My good friend at Baker Books has an important post on studying the Bible where he (rightfully) calls out Joyce Meyer, a very “convincing” Bible teacher; at least convincing to those who are easily convinced (Did I say “naive?”). Meyer claims there are no “rules” for studying the Bible and all one needs to do is pray “for the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and lead you (Charisma magazine, “The Value of God’s Word for You”, Feb. 2015, p. 18). Indeed prayer and God’s Spirit are vital in understanding God’s Word, but this is not to say we don’t require some guidelines and “rules” when approaching Scripture. In fact, hear these penetrating words from Robert Stein in his book A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible:
“[i]f we do not know the meaning of a biblical word, all the prayer in the world cannot substitute for a Bible dictionary.” He continues, “To pray that the Spirit would help us understand the meaning of a text because we do not want to spend time studying the text or using the tools that have been made available to us (such as commentaries, lexicons, concordances, and dictionaries) may border on blasphemy, for it seeks to use the Spirit for our own ends. The Holy Spirit brings to the believer a blessed assurance of the truthfulness of the biblical teachings, but he cannot be manipulated to cover for laziness in the study of the Word of God.” (pp. 65-66)
Read the whole thing.