Reading Supernaturally

When reading the Bible, many Christians wonder whether or not they are supposed to read it as they would read any other book, or whether they should read it in some special or unique manner. The Bible is, of course, special, and thus different from any other book! It is inspired by God and is thus supernatural in its origin! (2 Timothy 3:16). This makes the Bible unique and one of a kind and puts it into a class all by itself! It possesses supreme authority  and is the standard of truth and reality.  
But in answering the question, “Should we read the Bible like we would read any other book?” the answer is both “Yes” and “No.” Let me explain. To the “yes” part of our answer, we should read the Bible like  any other book because, although it is supernatural and divinely inspired, it is not magical! It was written with human words and should be read according to basic literary rules of understanding. Words have meaning, and in the Bible, like other books, nouns  are nouns and verbs are verbs, etc., and the various genres or literary types should be taken into consideration. Thus, the Bible should be read according to what older theologians called the principle of “sensus literalis,” or understanding the Bible according  to its literal sense.  

The word “literal” comes from the Latin word “litera,” and means “letter.” Thus, to interpret something literally means to pay close attention to the letters or words being used (in this case, words and letters  inspired by the Holy Spirit of God as He moved men to record them!). To interpret the Bible literally means to interpret it as literature, taking into consideration the normal rules of grammar, speech, syntax, and context. Thus, we should read the Bible looking  for its plain meaning! R.C. Sproul writes:
“The Bible may be a very special book, uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit, but that inspiration does not transform the letters of the words or the sentences of the passages into magical phrases…to be accurate  interpreters of the Bible, we need to know the rules of grammar.”  
Therefore, should we read the Bible as we would read any other book? In one sense, “Yes”! However, there is another sense in which the answer is a resounding, “No!” We should not read the Bible as we would  read any other book because the Bible is the Book of God! Therefore, it is to be read prayerfully, with reverence to its Author, and with humility as we ask the Holy Spirit to illumine our minds to understand the message of God to us! While we must do the  hard work of reading and studying the meaning of Bible passages, we must do so in dependence upon the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He helps us to both grasp the significance and value of what we read and empowers us to obey it! We must read the Bible  humbly, affirming that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to help us to adopt and apply the Scriptures to our lives.  
Therefore, you should read the Bible like every other book of literature, seeking to understand it according to the basic and normal rules of grammar. But you should not try to read the Bible like every other  book as you seek to believe and to obey it, because for that we need the supernatural work of God’s Spirit to open our minds to shine His light into our sinful and darkened hearts! Read with discipline, read with understanding, but read with prayerfulness  and humility as you seek to know and to honor and to trust the God of the Word! Happy reading!
Tim Senn - Elder
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
1 Corinthians 2:14
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