Yesterday I suggested the hurdle to understanding Scripture was what we already believed about the text before we study the text for ourselves… Click here. It is what we bring to the text we learned from our childhood preacher, Sunday School teachers, and/or parents. Today I hope to finish my thoughts somewhat. (This post comes from my musings as I drive to and from the church… so it applies mostly to me. Consider if it applies to you. If not, no big deal!).
I’m not suggesting that we doubt everything we believe or question as suspect all we’ve been taught… my point is that we need to be very careful when we examine Biblical texts that we don’t impose upon the Scripture something that is not there. Thus the hurdle for many are our own beliefs we bring to the Scripture or passage under examination.
Which is it? Baptism by immersion or sprinkling? Once saved always saved or you can lose your salvation? Pre-millennial, Post-millennial, or Amillennial? Abstain from all alcohol or drink a little wine for the stomach? Worship on Sunday, Saturday (The Sabbath), or any/every day? Can play cards or it’s a sin… can go to movies or its a sin (These were the issues my dad’s family had to deal with!). Divorce is allowed or never allowed? Remarriage after divorce is acceptable or it is not acceptable? Which view on these topics are right… Biblical… and redemptive?
Romans 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
Romans 15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
1 Corinthians 8:1 Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
Three principals I find here… then I’ll suggest the way to approach Scripture for understanding.
Principal 1. There are some matter of conscience where the believer is allowed to hold their own belief. But this conclusion must be arrived at by a definite process (See below).
Principal 2. Christians are never to allow what they believe to cause others to stumble… but rather they should always seek to build up other believers.
Principal 3. Love for others and strengthening their relationship with God in a gracious… merciful… and patient manner is required.
Note: These do not apply when orthodox Christian truth is being assaulted or opposed. There are doctrines in which there is no wiggle room like: The Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the Substutionary Atonement, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Christ, etc…
A Suggested Approach To Studying Scripture:
Second, make sure your conclusions are affirmed and confirmed by the whole of Scripture.
Third, compare the conclusions you come to with historic and accepted doctrinal beliefs of orthodox Christian divines.
May the time you spend seeking to know God through the Scriptures glorify Him and encourage you!