For hundreds of years, men have struggled to understand the bible alike. But many things have prevented them from seeing the bible alike. Various factors can, and most often do, enter the process so that each man comes away with a different interpretation. Some of these factors are:
1. Previous teaching efforts by others often leaves a residual effect so that each man comes to the study with preconceived ideas. We often refer to this as theological prejudice. It comes from different sources.
A. One is family. Families have traditionally taught their children in their faith and subsequent generations continue on in this doctrine. How often I have heard, "Well, if such-and-such was good enough for my folks, then it's good enough for me." What they fail to realize is that if their folks were lost, so also are they. Ignorance of the law is no excuse (Acts 17:30).
B. Another is a close friend. Young minds are easily bent or swayed by the camaraderie of a close friend. I know that, in my own life, some doctrines were tempting because they were practiced by some of my closest friends. Job had a severe problem with his three friends and his wife. She advised him to just "curse God and die." His friends falsely told him that God had punished him for some grievous sin. All four were wrong.
2. A third form of prejudice comes from being overpowered by a deceiving person. Today's television "evangelists" preach and practice so many diverse doctrines that a novice is soon overwhelmed by the ideology of each. The apostle Paul warned us that, "such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (2 Cor 11:13-15, KJV).
3. Biblical Ignorance is a fourth problem. Many people are either too disinterested to study or simply too lazy to devote the right kind of study to God's word. Many want to be "bible scholars" but are not willing to devote the time necessary to do the kind of job that God demands. Paul told young Timothy, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God." (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV)
Such a task is a demanding one and deserves full consideration of what God has said. Those who are interested in the bible often fail to understand it because they do not have a systematic approach to study. For this reason, we need to accept several rules that need to be emphasized. In our next lesson, we will be addressing these basic rules for understanding the bible alike.
Submitted by Howard Justice