If we do not approach the study of God’s Word honestly and with realistic expectations, then we are like the man who searched for honey only to find a loaf of bread. One of the popular (but Biblically inaccurate) trends in Christendom years ago was for ministers to apply every text in the Bible to their distinct theological position. For example, one distinguished minister announced his text and introduced his sermon as follows:
“So, Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat at the king’s table; and he was lame on both his feet.” [2 Kings 9:13]
My brethren, we are here taught the doctrine of human depravity: Mephibosheth “was lame.” Also the doctrine of total depravity: “he was lame on both his feet.” Also the doctrine of justification: for he “dwelt in Jerusalem.” Fourth, the doctrine of adoption: “he did eat at the king’s table.” Fifth, the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints: for we read that “he did eat at the king’s table continually.”
While there are many doctrines found throughout the pages of Scripture, we must be very careful about digging too deeply into a given text and attaching a meaning which God never intended. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. Instead of looking for something new or skewing the meaning of a given text to make it fit our belief system, we will profit most when we interpret the Word of God in its literal sense. Many fundamentally sound scholars have pored through the Scriptures before us. Is it not better to draw from their years of study than to waste time inventing our own interpretations? Of course it is. Simple is best.
The best way to learn God’s Word is to study it with an obedient, prayerful heart. As you read a passage, consider if there is any principle you can apply to an issue in your life. Ask yourself if God is calling you to change your thoughts or actions. If the passage doesn’t address a spiritual need, then find one that does. Simple is best. The Word of God will not return void.
Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.