Sunday, December 6, 2015

Rules For Bible Study

The first rule when reading/studying/interpreting the Bible is:
     Context, context, context!

The second rule when reading/studying/interpreting the Bible is:
     Compare Scripture with Scripture! (Examine the whole counsel of the Word of God.)

The third rule when reading/studying/interpreting the Bible is:
     Wrestle with and submit to what the text actually says, and conform your beliefs accordingly.

When a preacher/teacher preaches/teaches the Bible expositorily verse-by-verse, they need to remember these three rules. As they go verse-by-verse, the tendency is to isolate the current verse or passage from its immediate (surrounding verses), sectional (surrounding chapters), and/or canonical (other passages) contexts. This can lead to false interpretations and doctrinal errors that can have grave consequences. Preaching/teaching the Bible expositorily is the best method, but the above three rules must remain in tact the entire time.

So, when you are preaching through Matthew and you arrive at 5:31-32 or 19:3-9, or you are preaching through Mark and you arrive at 10:2-12, Rule #2 ensures that you consider the whole counsel of God's Word on the matter, which includes Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, 39; Hebrews 13:4; Malachi 2:13-16; Deuteronomy 22:13-21; 24:1-4; and the narrative of Jesus' birth regarding the state of His parents. Remember, there is no room for experiential interpretation. All your work must be exegetical. Do not force the text to say something it does not, just because that is what you desire it to say even though you have just been confronted with the fact it says something completely different.

Rule #3 acknowledges that if you are doing proper Bible study, you are going to encounter things that go against how you have been raised and/or what you have been taught, whether by your parents, your pastor at your church, or professors at Bible schools. At this point, you seriously need to wrestle with what the text has just revealed and then you need to submit to it and conform your beliefs in accordance to what the text actually says. To do anything less is rebellion. Remember, children of the King delight in the truth. Better to swallow your pride and correct your beliefs than to proudly and stubbornly continue preaching/teaching false doctrines and lies.

Adhere to those three rules and you should never go wrong.