“I can’t figure this out. Both words work. How do I know which one it should be?” The young man asking the question was staring at the Spanish worksheet on his desk. He was to underline which word fit the sentence best.
I was substitute teaching a Spanish class, which was no easy task for me, as my complete knowledge of Spanish is derived from four years of high school Spanish, a few trips to Spanish-speaking countries, and several levels of the Duolingo App.
And here was an example of exactly why I wasn’t sure I had wanted to do this. I knew I wouldn’t be able to answer questions, especially for the more advanced classes. With my limited knowledge, I decided to try and help the student to answer his question. I read, as best I could, the entire paragraph that included the sentence. I then examined the picture above the paragraph and looked up the two word options in my Spanish dictionary. Upon doing all of this, I realized that, while both words would certainly make sense, only one of the words made any sense at all when taking into consideration the context of the paragraph.
What a great example of how we should approach scripture! I heard a preacher say the other day that so many of us Christians treat God’s Word like a Ouija Board. We open it and expect God to magically show us the exact right verse that will guide and direct us.
But that’s not how it works. We can only truly understand what the Bible says if we take the time to study the context of each verse and passage. But that means we must give our time and effort. And most of us have been conditioned to want answers the fast and easy way.
Recently, A friend shared with me something that had happened to her son. He was put in a college class with a professor that wanted nothing more than to prove Christianity wrong. This woman attempted to crush any young believers in her class by using the Bible itself. The young man left her class stunned and full of questions. Was everything he had been taught his whole life a lie??
Thankfully, he decided to study for himself. He got into the Word to try to sort through it all. What a wise young man. What he discovered is that his professor had taken verses out of context and, thus, had totally warped their meanings. What he found was that God and His Word are absolutely trustworthy and that all he had been taught his whole life is true.
You see, we can come up with any message we want to out of the Bible if we ignore context. This is why you have all of these “new” interpretations of scripture that insist that some things are not sin that we thought were sin for the last two thousand years and, its counterpart, some things that are sin in these modern times, that have never been defined as sin before. Fallen man, without the aid of the Holy Spirit, can contrive the Bible to say anything he wants. It is only through careful study and a humble heart that we can really know what the Bible says.
God’s Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and when we study it properly it will change our lives. But if we study it haphazardly or to prove a personal point, we have rendered it almost useless. The Bible is not a Ouija board. It is the inerrant, inspired Word of God given to us, His people. Let’s treat it as such and study it with the respect and awe it deserves.
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