Perhaps the best Bible interpretation advice I can give has to do with difficult verses.
There are verses that are actually difficult. For example, no one knows who Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 15:29. Who was “baptizing for the dead”? No one knows. I read a scholarly paper recently with a theory, but the fact the scholar wrote that paper establishes that no one knows who Paul was talking about. I once searched the early church fathers for that verse, and Tertullian (Carthage, c. A.D. 200) mentions it. He says something to the effect of “whoever they are.” It is just unknown. 1 Corinthians 15:29 is truly difficult.
Most verses that get called difficult, however, are only difficult theologically. For example, I have heard both Hank Hanegraaff and Bob George call 2 Peter 2:20-21 difficult. That passage is not difficult. A first-grader could tell you what it means. It was difficult for those two radio hosts because they do not believe it, not because it is difficult to understand. (Hank has since converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, so he probably finds the verse quite simple now. The Eastern Orthodox believe that passage. They have a much harder time with Matthew 23:8-12.)
Don’t be like those two radio hosts! If you find a verse theologically difficult, CHANGE YOUR THEOLOGY!
This is wickedly hard. We are physically wired not to change our minds. Our flesh devotes itself to division and dispute (Gal. 5:19-20; 1 Tim. 6:3-5). If we want to please God, however, it would be good to believe the Bible and even be frightened of it.
Fearlessly and confidently ignoring the Bible or changing its words to fit your theology is a TERRIBLE idea, but doing so is normative for most Christians.
Here’s two examples:
1 Cor. 3:3: This verse quite obviously teaches us not to call ourselves Baptists, Pentecostals, and other names that divide us in any other way than geography (church in Rome, church at Corinth, etc.). Yet we say, “That’s why I’m a Christian first and a Baptist second.”
James 2:24: The verse says “justified by works and not faith only.” We say, “justified by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.” You get 10 points for that cunning twist of James’ words in oratory class, but 0 points in heaven. Figure out what it means, folks, in such a way that you can repeat James words, not in such a way that you have clever changes to his words. There is a reason GOD said what he said through James, and it was not so that evangelicals could come along and improve it.
At least Witness Lee was honest enough to write (in his notes in the Recovery New Testament) that James did not understand the New Testament economy. Luther was honest enough to write that James and Hebrews had “nothing of the nature of the Gospel about them.” Unlike Lee and Luther, we claim that James’ words are the words of God, but we happily twist those words to make them sound like our theology rather than his.
The Bible says that God will reward those who patiently continue to do good with eternal life (Rom. 2:6-7). That seems like a pretty important verse, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, though, there are plenty of other verses you can use to build a theology that teaches something different than Romans 2:6-7. There are plenty of men who will gladly teach you that theology. I’d like to commend John Piper for dealing honestly with Romans 2:6-7 and other verses like it (ref).
Of course, at least one Reformed writer says, “This is heresy and a false gospel of which the Reformed Church used to preach against.”
Hopefully, this didn’t bother Piper, since the arguments in Paul Flynn’s article (<a href="https://themegiddoreview.com/2017/10/23/desiring-god-and-john-pipers-works-final-salvation-and-false-gospel/" target="_blank") make Paul and Peter heretics too for writing things like Romans 2:6-7 and 2 Peter 1:5-11.
Back to my original point. Don't be like Paul Flynn. Believe the Bible. Do not argue against it from your theology. It's hard, but you MUST do it if you want to be a Bible believer. A verse is not difficult just because it contradicts your theology. Adjust your theology so you can believe the verse, and you will turn most difficult verses into easy ones.