Do you ever wonder how two people can take the same passage of Scripture and come to almost opposite interpretations? Does that speak poorly of the Bible, that there are so many different ways people interpret the Scripture? It’s not an indictment against Scripture; it’s a matter of hermeneutics or a person’s methodology of interpreting Scripture.
Some people have a high view of the concept of the Bible, but not so much with the words on the page. I can say that I believe the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. Still, suppose I don’t come to the Scripture desiring to know what God said in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible text but use it as a launching pad for what I want it to say. In that case, my hermeneutic doesn’t line up with my high view of Scripture. To claim every word of God is pure and then twist the meaning are inconsistent ideas at best and dishonest at worst. If God’s Word is pure, then the meaning is pure. If God’s Word is infallible and cannot be broken, the meaning is infallible and cannot be broken.
So how do people come to different interpretations? Sometimes, they don’t read passages in the surrounding context. For example, one may say that “God is not willing that any should perish,” as proof-text of Arminianism. But if you read 2 Peter 3:9 in context you will that it is an encouraging message to Christians about the love and faithfulness of God to save His people. 2 Peter is written to Christians (2 Peter 3:1, 8, 14, 17). So when Peter says that God is longsuffering to us, we know who he is referring to. But if you zoom out and consider the entire book, Peter’s concerned about heretics who come into churches, trying to deceive Christians. Heretics, mockers, and despisers of truth gain followers. Why doesn’t God judge them? He will. Just because their wickedness exists doesn’t mean the Lord isn’t coming back or that justice won’t be served. The Lord is patient and longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to faith. In this whole letter, Peter warned the saints about the wicked and encouraged them saints to persevere (1:10). Despite the designs of the wicked one, Christ will come again to judge the wicked and save His people, and not one will perish.
It isn’t a good idea for preachers to take true doctrines taught in Scripture and preach them from passages that don’t teach that truth. A pastor may get upset with some people in the church and want to preach against some sin, but he shouldn’t take a text from Romans 1:13 and say, “I would not have you ignorant brethren….” Paul wasn’t saying he didn’t want those ignorant men around, but he didn’t want them to be unknowing of the truth. And the only way he could resolve that was by explaining to them the true meaning of the Word of God.