Many times, we simply want to open the Bible and start reading a few verses or we specifically go on the search for a specific verse or two to make a point we want to. This is not inherently bad, but it can turn that way quickly. However, if our approach is a presupposition that we are right in our thought and we are simply looking for the Bible to “back us up”, we are already headed the wrong direction. That is why we need to be careful about how we approach the Holy Scriptures of God.
Biblical Theology is the approach to the Bible in which the focal point of the Scriptures is the primary story that continues to unfold throughout the Bible. It is based on the presupposition given by Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God…” There is no need to try to discuss questions like, “Where did God come from?” or “How did God become God?”. It is simply understood that God “was” and that He always “was” and always “is” and always “will be”. From there, the story unfolds and continues with beautiful harmony throughout all the books of the Bible as one continuous and unfolding story in which God reveals Himself to man. Within the story we see that God also reveals to man who man is and the failure of our sin and our need for a solution which only God Himself can provide.
As Christians, we have a duty to keep this story as the foundation to our understanding of the Scriptures and to be careful that we are keeping all of our study in this context if we are to truly understand God’s word. Many theologians have suggested the importance of a “Christocentric hermeneutic” when reading and studying God’s word. That is, a way of understanding the Scriptures which keeps Christ at the very center of the study and purpose of the word. I would suggest that we take that a step further even and propose that we need to have a “Trinity-centered hermeneutic”, keeping God at the center of our focus, study, and interpretation of Scripture in all 3 persons of His being.
Does this mean that we cannot use a “Systematic Theology” approach to study and search the Scriptures for specific topics of study? Of course not. Actually, I don’t think we can do one without the other and find that we must use both to “rightly divide the word” (2 Tim. 2:15). What I have seen many times is study which tries to use a systematic theology approach, but ignores Biblical theology and ends up in various forms of “this is what it means to me” or what Dr. Owen Strachan refers to as “emotional exegesis”.
So how can we begin to rightly understand what the Bible truly means in all its various passages? I believe there are a few things we need to do:
- First, we have to come to the Scriptures with an open mind and forget our preconceived ideas that have been founded on what others in the world have told us about who and what “they think God is”.
- Second, we must be willing to look at the Bible and consider what it says about itself concerning its origin, authenticity, authorship, authority, and truthfulness.
- Third, we must be willing to study with someone who has proven to have studied themself and who has greater knowledge of the word than we do. This may happen through some form of Sunday school, group meetings, intensive discipleship process, or other teaching platform. It may come from a well-known teacher’s pre-written study and be led by a teacher for discussion or it may be the teacher’s own study and lesson preparation.
- Possibly most importantly, we must be willing to recognize when we fail to read Scripture rightly and allow it to correct our mind rather than our mind attempting to correct God’s own word. So that, as we learn, we will grow and mature in all knowledge and truth and be capable of teaching and sharing with other.
So this is my challenge to each of you who venture across this article:
Open your Bible anew each day with a mind that refuses to hold on to your own ideas and thoughts about God and refuses to let go of what God has said about who He is and what He has done. Stop allowing sinful man to determine what the Scriptures mean and begin allowing God to tell you what His word means. Make the Bible your favorite book and remove any other book from your life that would challenge God’s word for your reading and study time. Make the single, continuous story of the Bible your foundation for understanding God, His word, and who you are. After all, it truly is the greatest story ever told.
If you would like to take this challenge, please consider joining us at FBC Buffalo on Sunday mornings at 9:45 for our life group study time as we have just begun a study of “The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus”. This study clearly outlines the overall story of the Bible and is a great study to help us better understand God’s word whether we have been studying for years or are new to the Bible and wanting to know more about it. It will be a great blessing to us to have you join us and I am confident God will bless you with better understanding of His word through this study as well.