Q. As a somewhat baby Christian there is something I do not understand. I have read many examples of persons who have spent years in Bible study over a particular topic, and believe they have been led by the Holy Spirit to discern the meaning of the passage. Yet, another person studies the same passage but their discernment has led them to the opposite conclusion! How can this be? How can we have this one magnificent book, yet no one can seem to agree on what it says ? Is God a God of confusion ? How can a young Christian have faith in their own ability to search out the scriptures and their meanings when there are so many different opinions as to what is being said?
A. There’s a simple answer to your question. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Therefore, as a general rule only one interpretation of Scripture can be right. When two people, both “claiming” the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, come up with conflicting interpretations you know one of them is wrong. This is why the Bible never speaks of believers getting our understanding of God’s word from someone else. It says we should listen to others with an open mind but then search the Scriptures for ourselves to see if what we’ve heard is correct (Acts 17:11).
The Bible is written so any one of average intelligence can understand it by following a few simple rules. First, we are to assume it means just what it says, unless the passage itself tells us otherwise, as would be the case when the Lord is telling a parable. Second, the Bible being God’s word cannot contradict itself. It cannot say something thing in one place and then say something different in another place. Some verses are clearer than others so we should always look at the clearest verses to help us understand similar verses that aren’t so clear. And third we’re not to take verses out of context, but are to read the entire passage in which a verse appears to discover who the Lord was speaking to, what He was speaking about, and what general time is being referenced.
As you read and study the Bible, you’ll gain a deeper perspective and following these rules will become easier, both as they concern your own study, and in your ability to spot incorrect interpretations by others.