EIGHT POINTS TO
UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE
1. The Holy Spirit
The Bible is a spiritual book. It is only the Holy Spirit who can teach us spiritual things. Jesus promised at John 14:26, 15:26, and 16:13 that He was going to send us the Holy Spirit and that He would teach us all things.
Paul said, "The natural man (flesh, human thinking) cannot understand the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness to him." (1 Cor. 2:14)
To understand the Bible, the Word of God, we must have the Holy Spirit teach us. How do we receive the Holy Spirit? Jesus told us that our heavenly Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. (Luke 11:13)
2. Avoid previous mind-sets, beliefs, or world-views
If we read the Bible from a preconceived notion or doctrine, we will fail to understand the Word. From childhood we were raised and taught human reasoning. Human reasoning is opposed to God.
To establish what they believe to be truth, the Watchtower Society uses the concept, "If it isn't reasonable. it probably isn't true." The problem with this is, "reasonable to whom?" What is reasonable to humans is not reasonable to God. " `For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.' says the Lord." (Isa. 55:8)
3. Understand the context and the historical facts of the situation
The cults take scriptures completely out of their proper context and apply them in bizarre manners. To understand any particular verse or chapter, analyze its context. Acknowledge who it was written to, when it was written, the subject under discussion, and the circumstances of the account.
For example, the entire Old Testament was written as a historical account, but was written to and for the nation of Israel.
While the principles are for our benefit today, the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are also historical accounts of what Jesus told the Israelites prior to the transition to the New Covenant. The thrust of these accounts is to show that no one (except Jesus) could live up to the Law Covenant and therefore everyone, Jews included, needed a Savior.
The accounts of Matthew 24 and 25 which the Watchtower Society and other such groups use, really are directed to the nation of Israel during the Great Tribulation.
Even though the Acts of the Apostles records events of the early church, it is an historical account and we need to use caution if we are using the book of Acts to establish foundational doctrines.
Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and his letters were written to most of us, the Gentles who are of the body of Christ. It is important to notice, for example, that Paul never spoke of or warned about the Great Tribulation, but rather, that the bride of the Son would be spared from God's wrath.
The book of Revelation after chapter 3 is future and is yet to be fulfilled. The Great Tribulation, which begins in chapter 6 through 18, is on the fleshly nation of Israel to bring her to repentance.
4. Understand the meaning of words. especially in their grammatical & historical application
In many cases it is essential to use a
concordance or lexicon for a word study to help discern the intent and meaning
of the writer in the context of his subject and circumstances.
5. Avoid eisegesis and esoteric applications
Eisegesis is reading things into texts which are not there. Esoteric cultic groups use extensive eisegesis.
For just one example, Malachi 3:1 says, "Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight. Behold, he is coming says the Lord of hosts."
The Watchtower applies this to mean that Jesus came to the earth around 1919 and reviewed all the religions, chose the Watchtower and rejected all other religions. You will have a difficult time finding any such concept in that verse or the context, or for that matter, in the entire Bible.
6. Avoid dogmatism
To the Watchtower and other such groups, there is no gray area and everything must be either "black" or "white." But, there are many peripheral doctrinal issues which are not clear in the Word, and various understandings are acceptable within the body of Christ.
7. Accept the Word as literals a spiritual application is evident,
When aberrant religious groups cannot explain a particular text, they will say, "Well, that is what it says, here is what it means," and then they "spiritualize" it so they can "explain it away." Only when there are valid reasons apparent in the text, should we look for a spiritual application.
For example, in Revelation 14:4 speaking of the 144,000 chosen out of Israel, it says, "These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins." Could this mean that they will be only men and all virgins in a fleshly sense? This does not likely apply in a fleshly sense and therefore probably means that spiritually they are virgins, similar to the bride of Christ who is spoken of as a "chaste virgin."
We also need to understand figurative language such as allegories, which make use of something literal to symbolize a principle or truth. For example, Jesus' use of worms that don't die and fire which never goes out to describe absence from God, are not literal, for in the literal, they cannot exist together.
In most cases the Word of God is literal and means exactly what it says. We want to let God speak for Himself and His written Word speak for itself.
8. Read God's Word from God's perspective
When we read God's Word, we will either view it from the standpoint of legalism or grace. If we attempt to read the Bible from the standpoint of law, we will never understand God's Word. We did that in the Watchtower. The law covenant was given to make sin manifest, to prove that men could not live up to God's standard of holiness, and that we all needed a savior.
If we bring in one drop of legalism into the Christian life, we destroy the grace of God. God's grace is pure grace and He does not adulterate it with our flesh works. If we could actually place one drop of "YOU GOTTA," into God's grace, it would then mean that the grace of God was NOT unearned, undeserved, and unmerited! Pure grace is the only kind of grace there is, but men constantly attempt to mix flesh works with God's grace.
At John 3:6, Jesus said, "That which is born
of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Flesh is
flesh and spirit is spirit and no matter how religion tries, they cannot mix the
Article by Dan Hall Reproduced with permission from the January, 2003 Revealer
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