June 5

Since interpreting the Bible as accurately and properly as possible is so critical, we should teach those we’re discipling how to do the same thing themselves. Just listen to all the nonsense going around from “Christians” claiming the Coronavirus is the end of the world, is prophesied in Scripture, and so forth.

We are fallible, fallen, redeemed, human beings trying to interpret the Bible properly, which means we must accept that we will be wrong sometimes. When we realize and accept this fact, then we can teach others solid skills to biblical studying (prayer, grammatical-historical context, internal cohesion, etc.), with the goal of remaining humble and Christ-centered. This is why a godly and solid Bible interpreter such as John MacArthur is a Premillennialist and another godly and solid Bible interpreter such as the late R.C. Sproul was an Amillennialist. One or both of them is wrong, but their love for Jesus and each other allowed them to overlook their differences and remain in unity on the major issues.

But, God has one interpretation of His Scripture—His! II. Peter 1:20 makes it clear that it’s not based on your own interpretation. II. Timothy 2:15 tells us to “accurately handle the word of truth.” That means it’s not a willy-nilly sort of thing, but takes work on our part. One of the greatest New Testament exegetes of our day is D.A. Carson, who relays a story about improper methods:

  • “Almost twenty years ago I rode in a car with a fellow believer who relayed to me what the Lord had ‘told’ him that morning in his quiet time. He had been reading the KJV of Matthew; and I perceived that not only had he misunderstood the archaic English, but also that the KJV at that place had unwittingly misrepresented the Greek text. I gently suggested there might be another way to understand the passage and summarized what I thought the passage was saying. The brother dismissed my view as impossible on the grounds that the Holy Spirit, who does not lie, had told him the truth on this matter. Being young and bold, I pressed on with my explanation of grammar, context, and translation, but was brushed off by a reference to 1 Cor. 2:10b-15: spiritual things must be spiritually discerned—which left little doubt about my status. Genuinely intrigued, I asked this brother what he would say if I put forward my interpretation, not on the basis of grammar and text, but on the basis that the Lord himself had given me the interpretation I was advancing. He was silent a long time, and then concluded, ‘I guess that would mean the Spirit says the Bible means different things to different people.’”

See how dangerous it is to approach the Bible with this cavalier idea that Holy Spirit will magically give you its meaning without any work on your part (even though the Bible tells us to work carefully to interpret it properly)? I once had a student (who ended up failing my basic Bible interpretation class) because she claimed she would just pray and the Spirit would tell her what Bible passages meant. Her interpretations were so far out in left field yet I couldn’t convince her that they were unbiblical. Her view of how to approach the Bible means the Holy Spirit is a liar because He tells everyone that His Word has different interpretations. I cannot accept that He’s a liar, but the Bible does make it clear that all men are liars, that Satan is the father of lies, and that if we don’t spend time seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we also spend time doing the work of studying His Word, then we will produce unsound, ungodly interpretations that have nothing to do with God’s intended meaning.

So, when discipling a newer Christian, be careful to use solid materials to aid in understanding the Bible. If you didn’t study Greek and Hebrew, then be careful in overemphasizing your studying in your concordance. Different languages work differently and even those who have taken Greek and Hebrew can get off in the wrong direction. As such, compliment your Strong’s Concordance research with solid research that helps explain those words better. Keith Reeves states: “A little bit of Greek is a dangerous thing,” because too many people misapply an ancient language by using our modern language and situations as the basis for interpretation. Hence, ensure your student has a solid Study Bible by notable theologians who understand the languages, and who have an orthodox bias. Ensure you promote a solid Bible Commentary that is easy to understand.

I look back now at some of the preaching I grew up under and one of my pastors who would create extreme beliefs or ideals from weak interpretation. Our church celebrated the Lord’s Supper once a year because he had “proven” that that was Jesus’ intent when establishing it. Our church rewrote any hymns that discussed angels singing because he had “proven” that angels don’t sing. He justified some odd ideas by using illogical trains of thought to connect ideas back to verses that supported his desired idea. Be careful that you teach the Bible carefully to those you are discipling and to not fall into these egregious errors.

Lastly, here are a few suggestions you can use to teach the Bible holistically to the one you are teaching:

  1. Emphasize a plan to read the whole Bible (Genesis to Revelation, chronologically, or a mix of Old and New Testament readings each day, etc.). It’s not so important what layout you use just so long as the Bible is read and the whole story is ingested. The Bible is one large story of God, man, sin, and redemption. When we jump around like Columbus trying to find a place to land our ship, we miss the whole story and how it all fits together.
  2. Have the one you’re teaching notate the biblical doctrines as they are addressed in Scripture. Remember our study in Genesis and how much doctrine God packed into the first few chapters? The whole Bible is full of doctrine because God put it there to teach us.
  3. Train on how to apply Scripture to one’s life. This takes assistance so a young convert doesn’t falsely believe we are under the Mosaic Law, does understand that God still expects us to be moral, does understand the role of the Holy Spirit in one’s life, etc.
  4. Always, always emphasize that the Bible is about God (His glory, His purposes, His sovereignty) above all else. The Bible is notabout us, and we are in no way the hero of the story (God is). As such, we can teach how the Bible points us to Jesus, to our need for a redeemer from our sin, to how worthy He is that we should give Him all our worship and praise.

 

  1. With regards to the Bible, what is the primary trait of all cults (false versions of Christianity) in how they handle it? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. If God is true and every man is a liar, then what does that mean with regards to how we approach understanding Scripture so that we don’t go off on tangents, bizarre practices and errant beliefs? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    1. In relation to question #1, misinterpreted and misapplied Scripture leads to bizarre beliefs, bad doctrine, and often to deviant versions of Christianity.
  3. Which ones of the below statements are true and which ones are false:
    1. Agape means “unconditional love” ___________________________________________________
    2. America is not specifically listed in Bible prophecy: __________________________________________________
    3. Since “dynamite” is derived from the Greek word dynamiswhich means power or miracle, therefore Romans 1:16 (For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek) where “power” (dynamis) is used, God means “dynamite”: __________________________________________________
  • Chronicles 4:10 Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.
    1. Because Jabez prayed this, we too should pray to God to enlarge our borders, and that we can expect God will grant us our request: ___________________________________________________
    2. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is for all Christians to fulfill: ___________________________________________________
  • Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
    1. The New Testament never tells us to sing with instrumentation, therefore it is a sin for us to accompany our singing with guitars, drums, etc. and we should sing acapella: ___________________________________________________
  • Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
    1. A person must be baptized to be saved: ___________________________________________________
    2. The Bible condemns wealth and all Christians should sell all that they have and give it to the poor: __________________________________________________
    3. Church is when 2 or 3 are gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20): ___________________________________________________
    4. The word for “world” in the Gospel of John is the Greek word, kosmoswhich usually refers to our earth, but can have about 8-10 meanings in the Gospel of John based on his context: ___________________________________________________

Answers will be posted following the Hymn

Let it the Constant Study Be  Anonymous Hymn from 1802

1 Let it the constant study be,

Of him call’d to the ministry;

Whom gifts, and grace completley arm,

Old Satan’s citadel to storm.

 

2 Regardless of the praise of men,

If they approve, or if condemn;

Approv’d of God, a workman nam’d

That needeth not be be asham’d.

 

3 Dividing right the word of truth,

A part of age, and part for youth;

For christians young and old a treat,

With milk the first, the last with meat.

 

4 ‘Twixt saint and sinner draw a line,

The first with radiant crowns shall sine,

While those sunk deep in endless night,

Confess the sentence just and right.

 

5 For all shall bow beneath the rod

And every tongue confess to God;

The law of justice and of grace,

Divides at last the human race.

 

6 Grant we may hear the truth to day,

And every soul the call obey,

Oh may the thunders of thy word!

Awake our souls to praise the Lord.

ANSWERS TO QUESTION 3

Which ones of these are true and which ones are false:

  1. Agape means “unconditional love” FALSE. It represents a dear, fond love of another. Unconditional love would mean everyone would be saved no matter what. Yet, God has conditions (e.g. He loves and saves for His glory, and He requires faith for salvation).
  2. America is not specifically listed in Bible prophecy: TRUE. While Revelation 12:14 (about Israel being saved by the two wings of a great eagle) is often attributed to the U.S. (since our national bird is a bald eagle), fact of the matter is, there is no evidence that we will even exist during the Tribulation. For all we know, we’ll be owned by China, or broken up into 30 different countries from internal civil war, or turned into a parking lot caused by a nuclear war. However, you will find some pro-American preachers try to give us a role in the End Times because of our support for Israel or whatnot even though Scripture never gives us a clear role.
  3. Since “dynamite” is derived from the Greek word dynamiswhich means power or miracle, therefore Romans 1:16 (For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek) where “power” (dynamis) is used, God means “dynamite”: FALSE. This is a misapplication of the meaning by placing a modern English word’s meaning into the text of Scripture to determine the meaning of the ancient Greek. This occurs by many pastors, believe it or not, and is easy to get caught up in, but it’s wrong.
  • I. Chronicles 4:10 Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.
  1. Because Jabez prayed this, we too should pray to God to enlarge our borders, and that we can expect God will grant us our request: FALSE. Historical narrative is descriptive, not prescriptive. Just because Bruce Wilkinson wrote The Prayer of Jabezand encouraged everyone to pray this obscure Old Testament prayer every day does not in any way mean God is going to heap blessings on us for praying it. God blessed Jabez with his request, but is under no obligation to ever provide our requests (which is why we are told to pray in His will, not our own). Furthermore, if we all prayed this, we’d run out of land as we’d all own ranch-sized properties and such.
  2. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is for all Christians to fulfill: TRUE. I think it speaks (sadly) to the selfish wickedness of peoples’ hearts when they try to claim the Great Commission was only for the 12 Disciples and is not our responsibility. The Great Commission was to make disciples (who continually make more disciples) and to obey what Jesus commanded them (including His command to make disciples), thus making it a perpetual requirement of all Christians everywhere and at all times.
  • Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
  1. The New Testament never tells us to sing with instrumentation, therefore it is a sin for us to accompany our singing with guitars, drums, etc. and we should sing acapella: FALSE. There are denominations that promote this stuff. When you bring up passages such as Psalms 150 where we’re commanded to praise God with loud instruments (Go Ken, Go!), they then try to claim that Old Testament worship is different. What? God wants us to worship Him in spirit (from our hearts) and truth (from the Word). He doesn’t give us any instrumental restrictions as Christians. Paul’s admonition was to have spiritual hymns and such on our lips for edifying each other, not for dictating church instrumentation requirements. This kind of fallacy is used in other places in churches, so watch out for it.
  • Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
  1. A person must be baptized to be saved: FALSE. First, if you read this it makes it clear that “he that believeth not shall be damned.” It doesn’t say that if you believe but fail to get baptized you shall be damned. Second, this passage (along with John 8’s woman caught in adultery) is not in the original, oldest Greek manuscripts. You can read more about this in a good commentary (such as MacArthur’s), so I won’t go into that here.
  2. The Bible condemns wealth and all Christians should sell all that they have and give it to the poor: FALSE. Again, Acts 2 and such where it describes the church (as led by the Holy Spirit) to sell what they had and share it does not prescribe communism or socialism (as some have alluded, even within our government), and does not condemn wealthy people in the church (which I’ve heard people do as well). There were many wealthy people in the New Testament (such as Philemon). The New Testament’s primary instruction is to wisely own wealth, but to never let wealth own you. Use wealth, but don’t worship it. And, for those of us who are poor, do not seek to be wealthy (I. Timothy 5) as it will be a snare. If you’re stingy with your money, you are in sin (II. Corinthians 9:6-7; I. Corinthians 16:2), but that’s between you and God. Money is not a sin, just the love of it is.
  3. Church is when 2 or 3 are gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20): FALSE. Context is king. In this case, the passage’s discussion is about church discipline. The Spirit will work within two or three people having to enforce discipline on another member. This does not mean if you come over to my house that we are having church.
  4. The word for “world” in the Gospel of John is the Greek word, kosmoswhich usually refers to our earth, but can have about 8-10 meanings in the Gospel of John based on his context: TRUE. Isn’t that wild? When you say, “world”, you probably think of the planet or all of the people, but to have up to 10 different meanings is a bit hard to imagine. That’s why proper studying is so important so that you don’t misinterpret or misapply God’s message.