Sure, study the Greek and Hebrew words, especially little ones like “in” and “for” and “if” – you will be surprised what you find.

Read the parables as parables of the kingdom, not merely life lessons. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is a parable of the kingdom, not a picture of hell. Read Jesus’ words as warnings to the hypocrites, not about a literal hell – he was insulting them, and that’s all.

Realize that Jesus was teaching about the kingdom to Jewish listeners. Always consider the context of any Bible passage. Pulling one verse out that seems to support something will almost always backfire.

Jesus was the exact representation of God on earth. He shows us the true nature and character of God. He did not break the bruised. He never told anyone that they were sick to learn a lesson. His only words of condemnation were for the hypocrites. Think about it.

Understand that the epistles were not the whole of the apostles’ teachings so much as they were addressing problems that arose later – especially Paul’s letters. They were written to a mixed church of Jewish and Gentile believers. When Paul left a city after weeks and months of teaching the gospel, the Judaizers crept in, trying to subvert his gospel and turn them back to law keeping. He called one a thorn in his flesh.

And don’t read the book of Revelation like it is a crystal ball. It is not. It is a book of symbols written to the people of the early church who were under persecution, and who understood it. Basing doctrine on Revelation is a recipe for disaster.

Finally, remember that the Old Testament pointed to Christ. Genesis, prophecy, and Moses…all foreshadowed of the one to come, Jesus. We need only to heed what was spoken on the mount of transfiguration. Listen to the Son. And see the whole through the finished work of the cross. That is where you will find what Jesus really did. You will find grace and truth and faith only in the finished work. It is over. He did it all.

The book is not the word. Jesus is the Word. The book contains some words from God, and tells of His acts, through various godly men. But the book does not contain God, whom the heavens themselves cannot contain. Don’t elevate the book above the one to whom it points, the living Word. To know Him is the goal. We were created to know Him, not doctrine about Him.

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