Got Bible Right!
Today, I want to give some tips on how you can be sure you are "getting it right" (2 Timothy 2:15) when it comes to your understanding of what the Bible is actually saying.
1). Take the LITERAL approach. Do not look for hidden spiritual meanings as you read and study the Bible. The whole purpose for this book is REVELATION. Therefore, God is not going to play hide and seek with us in the Bible. He wants to reveal truth to us - not conceal it!
2). Remember, the best interpreter of the Bible is the Bible itself. How so? Because the Bible ultimately has ONE author, it makes sense that what God says in one place will agree, and often clarify, what he says in another passage. So as you seek to understand the Bible, one of the best things you can do is learn to cross reference the passage you are studying with others (the simplest way to do this is to use the cross reference in the margins of your Bible).
3). ALWAYS view a verse in its context. If you fail to do this, you will make the Bible say something that it does not really say! For example, consider Matthew 7:1 ("Judge not lest you be judged."). If this verse appeared just like this, with no context around it, then it would appear that Jesus is forbidding the making of any kind of judgement of other people (and that is how it is often used). HOWEVER there is a context, and within that immediate context (and the context of the rest of the New Testament), it becomes clear that what Jesus is forbidding is the judgment of others which results when we jump to conclusions without all the facts OR when we judge others based upon preconceived biases and prejudice. PLEASE make sure you always view a verse in its context!
4). Finally, remember that the goal of all interpretation is application! After you have answered the "What does this mean?" question, then you must answer the "So what?" question (or the "What does this mean for ME?" question).
These are just some basic principles to help guide you in "getting it right" when it comes to interpreting God's Word. If you want to dig a bit deeper into this crucial area ....check out this basic summary of the principles of biblical interpretation.
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