In the early 1980’s I attended a denominational theological school with a very high academic standard. I had attended a church within that denomination for twenty years prior and pastored churches for 15 years after school. God then called me to a five year period of itinerant ministry.
The church that I pastor now is non-denominational. We have people who formerly attended a Baptist Church, a Catholic Church, a United Church, a Presbyterian Church, a Christian Reformed Church, a Pentecostal Church, a Mennonite Church, a Christian Church, an Elim Church and more. I remember looking into our congregation once, and saying to them: “How about we all, including me, set aside the doctrines distinctive to our former denominations and just see what the Bible says about everything”. That is what we do.
“When there’s something in the Word of God that i don’t like, the problem is not with the Word of God, it’s with me” – R.C. Sproul
So, these are the principles I use in preparing sermons, and in my writing.
- Find a place of solitude with my Bible and pray. The Apostle John taught that the Holy Spirit would be our teacher, so I spend time seeking His direction and revelation.
- Clear my mind of preconceived interpretations and applications.
- Strive to understand the historical and cultural context in which any Scripture I am using was written. This helps in determining the meaning of the passage, why it is in the book or letter, and what the application may be to today’s culture.
- Look at the biblical context in which it is placed. The Scripture around the specific text leads to a greater understanding of the passage in question, and helps us gain understanding as to the point the writer was trying to make.
- I typically use the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible for most of my study. This is a matter of personal preference only. That being said, I find great value in reading different translations in parallel. I find the New American Standard Bible (NASB) to be the truest to the original language, making it good for study, but not as fluent for reading. The New Living Translation (NLT) makes for a very easy read, which is often helpful as well.
- The opinions of others on the passage I am studying falls a distant second to the all of the above. Before seeking others’ opinions I endeavor to interpret Scripture with Scripture. The Scripture will not and does not contradict itself, therefore if my initial understanding of a passage contradicts another portion of Scripture, I am wrong. This principle guides me into a more accurate interpretation.
- I do word studies in the Hebrew or Greek when I feel that this would be beneficial.
I would describe myself as theologically conservative. I believe that we must take the bible literally, utilizing the above principles to gain clarity.
With all my heart, I believe in the Statement of Faith published by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
- The Holy Scriptures, as originally given by God, are divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy, and constitute the only supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
- There is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh; we affirm his virgin birth, sinless humanity, divine miracles, vicarious and atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension, ongoing mediatorial work, and personal return in power and glory.
- The salvation of lost and sinful humanity is possible only through the merits of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, received by faith apart from works, and is characterized by regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit enables believers to live a holy life, to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Church, the body of Christ, consists of all true believers.
- Ultimately God will judge the living and the dead, those who are saved unto the resurrection of life, those who are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.