The Bible boldly claims that all its words are directly inspired by an almighty God who created all things (2Timothy 3:16). Although some scriptures seem to contradict each other, on closer examination and study, the apparent discrepancies are explainable.
The New Testament scriptures are no more important nor do they have more authority than the Old Testament scriptures. Anyone who states that a person need only to live by PART of Scripture (e.g. just the New Testament) is WRONG. The doctrines supported by the New Testament simply cannot be understood unless they are firmly built upon what the Old Testament teaches.
Sound doctrine is line upon line
God's word is not like a topical book where all the information on a particular subject is in one place. Like a puzzle, a correct understanding of doctrine comes only when ALL the pieces related to the topic being studied are put together to form a whole (Isaiah 28:10). False teachings occur, in part, when only a few selected pieces of Scripture determine a conclusion. The apostle Paul encouraged his young evangelist friend Timothy to "rightly divide" the Scriptures in order to insure the truth is taught (2Timothy 2:15).
Personal opinions do not matter
Personal opinions, no matter how strongly held or emotionally supported, do not constitute divine truth (2Peter 1:20). Many false prophets rely on charisma, the authoritative way in which they speak and emotional reasoning to push their false teachings. It is almost as if they believe the adage "When in doubt, shout!" In order to come to the truth of God in our Bible studies, we must be aware of our own emotional biases and be honest enough to admit a belief is wrong when we discover its foundation comes more from opinion than facts.
The truth must be proven
The Bible calls on us to PROVE what is true (1Thessalonians 5:21). Proving what the word of God teaches is a lifelong endeavor. Like the Bereans, we must be willing to constantly search the Scriptures to either validate or refute what we believe (Acts 17:11). It is God's will that we PROVE what is his good, acceptable, and perfect will (Romans 12:2).
God's spirit must lead us
It is God's Holy Spirit within a person that will ultimately lead them to all truth (John 14:26). The final vital principle we must apply to our Biblical studies is that we must be willing to let God's spirit lead and guide us to the truth.
Rules for Studying the Bible
Ideally, it is best to conduct your studies in as quiet and private a place as possible.
Begin by humbly praying that God lead your mind to HIS truth, in spite of any preconceived notions or biases you may possess.
Let the Bible interpret and prove itself. Do not look for what YOU want to prove, seek for what the Word actually proves.
When working a particular topic, collect those Scriptures that are easy to comprehend before moving on to more difficult and vague passages. Starting with difficult verses first will only unnecessarily lengthen your effort and may lead you to false conclusions.
Understand the overall context of the Scriptures studied. Ask yourself what the Bible says in the verses and chapter BEFORE and AFTER what you are reading. Look for the writer's intended meaning.
Research the original language (Hebrew, Greek) words and phrases, and their original meanings, on a given topic or doctrine.
Be careful in the use of tools such as commentaries, dictionaries, and concordances and alike. While they can be of great help, and can point out things we have not considered, they are still the creation of fallible humans with their own biases and prejudices.
Not only ask what Scripture says in the passages studied but also what do they NOT say.
Research who wrote the verses you are reviewing and to whom.
Research the general historical period of the Biblical passages studied.
Remember that many times the Bible uses symbols, parables, metaphors, personification, allegories, poetry, idioms, hyperboles, and other literary devices to teach.
Remember that any, include your own, strongly held convictions and beliefs do not necessarily represent Biblical truth. The Bible must be the ultimate standard and guide.