This Week's Gospel Sermons
March 6 - 11, 2011 Gospel Meeting At Jackson Drive.
Speaker: Jerry Curry
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March 20, 2011
We can trace the Biblefrom its origin down through the centuries. We can see that there are accurate translations into our language that give to us the message that God wants us to have. We now have the job of interpretation.
Sometimes the concept of interpretation is used in a negative sense. For instance, the phrase, “That’s just your interpretation!” is often used to imply that interpretation is only opinion and is contrary to facts. In reality, interpretation is simply the utilizing of our faculties in an examination of facts so as to provide explanation. In simpler terms, interpretation is explaining of information.
Can I interpret, or explain, the Bible? Certainly. In fact, God expects us to examine His word, dwell on His word, and use His word to come to and understanding or explanation. There are a few fundamental things to consider as we look at the Bible.
We must never forget that the Bible is God’s revelation to man.Faith in the inspiration of the Bible will help us understand it. Notice how Paul stresses the inspiration of the Scriptures:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2Timothy 3:16-17).
… that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; (Ephesians 3:3-5).
Belief in the Bible as the actual word of God is paramount. If we cannot believe that, then our approach to examining them is altered. We must be honest with ourselves and honest with our examination of Scripture. We must not look at the Bible in an effort to prove our own preconceived notions. We must examine it with only one goal—knowing what God wants me to know.
Every Christian has the responsibility of investigating and interpreting the Bible for himself.For years, especially through the Dark Ages, society was engrained with the concept that the Bible was only interpretable by the “clergy.” People relied on these few to tell them what they should know. When the period of the Reformation is studied, it becomes clear that it was born out of the realization that each man needs to see God’s word with his own eyes and mind.
Why would this be needed? Because Scripture is what testifies of Jesus. Each must see the import of Paul’s words through inspiration: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2Timothy 2:15). Our responsibility is to “continue in My word” (John 8:31) and “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Colossians 3:16). Notice how dedicated the individuals of Berea were to proper interpretation: “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Observe the words, “with great eagerness.” This should be our attitude as we study.
The Bible has only one meaning.Can something that is false be true in the same circumstance? Of course that is not possible. Ten plus ten equals twenty—a statement of facts. If this is fact, can it mean that ten plus ten equals forty-five, too? Truth can have only one meaning. The Bible cannot mean that Christ died for us, or that “baptism now saves you” and mean the opposite at the same time. Scripture provides only one system of belief. “… one Lord, one faith, one baptism …” (Ephesians 4:5).
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells us about “one faith” and also tells us that unity is achieved through this “one faith”: “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Over and over again Scripture speaks of oneness (1Corinthians 1:13; 2Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-7). Jesus Himself related commands, and guess what? They have only one meaning (Matthew 28:18-20). We must examine all of the words, phrases, and clauses to find the meaning.
The Bible can be understood.What did Paul say? “… when you read, you may understand …” (Ephesians 3:3-6). In fact, he further says: “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). In a previous statement Paul expressed the value of knowledge implying that we can understand: “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might” (Ephesians 1:17-19). If we go to the Bible with the thought in mind that it is a book that cannot be understood, then we will not understand it. True, there are some difficult passages. However, anything that God wants me to do can be understood. The Bible provides us with plenty of examples:
Noah understood God’s order to build the ark. He did not use an excuse like, “I just don’t understand what God wants me to do.” He understood. When he interpreted, he understood, he acted.
Naaman understood Elisha’s order to “go dip in the Jordan.” (2Kings 5:10). He wasn’t happy, but his problem was not a lack of understanding. It was his own preconception. “But Naaman was furious and went away and said, ‘Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper’” (2Kings 5:11). Is this why some today become angry when they see what God requires of them?
The blind man understood Jesus’ command to “wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (John 9:7). He did what Jesus said because he understood the simple requirement. He didn’t make it difficult. He interpreted and he acted. We need this determination to do what we understand God is saying to us.
We can understand God’s will for our lives. When we look at anything God wants us to do in order to be saved and remain in His favor, we can understand it. But, God does not inspire our interpretation! It is our obligation to read and search out the meaning of what God has revealed. How are your interpretive skills?
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.