I want today and possibly for the rest of the week to present these guidelines and the reasoning behind them. I pray these will be beneficial to all who read them.
1. The Scriptures are the authority for believers. The Scriptures are the authoritative word of God because they are based upon the authority of God.
2. The Scriptures are God’s main means of speaking to man. Since, “all scripture is God breathed…and good for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” it is God’s primary means for teaching man (English Standard Version, 2 Tim. 3:16).
3. Scripture is sufficient to guide us in correct decisions. As such, the Bible contains all we need to know God’s will and to live a life pleasing to him. Although Scripture is sufficient, one must delineate how to apply it to certain situations it doesn’t specifically address.
4. Always keep Scripture in the correct context. This means that the text should be allowed to say what the text says. One should never force their interpretation on the text. By this I mean you should never say this text means this to me. Always strive to know what the text says and not what you want it to say.
5. Understand the different genre’s in Scripture, or literary form. Not all the books within the Bible are written the same, or with the same intentions. There is unity in the diversity because the Bible is a collection of documents that tell, in different ways, the same fundamental story.
6. Always follow the narrative. Follow through Scripture looking for key images, be observant to what is being said. Never impose on the text something it does not say.
7. Compare the issues at hand with those in the text. Since, times and circumstances change, so do the ways they are handled. Scripture is timeless (Heb. 4:12), situations may change, but sin and fallen humanity are still sinful.
8. Wrestle with the text. Do not just casually read it and make a decision. Study it intently to make sure it is a proper text for the situation. Basically, do not just “cherry-pick” a verse and apply it.
9. Tradition, philosophy, and experience have shaped our views on things and we must be careful not to inject them into the text or situation. As such, outside sources can be helpful to clarify what is in the text. They can help us to see our own biases.
10. Scripture is necessary above all other sources. It is impossible to live the Christian life faithfully and fully without the Bible. Scripture is the wellspring of life it is the identity of the church. To misuse, the Scriptures is wrong and dangerous and can cause deep harm and destruction.