Why do you believe what you believe? How did you come to the conclusion of your beliefs? Do you know where your basic Christian beliefs are found in the Bible? Or have you just repeated things you’ve been taught?
Many years ago, I began a serious study of God’s Word. Growing up in church I had been taught many church/traditional things, but I didn’t know the scriptures enough to know if those things I was taught were actually in Scripture. So I did what most curious Bible students do, I got myself a study Bible.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a very good one. It was good in the sense that was designed well, but the commentary notes were very unbiblical. The authors didn’t have a high regard for the authority of the Word, their view of Christ’s atonement was far from orthodox along other important issues.
Here is what I soon discovered, when I first read a text that I didn’t understand, I quickly looked to see if there was a commentary note. If something was written on that passage, I reasoned, “they must be right, so I guess that’s what I believe.”
A man whom mentored me challenged me to come to my own conclusions and use the Bible to interrupt itself. He instructed me to uses the references in my study Bible, but ignore the commentary notes. My mentor challenged me to have a high regard for scripture and I developed the discipline of using the Bible to interrupt the Bible. The Bible I was using did contain great references and over time I often came to a different conclusion than the scholarly authors of my study Bible.
During this time I heard a great pastor/teacher, Church Smith of Calvary Chapel make the statement, “The New Testament is in the Old Testament contained and the Old Testament is in the New Testament explained.” His main point was the best way to understand scripture is to use scripture.
Long ago I ceased using that Bible (although I still have it) and have found great satisfaction of using Scripture references to better understand a passage, along with a concordance and various Bible dictionary etc.
All which brings me to my point; don’t be lazy with your personal Bible study.
I have a growing disdain for today’s study Bibles. Sure, they have charts, maps, outlines etc. But they are also full of commentary. There are study Bibles where the Biblical text fills a minority of the pages. All the extra notes, maps, charts etc make up most of the pages.
While the intentions of the authors/editor are good, I’m afraid they are a great example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Too many Bible readers make the huge mistake of thinking the study notes are Scripture! More times than I can count I’ve heard the comment, “but my Bible says…” and those asking the question never came to their conclusion on the text themselves, but took on the view of the commentator in their study notes.
To put it bluntly, you are a lazy Bible student if you just read a commentary note and don’t spend time in the Word comparing verses to verses. Don’t just use the excuse, “But my Bible says…” without looking that information up for yourself. Remember, while God’s Word is inerrant, those commentary notes are not.
If you read a verse that you are having a hard time understanding and applying, refrain from reading study notes and/or commentary. Look up references, pray and ask God to direct your personal study. Grab a concordance and/or a dictionary and dig in the Word. It is well worth the effort and you will be a strong student of the Word if you put in the time to let Scripture interrupt Scripture.
Don’t be a lazy Bible student.
Blessings My Friend