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.
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.
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.