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Do You Make These Mistakes Interpreting Scripture?

Discovering a love for the Bible — God’s Word — is crucial to genuine spiritual growth. Reading it is not enough! Applying it is the key.

The Bible is holy. It’s unique. It’s irreplaceable.

People struggle in applying God’s word to their lives when they don’t know how to interpret the scripture accurately. Sometimes this can be complicated. Since the Bible is God’s word given to direct us in our lives, our ability to understand it is important.

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV

The Apostle Paul tells us we need to ‘handle’ the word correctly.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15 NIV

Many scriptures could have different meanings than it appears at first. Don’t get ‘stuck’ on scriptures that you don’t understand. Keep reading! Keep going. There are plenty that you will understand. Embrace those.

How do you figure out what a certain scripture means? Learn to ask these questions to help in deciding what scripture means:

1. What is the context? What are the surrounding circumstances that might affect its meaning?

2. Who is the writer speaking to? Jews, Gentiles, all believers, church leaders or people who are struggling to follow Christ in the Roman culture? How does it apply to us?

3. Is there a cultural dynamic involved that would change how I understand this or apply it today?

4. What is the overall issue the writer is addressing?

5. How should this apply to us today?

It is always best to interpret scripture in ‘light’ of other scripture. This means that other scripture will give more insight to us on how to interpret the scripture we are trying to understand. This will help protect us from making the mistake of taking one scripture and making a ‘doctrine’ out of it, but we have misunderstood its meaning.

Each of these scriptures below need more information to help understand what the intended meaning is for us:

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philipwagner@churchleaders.com'
Philip Wagner is Lead Pastor of Oasis Church in Los Angeles and founder of Generositywater.org. Oasis is an innovative and racially diverse church, largely comprised of people in their 20’s & 30’s. Oasis is known for its local and global outreach to the impoverished; especially orphans and widows, and funding clean water projects. Philip and his wife, Holly, started Oasis in 1984, in Beverly Hills with10 people. Today they’ve grown to 3000+ members.