Don’t Go There
Imagine for a moment that you’ve just run across a difficult part of Scripture. You’re like a traveler who has lost his way. Which way do you turn? What street do you go down? First, let me point out a few of the places you shouldn’t go.
Be extra careful with Google. I know. It’s so easy. It’s so tempting. You think, “Google tells me where to go when I’m physically lost; why can’t it help when I’m lost in the Bible?” The problem is that Google only shows you what’s popular; it cannot differentiate between sites that provide truth and sites that provide ignorance. Avoid your natural impulse to click the first link that appears in a search. There are good websites out there to find answers, but you have to be discerning.
Be discerning about social media. This is a good rule of thumb: Don’t trust Facebook comments for good answers to serious questions.
Not all study Bibles are created equal. I see it time and time again as a pastor. Someone is converted. They want to start studying the Bible. They go to the local bookstore and pick up the first study Bible they see. They assume that the proximity of the study notes to Holy Writ makes the study notes somehow more accurate and trustworthy. Good study Bibles are amazing and rare, but bad study Bibles are common.
Most software base packages are base for a reason. This is very similar to the study Bible rule above. With online Bible study tools so readily available, many folks will commit to a software product and its base package of commentaries, assuming that they have struck hermeneutical gold. Probably not. There is a reason that the base packages are “free” with the software. Usually they’re mediocre.
These Are Your Friends
I’m going to guess that at least one of the resources above has at one time been your go-to resource for difficult passages. If so, don’t get frustrated yet. Let me show you where you should go if you get stuck on a particular Bible passage. These resources are your friends.
The Bible is your only inerrant commentary. Most difficult parts of the Bible are elucidated in other parts of the Bible. In that way, the Bible serves as a commentary on itself. Make sure you have a reference Bible with footnotes, and then use them. If you come across a difficult passage, follow the cross-references and see if other passages of the Bible help shed light on the difficulty.
Your local church is a gold mine. The people who attend your church, especially the ones who are leaders or seasoned Christians, are invaluable resources. When you come across a difficult passage, go to a mentor, small-group leader, Sunday school teacher, or elder and ask for help. They may know the answer or know where you can find it.