|The Spirit of truth provides insights for the mind and illumination for the heart.|
The "G" in L-I- G -H-T-S will remind you that Scripture is to be interpreted in accord with typical rules of grammar, including syntax and style. Today there are a host of usable tools to aid you in gaining insights from the original languages of Scripture. Besides commentaries, there are "interlinear" translations that provide the Hebrew and Greek text of the Bible in parallel with the English text. In addition, there are dictionaries of Old and New Testament words that are keyed to Strong's concordance.
Tools such as these, along with common sense, will help you from being fooled by people who claim mastery of biblical languages while undermining grammatical principles of biblical interpretation.
The "H" in L-I-G- H -T-S will remind you that the Christian faith is historical and evidential (Luke 1:1-4). The biblical text is best understood when one is familiar with the customs, culture and historical context of biblical times.
Unfortunately, some teachers within the Christian church misinterpret passages as a result of their failure to observe historical context. A classic example is 3 John 2.
The New King James version of this text reads, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." One word of faith minister recounted how, after discovering this verse, God gave him a brand-new Buick. His wife enthusiastically agreed that to prosper "is God's highest wish for us."
But let's look at the passage's historical context. This opening remark in John's letter to his friend Gaius is, as Bible scholar Gordon Fee puts it, "the standard form of greeting in a personal letter in antiquity." Fee concludes that "to extend John's wish for Gaius to refer to financial and material prosperity for all Christians of all times is totally foreign to the text."
There is no need to be led astray. There are a host of excellent handbooks and commentaries to aid you in understanding the people and places of the Bible.
The "T" in L-I-G-H- T -S will remind you that God has provided the church with uniquely gifted human teachers (Ephesians 4:11). There is a wide chasm between those who are skilled in biblical interpretation and those who make up their theology as they go.
James no doubt had such dubious teachers in mind when he solemnly warned, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly" (James 3:1).
As we seek to rightly interpret God's Word, we would do well to consult those whom God has uniquely gifted as teachers in the church (cf. Titus 2:1-15) and who guard against wolves in sheep's clothing that will not spare the flock (Acts 20:29).
Scriptural Harmony Principle
Finally, the "S" in L-I-G-H-T- S will remind you of the principle of scriptural harmony. Individual passages of Scripture must always harmonize with Scripture as a whole. One text can never be interpreted to conflict with other passages. If a particular passage can be interpreted in several ways, the only choice is that interpretation which harmonizes with the rest of Scripture. God does not contradict himself.
Scripture exhorts us to study to show ourselves approved of God, workmen who do not need to blush with embarrassment, correctly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Studying the Bible for all it's worth and rightly understanding it is the highest of goals.
Remembering the principles encapsulated in the acronym LIGHTS will go a long way in enabling you to attain this goal. As the art and science of biblical interpretation continually LIGHTS your path through Scripture, you will find yourself growing ever closer to Him who is the Light of the world -- Jesus Christ (John 8:12).