to. When studying prophecy, the Bible is its own interpreter, giving definitions for the symbols it uses. We don't need to guess or make wild assumptions.

#3: Use all of the Bible. We must not ignore parts of the Bible that don't suit us, or discard portions of the Bible as not applicable, or add our own words to it.

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (Revelation 22:18-19).

If we come across a text that seems to contradict other texts, we can safely assume that we do not have a complete understanding of the doctrine that is being studied. Reading the text in context is important. But equally important is to look at the verse in context with all other verses on the same subject. God's Word never changes, and certainly never contradicts itself. If we believe this, then we can have parameters for interpreting Scripture. God cannot lie. If He says one thing in one part of the Bible, He cannot be saying something else elsewhere. Only one understanding can be the right one. 

As you open up your mind to the Word of God, be sure to ask God for His Spirit to enlighten you as you study. With an earnest willing heart, free of preconceived ideas and interpretations, God can and will show you the true understanding of what you are studying. 

May God bless you as you begin an adventure with God in His Word. 

 

Updated April 2010.

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