Some Wisdom about Bible Studies
28,000 denominations of Christianity attest to the fact that the Bible does not bring unity. Bob Day explains well what the problem is: The Holy Spirit (Nature of God) as Litmus Test for All Doctrine...And Jesus said, 'Who do men say that I am?'" (Taken from a larger work)
The "Defenseless" Word of God
"For precept must be upon precept…line upon line…here a little, there a little…(Isaiah 28:10). Many years ago, as a new Christian, flush with the word of God, I was attempting to prove a point out of the Bible to a friend. After I presented what I thought was an "air tight" argument, my friend turned to me and said, "That's the nice thing about the Bible, you can prove anything out of it." I became frustrated and furious at his response. But as I look back on it, he as an unbeliever was closer to the truth than I was. Viewed from our human standpoint, the Bible is written in a "random" way and requires the Spirit of God to understand it. Without the guidance of the Spirit or nature of God, one can indeed "prove" anything out of it.
The Nature of God: the Bible's Highest Interpretive Priority
"Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'" (Genesis 3:2). God had just finished orally expounding his word to Adam and Eve and that word is an expression of his nature and character. Satan now appears to the couple in the garden, quotes and re-interprets God's word to them based on his own nature. Adam and Eve began to suffer the consequences of interpreting God's word via the nature of the serpent instead of interpreting it according to God's nature, the Spirit of God-and mankind has suffered from these misinterpretations ever since.
Jesus faced the same situation; that is, Satan quoted scripture to him during the temptation in the wilderness. The explicit word of God as stated by Satan was absolutely true but because the "nature" and spirit behind it were wrong, its application was wrong. It was necessary for Jesus to reinterpret God's word to Satan, according to the nature of God, so that the record could be set straight. The demons spoke the truth and confessed that Jesus was indeed the Christ. But they were silenced by Jesus no doubt because of the spirit, or nature behind their words. James and John, referring back to Elijah's example of calling fire down from heaven received the rebuke from Jesus, "You do not know what manner of spirit (nature) you are of" (Luke 9:55). How many times did Jesus have to listen to scripture-quoting Pharisees? Jesus did not seem to view the explicitly stated word of God as the highest priority; rather, he was always looking at the heart, spirit or nature behind those words.
As God continued to breathe out his written word through faithful people he did so in what appears to us, an unsystematic, "ad hoc" way but always expressed in accordance with his own divine nature.
Our ability to interpret the spirit of his words depends absolutely on that which God has "shipped" into us according to grace, lest we glory in our self-ability to "grasp" heavenly things (John 3:27). In contrast to God's creative, spontaneous and "ad hoc" expressions of his word (nature) we humans in our fallenness have attempted to "systematize" our theology. This is true to our nature; it is controlling, exclusive, vain and possessive. But the Bible never defends itself nor does it present itself in any logical, arguable way. As the "call of the sea" is only heard by those who have this nature in them, the word of God comes authentically only to those who have the nature of God in them.
"Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside…some fell on stony places…some fell among thorns…" (Matthew 13:3-7). Jesus is describing the various fallen conditions of the human heart as it reacts to the word of God. These human responses are nurtured by "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4) who generates "the spirit of the world" (1 Corinthians 2:12). Satan expresses and broadcasts his nature throughout the earth, for he is called the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2).
He interprets the word of God based on his own perverted nature and then "broadcasts" that interpretation to those on his "wavelength". Consequently, the authentic word of God to most people is mere "foolishness." But when people are introduced by the Father (John 6:44) to the resurrection life of Jesus, they become aware of another nature, another Spirit.
As they partake freely of it, the Holy Spirit is then able to expound the sense of God's word to them based on the nature of God. When attempting to discern the heart of God in scripture, his plans, purposes and prophesies, the highest interpretive priority is not the standard study disciplines, but the nature of God himself. Therefore, a good teacher will always promote relationship with God and the understanding of his character attributes and true nature as a higher teaching priority than the establishment of good study technique.
It remains a great delusion within the church that scripture can be objectively stated and explained, with understanding necessarily to follow. Academic hierarchies have been built within the church based on this false premise. Each denominational hierarchy has its priesthood of those esteemed as intellectually empowered.
They are admired by those of lesser intellect as being the "final authorities" on God's word. These sincere people have all "exegeted" the word to the best of their abilities and yet there are wildly varying conclusions over any given doctrine. Does this tell us anything?
Meanwhile, these scholars, representing the major brands of Christianity sometimes bicker with one another in the spirit of competition, a function of illegitimate hierarchy and an aspect of the nature of Satan. These concentrations of intellectual power---the academic hierarchies-sometimes compete to draw proselytes to themselves.
They lure by displaying their weighty roster of intellectual "mighty ones". It must be a tax on God's creative powers to work and teach in the Christian academic environment---one somewhat contrary to his own nature---and yet he does, his economy insuring the maximum use of the evil as well as the good.