How you approach a book often times determines how you will understand and apply a book. You read different books in different ways. When I read the latest book on theology or the latest commentary I do so understanding they were written by men and although I might trust the author who wrote the book, there is a possibility that the person can err. I do not view it as authoritative. When I read the comics I’m reading for enjoyment and I have a certain set of pre-understandings before I begin to read.
In studying Scripture your prejudices play a role in your conclusions. If you read the Bible from a perspective that it is simply good literature, then you are reading with a different goal in mind than someone who is reading the Bible as Revelation from God. From my perspective there are certain pre-understandings that I believe we must have if we are going to interpret the Word of God.
1. That the Scriptures are God’s Revelation to Man. The Bible is not just a good book. The Bible is God’s revelation to mankind. Without Scripture we would not know the mind of God. All we could know is what we would learn from nature, which is inadequate knowledge. Without the Scriptures we would not truly Know God and His will.
2. That the Scriptures are understandable. If God revealed Himself in Scripture but it came to us in a form that we could not understand, then the revelation is useless. I believe that the Scripture is clear enough that anyone can learn how to have and maintain a relationship with God through it. This does not deny the fact that certain parts of the Scripture are difficult, but rather affirms that the essentials to faith and living are clear enough that all men can understand them.
3. That the Scriptures are authoritative. If the Scripture is a revelation from God to man, then by their nature they would be authoritative. This means that Scripture study is important in that its teachings are binding upon us. When we read Scripture we must read it with the mind to obey what it teaches.
4. That the Scriptures are worth our time and energy to understand. This should be self-evident. If the Scripture is God’s word and we can understand them and they are binding upon our life, then it should be clear that the studying of Scripture is worth our effort. To not do and think so is to show a disrespect to God who has revealed Himself.
To enjoy the full benefits of Scripture we must approach Scripture study with certain understandings. These understandings allow us to learn and accept Scripture in the way God has intended.