Important Keys to Bible Understanding

When studying the scriptures, there are four important points or "keys" to keep in mind. Neglect of these points has lead to much confusion and false doctrine. Whereas, careful application of these precepts may help open the Holy Scriptures for a clearer understanding of the will of God for our lives.

Who is Speaking?

Sometimes men's words or thoughts are recorded in the scriptures. At other times it is God who is speaking and yet at other times, it may be Satan's words that are recorded in the scriptures.

For example, here are Solomon's words as he observed things "under the sun."

Ecclesiastes 3:19-22
      For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

However, God has revealed there is a vast difference between man and beast. For example, when God created man, He gave man dominion over the beasts.

Genesis 1:26        And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

It was because man sinned that God sent His only begotten Son to take on man's flesh and die in man's stead.

Philippians 2:6-8        Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Romans 5:8        But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:19        For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

As to the future of the Christian after he leaves this life, God has revealed what the human eye cannot see.

Philippians 1:23        For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

2 Corinthians 5:8
      We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

On Whose Authority is the Speaker Speaking?

In some instances, men are used by God to speak on God's authority, for example the apostle Paul.

1 Corinthians 14:37
      If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

In other cases, man is recorded as speaking on his own authority, such as Solomon as quoted above in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Note he was commissioned by God to record man's observation rather than God's revelation.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-13
      I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

Of course, when God's words are recorded in the scriptures, He speaks on His own supreme authority. However, when Satan quotes God's words, we must take note, for he is a deceiver and sometimes outright contradicts God or may use scripture out of context.

Genesis 3:4-5        And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (see Genesis 2:17)

Matthew 4:7
      And (Satan) saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone (see Psalms 91:11-12). Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

To Whom Does the Verse Apply or To Whom is it Speaking?

No one is foolish enough to think they ought to build an ark because the Bible says so in Genesis 6:14. All are wise enough to read the context and see that it was Noah to whom this command was given. However, multitudes of people neglect to read the context on a variety of other subjects and vainly attempt to make application of portions of God's word that are not directed to them. The question of the Sabbath Day is a case in point.

Note God's word to ISRAEL in this reference.

Exodus 31:13
      Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your Generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.

Now note God's word to the CHURCH in these references.

Colossians 2:16-17        Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holiday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which is a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Galations 4:10        Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

In What Dispensation or Stewardship Does the Verse Apply?

Today, it is our privilege and responsibility to witness to the reality of the living Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

John 17:20-21
      Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

2 Timothy 4:2        Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

However, in the "kingdom age," when the Lord Jesus is ruling and reigning here on the earth, there will be no need for those saints to witness such to their neighbors for they will actually see Him.

Jeremiah 31:34        And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Thus we see that the context of any given verse is of utmost importance. In addition, if we intend to find the will of God on any particular subject, we must consider all He has revealed to us on that subject. We must allow the Bible to interpret or explain itself rather than relying on tradition or human reasoning.

With these precepts in mind, may the Lord bless you as you study His word with a determination to better know Him and His will for your life today.

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