The Study of Holy Scripture
The first thing that you want to do before you read Holy Scripture (as well as the last thing) is to PRAY and ask for illumination and power to follow the teachings of Holy Scripture.
The second thing to accept is that ALL Scripture – Old and New Testament – must be interpreted through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and then John) Jesus Christ IS the WORD of GOD. Scripture points to Jesus. It doesn’t replace Jesus. There is no “Book” at the right-hand of the Father in Heaven.
The third thing to accept (which is for some, the most difficult) is that the Church is the pillar and ground of Truth. Starting from the beginning the Church followed the apostles’ teachings or doctrine, the pattern of worship, the prayers, the liturgy, the Eucharist, and fellowship. Scripture was interpreted while LIVING in the Community. If something was revealed, it was judged against apostolic oral tradition. If disputes arose, it was settled by a Church council. There have been seven ecumenical councils.
The fourth thing to do is to learn how to repent – how to change your mind from your interpretation and understanding – in favor of the interpretation of the Church. This is where people chose to become their own Pope and exalt their understanding over the Church. (Remember, there was basically only one church for the first thousand years. What did THAT Church teach?) This was before the “Great Schism” when the Roman Church and the other four Patriarchs split in 1054 A.D.
There are many things in Scripture that are pretty straightforward. There are some that are not. Then there are “scholars” who will argue their doctrine regardless of what the Ancient Church believed no matter what. Personally, I opt for reading the Church Fathers. You can also compare your study to the Nicene Creed. Does your interpretation contradict it? If so, then more prayer, study, and inquiry are needed.
Finally, learn how to obey the Word. Be obedient to the commandments of Christ. If we don’t obey, we deceive ourselves. Deception spreads and our understanding darkened. The Church calls people “saints” not just for their knowledge about Scripture and rightly dividing the Word of Truth, but those whose lives bear witness to the Truth of the Word.
Love in Christ,