- Ask God for wisdom and He will give wisdom (Jas 1:5).
- Focus on a section of Scripture and collect insights (Eph 3:4; cf. Heb 8–10).
- Observe who is speaking to whom (Acts 8:32–34; cf. Ps 110:1; Mark 12:35–37).
- Follow scriptures that precede the focused section of Scripture to where the text is going (cf. Heb 7).
- Connect points drawn from the focused section of Scripture with surrounding verses (cf. Rom 3:1–9; Heb 1:5–13).
- Search keywords in passage and allow the Bible to define the words preferably in the original language (cf. Gal 3:15–18).
- Relate the truth by contemplating how to live out these scriptures personally (cf. Rom 12; 2 Tim 3:16–17).
- Ask questions, keep seeking, and keep finding (cf. Rom 6:1, 15).
Yes, drawing more from the Bible is important. However, of even more importance is the ability of Christians to know and discover God’s Truth, in contrast to feasting on man-conceived truth, either in the form of human tradition or interpretation to support a personal agenda or idea.
Sadly, seeking the Truth has been sorely lacking in the Christian Church as witness the proliferation of thousands of denominations, cults and sects, each with its own version of the Truth. Ten Christians reading the exact same passages of Scripture results in ten different ideas, opinions and doctrines of what the Bible is teaching. What they are promulgating in most cases has no Biblical basis, they are mostly man-made doctrine fabricated through emotional attachment to what they think the Bible should say.
The one Truth that every Christian should know is that God wants his people to live together in harmony (Psalm 133:1, Romans 15:5, John 17:21). With so many individual kingdoms (denominations, sects, and independent splinter groups), a plethora of contradicting biblical teachings and doctrine and Christian groups turning on each other, the Christian Church does not project unity and harmony.
A non-believer on the outside looking in, upon hearing and seeing the disparities and hypocrisies of Christians and their churches, can only arrive at very specific conclusions about the American Christian Church…it is fragmented, splintered, confused, contradictory and in disarray.
This is precisely why “drawing more from the Bible” and learning God’s truth is paramount for the Christian Church and its members. Christians must develop a passion for the Truth, accomplished only through incessant prayer, an insatiable desire to study Holy Scripture and intense Bible discussion groups.
As they begin the process of discovering the Truth, there are six principles they can utilize.
Further, God gave us his Holy Spirit to be our teacher, instructing us that he, Holy Spirit, will teach us all things, he will guide us into all the truth and there is no need for anyone else to teach us (John 14:26, John 16:13, 1 John 2:27). Paul was so cognizant of our human nature to fall for unsound teaching he warns Christian to be aware they don‘t fall into the trap in which they “will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the Truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim.: 3:3 & 40. Unfortunately, this disease has afflicted God’s church big time.
Although there is no evidence of unity within the Body of Christ, God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). Since all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is God-breathed (1 Tim. 3:16), there are no contradictions contained within the covers of the Bible. If every word in the Bible is from God, then nothing contained in its pages can be contradictory because God does not contradict Himself. Therefore, there always is an explanation to enlighten us about the seeming differences.
Some will say that different people interpret the Bible differently. Wrong! God is not a God of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33) so it’s quite obvious He didn’t purposefully write Holy Scripture so that the majority of His people wouldn’t understand it. God does not want His people to interpret the Bible, He wants His people to obey it. Those saying different people interpret the Bible differently are really saying interpretation is used to explain away those portions of Scripture with which they don’t agree. The overarching question becomes, why does man have the insatiable need to explain away vast portions of Scripture?
False teachings and doctrine have permeated the Church. If one group says infants should be baptized and another says it’s a sin, one of them is teaching false doctrine. If one group says the bread and wine is Christ’s body and blood and another says the bread and wine only symbolizes or represents Christ’s body and blood, then one of them is teaching false doctrine. One says abortion is a sin, the other says the Bible permits it. Which is false doctrine? Some denominations ordain homosexuals, others consider that to be a perversion. Are both of these doctrines the Truth? With thousands of denominations now in existence, each teaching its own doctrine that is in opposition to the others, one can only conclude it is mathematically impossible that a Christian denomination or church exists that is not teaching false doctrine, either to a small extent or to a large extent.
Jesus was so concerned this would happen and Christians would fall into the trap of teaching false doctrine that he quoted from Isaiah: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God’s commands with their own man-made teachings” (Matt. 15: 8 & 9).
In pursuing the Truth, Christians need to cleanse their minds of all the clutter of false teaching and misconceptions about Christianity into which they have been led and been taught and begin anew. These cleansed minds will then become a sponge that will enthusiastically soak up the true teachings of the Bible as Holy Spirit teaches.
Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to this world, Unfortunately, Christians and the Christian Church today have not only conformed to the world, they have been taken captive by cultural accommodation, self-righteous legalism, political correctness, man-made tradition which God unequivocally condemns (Matt.15:3-6, Mark 7:8&9, Col.2:8), incompetent and unbelieving pastors and the humanistic and materialistic values of the secular world. God makes it clear we are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. Start all over, begin anew, and fill your minds with God’ s Truth, not man’s idea of the Truth, we are enjoined.
In other words, get the garbage out of our heads and let the resulting vacuum be filled with God’s Truth. Allow the Word of God to penetrate our thinking and allow Holy Spirit to open our eyes. Speak to God, asking Him to show you how to ascertain the Truth. Only when this happens will Christians “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect“ (Rom. 12:2). Only then will God’s church become united through knowledge of the Truth. Until then, the American Church’s status remains the same… it has no meaning, it lacks focus and its glaring disunity is a poor witness to the lost world.
Following the six guidelines above will help the concerned Christian discern the difference between God’s Truth from false teachings and be able to separate the Truth from man-made junk. It’s a process of cleansing their minds from worldly things and then opening up all the doors and windows of their minds to soak up the Truth as taught in the Bible, not as taught by man.
I agree with much of what you have said. Christians need to study with honesty toward the Scriptures. They can agree and become of the same and mind judgment (1 Cor 1:10). However, I would like to clarify some points that you addressed.
You are right that there are great divisions among churches, denominations, and sects. These should not be so. However, these are not new things the church has faced such throughout the centuries starting from the first century. We can read the Bible and see people blending their assumed knowledge with the God’s revelation and going into error. However, “evangelical” Christians are united that God is the Father, Son, and Spirit; the Scriptures are infallible and inerrant; salvation is by grace through faith; and the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. From here, we can build. Anyone disagreeing with these points are not “evangelical” and even more so cannot be Christian.
I do not see 10 ideas coming from one scripture. However, many do alter and change teachings from the Scriptures. We should expect that Christians have multiple applications and inferences of Scriptures but not many interpretations. I think that we should not confuse application and inferences with interpretation. There are not various interpretations of Scripture since there is only one textual meaning. We must distinguish between interpretation and private explanations and inferences. All can read that drunkenness is a sin, but they may err in their inferences and applications of the text. Personally, I oppose the reliance of personal inferences and applications to divide the church.
As far as outsiders seeing division and judging the church, they have no moral ground to stand on. They are self-righteous without God and no absolute moral standards without God. They are greater hypocrites and need to submit to Christ. Submission to Christ is key to taking the Scriptures completely for what the text says.
I hope that you will reconsider your points or challenge me further. On your first point, you assert that the Scriptures are simple and easy to understand. However, Peter observed that some things in Paul’s writings are hard to understand (2 Pet 3:16). This is not that we cannot understand Scripture, but that it is sometimes hard to understand. We can read and understand (Eph 3:4). I find that most people are simply ignorant and do not seek to understand the Scriptures because they think that it should be easy.
On number two, you assert that the Holy Spirit guides every Christian into all truth. If this were true, why are there so many variations and errors? Why would the Bible exist? Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles to all truth not all Christians (John 14:26; 16:12–13). For this reason, we can trust the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word.
Regarding scholarship, academics have helped unify believers but not completely. Scholarship is necessary and helpful in giving us our translations, historical background, archeology, and so much more. As one professor noted, “You don’t need to know Greek to be saved, but someone does.”
Lastly, you are right. God is not the God of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). I find that Christians can unite in God’s written Word. Christians can read the Scriptures with an honest heart and fresh eyes without mixing their beliefs into the message of the text.