Help in Study of the Scriptures
Help in Study, February 4
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15.
“Be careful how you interpret Scripture. Read it with a heart opened to the entrance of God's Word, and it will express heaven's light, giving understanding unto the simple. This does not mean the weak-minded, but those who do not stretch themselves beyond their measure and ability in trying to be original and independent in reaching after knowledge above that which constitutes true knowledge.
All who handle the Word of God are engaged in a most solemn and sacred work; for in their research they are to receive light and a correct knowledge, that they may give to those who are ignorant. Education is the inculcation of ideas which are light and truth. Everyone who diligently and patiently searches the Scriptures that he may educate others, entering upon the work correctly and with an honest heart, laying aside his preconceived ideas, whatever they may have been, and his hereditary prejudices at the door of investigation, will gain true knowledge. But it is easy to put a false interpretation on Scripture, placing stress on passages, and assigning to them a meaning, which, at the first investigation, may appear true, but which by further search, will be seen to be false. If the seeker after truth will compare Scripture with Scripture, he will find the key that unlocks the treasure house and gives him a true understanding of the Word of God. Then he will see that his first impressions would not bear investigation, and that continuing to believe them would be mixing falsehood with truth.
The Psalmist David in his experience had many changes of mind. At times, as he obtained views of God's will and ways, he was highly exalted. Then as he caught sight of the reverse of God's mercy and changeless love, everything seemed to be shrouded in a cloud of darkness. But through the darkness he obtained a view of the attributes of God, which gave him confidence and strengthened his faith.....
As he wept and prayed, he obtained a clearer view of the character and attributes of God, being educated by heavenly agencies, and he decided that his ideas of God's justice and severity were exaggerated.” Ellen G. White—Manuscript 4, February 4, 1896.
The only way you can KNOW that your interpretation is without error is by heeding the following formula scrupulously. It works with the Spirit of Prophecy as well as the Bible:
Weight of Evidence Formula: "1. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible 2. All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by diligent application and study 3. Nothing revealed in Scripture can or will be hid from those who ask in faith, not wavering 4. To understand doctrine, bring all the scriptures together on the subject you wish to know, then let every word have its proper influence and if you can form your theory without a contradiction, you cannot be in error 5. Scripture must be its own expositor, [interpreter] since it is a rule of itself. If I depend on a teacher to expound to me, and he should guess at its meaning, or desire to have it so on account of his sectarian creed, or to be thought wise, then his guessing, desire, creed, or wisdom is my rule, and not the Bible." E.G. White, Second Advent Review and Herald, 11-25-84, pr. 24.