In our part one, we discussed
what Who the bible is all about – Christ. we further went on to summarize why it was written for us. You can read it to get a better picture if you haven’t yet.
Now that we’ve clarified what the bible is for, how then do we study Bible? I don’t have a ten step module to studying the scriptures. Neither do I think there are guidelines set in stone for every believer. In fact, I do believe Christ Himself teaches HIS own when they study the scriptures as He is the one that guides the believer into all truths. This post therefore is not meant to give you an absolute guide to bible study. Instead, it highlights key points to watch out for or to know when doing your study. I believe it will also be of help when listening to messages from preachers who twist the scripture for personal gain. A big part of their teachings are linked with how they interpret the scriptures.
Does The Holy Spirit live in you?
Before we go any further, that’s a very important question to ask yourself. All the writers of the bible have one thing in common – The Holy Spirit. How do we know? The Holy Spirit brings Christ, HIS words to remembrance (John 14:26). The bible, though written by many people, has one author – The Holy Spirit. So if you like go to 10 theology seminaries, you won’t understand the bible if you study it outside of Christ. It’s like asking the question “who is God” without asking God HIMSELF. Only HE can explain who HE is. Reading the bible outside the author only gives you head knowledge. This ultimately leads to you trusting in your understanding rather than in HE who inspired the writings. You might actually end up worshiping yourself and the bible rather than the creator.
You simply cannot interpret the scriptures outside of HIM.
Some say The Holy Spirit dwells automatically in the believer after receiving the gift of salvation while others say the believer needs to be baptized in The Holy Spirit after conversion. There are definitely cases of both scenarios that exists in the bible. Please educate us in the comment section if you have definitive answers – and it goes without saying, with scriptures.
I’m absolutely certain of one thing however, the believer can ask for the gift of The Holy Spirit.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”Luke 11:13 (NKJV)
If you’re not sure you have the Holy Spirit, please drop whatever it is you’re doing and ask your Father in heaven. HE will answer. That was a promise HE made to us. If you are not sure you are a believer/christian, please ask HIM to save you. HE finds those that diligently seek HIM. Read a bit more on salvation here and here. Some of the signs you have the Holy Spirit may include prophesying, tongues*, you can’t seem to stop talking about Christ, you earnestly desire to know Christ more, you hate sin and you hate it when you sin yet again, etc.
* - actual languages. To be discussed further in future
See (1 Cor 12:1-11; I strongly advise you study the full chapter.).
Study the bible in light of Christ.
The old testament especially has a lot of stuff. Angels, demons, darkness, light, trees, fruits, etc. The scriptures are interpreted best when you know Christ. For example, when you know Christ to be light, you can discern what darkness is in the OT. When you know Christ to be life, you realize HE is the tree of life in the garden of Eden was Christ. When you know Christ to be truth, it’s easy to see lies, whether in the OT or even in a real life scenario. Ultimately, whatever you study, whether it be communion, baptism, food, anointing, prophesy, or prosperity, you want to study it in light of Christ.
Ultimately, the question becomes - "How does *this* relate to Christ?".
Oh I love this one. A popular scripture: for I know the plans I have for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.(NIV)
Let me ask you a very personal question? Are you Jeremiah?? Ehn?! Are you a Jewish guy born at Jeremiah’s time period? Cos guess what? It’s was not written to you!! This gets to me a bit personally as it is a common theme within mainstream Christianity.
Have you seen Jeremiah 44:11? It’s the same prophet, same people but another message.
“Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah.Jeremiah 44:11 (NIV)”
But conveniently, no one quotes this, though it was written to the same people through the same prophet.
Does God have plans for you? Yes. Are they good? Yes. Does HE want you to prosper and have a good life? Absolutely. Was the prophet Jeremiah talking to you. No. It was a message of hope to a people at a time where they were in bondage. Can you as a believer study it and have hope in the fact that God does not leave HIS own stranded? Yesss. Absolutely. I truly hope you understand what I’m trying to say.
Another example – John 3:16.
“for God so loved the world that HE gaaaaaaaaaaveee…”Brother John
And then we stop there. We further go on to preach a 2 hour sermon on “Giving”, saying that’s what John was trying to say. Sometimes we come up with 10 steps from just that one scripture. We then add “pressed down, shaken together, running over…”, and it goes on and on and on.
Guess what, John was trying to teach about salvation and we only see that when we study the whole chapter 3. To say John was preaching about giving is to pervert the scriptures. Is God a giver, yes and there are many more scriptures where we see this again and again. Can we infer God is loving and giving from this verse, Yes! Absolutely! But don’t say John was asking people or emphasizing the importance of giving. Crooks do that. How do you identify crooks and scammers? That will be discussed later in another post.
Why context is important?
John 3:16 is a scenario where even though it’s true that God is a giver, a door to error is opened when we say that’s what John was trying to teach. When you can bring out a “different revelation” from John, anyone can come up with any “revelation” and at this point, the scripture is no longer the authority. Meaning everyone or every revelation is true no matter how bizarre, all in the name of “revelation”. An excerpt from this post puts it brilliantly:
If the text can mean many different things at the same time, it can mean anything, and if it can mean anything, it really means nothing. Scripture becomes a wax nose that can be shaped into whatever form the interpreter likes. When this happens, the interpreter cannot be corrected by the text; rather, the interpreter becomes lord over the text.Interpreting Scripture, Ligonier Ministries
Please know that understanding the scriptures is a revelation and as such, I advise that you take the time to pray, seek HIS help and watch HIM reveal Himself to you.