Q&A: The Assistance of Christ for Understanding the Bible

The Assistance of Christ for Understanding the Bible

How does our faith in Christ affect our interpretation of the Bible?

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Answer

If we think we can come to the Scriptures and understand them apart from the assistance of Christ and his Spirit, and apart from finding Christ in the Scriptures, then we're mistaken. In the Gospel of John 5:39, Jesus said He said this to his contemporaries. He said:
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me (John 5:39, ESV).
It's very possible to be someone who can even memorize large sections of the Bible, but unless we find ourselves treasuring Christ, unless we find ourselves repenting of our sin, and trusting in him for our salvation as a result of our study of the Scripture, then we are not studying the Scriptures as God would have us to do. In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul writes about how the Holy Spirit enables us to understand, how the Holy Spirit enlivens and illumines our minds to understand what is written in God's Word. Martin Luther, the famous reformer, says that, in Psalm 119 we find a model for studying the Scriptures. And a third of the Psalm is calling out to God for supernatural assistance: "Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your word. Turn my heart and mind away from vain and worthless things." And so, apart from the work of God in our spirits, in our lives, in our minds to understand his Word and to treasure it and to see Christ as providing the righteousness we desire, then we're not studying the Scriptures aright.

Answer by Dr. Robert Plummer

Dr. Robert L. Plummer is the Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.