How to Approach the Scriptures (Part 1)
I hope that the reader has come to the conclusion that the Bible is the sole authority of faith and practice, for it is without error in every matter of which it speaks. The Bible is, after all, God’s Word. Here are some places where this is taught:
The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. (2Sam. 23:2)
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matt. 5:18)
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17)
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; (John 10:35)
Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. (Acts 1:16)
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1Cor. 2:13-14)
Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1Cor. 10:11)
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Gal. 3:16)
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2Tim.3:15-17)
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Heb. 1:1-2)
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2Pet. 1:19-21)
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15-16)
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: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. (Rev. 22:18-19)
This by no means is an exhaustive list, but it is comprehensive.
The Bible, God's Teachings
Having come to the conclusion in my own life, that the Bible is my sole authority of faith and practice it is now essential for me to yield to its teachings whether or not I can intellectually understand and/or immediately agree. More properly I should say that, “I need to submit to God’s teachings” for that is what the Bible is: God’s teachings. I am reminded of the event that took place and was recorded for us in Acts 8:27-35, where Phillip led a one-on-one Bible study of the book of Isaiah 53 with a man from Ethiopia. The Ethiopian wasn’t quite sure of whom the Prophet spoke. He had not, at this point, had a course on hermeneutics (interpretation). God took care of the first things first: Phillip began at the point where the Ethiopian was and presented the Gospel and the Ethiopian believed and was baptized (by imersion).
Some have used this as a proof text for their philosophy that every passage in the Bible points to Christ. This method of interpretation is called the Christological approach. Others, closely related to the first group, use this passage to enforce the idea that every verse in the Bible points toward salvation of man or has to do with some aspect of God's salvation program. This method of interpretation is the Soteriological approach. The esteemed C.H. Spurgeon said to his students, “Choose your text, then make a bee line for the cross!” Before I assert what in my view is the best approach to Scripture, I will offer these preliminary remarks. It should be clear that I have a warmth and brotherly affection for Christians who do not agree with me. We are brothers in Christ! Some choose to call themselves “reformed”, “covenantal”, “new covenantal” and “progressive dispensational”, "dispensational" and so on. In these systems of thought many are conservative and seek to follow the teachings of God. There are also a great number of theologians and preachers in these groups who have much to offer the church and the individual believer. I personally praise the Lord for their commitment to the Bible and God. I am also friends with many in these groups and I am confident that they would say the same of me.
Some may argue that language is a hindrance to God, but I humbly suggest it is NOT! God is perfectly capable to condescend to our human language which He invented, and this is also how He chooses to communicate to us. Let me quote Alice, when she was in Wonderland, “...say what you mean and mean what you say.” This is basically what the Ethiopian was saying to Phillip… and it turns out that this is exactly what God has done for us in His Word the Bible. It is a marvelous Book, a special Book, a divine Book, and yes, a spiritual Book, but the simple fact remains: it is a Book! We must read it, and read it properly if we are to know what God wants to reveal to us from it. The question is “How are we to read this Book?” We will try to answer this question in part two as we explore the proper approach the Scriptures. Our approach to Scripture is vitally important don’t you agree?
In His service,