Since I’ve joined the ministry, I have really been interested in not only reading God’s word but in studying God’s word. This is something that has really been on my heart the last year but more so over the last few months. The urge to study God’s word is not my own but rather, the Holy Spirit and I know this to be true because God tells us that His ways are not our ways: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8).
When I study God’s word, I try to understand the meaning of the scripture but in order to do this, we must consider many factors including the time and place it was written and the culture in which it was written for or to. For example, in 2 Corinthians, Paul tells a story about a man who ascended into the three Heavens and at first, many people begin to wonder if the word of God is accurate as this seems like a contradiction. However, if we study God’s word and understand it than we know that this is not a contradiction as Paul is not saying there are three Heavens.
Paul says “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2) and what seems like Paul saying there are three Heavens is actually a culture issue. That is, in ancient cultures and societies, heaven was a way of explaining a particular realm. In this particular scripture, Paul is explaining the three realms in which Christ passed through: the Earthly realm, outer space, and Heaven itself.
If we do not understand what we are reading then the enemy is able to divide us and tear us a part. When we read the above verse without understanding its meaning or what Paul is actually saying, we may conclude that it contradicts other verses that say there is only one Heaven. We also know that there is only one man to ascend to Heaven wand that’s the one who descended from it. After all, it’s told to us in the same verse: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). This reminds us that we must see scripture as our final authority and that we need to be in the word of God so we are able to understand it and defend it.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”—2 Timothy 2:15