Principles of Interpretation: A Proper Attitude (Part 1)
Yesterday, we presented evidence to demonstrate that the Bible is understandable, and it must be believed and obeyed since God will judge us according to it.

Today, let us begin analyzing another related principle of Bible interpretation: The Bible is understood by spiritual receptivity as much as by intellectual effort and scholarship.

I believe that we must strive to reach a balance regarding this important principle. We must have minds and hearts that are willing to receive what the Bible teaches, and we must exercise intellectual effort. I believe it takes both to fully understand God's wonderful word.

Those with an improper attitude toward the Bible (i.e., those who are not spiritually receptive) will not understand God's word properly. This principle explains why many who are well-educated (by worldly standards) have not learned the truth. And, it also explains why many who are poorly educated (by worldly standards) have learned the truth and obeyed it. I am certainly not against scholarship or higher education, but I firmly believe that one's attitude toward the Scriptures is just as important as the intellectual effort he puts forth while studying the Bible. Those who aren't willing to accept the word of God with a proper spiritual attitude will corrupt their ability to interpret the Bible properly--no matter how intelligent they are by worldly standards.

Proverbs 1:7 states - "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Where does knowledge begin? With a proper attitude toward the Lord--namely, an attitude of deep reverence and humility. A superior intellect is not a requirement to learn God's truth and become wise.

But, how can we develop a proper spiritual attitude? I would suggest:

  1. We must be noble enough spiritually (i.e., "fair-minded") to receive "the word with all readiness", examining "the Scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11).
  2. We must humble ourselves as "little children" as we hear and study God's word. Otherwise, God will hide His truth from us (Matt. 18:1-4; 11:25,26). Those who are wise in their own estimation, thinking they know better than God, will not find His truth.
  3. We must take heed "how" we hear the word of God; that is, we must have a "noble and good heart" (Luke 8:9-18).
  4. We must be "of God"; that is, dominated by "the spirit of truth" (I John 4:5,6).
  5. We must have a determined "love of the truth" of God, otherwise He will send us a "strong delusion" and we will believe a lie (II Thess. 2:8-12). In other words, those who do not love the truth are susceptible to believing lies. To such people, their pleasure for unrighteousness exceeds their love for the truth.
  6. We must "hunger and thirst" after God's word (Matt. 5:6). We must desire to study and learn. We must will or determine "to do His will" in order to know God's truth to the saving of our souls (John 7:17).
  7. We must "be diligent" to rightly divide the Scriptures, that we may please the Lord (II Tim. 2:15). Our goal should be to present ourselves approved to God, not men! To merely seek the approval of men is the wrong standard.

We will continue this study tomorrow on the importance of being spiritually receptive to God's word. Without a good attitude toward the Bible, one will not interpret it properly.