How to Interpret the Bible
How to Interpret the Bible
The Word belongs to the Lord and He can use it as He pleases. He can expand it and so use it to give it new depths of meaning as time passes. A Christian asked if it were possible to get blessing out of verses that, in their literal interpretation, did not apply to present circumstances at all. I answered:
When you get a blessing out of the Word, which is a blessing from God with full maintenance of His character and being, you may be sure that the question of the primary interpretation does not enter into the matter. Providing there is no violation of spiritual principles, you may give the Holy Spirit the widest latitude in interpreting the Word as He sees fit. But if a voice bids you take something out of the Word that would violate another clear principle of the Word, then you may know that the voice is from the enemy. If, for example, a voice told anyone that Philippians 2:12 meant that we must work for salvation and that it is not necessary to believe in Christ, that would be a devilish voice. But if some young man got pulled out of a rut of sin by reading Galatians 6:7, "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap," when the context clearly shows that the primary interpretation has to do with Christian giving of money for the teaching of the Word, we would not be astonished that the Spirit had thus used the Word. There would be no violation of spiritual principles, though this verse deals with giving and has nothing to do with the sowing of wild oats.
You will note that the Holy Spirit takes verses of the Old Testament and quotes them in the New Testament with what we might call a new twist. For instance, in Habakkuk we read of the vision, "It will surely come, it will not tarry" (2:3). But the Holy Spirit changes it to He in Hebrews and says, "He that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (10:37). The progressive revelation of truth is sufficiently advanced by that time that all should know that Christ, not an impersonal "it," is the answer.
So trust yourself to the Word of God; throw yourself upon it, and expect that the Lord shall speak to your heart in clear and definite ways, guiding you and leading you and teaching you the way you should go.
1. Is what we get out of the scriptures contingent upon any system or method that we use?
2. What are some ways that we can constantly check our hearts so that we are not trying to impose our presuppositions on to the scriptures?
3. If we allow our presuppositions to determine the meaning of a text will we still receive the same blessing from that text?