Charles Spurgeon once related the Word of God to a lion. He said, "Open the door and let the lion out; he will take care of himself." While the Bible is attacked on all sides today, it stands, firm as ever. And while the Bible may not need defending, we would do well to remember it is a lion and should be approached with tremendous care.
Whenever you read a passage of Scripture, take time to ask yourself these five simple questions:
While the Bible may not need defending, we would do well to remember it is a lion and should be approached with tremendous care.
Before we can apply the Bible to our lives today, we must first know how it was applied to its original readers. Having this kind of context not only breathes new life into our study time but also informs us of the deep historical narrative in which our faith is anchored.
In other words, what is the genre? Is it poetry or prose? Is the language meant to be taken literally or figuratively? This will help us understand the intention of the text and determine how to interpret it.
As best you can tell, what is the plain, straightforward meaning of the text? We often read into the text what we want it to say. It's easy to cherry-pick verses, ignore the passages that make us uncomfortable, or do theological gymnastics to justify our own self-serving interpretations of Scripture. Instead, approach each Bible passage with humility and an attitude of surrender to God.
James 1:22 says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." The Pharisees are a classic example of people who could recite the Scriptures religiously yet did not allow it to penetrate their hearts. How easy it is to read our Bibles without allowing the Holy Spirit to do His sanctifying work in us! We must instead take hold of the Truths of the Bible and allow them to renew our thoughts and actions, asking for God's help to obey what He has spoken to us in His Word.
As you read the Bible, don't fall into the rut of only seeking tips and how-tos. This kind of Bible study can quickly become short-sighted and self-centered. Instead of simply thinking, "What can I get out of this?" ask yourself, "What Truths does this passage reveal about who God is?" Don't miss out on the richness of simply knowing God more deeply as you read His Word.