Better Bible Study Tip #6: Insist on Following the Text Wherever It Leads, No Matter What

The Bible is the word of God. Treat it as such.

We all have our opinions. We all have our ways of viewing the world. We all have a certain way of thinking about Christianity. We all hold certain doctrinal positions on different topics, and in most cases, we view those doctrinal positions as deeply important. We all have various beliefs that are deeply engrained into how we think. That’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes it can be a good thing. It’s just the truth about how people think.

None of us approach the Bible from a purely objective position. We all have biases. It’s almost always easier to pick up on information that confirms our previously held beliefs than it is to find information that challenges our beliefs.

But this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to be a good student of the Bible. It just means that we need to be careful to remain humble. Humility is the best friend to objectiveness.

When studying the Bible, the text is all that matters. Previously help positions don’t matter. Our current way of viewing the world doesn’t matter. The views that are popularly held in our churches don’t matter. The views that are most acceptable in our society don’t matter. The inspired text is what matters. That’s why we must be willing to follow the text wherever it leads us, no matter what.

Yes, we all have deeply held beliefs, but we must have well informed exegetical arguments for the positions we hold. This can only be achieved if we are humble and honest with the text. If we have a hard time explaining from Scripture why we hold a particular view, we must be open to the possibility that maybe we don’t have a good scriptural reason for holding that view. To hide those possibilities or to manipulate the text to support our conclusions is dishonest, and it doesn’t demonstrate a very high view of scripture.

The Bible is what is inspired, and nothing else. Loyalty to God means loyalty to His inspired scriptures. Loyalty to His inspired scriptures means following scripture wherever it leads, no matter what. By definition, a belief is not biblical if it does not derive from the text of the Bible.

Following the text can be hard. Sometimes it means saying “I’m not sure if I’m right on this point.” Sometimes it means saying “There’s a chance I might be wrong on this point.” Sometimes it means changing your mind. Sometimes it means holding stubbornly to a position, even when everyone derides you for being far too conservative. At other times it means holding stubbornly to a position, even when it means that others begin to suspect that you might be a liberal. Sometimes it means holding a position that is completely out of step with the values of our society. So be it.

Neither your opinions, nor the opinions of any other person are inspired. The text is what is inspired. Insist on following the text wherever it leads, no matter what.