As Seventh-day Adventists, we are not unique among Protestants in claiming “the Bible and the Bible alone” as the foundation of our faith, even though many who make that claim believe in things like Sunday as the New Testament replacement for the seventh-day Sabbath; the immortality of the soul; eternal torment in hell for the lost; and even a secret rapture.
In other words, just having the Bible, and claiming to believe it, is one thing, as important as that is. But, as the proliferation of false doctrines (all supposedly derived from Scripture) reveals, we need to know how to interpret the Bible correctly as well.
Hence, the subject of the Adult Bible Study Guide for this quarter, “How to Interpret Scripture.” In it, we begin with the assumption that Scripture, as the Word of God, is “the infallible revelation of His will” and “the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God’s acts in history.”—Seventh-day Adventists Believe.
From this starting point, then, we will examine how the Bible teaches us to interpret itself. For instance, how did Paul or the other gospel writers interpret the Old Testament? If what they wrote was inspired by God, then certainly how they read and interpreted the Scriptures could be central to helping us learn to do the same, as well. And how did Jesus Himself use and interpret Scripture? We won’t find a better example on how to read the Bible than from Jesus.
All these questions and more will be explored this quarter because, as doctrines like eternal torment in hell or Sunday sacredness show, believing in the Bible itself isn’t enough. We must learn how to interpret it, as well.