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.
This guideline is very similar to guideline number 4. It is so because in 4 we are to keep Scripture in the correct context and let it speak for itself. In this one, we follow the narrative and observe what is going on or being said. Very similar but different.
It is different because this is speaking of following the whole Bible narrative. Seeking to see what is said and being said. To understand why certain things are happening and what purpose they have in the whole picture. Much like Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers (Gen. 37:13-36). If one just read this and even the story of how he rose to prominence and that all his brothers and their children and even Jacob came to dwell in Egypt, but did not read any more in the Old Testament, they would not understand the significance of this story. This significance being God building up His nation of people and then delivering them with much power from the powerful Egyptians, and thus showing His power against false gods.
The broader narrative from this flows to Jesus Christ. From all this way back in Genesis built up to Christ. It all flows and connects. If we do not follow the narrative, we may very well place importance on things that are not necessary. Or worse, we may place little to no significance on things that are necessary and very important.
We must observe and follow the flow. We must always seek to see what the text is saying and not what we want it to say. We need to look at it in the plain reading, the literal understanding of what is being said. Literal does not mean a wooden literalness, as we discussed certain literary methods used in Scripture in the last blog post, but a literal understanding. The text says what it says for a reason and we need to read it as such.
I think Charles C. Ryrie states it well, “If we depart from the plain sense of the text, we do so improperly without such authority. What the biblical writers wrote was infallible; the work of all interpreters is fallible…It is God who desired to give man His Word. It is God who also gave the gift of language so He could fulfill that desire. He gave us His Word in order to communicate, not confound. We should seek to understand that communication plainly, for that is the normal way beings communicate” (Basic Theology 131).
The Scriptures are God’s Word to us so we can learn and grow and understand. If we follow the narrative and read it in the plain sense we will grasp what is being said and be able to apply it.