Only one Bible exists. Therefore there should be only one church, or denomination. But there are more more denominations in the Christian church than Jimmy Carter has peanuts. There’s the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Calvary Chapel, Baptist and many others. Each has doctrine that is different than the others. And within a denomination many sects exist. In the Baptist church, for example, there are Southern Baptists, American Baptists, Northern, Independent, Independent Fundamental Baptists and others. The doctrine of some, like Calvary Chapel and Baptists, are very close to what the Bible teaches. But others, like the Roman Catholic, stray a long way from biblical teaching. So, how can you know that the denomination you embrace is accurately teaching what the Bible says? That comes from doing a lot of study on your own. Denominations and sects are born out of men putting their own wishes and preferences ahead of what the Bible actually says, and by taking Bible verses out of context to support their position. A very good example of this is salvation, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Accurate Bible study requites that you use an accurate version of the Bible, or else you will be mislead. Stay away from all the amplified Bibles, as they are paraphrased in many places, and therefore are not accurate. Others, like the New International version (NIV) are inaccurate translations. For example, the NIV translates John 3:16 as God gave His one and only Son, which is false. God gave His only begotten Son, the only One born of a human woman. God has other sons and daughters. Jesus said that whoever does the will of His Father is His brother, sister, and mother ( Matthew 12:50). Therefore, Christians are God’s sons and daughters. Adam, the first man, was God’s created son ( Luke 3:38). So Jesus was not God’s one and only Son as the NIV claims, which is a significant error, and that version has other errors.
The most accurate English language version of the bible was the American Standard Version. It was so accurate that it didn’t read smoothly, and it was not very popular for that reason. It was followed by the New American Standard Version which is easier to read while maintaining an accurate translation I have heard that the Revised Standard Version is accurate, but I haven’t checked it myself, so I can’t say. The New King James Version (NKJV), which I use, is accurate while changing the old English of the King James Version (KJV) into modern English. Finally, there is the old stand by, the KJV. Proponents of the KJV claim it is the preserved word of God. That’s not true. The only preserved word are the ancient copies of original manuscripts.
The KJV’s English is outmoded, and errors occur because some words have a different meaning today than they did when that version was written. The word suffer is an example. In the KJV suffer often means to permit or allow, such as suffer not a witch to live. And, the version contains some verses that were added later. The verses stating that Christians will not be harmed by poisonous snake bites, etc., was added in about the third century. The KJV and NKJV keep these verses because they are accurate as they related to first century apostles and disciples, not to today’s believers. The Apostle John was bitten by a poisonous snake, but no harm befell him. That doesn’t apply to us today. The NKJV includes those verses and other additions, but includes notes that explain the additions. The NASV omits any added verses.
Once you have an accurate Bible, you need to make sure that your study is accurate. Many factors play into an accurate interpretation of the Bible. If all the factors are not considered, then errors of interpretation creep in. Here are some of the most important factors to consider:
Consider all the related verses together. Taking one verse out of context is the reason many errors leading to different denominations exist. Salvation is a good example. Many denominations and cults claim works are necessary for salvation, that you have to work yourself into going to heaven. That’s not true. John 3:16 says that God gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have ever lasting life. Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (NKJV). And there are more verses that state salvation is by grace through faith. Works come as a result of true conversion because it’s a Christian’s new nature to do the will of God for their lives.
Consider the context of culture. The Bible was not written to us, it was written to the people living in biblical times. Paul’s explaining the adoption of converts into God’s family was based on Roman law. His audience lived in Roman occupied lands, and were subject to Roman law. According to that law, an adopted person’s debts were wiped out, and he became a member of his new family just as if he had been born into that family, And he or she received a new name. In essence, the adoptee became a new person just as a Christian receives a new nature from God. Old things are passed away, all things become new. Paul’s readers understood this comparison.
Consider the passage the verse is contained in. Any verse is dependent on the passage it’s related to, and cannot be accurately understood apart from that verse. Luke’s quoting Jesus telling His disciples that anyone not forsaking all that he has cannot be His disciple is sometimes taught to mean that a Christian must give up all worldly possessions and money. This isn’t necessarily true. Jesus told the rich young ruler to give up all his riches and follow Him, because the ruler’s riches were paramount. He valued his money more than anything else in His life, and to be a Christian Jesus has to be first and foremost in you life. That is the point of the passage in context with the rest of related passages in the entire Bible
This will give you an idea of where to start in your Bible study. Put self out of the way as much as is humanly possible, and study an accurate version of the Bible in the whole context, and you should be fine.