There are three main things I try to keep in focus as I come into a time of devotion each day. The first is humility before God. I go into my study time recognizing that I do not deserve the gift of salvation I have been given. That’s what makes grace so scandalous! Had we been given justice, we’d all be suffering the eternal punishment of hell this very minute for all eternity. As it is, we’ve been given mercy and grace; my life was purchased by the life of Christ. And I thank Jesus for his mercy and grace.
I approach my Bible study prayerfully. I pray asking God to convict me of any unconfessed sins and I repent of them to have a clean conscience before God and restore right fellowship between us. Because of Romans 6:10 which says, “The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” and Hebrews 9:26, “Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” I believe that Christ lived a perfect life to fulfill the Old Testament law and died a sacrificial death that paid the penalty for my sin and the sins of all mankind, past, present, and future for all who call on the name of Jesus. Therefore, I don’t believe sin causes believers to lose their salvation (Hebrews 9:25) but rather that unconfessed sin puts distance between us and God and separates us from fellowship with him and hinders our prayers to Him. So, I pray, confess, repent, and be right before God before I enter into a time of prayerful study.
Finally, I read the Bible obediently. Having been written in a time far different from our own to audiences of people long since dead, we have to go into study of the scriptures with an understanding of the context of the original text. Who was it written to? Why was it written to them? What did God mean when he said____?
OH- which brings me to a related point: There is ONE interpretation of Scripture, and that’s the one God intended when he inspired His Holy Word. I do not ask, “What does this scripture mean to me?” because it doesn’t matter what it means to me, it matters what God meant it to mean. That is part of understanding the original context. There are, however, many applications of the Bible to my life. I follow the advice of Dr. David L. Cooper when he said, “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, but take every word at its primary, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context indicate otherwise.” As a general rule, I try not to make the Bible more complicated than it has to be by trying to read into it hidden meanings or symbolic messages. The Holy Spirit is responsible for revealing the Truth of scripture to me, and so I let Him do that work. With application comes the act of obediently doing what scripture says. I’ll leave you with a few scripture passages that solidify that point: 1 John 3:18-20, and James 1:22 (I find that actually looking up scriptures for myself not only proves their existence outside the word of some random person on the internet, but also allows me to understand them more fully) in which the Bible tells us we are not only to be hearers of the word, but doers also, and to love one another by our actions and in truth. That is my prayer for all of you as you read this, and as you enter in to Bible study of your own. Amen, come Lord Jesus!