Some seem to have the idea that the Bible is only a book for preachers to find a text in. I have known some preachers whose sermons showed that is what they thought. They selected a text and never got back to it or else paid no attention to its context.
Preachers have no monopoly on understanding the Bible. Preachers gain a knowledge of the Bible in the same way as anyone else, through study. It is a mistake to think of preachers as apostles. The apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit to receive revelation. Since revelation has been completed we have no living inspired men today. We have an inspired book. The inspired prophets and apostles still function through the Word:
How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Eph. 3:3-5).
Paul received it by revelation and wrote what he received to the Ephesians. He told them that when they read the epistle they would know as much as he knew. If the Ephesians, by reading, could know as much as Paul, then may we not by the same means know as much as any preacher. The preacher learns what he knows by reading and others may read and know the same thing. All any preacher knows is what he can read in the Bible. I know there are some that claim to know things they cannot read in the Bible, but this is a false claim.
My father had about a fifth grade formal education. The president of a Bible college preached in a meeting and stayed in our home. He later said to me: “Your father knows more Bible than any teacher I have.” After I began preaching I often discussed difficult passages with him. I cannot remember a single occasion that I brought up some verse that it was necessary for him to open his Bible to discuss it. His independent study of the Bible and his wonderful knowledge of it has been a source of inspiration to me. It has confirmed my faith in my ability to understand the Scriptures if I will apply myself. His diligent and careful study of the Bible convinced me that I could know as much about the Bible as anyone if I would work at it hard enough and long enough.
Study the Bible
If one studies math, he needs a math book. If one studies language, he needs a language book. We seem to have forgotten this when we come to the study of the Bible. Instead of studying the Bible, we start looking for a book or books about the Bible. There is nothing wrong in using other material to aid one’s study of the Scriptures, but books should never become a substitute for the Scriptures. The Bible is right. What is written by men may be right but it may also be wrong.
The Bible should be studied first and let it speak then read what others say. I often find that when one is faced with some question, the first thing he does is to start looking for some book on the subject. It appears that it is forgotten that the Bible is a good book to consult first about any question.
The Bible is its best interpreter. Take some time and read the quotations in the New Testament from the Old Testament and notice how the quotes interpret the Old Testament passages. If inspired men used Scripture to interpret Scripture, why do we think we can improve on God’s method? What is often made difficult and confusing by some commentary is made simple when one lets the Bible do the interpreting. As I have already pointed out the Bible is inspired and all books of men are uninspired. When one reads the Bible and lets the Bible unfold its message, his faith is built on the rock of divine truth and not human wisdom. What men say may be right but it may also be wrong. Make the Bible your book. You make it your book only by personal study. No one can take your place in this work. Do not depend on anyone else.