The purpose of seeking to understand the Scriptures is to know clearly what God has said and by that to know Him and His will more intimately.  In this endeavor, we must be very careful concerning our process of interpreting the Scriptures.  Here are some helpful points to keep in mind.

1.  God is the author of Scripture with man as the instrument of the writing.  God allows the writers personality to be maintained in the process; however, the content is His (II Timothy 3:16-17, II Peter 1:12-21).

2.  Since God is the author, His Scriptures do not contradict each other.  Most apparent contradictions are sorted through with a little effort.  If more difficult ones remain for the reader it is not because of the inadequacy of Scripture, but of the inadequacy of the reader’s understanding.

3.  We must strive to keep our culture, preferences, church traditions, and personalities out of our understanding of the text.  We must strive to allow the Scriptures to teach us the truth and then apply that truth to overcome our preferences and personalities, to give us a truthful perspective of cultural issues, and to define/redefine our church traditions.

An example of what not to do would be found in Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper.  He paints the scene according to his European 14th century view of Christianity.  Therefore he gets many things wrong in the painting.  How they were seated, the type of furniture, the type of dinner wear, the clothing, the hair, the time of day etc…are wrong.  Is it important?  Consider that over 500 years later, when we think of what it was like that night, most people have Da Vinci’s painting in mind more so than the biblical and historical picture of what it would have been like to have seen it first hand.  Even if you view the painting’s consequences as a non-issue, you have to agree that method of work can have great consequences on issues of doctrine and morality.  Particularly for those of us who teach from the Word of God, we must take with great weight that our words are painting concepts and beliefs that often have serious consequences for the hearers (James 3:1)

4.  Our method to understanding the Scriptures must be consistent.  We cannot use one method for some texts and then a completely different method for other texts.  We will look at various methods in part 2.