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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Bible Basics: An Introduction to Christian Beliefs

Don Stewart :: What Are the Necessary Requirements for a Correct Understanding of Christian Doctrine?

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What Are the Necessary Requirements for a Correct Understanding of Christian Doctrine?

Bible Basics — Question 10

To gain the maximum out of a study of the Christian faith, a number of things are absolutely necessary. They include the following:

1. A Person Must Be a Believer in Jesus Christ

The first qualification that is necessary to gain a correct understanding of Scripture is that a person must have a relationship with God through the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that no one could enter the kingdom of heaven except by means of a spiritual rebirth. We read in John’s gospel:

Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” (John 3:3 NRSV)

It is only by means of the new birth, being “born again,” or more properly, “born from above,” that a person has the right spiritual equipment to correctly understand God’s truth.

While there are those people who do not believe in Jesus Christ that may intellectually understand the great doctrines of the faith, there is a certain spiritual element that they will always miss. Therefore, to get the maximum benefit out of a study of Christianity, a person must be in a right relationship with God.

2. A Person Must Completely Submit to the Authority of Scripture

It is not enough that a person has been spiritually reborn, it is also essential that those who study God’s Word must submit to its authority. The Bible has the final word on every matter and we must willingly acknowledge its authority in our belief and in our practice.

3. The Totality of Scripture Must Be Our Textbook

The Apostle Paul told the elders from the church at Ephesus that he taught them the entire counsel of God. In his farewell address to the leadership he said the following:

I didn’t avoid telling you the whole plan of God. (Acts 20:27 God’s Word)

Likewise, for a correct understanding of Christian truth, we must consider everything that the Bible says about a particular subject. Therefore, we must collect all the relevant passages on a topic and then summarize what they teach. We want to know what the entire Bible teaches about the subject.

4. The Holy Spirit Must Be Our Teacher

Ultimately, it is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, who leads and guides us into all truth. A person must allow His teaching ministry to work in their lives. This may mean changing our view about a particular doctrine or practice that we have previously held.

It is imperative that the truths of God’s Word be understood as God intended them to be understood. The only One who can accomplish that is the One who is the ultimate author of Scripture—God the Holy Spirit:

We don’t speak about these things using teachings that are based on intellectual arguments like people do. Instead, we use the Spirit’s teachings. We explain spiritual things to those who have the Spirit. A person who isn’t spiritual doesn’t accept the teachings of God’s Spirit. He thinks they’re nonsense. He can’t understand them because a person must be spiritual to evaluate them. Spiritual people evaluate everything but are subject to no one’s evaluation. “Who has known the mind of the Lord so that he can teach him?” However, we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:13-16 God’s Word)

To correctly understand biblical truth, we must submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit; He is our Teacher.

5. We Must Personally Search the Scripture, Not Merely Rely upon the Teachings of Others

God has given the church godly teachers to instruct believers in the faith. However, it is not enough that a person reads and studies the teachings of others. Each of us must personally search the Scriptures. In the Book of Acts, we read about the Jews in Berea. It says the following:

The people of Berea were more open-minded than the people of Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive God’s message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11 God’s Word)

Like the Jews in Berea, it is important that we make a personal study of the Scriptures. No one should rely solely upon what others teach; no matter how godly the teacher.

6. We Must Make Our Study God-Centered, Not Human-Centered

This is probably one of the most important points that we can make. It is absolutely essential that our study of theology be centered upon God; who He is and how we can please Him.

Unfortunately, so much of the study of Scripture is based upon human-centered desires. The student asks, “What’s in it for me?” This is the wrong question. Our desire should primarily be to know God and His Word. When we are obedient to Him, He will take care of our needs. He has promised to do this. Paul wrote:

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NLT)

Therefore, our study of God’s Word should be from His perspective with His glory in mind. This is something which should always be foremost in our thinking.

Summary – Question 10
What Are the Necessary Requirements for a Correct Understanding of Christian Doctrine?

There are a number of things which are absolutely necessary for a person to get the maximum out of the study of Scripture.

First, a person must be a believer in Jesus Christ. Without that relationship, the results of studying the Bible will be minimal.

Next, the person must submit to the complete authority of God’s Word as their only standard for faith and practice. This means that the totality of Scripture needs to be our textbook; not merely parts of it.

Then, the Holy Spirit must be allowed to be the teacher. He is the teacher while we are His students.

There is also the personal responsibility of each believer to search the Scriptures for themselves.

Finally, we need to make certain that we are studying Scripture from a God-centered perspective and not from a human-centered one. We study His Word to know Him better and to discover how we can do the things that please Him.

These are some important requirements to keep in mind as we seek to have a correct understanding of Christian doctrine.

Why Is a System of Christian Doctrine Needed? ← Prior Section
In What Ways Should Christian Doctrine Be Studied? Next Section →
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