How to Correctly Read the Bible
"And they continued steadfast in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship" (Acts 2:42).
What exactly is the Apostles' Doctrine, and how does it help in interpreting God's Word? The apostle's teachings sprang from the Old Testament because they had not yet written the epistles. The Old Testament was then, the Law, which consisted of the Ten Commandments, many ordinances, rituals and traditions that the children of Israel were to obey. Obeying the Law of God was an anticipated part of life during Old Testament times, not only for Israel, but also for the world, which revolved around the laws of the Old Testament as the natural laws of life.
Laws govern human behavior. From birth and throughout life, people learn to abide by rules, laws, and mores' of society. There are rules established in the household, the school, in the workforce, and rules for ethical behavior such as how to behave toward others and a person's duty as a citizen of society. World judicial systems draw on the laws of the Ten Commandments and enforce them as the laws of the nation. Murder, theft, lying, adultery, are all considered laws of natural life not to be violated and if so results in punishment.
The Law was given to the people of Israel for them to know that they were doing wrong. Before the Law came, the people were not aware that the immoral acts they were committing were wrong - except in conscience - because written laws and punishments were not yet enforced. They were committing acts of sin boorishly, but after the Law emerged, they had the choice to abide by them or to continue in sin. With the continuance of sin, disobedience to the laws of God bring consequences, which is a form of innate punishment, meaning a person will naturally reap what they sow. During Old Testament times, it was difficult to keep the Law by ones' own power of the flesh, so God pardoned fleshly sins by way of confession to the High Priest. Furthermore, He [God] allowed for the forgiveness of sins of the entire nation of Israel every year and all individual sins committed each day, but not without a sacrifice.
Then Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born and anyone who believed that Christ was come to deliver the world from their sins and from the condemnation of the Law, were pardoned from the Law. The scripture says, "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" (Ro. 7:6). The oldness of the letter means the Law. So now, instead of attempting to abide by the Law physically and by our own strength, the Holy Spirit of God gives people extra strength to help after they receive the Spirit. This does not mean that people can commit sin regardless of the Law; it means that people will not desire to commit sin under the influence of the Spirit. The Spirit of God (or Holy Ghost) serves as a tutor that guides the believer into keeping the commandments of God and the natural laws of life. However, the Spirit only acts according to the concepts of the Word, so believers must know and understand the concepts and correct interpretations of the Word to be led by the Spirit.
The doctrine (or teachings) of God is true and beyond dispute for all those who believe. To the unbeliever nothing is true except what they actually see, because many find it difficult to believe in an entity they cannot see with their eyes, such as God. Either a person believes in the Word and existence of God or they do not, however for believers, either they do what the Word says, or they do not. The Word is absolute and without controversy. The Word is final and unchangeable, and its concepts exist in the consciousness of all. To understand the will and precepts of God by the Word, a person must understand how to read the Word.
There is division in the church world because of stipulated definitions of the Bible and misinterpretations of its mysteries. One church believes one thing because it is what they understand it to be, and another church believes something different according to their interpretation. Many people are confused as to who and what to believe anymore. However, God has made a way to totally understand His Word for all those who truly want to know what He means and those who sincerely want the truth, (with emphasis on the word, sincerely).
The Bible is like a puzzle and pieced together carefully, a person can perceive the whole picture, or the total concept of any one issue, topic, or mystery. Yet they must find the right piece to fit in the right place without missing a single piece or the idea of the issue, and their understanding, is distorted. A math problem will not total correctly if it is not computed correctly, and will give the wrong answer because the steps were done in the incorrect order. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (1 Tim. 2:15). This is one of the formulas written by the apostles and used by believers to understand the Word of God. The formula the apostles used comes from the Old Testament; since it was the only resource at the time.
The formula originated from the book of Isaiah chapter 29, beginning at verse 9, and the Lord God himself gives the formula to the world to understand His messages, (and we will take one verse at a time to explain the formula). "Whom shall I teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine?" God asked this question because the High Priest and leaders of the laws of the Ten Commandments were not teaching the laws correctly to the people. They were slightly altering the meanings and standards of God to fit their beliefs and traditions, which continues today.
God devised a rule to reading the Bible and was anxious at the time to reveal that rule, and since the leaders of Israel did not understand nor teach the Word correctly, God searched for those who would. God said that if there was anyone out there who does want to obey Him then He would teach them himself; thus, He gives the Holy Spirit as a personal teacher of the doctrine to all that receive the Spirit.
The end of Isaiah 28:9 read, "Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breast." The only people weaned from the milk, who use the breast and are easy enough to teach, are babies. Babies drink lots of milk, and this is analogous to what Jesus says in St. John 3:3, "You must be born again" In this way, as a babe, God has allowed a person to understand His doctrine and learn the knowledge of Him. When loved, a baby loves its parent more than anyone or anything in this world, and so does a child of God after they are born again. Early on, babies learn to obey rules and ethics of right and wrong and so does the children of God: A baby grows from the nutrition of the milk of the bottle or breast, and so does a child of God, who grows by the milk of the Word. "As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). Before God can begin to teach a person the messages and mysteries of His Word, the person must be born again and through the process of spiritual child rearing, the believer grows into spiritual maturity.
The procedure used to explain the above concept follows a pattern in the Bible that put pieces of the puzzle in perspective to get the whole picture. Each scripture above complemented the other although they were in separate sections of the Bible. We used milk as a core word then searched the Scriptures for any other implications of milk in relation to newborns. When pieced together as one concept, milk, babies, and new birth, the picture formed and fit together; thus, we get the message and meaning of the scripture. "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little" (Isa. 28:10).
There were concepts taken from here and there and pieced together into one idea of a baby, or born again soul, that feeds from the breast and milk of the Word. Using the pattern above, a person can understand many subjects. All scriptures add up by the guidance of the Holy Spirit of truth confirmed by the Word of truth and with basic biblical literacy of the believer, will complete any unanswered questions. "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17), and by possessing the Spirit of God and reading the Word of God a person will know the truth.
To confirm this the scripture reads: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Again, we assembled various scriptures to develop a solid concept. Many people are lead astray because they neglect to combine the Spirit and the Word to get a complete message of God. They believe they receive inspiration or hear instruction from God and do something out of the will of God. As stated earlier, the will of God comes from the Word only.
"For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people" (Isa. 28:11).
After a person is born again, they will speak with other tongues. This is God's way of communicating with His children. Many people desire to understand the language of tongues, which is possible by operating the gift of interpretation of tongues as an interpreter does to communicate a foreign language to someone of different decent. However, "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God" (1 Cor. 13:21).
Tongues have become a controversial issue in the church world because people refuse to believe in the act of speaking into the air in a foreign or strange language to no real listener. Some believe tongues are no longer necessary but was limited to the believers of Jesus' day only. Yet, as stated earlier, a believer must believe everything written in the Word and must practice the concepts it imparts or they will not receive the fullness of God in their understanding. The scripture above sanctions the gift of tongues and the gift to interpret them, which makes tongues real and true, to all whom will believe. On the day of Pentecost, the believers received the Holy Ghost and the scripture says they spoke with other tongues (Acts 2:1-4). During the believer's mysterious conversion, they were being born again making them newborn babes in Christ and afterward they were ready to receive the doctrine of God from the apostles.
Isaiah 28:12 reads, "To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear." This scripture joins with the scripture in St. Matthew 11:28-30, which reads, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." In Isaiah, the Lord spoke of the rest promised to anyone who received His Word. In St. Matthew, Jesus spoke not only about the rest revealed from Isaiah, but what they will receive from the rest, which are all things the children of Israel refused. Both scriptures refer to the rest from the troubles of the world that born again believers, soon after receive.
When the Word is directed at a person who does not possess the Spirit of God, verse 13 of Isaiah says, "that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken." Here, God reveals a consequence of rejecting the Word. Some people choose not to receive or understand the messages of the Word of God, however, this is because they lack the Spirit, which gives in-depth understanding to many mysteries of scripture. There is a discrete, yet extraordinary passage of scripture in St. John 18:1-6 that describes a situation where the mysteries and authority of the words of God are revealed, but not received. When the men came out to seize Jesus before the crucifixion, Jesus asked them, "Whom seek ye?" and the scripture says that the men "went backward, and fell to the ground."
The message the passage tries to convey is that evil cannot stand upright in the presence of God, or of truth. Jesus also spoke the words "I am he." I AM, is what God told Moses to tell the Pharaoh if Pharaoh asked who sent him (Exodus 3:13-15). The words, I AM, carry the power of the omnipotence of God and are used here to demonstrate the Word's effects on humankind. People routinely resist religious conversation or leave the room when the subject turns to God. This is the same effect the words I AM had on the men who sought Jesus and on the Pharaoh. It brought automatic resistance.
The Isaiah connotation of being broken is synonymous with St. Matthew's meaning, which is the Word convicts a person in their sin when being broken by the Word. "And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder" (Matt. 21:44). In supporting scriptures, the Word refers to Jesus as a stone, expressly as the chief corner stone in the foundation of the building of the church and if a person refuses to receive the instruction of the Word, as to being birthed into the church, then they fall on the stone, and are blatantly resisting Jesus and the Word.
Supporting the words of Isaiah, snared and taken, the scripture in 2 Timothy 2:25, 26 reads, "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." The words snared and taken in Timothy support Isaiah and speak of people who do not accept the truth of the Word but instead believe a misinterpretation of the Word spoken by the Devil who set traps using the Word. He is a manipulator of the Word and uses it as a hindrance against believers instead of as a strengthener for the believer.
Finally, in Isaiah 28:16 it reads "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." God lets Israel know that because they find it hard to obey the laws and to keep justice, He will make it as easy as possible for them to understand Him.
In the book of 1 Peter 2:1-8, the scripture confirms the revelation of Isaiah by mentioning the new birth and on what foundation the church will stand (which is Jesus Christ) and confirms it again in Ephesians 2:19-22, which acknowledges Jesus as the chief corner stone with the apostles and prophets as the foundation. Here a little, there a little, the messages of the Bible build stronger upon one another giving a sure foundation to the believer so they can stand against the deception of the Devil and his false doctrine. Once the believer understands how to piece the concepts of the Bible together, the Devil can never trap or snare them in his nets of deception.
For instance, when Satan talked with Jesus on the mountain during His moments of temptation, he used the Word against Him. He wanted to try Jesus' knowledge of the Word and His understanding of its contents. At his first attempt, because he knew Jesus had been without food for many days, the Devil asked Jesus to turn the stones into bread, but Jesus answered, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Then in the next scene, the Devil placed Jesus on a pinnacle of the temple and dared Him to cast himself down. In an attempt to use the Word to deceive Jesus, he said, "for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thy dash thy foot against a stone" (v. 4:6). However, Jesus replied, "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (v. 4:7).
After the Devil tried to use the Word against Jesus, even though his attempt was directly from the Word, Jesus used the correct order of the Word and placed a missing piece of the puzzle into the situation to combat the Devil's deception. "It is written again" implies that the concept was not finished, there was more to it than that. This is the correct way to divide the Word of truth to arrive at a clear understanding of an issue. However, preachers today use only one half of the actual meaning of scripture and never reveal the rest, either because of their attempts at deception or because of their biblical ignorance in the puzzle of the Word.
In his third attempt, notice that the Devil did not try to use the Word, he used the things of the world that appeal to people's lust. But, again, Jesus said "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (v. 10). The Devil saw that Jesus was founded upon the Word of God as there are many believers who are founded in the Word also, however, the Devil offered Jesus something that many believers find it difficult to refuse, which is the glory, riches, and honor of the world. A believer must stand strong in the Word at all times and never allow the lust of the eyes and the pride of life to make them compromise what they know is true. Unfortunately, believers today struggle with temptation and confuse that which the Devil has to offer with what the Lord has promised to give.
Misinterpretations of the Word by people also happen because of their unbelief and because they really do not know God: they have not been born again so the Devil can deceive them into believing anything, even that which is contrary to the Word of God. He twist the words of God out of its pattern so to confuse the reader, and many people, such as the disobedient souls in the children of Israel, do not care to receive the truth because that would mean they have to do what is right. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressingly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4:1). If a person does not stay in order with God's Word and not obey it, they can with ease fall into the traps and snares of false doctrine; therefore, a believer must be led by the Spirit of truth.
The Lord God passed His doctrine down to His Son and His Son passed it down to the twelve disciples. Jesus knew the doctrine because it was prophesy of Him. He was the fulfilling of the Old Testament prophesy in the flesh. Many Old Testament mysteries and implications to the Messiah, the coming of the Righteous One, and to the King referred to Jesus. He was a walking Old Testament coming to perfect it in a more graceful manner.
The New Testament is to give all an easier chance to obtain eternal life and to do away with their old sin nature, which the laws of the Old Testament could no longer do. The grace of the New Testament is a chance for believers to know God in His true form and for them to gain life everlasting with Him in His kingdom, and the Holy Spirit came so the believer can have a personal relationship with God. In the book of Acts, chapter 2, after the disciples received the gift of the Holy Ghost (which was promised to them by Jesus) they began to teach others the way of the new birth.
Through the Holy Ghost, the apostles received revelations of the Old Testament prophecies and mysteries concerning Jesus, and the body of Christ (which is the church) and the ways of righteousness, worship, and love. They had to worship God through the Spirit to get these revelations so they prayed constantly. Afterward, the disciples wrote the gospels and epistles in their own accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus, and eventually, published the accounts together as the New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thus, the New Testament is for salvation, for the believer to know God through a personal communion of the Holy Ghost, and for them to get to His heavenly kingdom. And they continued steadfast in the doctrine even unto this day. "Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not mine, but he that sent me. If any man will do of his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:16, 17).
Any person who is sincere about their salvation and about living eternally with God will seek to understand the words and concepts of the Bible, and God's plan for salvation, clearly. If they are only in church to seek material gain, a social network, a spouse, or any reason other than salvation, they will never understand the Word and will always be susceptible to the tricks of the Devil. These people give Christianity a bad name and reputation because they do not grow in righteousness or love, but in the ways of religious tradition and secular lusts. The Word is life and the truth about life is in the Word. To understand life and the purpose of God, a soul must understand His will and His will is revealed by His Word, which must be read for understanding.