Prov 1:2 says, “to perceive the words of understanding.” In Bible study, you certainly want to be able to perceive what the Bible says. When you perceive the words, you “see” them. You can say, “I get it.” You can “make out” what God said. This broadcast is on how to perceive the words.
Read them – Is 34:16 – the first thing to do with the Bible is to read it. You have to know what God said. Obviously, the more you read the more you are going to know. So, someone who reads 30 minutes to an hour each day is going to have a better knowledge of the words of God than someone who only does a short devotional each day. And someone who has been reading plenty of Bible each day for years is going to have a better grasp of the words than someone who has only been reading for six months.
Define them – Matt 9:13 – Jesus told some folks to “learn what that meaneth.” If you don’t know what a word means, look it up. Go and learn what it means. You might think you know the definition of some of the more frequently used common words. However, occasionally you learn that a word has several different meanings and the most common meaning is not how the word is to be defined in the particular verse you are trying to understand. Once you get the right definition, then it is much easier to understand. By the way, it will do you no good to try to define the Greek or Hebrew word from which the English word was translated. That is a waste of time and often results in more confusion than understanding. Just look the word up in a good English dictionary.
Cross-reference them – 1 Cor 2:13 – the Bible is the best commentary on itself. You learn more Bible by comparing and contrasting what the Lord said in one place versus what he said in another place. And when you start from the premise that nothing in the Bible contradicts, then you can more easily reconcile differences that you find in companion passages that seem to contradict. You actually get more light from these companion passages because of the similarities and differences that you find.
For instance, in 2 Ki 8:25-26 there is a king in Judah named Ahaziah who is twenty-two years old. In 2 Chr 22:1-2, king Ahaziah is said to be forty two years old. Many scholars say this is a contradiction and they try to reconcile the difference in this king’s age or they concede that this difference is an error. In fact, this is not a contradiction or an error. These are two different kings ruling in Judah at exactly the same time. There’s more on this in another study on our website. See http://www.my3bc.com/1302/is-king-ahaziahs-age-a-bible-contradiction/. You will see how much more is perceived because of the cross-references than you could learn by studying a single passage by itself.
Study them – 2 Tim 2:15 – when you are trying to perceive the words in a passage of Scripture, you have to study. And that takes “work man.” People give up too easily. Stay with it. Read and re-read the passage. Consider carefully the complete context of the verses you are trying to perceive. Consider the audience to whom the passage was written. If it doesn’t make sense, you know that it will if you keep studying. However, most people give up way too easily and start looking in commentaries for the answer. Use commentaries wisely and sparingly. You haven’t studied the Bible when you have been reading commentaries. You have been studying what other men have found, whether they got it from the Lord or from someone else. Don’t mistake looking up references in commentaries and on the internet for Bible study.
Understand them – Job 32:8 – it is the Holy Spirit’s desire that you understand the words of God. He gives them to you by inspiration [2 Tim 3:16], which is how you understand anything you’re reading in the Bible. You cannot expect to “get it” without the Holy Spirit. I have looked up many references on-line. Two things are abundantly clear. Most commentators don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. And most commentators regurgitate what they learned from someone else. They can’t help you. You must “get on your knees” before God and cry out to him for understanding. He knows what he wrote better than anyone in the universe. And if you come to him with a humble mind and a believing heart, he can help you perceive the words.
Discuss them – Mal 3:16 – when you’re digging through a passage, and you’ve come up with something that makes sense, talk it over with others who spend time in the word and who are doctrinally sound. They’ll help you by checking other cross-references and considering other doctrines. When perception comes from the words of God by the Holy Spirit, others who know the Bible will understand. You won’t have to “persuade” them. It will be clear. However, if you are off-track, they can help you get back on track so that you don’t end up with a doctrinal error. And you help others with their Bible study when you discuss things with them. They take an interest in the words and dig deeper to help you, whereby they help themselves [Prov 19:8].
Apply them – Prov 2:2 , see Prov 22:17; 23:12. When you perceive the words of understanding, apply them to your heart. Live by them. When they become a part of your life, they will change your life. And they will help you understand other passages as you continue to study and perceive the words of God. It does you no good to know what the Bible says if what you have learned doesn’t affect the way you live. It’s through the words of God that we grow in the grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ [2 Pet 3:18].
Conclusion: It seems that many Christians have tried some of the wrong ways to perceive the words of God. They have tried comparing verses in different modern Bibles, which are often misleading or wrong and which often lead to error rather than an understanding of the truth. They consult commentaries rather than study the Bible. They go back to Greek or Hebrew to try to understand the definition and tense of a word. And so forth. Hopefully, you have heard today, from the Bible, the best way to perceive God’s words. If you will follow these simple instructions, I believe you will find your study to be fruitful.