How Do We Understand Scripture?
Time and again I hear people saying that the Bible is too hard to understand and just too obscure in order to know the true meaning of its message. This is a misinformed statement that many people make. Those who do not want to accept the biblical truth for their lifestyles will make excuses for things by using this statement, as well as people who want to change what the Bible actually means because they have a hidden agenda to make Christianity into something it is not. And also, many Christian youth who went to church their entire lives and never read the Bible very much will become interested to know what their faith really believes. These young people tend to come into frustration at certain passages that do not seem to make a lot of sense because they realize the Bible says things in it they had no idea are mentioned. This is a problem that occurs all over the world with Christians.
I like to take the idea of what the late Dr. Jack MacArthur said. He was a great leader of Christianity, and pastor of my mother’s church during her youth: First Baptist Church in Eugene, Oregon. He has since moved on and is now in Heaven and his church has since changed. They have forgotten the long lost common sense skill of correctly interpreting the Bible. A great rule from Dr. Jack MacArthur is how he explained proper exegesis of the Bible:
GOLDEN RULE OF INTERPRETATION
When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, clearly indicate otherwise.
The goal of understanding the Bible is to recieve the exact message that the inspired author intended to convey. It is not right to read into the words and come up with your own personal idea of what Scripture is saying to you because it is how you “feel.” A student of the Bible should have the desire to know what the Prophets and Apostles were trying to get across in their messages and nothing more! This is because it is the exact message that God wanted to get across to humanity! Getting this wrong puts a person in serious error. It is possible to understand the truth of the Bible by doing just what Dr. Jack MacArthur’s Golden Rule of Interpretation says. If a person studies the Bible in this way, they will find the truth and understand it. Use common sense, and if things get tough look into it deeper. Bible commentaries can be helpful as well. Any true Christian, who truly is a believer, will have a strong desire to know what God has said to humanity through the Bible and nothing more/nothing less. So get to it and keep reading and studying it!
MacArthur, J. Golden Rule of Interpretation. Handed out in a Bible class
at First Baptist Church in Eugene Oregon in the early 1970’s.