An important aspect of Bible study is to allow God to speak through the verses. This is called Exegesis. If you are willing to do this, even of the verses contradict your own belief, you will in the end have the truth.
However, if you are determined not to change your own belief, you will read into each verse what you want to hear. This is called Eisegesis. If you do this, you will not end up with the truth, and your study will not be worth anything.
Another important part is to pray before you commence.
Ask God to lead you into all truth.
Ask for humility to put aside what you believe and listen to what He says.
God bless you.
Many Bible scholars say the 'proof-text method' is a faulty way to study the Bible.
We dispute this charge, but not without warning -- there are conditions.
If these conditions are not met, then the 'proof-text method' is not recommended. In fact, it becomes dangerous.
We will discuss this further in a moment, but first, let us say that this method is an excellent way to study Scripture, and even necessary. It is the very way the apostles used the Old Testament when writing the New.
To explain the method.
When Moses said, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken", he was referring to the coming of the Messiah. Deuteronomy 18:15.
But this one text does not identify the Messiah. It simply says He would be Jewish and like Moses.
If we want to find out more, we need to go to another Bible writer. (Using the term Jewish as it is accepted today)
Let us go to Isaiah and see what he says.
"Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor..." Isaiah 9:6.7.
This tells us the Messiah will be born, and the government would belong to Him, but not saying which government.
It also gives some names of the Messiah.
Isaiah adds, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14.
Now we have something very specific -- the Messiah will be born of a virgin and will be called Immanuel.
The same prophet adds more information in a later chapter. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all... He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken... he will bear their iniquities..." Isaiah 53:18.104.22.168.
(Please understand that I am simply giving an example and not going very deeply into this text, but in other studies we will analyse verses clearly)
The prophet Micah said, "But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Micah 5:2.
This tells us that Bethlehem (the little town) is the birthplace of the Messiah, who will be a ruler in Israel.
It clearly says His life does not originate on earth, but in times prior to the incarnation.
Isaiah also tells of Messiah's work, speaking in the first person as the Messiah.
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." Isaiah 61:1.
Obviously, Messiah's work would be a blessing to the people.
David gives more information about Messiah's death. "... they pierced my hands and my feet." Psalm 22:16.
Zechariah adds, "... and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced..." Zechariah 12:10.
If we cannot use these texts as proof texts on identifying the Messiah -- must we quote everything Moses says, and Isaiah and David and Zechariah, as well as others who add information about the Messiah?
Of course not.
We just refer to the verses on the subject we are studying.
Each verse gives a little information, that when combined with others, reveals much.
By the time all the specific verses are added, we can be certain of the identity of the promised Messiah.
If the subject we want to study is controversial, we must go through every verse on the subject.
Otherwise we will only have a partial picture, which could make it appear altogether different from the truth. It might even be error.
If we read every verse on the subject of our choice, there will be some verses that appear to contradict the others. It is then we take the weight of evidence.
We may prefer the information contained in the few verses, but to hold to them, we must dismiss the larger portion.
In a court of law, it is the weight of evidence upon which the judge makes his decision.
A very difficult subject will take much study and prayer, but so long as we are diligent on our part, the truth will be made clear.
Now to consider the danger.
If the texts are chosen incorrectly, the end result will not be truth.
If they are read according to eisegesis, the proof-text method will prove false. Eisegesis reads into the text something that may not be there.
If we look at a text and it does not say what we believe and we manipulate our minds to see that it does, our method of study is eisegesis.
Every text chosen in this way will make our proof-texts give error from beginning to end.
Many use the text, "And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory" to prove the Trinity. Isaiah 6:3.
They say, 'See, it says holy three times, to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, the Trinity.'
This is pure eisegesis, reading into the text that which is believed in the mind.
Instead of using eisegesis, we must use exegesis which allows the text to speak.
The information comes out from the text.
Exegesis of the above text is as follows: One being cried to another being Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, and the earth is full of his glory.
It says no more and no less.
Of course our minds may know more than the text reveals because we have read other texts, however, the text itself does not give any more information.
If all our texts are chosen by exegesis, our proof-text method of study will be truth.
Using exegesis, we will put our own ideas aside and ask: What does the text say?
And we will be willing to listen.
Nothing will be read into it that is not there. Our thoughts will be held back as we let the Bible speak.
A set of proof texts by this method will give the truth. It might end up the same as we already believe, but it might not. If not, I must be willing to accept what God has revealed.
Of course, context is important, but at times it does not matter why a statement has been made by the Bible writer, so long as it is relevant to your chosen subject.
Often Bible writers made comments about the Messiah quite suddenly and it does not seem to fit into their current message.
We do not ignore it simply because we cannot figure out why they said it. They may do so in other subjects too.
As we study we must think as to whether it is a symbolic statement. Be very careful.
You will need to have a good reason for thinking it to be so. Is it Bible prophecy, which does use symbols?
For instance, Daniel uses symbols for nations. "And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another." Daniel 7:3.
What do beasts represent?
Daniel answers. "These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth." Daniel 7:17.
There is no doubt on its meaning.
Some people look at the bear in Bible prophecy and immediately say it is Russia.
What does the Bible say?
If you study Daniel 7 you will see it refers to the kingdom that came after Babylon, Medo Persia.
Always identify them from Scripture.
Another danger is to see many passages as poetry, then dismiss the information.
Many do this for the creation account.
Poetry still speaks the truth, but watch if it is a poem of contrasts, as there will be opposites, but this will be clear from the context.
Parables are earthly stories with heavenly meanings. The parable itself may be fiction, but the lesson is spiritual.
Again, we must allow Scripture to interpret the parable.
In the study of God's Son, many speak of metaphors.
They put aside the obvious meaning of the text as a metaphor.
In this way, they lose much. Some may be using it as an excuse not to belief the truth.
Be careful. Be honest with yourself and with God.