Principles of Interpretation: Understandable
Yesterday, we noted the importance of believing that the Bible is the infallible, and divinely inspired, word of God. We must have true faith in the supreme authority of the Scriptures. God's word must be the final authority in our lives.

Today, let us give attention to an important, related principle: We must accept the scriptural fact that God gave the Bible to mankind to be understood, believed, and obeyed, and He will hold us responsible for our actions (or lack thereof).

Friends, this is a foundational principle of interpreting the Scriptures. Too many people today believe that the Bible is not understandable. They claim that not everyone will understand the Bible in the same way, and thus, it is a waste of time to even attempt to come to an agreement concerning how various passages should be understood. Tragically, many of these people have little or no concern for how the Scriptures are interpreted. They are content to let you have "your own interpretation"--as long as you let them have theirs.

This view has some serious negative implications toward God Himself. If God's word is not understandable, then God must be to blame somewhere--either for not giving us the intelligence to understand or for making the Scriptures too difficult. Now, which horn of that dilemma will they take hold of? If the Bible isn't understandable, God is at least partially to blame.

I believe with every fiber of my being that man can understand the Bible, and we must strive to understand it through diligent study. We must believe God's word, and we must obey it.

Why? Because we will all be held accountable for our thoughts and actions! We will be judged by the word of God. Listen to John 12:48 which clearly teaches this truth - "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day."

God knows that we can understand His word--otherwise, why would He judge us according to it? It would be unfair for Him to judge us according to a standard that we could not comprehend. Thus, the only reasonable conclusion is that He expects us to be able to understand, believe, and obey the Bible!

This principle is taught in God's word in numerous places, either explicitly or implicitly. For example, John 8:31,32 records - "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." It is possible to know the truth; thus, it is understandable.

II Timothy 2:15 reads - "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." It is implied here that those who improperly interpret the Bible have reason to be ashamed; therefore, God's word is understandable.

We learn from II Timothy 3:14-17 that Timothy had known the Scriptures from his youth. Thus, he could understand it. God's word is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. If the Bible is not understandable, how can it be profitable in any of these ways?

Colossians 4:16 mentions that the epistle would be read publicly. Such would be a waste of time if the writings were incomprehensible.

According to II Thessalonians 3:14, disciples who disobeyed the word should be noted and withdrawn from. If the Bible is not understandable, how could we even know if someone had disobeyed it?

Finally, I Corinthians 1:10 commands that "you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Although achieving unity in our understanding and attitudes is certainly a challenging task, it is not impossible! God does not expect us to do the impossible. His word is comprehensible.

There are many other passages that could be brought up, but this is more than sufficient to strongly make our point. The Lord will hold us accountable for studying the Scriptures for ourselves and then drawing conclusions based on the evidence we find. God's truth is absolute and attainable. It can be learned and understood. It must be believed and obeyed since Jesus will not save the disobedient (Matt. 7:21; Heb. 5:9). Let us put forth the effort to learn God's truth and obey it!